Viva Zhao

Viva Z.

San Jose, CA

Lesson Details

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Viva teaches



Viva delivers an exceptional lesson experience and ranks in the top 15% of our teachers nationwide.
Teaches students:
Ages 5+ and special needs

Teaching since:
February 2007

Degree: Piano Performance, Eastman School of Music.

As a concert pianist, Viva grew up performing and teaching music. Viva graduated from the Eastman School of Music under world-renowned piano pedagogue Nelita True.
Over the years, she has won numerous national piano competitions in the states and Canada and debuted with numerous professional orchestras including Eastman Symphony Orchestra and Parkdale Orchestra. Additionally, she held numerous solo and student recitals recognized by TV stations such WCTV, as well as several newspapers including the Boston Globe, Andover Townsman, and Wilmington Advocate newspapers.
In addition to performing, Viva's greatest passion is in teaching. Her beginner students grow an average of 2 years worth of study within the first year. Her former piano students' levels ranged from beginner to advanced, and their ages ranged from 4 to 30. Two of her previously held student recitals were recognized by the Boston Globe and as a result of its success, one of which was recorded by WCTV for broadcast. Viva also speak English, Spanish, and Chinese fluently and have taught in these languages.

Theory and Pedagogical Approach:
"My students are not just masters of notes, but also masters of performance. My pedagogical approach centers on developing technique, theory, harmony, aural skills, but also artistry and showmanship. Apart from being taught the structural and aesthetic components of music, my students are taught the art of performance. Each of them is a showman and a stage performer. Two student recitals are held annually, and all friends and family are encouraged to join."

*** Lesson Details ***
Each lesson focus on developing technique, aural skills and performance. Technique strengthens and develops students' fingers and provides the foundation. Aural skills includes ear training and singing, will develop the students' sense of pitch and tone. Performance will develop students' ability to master new songs and get ready to perform in front of others.
For beginners and intermediate students, I use the Alfred Series, Bastien Series and Thompson Series. For advanced students, heavy repertoire by well-known composers will be assigned.

*** Studio Equipment ***
Upright piano, seating for parents, living room

*** Travel Equipment ***
A piano

*** Specialties ***
Levels: Beginner's, intermediate and advanced piano. While the focus is classical, there is also a lot of time for popular, jazz and ragtime. Lessons can be taught in English, Spanish, and Chinese. Students will have multiple opportunities to perform in public settings, in studio concerts or talent shows.

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Private Piano Teacher
Sep 2005 - Aug 2014
Studio Teaching


Master of Arts, Master of Education, Bachelor of Music, Bachelor of Science
Sep 2007 - May 2011
Eastman School of Music, University of Rochester, University of Chicago


English, Spanish, Mandarin Chinese
Fluent / Native Proficiency


Piano Performance, Music Education, Secondary Education, Middle School Education
Dec 2011
Eastman School of Music, University of Chicago

Piano Performance
Music Education
Cognitive Sciences


George Eastman Scholarship
Sep 2009
Eastman School of Music


California Professional Music Teachers Association
Jun 2015

CAPMT is the California State Affiliate of the Music Teachers National Association (MTNA). CAPMT is a 501(c)(3) non-profit music teachers organization of over 1,000 members, teaching in independent studios, private and public schools, conservatories, colleges, and universities throughout California.

CAPMT offers a variety of state programs for the music student and education and professional opportunities for its members. California is divided into nine geographical districts, some of which are subdivided into chapters. The districts and chapters provide local opportunities for student performances, competitions, evaluations, and for teacher enrichment, education, and interaction.

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National Education Association
Sep 2011

The National Education Association (NEA), the nation's largest professional employee organization, is committed to advancing the cause of public education. NEA's 3 million members work at every level of education—from pre-school to university graduate programs. NEA has affiliate organizations in every state and in more than 14,000 communities across the United States.

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Photos & Videos

Students rehearsing a duet in preparation for a Student Rehearsal in Chicago.
Photo by Viva Z.

Photo by Viva Z.

Photo by Viva Z.

Photo by Viva Z.

Photo by Viva Z.


11 Reviews

Write a Review
Anand J Sep 10, 2016
Piano · In studio

I have been taking Piano lessons (adult beginner) with Viva for 5 months now and have had a great experience so far! Viva is an accomplished pianist and an exceptional teacher, a unique combination of skills that make for engaging lessons. She strikes a great balance between foundational technique (practice routines, co-ordination, finger exercises, sight reading etc) and working on different genres of songs keeping things interesting. She selects songs which challenge me appropriately and patiently works with me through the difficult parts while constantly encouraging the effort being put in. It’s more than notes and keys with Viva as she constantly emphasizes on the nuances of Piano performance incorporating different kinds of dynamics in the song to keep the audience entertained. I would highly recommend lessons with Viva to any aspiring pianist ! I am certain it will be a rewarding experience!

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Robin W. Aug 12, 2016
Piano · In studio

As a self-taught hobbyist playing exclusively by ear, I couldn't believe I was able to sight read Fur elise and music with similar difficulty in less than a month span with Viva. I guess a lot of piano players without formal training on sight reading and music theory will feel me in terms of lacking motivation on reading music. Viva really motivated me with her talent, knowledge, and patience. The materials on each class were carefully chosen to make sure they were neither too easy nor too intimidating, so that I could gradually and steadily build my confidence, which is the key for me to keep practicing. If you were like me, who has a specific weakness you find extremely hard to improve by yourself, I would highly recommend Viva to fuel your passion.

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Pamela O. Feb 12, 2016
Piano · In studio

Viva is amazing!! How did I get so lucky to find an instructor that is so passionate, talented, patient, and pleasant. She makes learning fun. I will definitely be taking more lessons and am excited to work with her.

Linda L. Feb 3, 2016
Classical Piano · In studio

Ms Viva is a patient, loving teacher. My 11-year-old son loves her piano lesson and has more motivation at practice since he started learning from Ms Viva.

Hai Jan 22, 2016
Piano · In studio

I have already taken 2 lessons with Viva, and I am loving it! I have no musical background or experience, but Viva explains everything in a very clear way which makes it easy and fast to learn. She is very patient and nice person. You won't regret if you take lessons with her!

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Justin W. Jan 9, 2016
Piano · In studio

Viva is an amazing piano teacher. My son really likes her after the first class!

Maricela Aug 23, 2015
Classical Piano · In studio

Thanks to Viva, my daughter, age 13, absolutely loves playing in front of people- in her school, at church, talent shows, competitions etc. Viva's taught her the art of performance. I'm a very satisfied and appreciative mother.

Michael B. Mar 3, 2015
Piano · In studio

Enthusiastic, personable, and professional teacher! Really thankful for the opportunities to perform.

Cole R. Mar 1, 2015
Piano · In home

Very fun, patient and loving teacher! My daughter loves piano lessons!
Can't recommend highly enough!

Jay R. Jan 7, 2015
Piano · In home

My two sons 9 and 7 studied piano with Viva for 2 years. She is so much fun, so patient and so wonderfully good with children. My sons started piano with Viva and love playing and performing since the first lesson. My older son took lessons first, and because he would not get off the piano, my younger son wanted to take up piano too. They play duets now at home and look forward to going to piano lessons and performing for people once in a while. Really made the best choice in selecting Viva!

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Mermer W. Aug 16, 2014
Piano · In studio

My daughter took lessons with Viva in Chicago and she was absolutely the best piano / music teacher. My daughter began piano with another teacher and did not enjoy playing piano so we decided to look around for another teacher in hopes of finding someone who can inspire her. A good friend recommended Viva so we decided to try some lessons. My daughter came out of her first lesson excited and confident. Ever since, she was excited to go to lessons every week and practiced daily without me asking her to. Her growth was fast and weekly visible. Most importantly, her love for music transformed. My daughter also participated in multiple talent shows and piano recitals, some arranged by Viva, others she volunteered to play in. It's so unfortunate and sad that Viva had to transfer cities. It was a hard shift for my daughter to start again with another teacher, as she still misses Viva.
My family gives Viva the highest recommendations.

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