Philosophy Of Teaching for piano and composition students

It is my experience through many years of teaching that students who can play, sing, or compose well generally love making music. Particularly as students reach the upper elementary grades and hear other students playing, they want to sound good in front of their friends and family.  So … if you want your student to love making music, you will encourage him or her to learn correctly as soon as they begin lessons. They will then have the best foundation for years of happy music production.

I love music and want my students to love it too … and I can best help them to enjoy their music by teaching them to play, sing, or compose well. In each lesson the successful accomplishments of each student are stressed, while shaping the student’s practicing to eliminate bad habits. Music is chosen that students enjoy and students are taught to develop their musical technique and style. Good performing is stressed …. students learn to read music, count correctly, perform dynamics, and create musical performances. As students progress in their studies they will have opportunities to help make choices of pieces to study.

Areas of music that are covered in piano lessons include note reading, rhythm (even and accurate counting), interval reading, scales, triads, arpeggios, sight-reading, ear training, transposition, and improvisation. Composition students work on rhythm, accurate notation (note writing), creativity, development of form, use of tonality, counterpoint, and part writing.

In addition, all piano students will have opportunities to create their own pieces of music.  The most important reason is that this is fun … I never cease to be amazed at the creative pieces students create. In addition, this helps students learn to be creative, lets them directly apply new skills they have recently learned, gives them a chance to play a piece where they have no wrong notes (since they wrote them all!), strengthens their confidence, and lets them use the entire keyboard. (Serious students of composition will write wrong notes and we will discuss what that means.)

I also believe that the success of a student’s music education is the result of a partnership between the student, the teacher, and the parent. The student must commit him or herself to regular and correct practicing, the teacher must teach the student both what they should practice and HOW to practice it, and the parent needs to be an active encourager while carefully not becoming a nagging parent. It is extremely important to me for parents to talk to me when they sense problems in the music studies. Frequently I can make a difference in how a student does their practicing IF I am aware of a problem early.