To me, being a good teacher means teaching students how to teach themselves. I do this by helping them understand how to apply their own personal learning style at the piano and by spending a lot of time working on developing good practicing techniques. While time spent with me during lessons is very valuable, the majority of time a student spends at the piano is on their own. So I believe it is most important for students to be motivated to practice and know how to practice effectively. The amount of time a student should practice varies depending on their level and their goals. For all students it is important to practice every day. Young beginners may not need to practice more than 10 minutes per day, but more advanced students should expect to practice anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour or more a day.
I use a variety of methods that are chosen based on a student’s interests and abilities. Some students work best in a structured method book such as The Music Tree, Bastien Piano Basics, or Alfred’s Adult Piano Course. Other students need a more varied approach which might be derived from sheet music selected from various sources and supplemental books like fake books, Music Theory for Practical People, or Harmonic Foundations For Jazz And Popular Music.* I believe that music is about self expression and that students should have the opportunity to pursue music they are passionate about. I always provide guidance in selecting music and materials that will be appropriately challenging and enjoyable to work on. There is something to be learned from all music and I enjoy teaching all styles.
*All books listed above are examples. While I do use these books, there are many others that I use often. If you have specific questions about methods, feel free to contact me.
I don’t believe that students should be judged against any standard other than their own. Music is not about competition. However, it can be valuable for students to perform and take evaluations as a way to recognize achievement and gauge progress. I encourage kids who are enrolled in the Academic Emphasis Program to take an annual test and perform at least once each year. However, because I understand that performances and tests are not for everyone, they are not required of any student.