I enjoy working with complete beginners as well as seasoned professionals. I teach classical and popular styles. I specialize in teaching learning how to learn, sight-reading, technique, improvisation, chord-reading, songwriting. One of my specialties is to help you break through your most stubborn blocks. These might be the strangest things that you think no one would ever understand -- fear of playing in public, feeling like your left hand is uncoordinated, practice procrastination, pain when playing, pain when reading notation, memory issues, musical dyslexia... ANYTHING. I can help you and I will never make you feel embarrassed.
*** All Levels, All Styles ***
*** In Studio or Online ***
Of course it is more enjoyable if you can have lessons in person. But with modern technology, live online lessons come in a close second. I've been teaching for 40 years and I've been doing online lessons for about 7 years. I'm located in West Hills, which is a suburb of Los Angeles. If you are not local, using skype with a webcam works out surprisingly well. I have students in Sydney, London, Hong Kong and many cities throughout the US.
*** Use a Piano or a Keyboard for Practicing ***
I am not fussy if you use a keyboard but it needs to be a "weighted action" keyboard, so that it feels similar to a real piano. Ideally, you should also have a pedal and a stand if you are using an electronic keyboard.
*** Unconventional Approach ***
Each student is taught with a customized approach. You get to tell me what areas you want to focus on. Sometimes there may be a block or something that is a weakness that you need to bolster. Sometimes it is a narrow niche within music that you want to give your attention to. One way that I'm unconventional is that I actually have found that it is NOT better if you practice every day. I recommend that you build in about three days of rest per week. Just like people who work out at the gym learn that the off days are when the muscles regenerate, the same is true for your brain. This allows your subconscious mind to do its job and your progress will actually be faster, not slower. Another example of my unique approach is how I treat beginners. Even though you may not yet read music very well or at all, it doesn't mean that you can't start working concurrently on a more advanced piece. This is because READING notation is a comparatively slow process, but why should we restrict your ability to play something that you love to your rate of reading music? Usually, our FINGER TECHNIQUE develops much faster than our READING so I'm happy to guide you on one or two more difficult pieces and help spoon-feed it to you, bit by bit, "by rote."
*** Areas of Focus ***
-Finger Technique. How to play fast with ultimate control.
-Sight-Reading How to Read Music at Sight
-Relaxation, Removing Unnecessary Tension
-Practice-Optimization - How to learn more in less time. -How to memorize music.
-Biomechanical Efficiency - Maximum power with minimum effort.
-Improvisation and creativity development techniques
-Composition & Songwriting.
-How to create melodies for your poems and lyrics.
-How to put chords on your melodies.
-How to create “song sheets,” lead sheets and how to write music down on paper.
-How to notate your song so others can play it, without knowing how to read music!
-Chord-Reading and How to Play Lead Sheets & Fake Book
-Musical Styles and Piano Arrangements (Pop, Country, Gospel, Blues, R&B, Rock, Reggae, Hip Hop, Worship, Church, Hymns, Techno, 50s, Jazz, New Age, Folk, Broadway, Pop Ballade, etc.)
-Ear-Training (How to Play by Ear, Playing by Ear)
-Pitch Control Training
-How to Sing Harmony
-Sight-Singing (How to Hear the Notes in Your Mind)
-Self-Accompanying techniques in every style - Learn how to accompany yourself or learn how to accompany singers. (see “Musical Styles” above.)
-Audition Preparation - I will record the melody of the song for you so you can learn it.
-How to put melody to lyrics
-Performance Anxiety, Stage Fright, Fear
-Releasing Emotional Obstacles to Playing Emotional Blocks, Healing Piano Trauma and Previous Performance Disasters, Piano Therapy
-Learning Disabilities including ADD, ADHD, Dyslexia, Dysgraphia, Dyscalculia, Dyscalculea, Sensory Integration Disorder
-Motiviation Issues - Solving your procrastination and avoidance of your musical growth issues.
-How to Look Like You’ve Played Piano for Years (for Actors, Singers and Celebrities Who Have A Role Deadline and Need a Crash Course.)
*** Celebrity Piano Teacher ***
Over the years, I've taught many pro musicians and celebrities. These include: Vonda Shepard, David E. Kelley, Dick Gautier, Michelle Pfeiffer, Pray Harper, Peter Horton, Michael Goodrich, Brianna Haynes, Starr Parodi, Briana Evigan, Stuart Ross, Roger Burnley, Chris Hardin, Stu Simone and Ben Bram.
*** Howard's Teachers Go Back To Beethoven ***
I feel grateful that my own training included top teachers of both the “German School” and “Russian School” of piano technique. Generally, the German School teaches how to play with close-to-the-key hand placement preparation and fingering efficiency, and is known for great speed and accuracy. The Russian School teaches how to play with gravity and relaxation and is known for beautiful tone production. Each approach has its strengths and weaknesses. In my own playing and teaching, I have incorporated the good aspects of each and have discarded the bad. The result is a blueprint for biomechanical efficiency and beautiful sound, making it the best of both worlds. Please see the photo of the "piano lineage chart."
I began teaching piano in 1975, when I was 17 years old. I have a B.A. degree from UCLA in piano performance and an M.F.A. degree from CalArts, also in piano performance. I taught on the faculty of CalArts for 3 years. I continue to teach privately.
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