What are your rates?
Please contact the studio for current tuition rates.
When should my child start taking piano lessons?
Each child’s temperament, ability to focus, and follow simple instruction is different. Many children are not ready for private, one-on-one lessons until first grade, as the classroom setting helps them “learn how to learn” and gives them an idea of how the teacher-student relationship works. On the other hand, very young children who are innately drawn to the piano and understand the concept of playing or practicing their pieces at home between lessons also make wonderful students. It’s very helpful if your child has interest in playing the piano, because that will go a long way towards keeping them motivated. So, the best age to start is different for every child. I highly recommend reading this article about what age is appropriate to start piano lessons here. Please feel free to email the studio any questions if you are not sure your child is ready. It’s important to remember that there is no rush. A student forced into lessons at the age of five will learn no more than an child of seven who enthusiastically welcomes lessons, and understands what’s required to learn.
I try to break up lessons with young children into different segments, as focusing too long on one task (especially one involving difficult small motor skils) can put a damper on how fun a lesson can be. We’ll play a variety of music games to build their musical vocabulary and to introduce new musical concepts, we’ll spend some time at the piano working on technique and note reading, and perhaps end with some simple, fun composition. We’ll also use different parts of the studio (i.e. start with games on the carpet, move to the piano, and finish with composition on the keyboard). Kids are always suprised at how fast lesson time goes by!
What can I do to prepare my child for piano lessons?
1. Play music as much as possible at home.
2. Sing with your child and engage them in the music with lots of motions. Help your child match the pitches that you are singing and help him or her walk, clap, sway, march, jump or do any fun motion to the beat of the music.
3. Let your child experiment with musical instruments. On the piano, black key melodies are good as first pieces (black keys stick up higher than the white keys and are therefore easier to find and press down than the white keys. Chopin used to teach his beginning students the B major scale – a scale that uses all of the black keys – because he thought it was easier for beginner hands to grasp.). Kitchen pots, pans and wooden spoons are fun first instruments. Also, egg shakers, tambourines, and small glockenspiels are good introductions to the world of making music. Play music your child enjoys and have a family jam session!
4. Enroll your child in a group music class. Group classes like Music Together and Music For Aardvarks and Other Mammals are great introductions to the joys of making music. Group settings are great for younger children as they learn best through play. They can also be fun for parents too!
When should my child start taking voice lessons?
Voice lessons are a different matter. The voice is a very abstract instrument. You can’t see what you are manipulating, so you must understand the way a sound feels. Because many vocal concepts are abstract, a young child may not be developmentally ready for them. Also, because their bodies are still growing, changes are taking place constantly that may interrupt the learning process. It’s preferable to let their voice mature to a point where instruction is beneficial, around the ages of 13 to 14 for girls and 15 for boys. It is possible for a younger child to take voice lessons, but the focus will be on repetoire and expression with perhaps some gentle tips for how not to abuse the vocal chords and on breathing.
How do I register for lessons?
1.) Please email firstname.lastname@example.org with your name or child’s name, age and years of study (if they are transferring from another teacher).
2.) Once we’ve found an available time in the schedule, we will set up a time to have a trial lesson. The trial lesson will run just like a regular lesson so we both can see how well we work together. Trial lessons are normally 30 minutes.
3.) Once the trial lesson is complete and you decide you’d like to continue on with lessons:
- You’ll fill out the necessary registration forms (either at the time of the trial lesson or via email) and submit your payment.
- I’ll give you a quick run down of the studio policies, which you’ll sign and return.
- I’ll help you find the books and resources you need.
And we’re off!
Will you come to my house to teach lessons?
Unfortunately, I am not traveling teacher. While I understand and sympathize with the scheduling difficulties involved with coming to my studio, I teach exclusively in my studio for these reasons:
- Children have an easier time concentrating in a different place.
- Distractions are minimized and lesson time maximized.
- I am able to offer my lessons for a more competitive rate.
- I am able to teach more students in my available lesson times.
- I have my multitudes of music books and teaching materials on hand for easy access.
Where are you located?
The studio is located at 117B Underhill Ave. (btw. Prospect Pl. and St. Marks Pl.) in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn – one block from the Underhill playground and PS 9. For a map of the studio’s location, please visit the Contact PHM page.
Do I need to buy a piano?
In short, yes. It is advisable to play at home on a real, acoustic piano. Though digital pianos have come a long way in terms of feeling, sounding, and even looking more like the real thing, a digital instrument will never be able to replace an acoustic instrument. As a child, I was instantly drawn to real pianos. I just wanted to play them all day! The plastic pianos seemed more like toys that I would eventually outgrow, like all toys. Renting a piano is fairly easy and affordable in Brooklyn. Please scroll down for suggestions of places to rent a piano in Brooklyn. If you absolutely cannot rent a piano, then a digital piano will work for a while. Please read this post for suggestions on the best digital pianos to buy.
Where can I rent a piano in NYC?
What teaching method do you use?
I use a combination of the Kodaly and Orff methods (emphasis on singing and ear-training, connecting rhythm to dance and movement, understanding music via play and encouragement of improvisation) along with exercises and games I’ve created throughout the years. I believe lessons should be fun and active. I also use a variety of teaching materials including the Piano Adventures series and Dozen A Day method books. I advocate for non-position piano playing as much as possible, but recognize it’s helpfulness in regards to keyboard orientation.
Are you trained in the Suzuki method?
No. I don’t see anything inherently wrong with the Suzuki method, but I also don’t feel it should be the only method applied when teaching young children how to play the piano. I understand it’s efficacy, particularly when teaching very young children who aren’t of reading age, and particularly when playing an instrument where tuning is a key issue, like the violin. Suzuki removes the visual aspect of music in the beginning and focuses solely on the physical and aural aspects. This makes learning easier. But I do feel that strict adherence to the Suzuki method does not teach a student how to read or think about music, as they are simply parroting the teacher. I feel this takes away any initiative offered to the student to explore more music on their own, and to dive into more and more advanced music. Additionally, for a pianist, reading music is especially important and difficult. Unlike most instruments, pianists must read and recognize multiple notes spanning two different clefs at once within a given rhythm. When students aren’t learning how to read music from the get-go, I’ve found they are VERY discouraged when they realize they need to learn ANOTHER way of understanding music. I believe it’s best to start the way you are going to continue. If you want to read music, you should start that way.
I see you’ve been in operas. Do you teach classical voice only?
Technique is technique, whether you are singing classical, pop, jazz, show tunes, gregorian chant or anything in between. Good technique is essential for healthy vocal growth. I cover the basics of human anatomy (as it applies to singing), correct breathing and air support, phonation, tone, as well as various vocal styles such as rock, R&B, classical, etc.