FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
HOW YOUNG A CHILD WILL YOU ACCEPT AS A BEGINNER?
Age 4.5 to 5, but this is not finite. Maturity and physical readiness are important, too.
How long have you been teaching?
Since 1991. I'm in my 30th year of teaching piano!
how would you describe yourself?
Patient, understanding, and possessing a good sense of humor. People laugh at my analogies that I use during teaching; but they work! Also, I am highly organized, motivational, and demanding of excellence, but in a good way. If we're going to learn something as worthwhile as the piano, let's do our best, or let's not do it. I have high standards, but I think I am fair and reasonable.
DO I HAVE TO HAVE A PIANO?
A keyboard that has less than 88 weighted keys and will easily fit under your arm (costing <$100) will not satisfy your student, who will be attempting to learn piano technique on my grand, and have nothing with which to reproduce that sound and feel at home. There is a blunt, but true metaphor for this. Could you teach someone to drive once per week, then send him home to practice all week on a bicycle? No. Buy your student the best instrument you can afford, but choose an acoustic or a nicely equipped digital piano, which is larger than a portable keyboard. Digitals can be a good, economical choice for a beginning piano student for a time. Pianists who play well and can perceive the difference (budget set aside for the moment) will always choose a grand piano - the larger the better - due to its tone quality, action, and response. We can all dream. :)
What are Your Expectations FOR students?
I ask them to always give their best, and to forgive themselves when they don't. If a student doesn't practice enough, we both know it. I forgive them. We all get busy and have off weeks. I understand that. It's the overall trend of progress that I watch. Children are gifted differently, and I do not expect them to be perfect. I do expect them, however, to give their best attention, focus, and concentration while they are here. They must practice their assigned pieces, or we are all wasting our time. I love to have fun, too, but piano is more fun when you're pretty good at it, and that takes commitment. If attitudes are too casual about learning the piano, from the student or the parents, then success is usually marginal. We take things a school year at a time here at Studio J. A student can accomplish a LOT in one school year if he tries hard and invests his time at the piano wisely.
MY CHILD IS A PERFECTIONIST. CAN YOU HANDLE THAT?
I certainly can, because I came from parents who were, and I have those tendencies, too. I understand from my own experiences how hard kids can be on themselves. It's not healthy to never be able to see the good before the bad. Comfort and ease at the piano while playing takes some time; if a student's body and brain have never done a task before, it will take a bit for the "flow" to become smooth and uninterrupted. They will hesitate and stop a lot at first. That's okay. I'm very patient. Often students are very hard on themselves when they don't get something right the first time they attempt it. I make every effort to be positive and encouraging. I start by pointing out what went right, as well as what still needs attention.
WHY IS PIANO THE BEST INSTRUMENT TO LEARN FIRST?
The piano is a foundational instrument of musicians. It's an excellent first instrument, because the efforts spent at the piano will transfer so nicely to other instruments (string, brass, or wind), and voice. Student pianists will already be able to read treble and bass clefs, count rhythms, and keep a steady pulse before most of their classmates at school. This is why choir, band, and orchestra directors LOVE piano students.