My goal as a teacher is to instill an enjoyment of music that my students will carry with them throughout their lives.
One-on-one piano lessons can and should be one of the most fulfilling, transformative experiences in a student’s life.
I believe I have a responsibility to be totally focused on helping my students find out how they can become the best person they can be through the medium of music. By the time I have finished teaching them, my students know not only how to play some wonderful music, but how to learn efficiently, how to practise efficiently, how to harness their own enthusiasm, and how to develop their own self-discipline. They will also have had lots of fun.
Designed for you
I treat each of my students as an individual, adapting my lessons so that all of my students are exposed to material that excites their own particular taste. This sometimes leads to unexpected places - for example one student was an enormous fan of Doctor Who, so we worked together to write an arrangement of the theme tune. Another student was determined to learn to play a Taylor Swift’s Blank Space on the piano, so I wrote a suitable arrangement for her.
Many of my students prefer an informal approach to learning the piano but some of my students are more likely to reach their full potential when following a formal route. I prepare these students for examinations with ABRSM, helping them gain an internationally recognised qualification. I studied for these examinations myself as a child and my students currently have a 100% success rate.
I expose my students to exciting new music that expands their horizons. Classical music naturally forms an important part of my teaching repertoire, but I also give my students the opportunities to play pop songs, improvise jazz, play rock and boogie woogie.
I love to compose and improvise at the piano, and I believe it’s really important to give all my students the opportunity to explore their creativity. Improvisation and composition can be a very effective way for a student to enhance their learning as they are challenged to take their pre-existing knowledge and apply it in creative ways. My students all enjoy full access to Noteflight Learn, a powerful online music writing software suite, which they can use to compose, or to write their own arrangements of their favourite music.
Piano lessons should be enjoyable but, like any skill, there are aspects of learning the piano that are not always fun. Students need a solid theoretical understanding and I take care to present this so that it is relevant to their learning, which makes it more interesting. With younger students I find that fun games are an excellent way of reinforcing this learning process, so you will often see us playing a board or card game, or running around the room, or clapping and jumping up and down.
Making theory fun
Likewise, earning the discipline required to become a good pianist is not always enjoyable. I emphasise the importance of self-discipline. I do not shout at my students if they do not practise, rather I will ask them “why?” I expect my students to think about what they want to get out of piano lessons, and to work towards achieving that goal. Sometimes students have goals that are unrealistic and, rather than saying “no, that’s unrealistic”, my goal then becomes to help the student develop either the self-discipline required to achieve their goal, or the perspective to say “maybe later”.
Watching my students learn these valuable life skills is one of the reasons why I wrote above that "one-on-one piano lessons can and should be one of the most fulfilling, transformative experiences in a student’s life”. It is about more than just learning to play wonderful music on the piano, it is about exploring our potential as human beings. That is why I love my job.