For the last fifteen years, I have taught piano lessons to children, college students, amateurs, and Grammy award-winning professionals. I started teaching while working on my masters degree at The Juilliard School. Since then, I have performed throughout the United States and earned a doctoral degree in piano performance, but these days most of what I do is teach. I am classically trained, though I have worked with students on a range of musical styles. I get tremendous satisfaction from helping my students overcome their challenges. Regardless of the age or experience that a student brings, my goal is to help make piano playing personally enriching and musically satisfying.
Here are the qualities I think you should look for in a teacher and the ways in which I think I offer them.
A teacher should have an ear for what makes music colorful and beautiful. You are welcome to listen to some of my recordings at https://soundcloud.com/david-shimoni-piano. I believe that the goal of musicians should be to attune our inner ears to the music behind the notes that sit on a page before us and then let that music flow through us. We all hear different qualities in the notes, but as long as we honestly try to get inside the notes before we touch our instrument, we can all make beautiful music.
Once we have an idea of the way we want the music to sound, we need technique to produce those sounds. Early in my training, I experienced discomfort from the poor way in which I was playing. As a result, I had to retrain myself completely. I was fortunate enough to find three teachers of the Taubman Approach who helped me to understand the connections between playing in a coordinated way and playing beautifully. As a result of having made many mistakes myself and then overcoming them, I have developed the ability to see what is holding back my students and to help them find better ways of approaching the piano.
The best music for students is the music that motivates them to practice. That said, at certain times, I think some pieces will help a student get to the next level, and others will only tie the student in knots. I have taught a lot of repertoire in a variety of styles. I can give students at any level music that is appropriate for them. I am also always eager to work on music that my students bring me.
To give students skills that directly apply to their playing, I also incorporate theory, ear training, sight reading, and scales into lessons.
Although I have no qualms about teaching students who have electric keyboards, acoustic instruments give better aural feedback to pianists about the health of their technique. At least once a week I make sure my students get to play on an instrument that responds to their efforts with a beautiful sound: either my own 1913 Steinway B, or one of a variety of good grand pianos at the midtown studio where I teach.
Students can expect to learn a lot in their lessons, but lessons usually only happen once a week. The quality and quantity of the student’s practice the rest of the week is critical. At each point in the process of learning a piece, there are different practice methods that help a pianist get to the next step. I think I can see where students are in the learning process and can guide their practice so that their time spent at home is optimized.
Many students enjoy playing music for themselves, but when they are asked to play for others, the joy of the experience turns into fear of embarrassment. There is no quick and easy solution to performance anxiety, but having worked through it in hundreds of performances, I can say there are certainly ways to reduce it and even make performing joyful. Understanding that playing for others is an experience of sharing, not “impressing,” and practicing in a way that helps one to see, hear, and feel the music the instant before one plays it are at the core of my method.
I teach children and adult students. I do not force anyone to perform, though I encourage it. I am a member of two associations of independent piano teachers that sponsor recitals and competitions for my young students. My adult students and I usually get together at my apartment twice a year for a piano-food-fest.
Ultimately, there is no single way to teach all students. Students come to me with different degrees of musical training, physical awareness and dexterity, musical tastes, discipline, and patience. It is my job to figure out what will light each student’s fire and help them to practice through their challenges so that they can enjoy the beautiful and all-consuming experience of making music.
I invite you to try a lesson.
Described by the American Record Guide as a pianist whose playing “was as smooth as velvet,” David Shimoni has appeared in recital in New York’s Zankel Hall, Weill Recital Hall, Alice Tully Hall, and Museum of Modern Art. He has also performed at the Barns at Wolf Trap, the Chicago Cultural Center, the Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts, and the Dallas Museum of Art. He has been a guest artist at the Chautauqua, Brevard, Moab, Foothills, and Rockport music festivals, and his performances have been broadcast on radio stations WGBH-Boston, WFMT-Chicago, and WQXR-New York.
· Piano · In studio I had a great experience taking piano lessons from David. After several years away from the piano, I wasn't entirely sure where to start. David took me back to the beginning and focused on fundamentals and technique. Not only did this improve my playing, but it also helped me develop awareness of areas that I could work on when I practiced. I found David to be a wonderful teacher who teaches a good balance of technique and artistry, and I would take lessons with him again.
· Piano · In studio Lessons with David were my favorite time of the week during college. He worked on both basic techniques and finer details and nuances, which made the lessons very creatively satisfying. As a student, I hold him in the highest regard. If you haven't signed up for a lesson, you're missing out!
· Piano · In studio I always wanted to learn how to play the piano and it wasn't until the age of 29 that I decided that there was no better time than now to start taking lessons. As a beginner, I am so thankful to have David as my teacher. He stressed the importance of technique even though he knows that I just really want to learn how to play so I could show off at a dinner party. Without this, I wouldn't have progressed as quickly as I have. He is incredibly patient, which is what I like most about him as a teacher. Given that I started with David as a true beginner, he had to go over the same things repeatedly, for months on end, and he was never once impatient. He also thinks about his students outside of his lessons and that speaks volumes. I only like certain types of music and am quite stubborn about only playing what I like. He not only understands this but will send me links to songs and brings pieces of music to our lesson because I often have difficulty finding pieces that I like or that are the right fit for my skill level.
If it weren't for David's steadfast positivity, his kindness and his genuine desire to see me grow and learn as a piano player, I would not still be taking lessons from him three plus years later. Luckily for me, that is not the case and I look forward to having many more lessons with him. I highly recommend David as a teacher!
· Piano · In home My son, age 8, has been taking lessons with David for two years, and we have found him to be a deeply thoughtful, compassionate and highly musical teacher. He brings rigor yet gentle patience to each lesson. He brings enormous creativity to craft the lesson so that it 'meets' my son at his own level. My son is not the easiest student, and yet David keeps him engaged. I also very much appreciate David's attention to technique so that good habits are at the very foundation of learning to play. David brings a responsiveness and understanding of children that is truly exceptional. We have seen great progress with him!
· Piano · In studio I started lessons with David in my early thirties (I had played drums for many years but not much piano) and was blown away by how quickly he recognized the particular ways that I learn. I never once felt like he was running me through the same lessons he'd done with other students, which is an issue with many teachers. He was focused and attentive 100% of the time while maintaining a sense of humor and never being "strict" in the way that classical piano teachers can be (as distinct from "precise" and "attentive to detail," both of which he is). He knew how to challenge me in ways that were fun, and how to keep me just slightly uncomfortable so that I learned rapidly without feeling overwhelmed. He's also excellent at articulating the wide variety of sensations (physical, emotional, and psychological) involved with learning to play an instrument.
David is also an exceptionally compassionate and generous person and his presence next to me at the piano was always a positive one, equal parts challenging and supporting. I really cannot recommend David Shimoni highly enough as either a piano teacher or a human being.
It may also be worth noting that I'd sometimes leave my lesson and see a child coming down the hallway for theirs, running ahead of their parent, smiling and excited to see David, which lead me to believe his magic works on children as well as an overly intellectual 32 year-old.
· Piano · In home My family has had three very rewarding experiences working with David.
I was a fairly serious piano-player until my 20s, then played off and on. When I was 49 I decided that I'd like to mark my 50th by giving a short piano recital. David was willing to take up the challenge of working with me. He started by literally re-teaching me techniques, which on the one-hand was frustrating in the short-term and on the other hand was absolutely necessary in the long-term. He guided me in selecting appropriate repertoire - challenging, but not so extremely difficult that I could't handle it. And he patiently worked with me for a year as I learned Brahms, Schubert, Bach, and others. And, with his help, I did it. My recital was one of the most rewarding things I've ever done. David helped me technically and musically, but was also extremely supportive emotionally as I grappled with nerves, self-doubt, frustration, etc. along the way.
On another note, David taught both my children, now 15 and 13. My now-13 year-old son had some talent, but was a distracted student. David worked with him patiently for 2 years, and my son's playing improved. He just never practiced. Finally, I realized that no amount of maternal nagging was going to get a teenager to do something he wasn't into, and I told David I thought we should stop. I credit David with being completely understanding and agreeable -he wasn't trying to 'keep' a student for the sake of a lesson fee.
And finally, my daughter started lessons with David after having had lessons for several years with another teacher. David worked on re-doing her technique. It took a bit of time for her to get into the groove, but now she is really enjoying her practicing, enjoying her lessons, and making fast progress.
From all of this, I can safely say that David is an adaptable, flexible teacher, who has his student's best interests at heart. I would highly recommend him as a teacher. Try him!
· Piano · In studio David was my teacher throughout middle and high school, and I absolutely attribute my continued passion for piano and music today to him. Not only did he shape and build my technical abilities as a player, but he also nurtured my respect for myself as both a performer and a learner.
David has a wonderful ability to help guide your ear through the music, letting you explore and really appreciate what you're working on. Though he did place a lot of focus on physical technique, he always made it clear that honing this control was ultimately for the purpose of letting yourself be free and expressive.
He also always stressed the importance of good posture, form and body awareness at the keyboard, which is a quality I've found lacking in other teachers. I'll always carry with me David's great lessons on how to practice correctly and efficiently - breaking down passages, gradually building it back up, and making sure not to create bad habits!
As for his personality, David is an incredibly sweet, honest and caring person. Though he was always very kind, he was also not afraid to speak his mind and be upfront about anything he was concerned with - and remembering back to my angsty middle school days, he did an incredible job balancing love and tough love, voicing any concerns but always respecting me and my choices.
· Piano · In studio David is a good piano teacher. During the two years my 10 year old daughter has studied with him, she has learned sight reading, ear training, scales, theory, and new techniques that allow her to play comfortably and musically. She likes to take piano lessons with David because she says that he listens to her suggestions and finds solutions that they both like. He is a very responsible teacher since he always prepares her well for piano recitals and exams. I highly recommend David as a piano teacher.
· Piano · In studio I have been a guitarist all of my natural life and was stuck progressing on keyboards. Being a rock, funk pop kinda of player in bands I could get by - but there was something missing no matter how I practiced.
Taking lessons with David opened the musical door to progressing on the keyboards. The proper mechanics and musicality have given me the tools to advance to better musicianship!
· Piano · In studio I have been playing the piano on and off for years, since I was a child. I recently started to get more serious about my piano playing but after a while I realized I am running into technical obstacles - something was just not right.
Haven't had a teacher for many years, I decided to try 3-4 teachers. David was by the far the most patient and provided immediate insight, so I decided to learn with him. For the first months, I had to unlearn some bad habits and learn proper hand/finger formation and movement.
After a while, I started playing whole pieces again. David can observe from the side and has great technical insight if corrections are to be made, both technically and musically. I felt like I am learning something new and right almost each lesson.
Looking back, after learning with David, I can't believe I played many years in a different technical manner. Everything that I learned with him I apply to new pieces I learn or old ones I get back to. David truly helped me transform the manner in which I play and practice.
The only "negative" thing I can say about him is that he is too nice and should have been a little bit harsh on me when I got lazy (but then again, I am a 38 years old person).