John Davis

John D.

Brooklyn, NY
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Lesson Details


Levels Taught:
Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced
To my teaching, I bring almost forty years of experience as a performer, recording artist, and historian. I teach students of any age (i.e. children, teenagers, and adults), and at all levels of experience (i.e. beginners, intermediate, and advanced), the technical and expressive intricacies of the standard classical repertoire. But what makes my teaching unique or those elements drawn from my background beyond music. Prior to attending The Juilliard School, from which I graduated with a Masters Degree (M.M.) in Piano Performance, I graduated from Brown University with a Bachelors Degree (B.A.) in History and Russian Language & Literature. Over the course of my career as a performer and teacher, my first-rate education has set me apart from other pianists, particularly as it relates to my work researching, playing, recording, and writing about music connected to African American culture. In lessons, I draw my own experience and education and encourage all my students to develop themselves beyond the piano.
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John passed a background check that includes a SSN verification, national criminal record check, and sex offender registry search. Learn More
John delivers an exceptional lesson experience and ranks in the top 15% of our teachers nationwide.
Teaches students:
Ages 5+ and special needs

Teaching since:

I believe that music is for everybody, not just professionals. My many years of teaching beginners, teenagers, and adults of all levels, beginner, intermediate, and advanced, has shown me that, with practice and time, virtually everyone can attain a high level at the keyboard and play the piano and the incredible music written for it from the inside, not just from the outside looking in. If this challenge sounds like fun, I would be happy to help you (or your child) on that musical journey.


John Davis, Pianist
Jun 1980 - Aug 2018
John Davis, Pianist

Via his performances, recordings, exhibitions, and writings, pianist John Davis continues to define, excavate, and disseminate a previously-unacknowledged American roots music. To date, Davis is most associated with three seminal CDs on the Newport Classic label. "John Davis Plays Blind Tom" [2000], featuring piano works of the Georgia slave pianist, Thomas Wiggins, became a top-ten seller in Classical Music at Tower Records and, and, in the opinion of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, “singlehandedly revived the lost legacy of Wiggins.” "Marshfield Tornado: John Davis Plays Blind Boone" [2008], highlighting music of John William Boone, a sightless black pianist from Missouri who modeled his career on Blind Tom’s, has been a repeat #1 record on the Ragtime chart at, and was praised by Gramophone, the esteemed British music publication, for “turning the prehistory of jazz and blues into the living history of one remarkable man.” “In John Davis’ hands,” reports Living Blues, the world’s premier blues magazine, Boone’s piano works become “more than artifacts—they live, with an immediacy that cannot be denied.” And on "Halley’s Comet: Around the Piano with, Mark Twain & John Davis" [2010], the Twain-related compositions, “played powerfully and with a rich palette,” according to The New York Times, are a tribute to the wide-ranging musical interests of an author whose career, like Davis’, lies at the intersection of black and white culture in American society.
Davis’ performances at Strathmore, The Gilmore Keyboard Festival, Joe’s Pub, Le Poisson Rouge, The Symphony Space, and other important classical, jazz, and roots music venues and festivals across the United States, marked the listening public’s first exposure to countless piano works not heard since the lifetime of their composers who, both white and black, had been missing links on the continuum of American music. Davis appeared in 2016 on the Lead Belly Fest at Carnegie Hall, during which he shared the main stage with some of the living legends of American roots music, rhythm & blues, and rock ‘n roll, including Buddy Guy, Eric Burdon, Edgar Winter, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Dom Flemons, Josh White, Jr., and Tom Chapin. A month later, he gave a solo recital at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City on an 1882 Steinway that was the centerpiece of The Met’s exhibition, “Artistic Furniture of the Gilded Age.” This past summer, Davis paid musical tribute to the 19th- and early-20th century African American opera singer, Black Patti, on a concert that was part of the three-day celebration, "America’s First Black Diva: Sissieretta Jones at 150."
At the core of Davis’ grassroots pursuit of forgotten black culture is the pianist’s personal collection of rare 19th-and early 20th century printed African Americana. This archive, widely respected in the antiquarian book and ephemera world, has been the source for many of the ideas and materials that have filtered into Davis’ recordings; his literary contributions to "African American Lives," the "African American National Biography," and "Stress and Coping in Autism," all published by Oxford University Press; his theatrical concert about Blind Tom entitled "Will the Real Thomas Wiggins Please Stand Up!;" his Chitlin’ Circuit-inspired nightclub show that he calls "The John Davis Caravan: Standing At the Crossroads;" and his concert version of "Halley’s Comet: Around the Piano with Mark Twain & John Davis." In 2017, Davis’ archive became the basis for "Bamboula! Black Music Before the Blues," the exhibition of 19th-century printed musical African Americana he conceived and curated at Brown University’s esteemed John Hay Library.
Mr. Davis’ cutting-edge career has been featured on CNN; CNN-International; ABC Radio National (Australia); the BBC World News; NPR’s All Things Considered, Performance Today, and On Point, with Tom Ashbrook; PBS’ Life 360; The Today Show on NBC, ABC’s Good Morning America; and in a program-long interview of him on ABC’s Nightline Up-Close. Among the many print publications in which he has been profiled are The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Village Voice, Time Out New York, The Oxford American, The Independent (London), and Scientific American.

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M.M. (Piano Performance)
Sep 1980 - Jun 1982
The Juilliard School
Sep 1975 - May 1979
Brown University
Sep 1972 - Jun 1975
The Phillips Exeter Academy

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Photo by John D.


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