What is your philosophy and what elements of music do you stress in your teaching?

  1. Nurturing a life-long love for music.
  2. Encouraging independence by developing strong self-evaluation skills and knowing the right tools to use in practicing.
  3. Developing and coordinating the senses of hearing, seeing and touching as students learn to play an instrument or sing.
  4. Learning strong sight-playing and sight-singing skills.
  5. Develop ear learning strategies and skills.
  6. Selecting repertoire that is challenging and motivating.  I firmly believe that students should be exposed to many styles, but that they are best motivated when playing music they enjoy. 
  7. Maintaining a strong emphasis on music theory and history.  Mastery of such elements as pitch, rhythm, fingerings, dynamics, timbre, tempo, form, texture, key and chord structure, tonality, and style are of the utmost importance. These elements are stressed as we analyze the repertoire that is being learned.
  8. Striving for excellence and preparing some of the pieces of music to a level intended to be presented in public.  This often means learning pieces by memory and performed at a recital.  I am hoping to develop a plan for sharing an online recital for my students at some point in the near future.  The whole process of having online students from many locations is a new challenge that I relish.

Are lessons available for all ages?

It differs for various types of lessons, but I do teach all ages, including adults.

What is the advantage of a free trial?

It allows me to get to know you, including any previous musical experience.  You also get to know me along with my style of teaching.  Since we will be using an online method such as Zoom for now, it also gives us a chance to get any technical issues worked out.

Where do I buy music?

In some cases, particularly for piano and guitar, I still have people purchase physical books to use.  For voice and band instruments, there are lots of options, but many times it is cheaper to purchase digital copies online and download the music directly.

What are some of the specific details about piano lessons?

The approach for teaching piano varies with the age of the student. I usually make a recommendation for you in terms of books or other materials, but I am flexible in that regard, particularly if you have a preferred method or have already been taking lessons elsewhere. I started taking piano at the age of four and it has been my major performance instrument throughout my career. Even though the majority of my students have been at the elementary level, I feel very comfortable working with any age. I have started piano students as young as age four if they are ready. The youngest students may need a little more parental assistance with their lesson and practicing. Learning to play the piano provides an excellent foundation for music learning, no matter what the student does in later years. You will need to have a piano or electronic keyboard in your home in order to take these online lessons. The camera on your device should be at a position and angle that allows me to see the keyboard and the student’s hands.

What are some of the specific details about voice lessons?

Voice lessons can be given at any age, but most of my voice students tend to be upper elementary through adult. I stress three main areas:

  1. Developing good singing techniques such as proper breathing, using consistent and resonant timbre and vowels, reducing muscle tension and strain, maintaining good posture, and increasing pitch and rhythm accuracy. Training the ear and mind by using echoes of solfège patterns and other scale work.
  2. Developing sight-reading skills by using short passages arranged to advance through progressive levels.
  3. Applying skills learned in the first two categories to singing repertoire that is challenging and motivating for each student.

What are some of the specific details about guitar lessons?

Most of my guitar students are from about third grade and up. Smaller guitars are available for younger students. My preferred guitar book at this time is “Guitar Sessions” by Kevin Dailey. I like the approach of this book primarily because of its emphasis on learning to play by note rather than just teaching chords. I believe it is important for students to learn to play melodies and learn chords at the same time. Their ability to read music is strongly enhanced by using that kind of method. The book also has a CD that can be used with many of the songs as an accompaniment.

What are some of the specific details about lessons for band instruments?

During most of my public school teaching, part of my duties involved teaching beginning and second level band students. That is still my specialty, but I have had private students continue with me into the high school and even adult level. I often find that band students are already in a school band or are planning to do so. It usually works best if we go ahead and use whatever band book or other music that the school is using. I often supplement that by having students pick out other solo repertoire that they might want to play. Buying music online is usually easy and affordable.

What if I need to cancel? What If I forget my lesson?

If you know ahead of time that you need to cancel, notify me as soon as possible and we will work together to try to reschedule the lesson. If you choose to skip the lesson rather than reschedule or if your lesson is a no-show, you will still be charged for that lesson. I do understand that there will be uncontrollable circumstances, so I will allow two absences at no charge due to illness, family emergencies or bad weather from January through June and another two absences for the same issues from July through December.

What happens if the teacher needs to cancel?

If I need to cancel your lesson, I will contact you and we will try to reschedule. If that is not possible, you will be given either a credit or a refund. I may be gone at certain times for trips, holidays, etc. and will let you know as far ahead of time as possible.

What particular requirements are there for Zoom or other online lessons?

My preferred method of teaching at the moment is Zoom, although I’m sure we could work out something like Google Meet, FaceTime, etc. Zoom is easy for almost anyone to use. I have found over the last several months that using the Zoom app on some type of computer (such as a desktop computer or laptop) works the best if it is available. There are more video and audio settings that are usually not available on a phone app. However, using Zoom on a phone app will work if that is all that you have available. I will send a Zoom link to you about five minutes prior to the lesson. That can be sent via email, text, Messenger, etc. It works best if I send the link to the device that you are using for the Zoom session. That way, all you need to do is to click the link and open the Zoom app. You will then need to enable both the audio and the video down in the left-hand corner of the screen. At our initial session, I can talk you through a few of the audio settings needed to improve the sound quality. If you really want superior audio and/or video, you can purchase separate USB cameras and microphones to hook up to your computer.

What if I need to purchase an instrument?

Depending on your location, I will try to help you locate a place to purchase what you need.