Are you interested in learning piano, or do you have a child who is? I can't wait to help you turn this desire into reality! My name is Amy, and I am a piano teacher who specializes in teaching children. I descend from a long line of musicians (both my mother and grandmother were piano teachers) and have played piano for 21 years, studying with a private instructor for 13 of those. I received my BFA at Goddard College (’14) and my MFA at Boston University (’16).
Over the past six years I have taught piano to students of all ages and levels in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Boston, Massachusetts, and now Columbus! As a member of the Ohio Music Teacher’s Association, I can offer your child multiple performance opportunities throughout the year, as well as small group lessons in my studio. Learning an instrument is beneficial for many reasons. Aside from the obvious enjoyment one gets out of playing beautiful music, working at a skill week after week helps children build confidence and grow in all areas of life. I coach my students to take pride in their accomplishments, to exude an air of assurance and poise when sitting at the piano, and to become self-directed learners.
MY TEACHING PHILOSOPHY:
One of the wonderful (and obvious) benefits of private instruction is that each student's unique abilities and shortcomings can be brought into clear focus and addressed. I am highly skilled at encouraging students through a careful balance of praise and constructive criticism. I make sure they are aware of (and take pride in) their strengths so that when challenging moments arise, they are motivated to do the work.
I maintain high expectations for my students, constantly reminding them that it's the quality (not the quantity) of their playing that counts. It is much more important to me that a student learns to play one piece well rather than ten pieces poorly. There is no race to the finish line. I believe in taking however much time is necessary to help a child understand a concept—we might spend the majority of a lesson on it if we have to. Learning must be done at the child's own speed. Children benefit enormously from having 100% of my attention during lessons; they will never need to try and "catch up" with other students.
Most method books for young students focus on teaching the child to read notes on a page, and as one can only learn to read music so fast, children are therefore stuck playing songs that keep the hands rooted on or around Middle C. There are so many problems with this method, least of all the fact that it's quite boring. A bigger issue is the lack of focus on technique and playing. Children are naturally musical--they love to sing and dance. Playing piano should be no different. Children can be taught songs using no music at all; rather, they can learn simple melodies by identifying patterns on the piano. This helps train their ear AND frees the child up to focus on technique rather than scrutinizing the notes on the page. My students get to use the entire keyboard almost right away (both black keys and white keys) rather than being crowded around Middle C.
Another issue with the Middle C position is that it creates an awkward twisting inward of the wrists, which breeds tension. The first thing students should learn is how to play with relaxed wrists, not tense ones!! This is one of the building blocks of good piano technique. Keeping kids rooted around Middle C for the first six months of their piano education does not set them up for good technique.
Now, all of this is not to say that I don't teach children to read music--I do. Absolutely! I introduce intervals and guide notes as soon as possible. I think the intervallic approach is super useful, especially when dealing with children who are coached from a young age to look for patterns. Alongside reading music, though, it is important to teach songs that are only for playing.
For beginning students, I like to use the Piano Safari method. These books offer a wonderful blend of rote pieces (for playing, not reading) and reading pieces that use the intervallic approach. These pieces are fun and engaging--some parents complain about how their children won't stop practicing them! Here is a sampling book of other books and materials I may use:
Beginning Students: Tales of a Musical Journey Books 1 + 2, Piano Safari Books 1 + 2, Carl Czerny's The Little Pianist, Bastien Piano Literature Book 1, Royal Conservatory Series Preparatory Books A & B and Book 1
Intermediate Students: Piano Safari Book 3, Bastien Piano Literature Books 2-4, Royal Conservatory Series Books 2-6
Advanced Students: Bastien Piano Literature Books 5-6, Early Advanced Classics to Moderns, Royal Conservatory Series Books 7-10