I teach piano at the Shepherd Music School in Rogers, as well as in-home lessons. This page serves several purposes:
- What I Offer As A Teacher
- Expectations of Students
- Teaching Philosophy
- Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Contact Me for more information about piano lessons.
What I Offer As A Teacher
My Piano Background
Although I never realized my initial goal to be a concert pianist, I had some great experiences along the way. My bachelor’s degree from Purchase College was in solo piano, and I switched to Collaborative Piano for my master’s degree at The Juilliard School. During my sophomore year, I took a piano pedagogy course with an amazing professor who was a disciple of Frances Clarke’s teaching. I was even assigned a couple of piano students in conjunction with this class.
Between those two degrees, I taught a solid part-time load at the Rockland Conservatory of Music. I continued at that school for a second year during my first year at Juilliard. After that, I only taught a few students here and there, since I worked full-time as a software engineer/data analyst, and part-time as a church organist/music director. I did take a couple of students here and there upon request.
Several years ago, I left the full-time corporate world and have returned to music to practice, perform, and teach students. During the 2017-18 program year, my students performed in the two festivals described below, and I’m excited to have even more students who will have these experiences in 2018-19. It’s offered as an option for those who want a well-rounded experience.
Tradition vs Innovation
I offer traditional lessons, which includes learning how to read music, building repertoire and improving technique. I also offer supplemental training as part of lessons in all facets of musicianship including sight reading, ear training, and theory. I have recently spent a lot of time in learning about online and video lessons, playing from lead sheets and by ear, and using phone/tablet technology to enhance learning. I work these into lessons on an individual basis. You can read more about these explorations on my blog under the category Piano Teacher.
I am a member of the Music Teachers National Association (MTNA), the Arkansas State Music Teachers Association (ASMTA), and the local Northwest Arkansas Music Teachers Association (NAMTA). Membership in all of these groups is really expensive, but it provides me with some great continuing education opportunities. It also enables my students to participate in spring and fall festivals listed below.
I encourage my students to participate in two annual festivals that are made possible by my professional affiliations listed above:
- NAMTA Sonatina Festival, Saturday, November 10, 2018, NWACC in Bentonville (Past Event)
This is an annual festival held in NW Arkansas since 1995. It celebrates the sonata form, which is a standard form of composition that has been in use continually since the early 18th century. The festival is open to first-graders all the way through college students. Students are grouped by age, not by level of piece, and each session is about 50 minutes long. Each student is judged solely on how well she performs her own piece, with no comparison made to others.
- This is purely a performance festival: theory, music history, technique, ear training, and keyboard harmony are not tested. The only caution is that it may not be the optimal environment for every student: The audiences for these performances can be fairly large, since students, family, friends, and teachers are invited inside the performance space.
- ASMTA Region One Festival, Saturday, April 6, 2019, University of Arkansas in Fayetteville
The annual regional festival is held before the state music festival, whose location rotates around the state each year. This festival is different from the Sonatina Festival in almost every way. Each student is classified by the level of the piece(s) he performs. The performances are not public – only the student and the adjudicator are in the room. There is an extensive battery of testing given by level, based upon the level of piece(s) performed. Technique, ear training, and keyboard harmony are tested one-on-one with a separate adjudicator. A paper-based test is administered to assess theory and music history knowledge.
- The festival is also a competition, in that the top performers at each level will be invited to participate in the state competition, as long as they do sufficiently well on the two sets of separate testing. The competition aspect of the festival is not stressed. In fact, most students probably don’t notice it. Students gain a broad musical education by participating in this festival.
For my Shepherd Music School students, there are group recitals at the conclusion of each semester. For all my students, there are additional opportunities to perform, including warm-up recitals that are held before the festivals listed above. I also encourage my students to perform in a recital arranged at a local retirement home.
Expectations of Students
Younger students may not be ready to actively set goals like a teenager or
Achieve Goals with Practice
While we set goals in the studio, they become realized at home through practicing the piano. Sure, a good teacher can help a lot in that process, but even the best teacher can’t do the work for the student. Three days a week practice is an absolute minimum. Otherwise, lessons will be frustrating and unproductive for student and teacher alike.
A good rule of thumb is five days of practice per week in the amount of the lesson time. For beginners taking 30-minute lessons, this would be 20 to 30 minutes per day. For 45-minute lessons, students would need to practice 30 to 45 minutes per day. For very young students, the parent can break up practice time into two short daily practice sessions.
Talent vs Hard Work
One of the things I hear after a performance, and that I’ve heard said about my students, is how talented we are. I’m always quick to say that it’s 20% talent and 80% hard work! Talent without practice only goes so far. My best students practice regularly. So the next time you want to congratulate a performer, mention that you appreciate all of that time practicing!
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
What is my teaching philosophy?
I’ve written a blog post that generically answers this question. Often, I find that prospective students are looking to see if they are a good fit, and that can only be determined by a phone call and/or a trial lesson. I’m glad to offer both. I do charge my normal teaching rate for a trial lesson. There is no obligation to continue after that.
What is the Right Age to Begin?
I have taught students as young as five years old, and sometimes that works. In other cases, it works better to wait until six or seven. You best know if your child is ready for solitary practice that all students must embrace in order to prepare between lessons. I suggest to parents not to have the fear of missing out: Progress comes quickly when a student is ready to learn. For more information about developmental readiness, please read this article from the Music Teachers National Association (MTNA).
Do I Teach Very Young Children?
I am researching offering exploratory sessions for four- to six-year-olds, as an introduction to the piano and for parents and me to assess the child’s readiness for further private instruction. However, I currently don’t offer such a program.
Do I Teach Teens and Adults?
Yes, I do! In fact, I typically use different materials and am more flexible with my teaching style since teens and adults often have specific goals for taking lessons that are different from younger children.
Who Is My Ideal Student?
Each student has her own goals, personality, and willingness to practice. A good teacher guides a student through peaks and valleys, and a good student keeps practicing through ups and downs. Progress is not always linear: There sometimes will be a long plateau followed by a sudden breakthrough. I really enjoy teaching a student who is motivated to learn, which means motivated to practice! That helps to ease my stress when participating in music festivals and group recitals.