Steven Niles

Steven N.

Pasadena, CA
Available Locations:
Studio Studio

The piano has always been my greatest passion; I have never been able to imagine life without it. I was very fortunate to have had the benefit of a great education in music starting at an early age. My goal as pianist and teacher is to pass on the wisdom of my own teachers, as well as my enthusiasm for this great instrument and the rich repertoire of music written for it.

I received a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the University of Southern California, where I was a student of Daniel Pollack for 12 years. In order to become the best teacher possible, I minored in Music Education, gaining experience in the major theories of music pedagogy and teaching techniques. In teaching, I strive to create an optimal blend of old and new by combining the great and time-honored traditions of piano playing, as instilled in me through my piano studies, with recent discoveries and advents in the field of music pedagogy.

My performing experiences have taken me across great distances in time and space, with performances in major halls across the globe, featuring music of over five centuries. I have commissioned new works and performed numerous premieres, and have also played music of the Renaissance and early Baroque on the Harpsichord. I have also accompanied singers and played chamber music extensively.

*** Lesson Details ***
Playing the piano is a journey of discovery and joy that lasts a lifetime. The rewards of playing extend far beyond the piano, bearing dividends in all areas of music, as well as outside of music. Such important basic skills as concentration, tenacity, and delaying of gratification, are promoted from the outset of piano lessons, and are readily adaptable to other fields and challenges. At the same time, students of all levels, from 6 months of lessons to several years of experience, can develop and maintain a repertoire of pieces to present to family and friends, and to play for their own gratification and self-esteem.

My guiding philosophy in teaching is that everyone can learn to play the piano with hard work and good training. Talent is neither necessary, nor sufficient in itself to produce great pianists. What will promote excellence in piano playing is a thorough and well-rounded grounding in the various aspects of music, including music theory, piano technique, music history, and repertoire-building. I teach these and many other components of music in all my lessons. I use method books with earlier level students and gradually incorporate works from the classical repertoire. I assign enjoyable, beneficial music theory projects, rhythmic exercises, and teach pieces of differing genres, styles, and demands to keep lessons varied and interesting. Several times a year, our hard work is shared with others at student recitals, where family and strangers alike join students in the joy of music and the piano.

*** Studio Equipment ***
The teacher's home studio includes a large studio space with 2 grand pianos side by side so the student learn by example where applicable. Seating is also available for family and guests. There is also a warm up studio room for students that arrive early and are waiting to start their lesson.

*** Travel Equipment ***
Students will need access to a piano or keyboard for regular practicing.

*** Specialties ***
Piano technique, classical piano repertoire, music theory and aural skills, musicology, accompanying and chamber music.

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  • Speaks French, English
  • Teaches students 5 and up
  • Doctor of Musical Arts from University of Southern California

Reviews (11)

Write a Review
Lucas Apr 20, 2016
Piano · In studio

Steven is a really nice and friendly teacher. He not only has excellent piano skills, but also very patient to his student. Lucas likes his class.

Dr.Bonnie B. Sep 21, 2015
Music Performance · In home

I came to sing and have Steven accompany me. I really wasn't asking for voice lessons so it was not a good fit.

Mark P. Jul 15, 2015
Piano · In studio

Brilliant teacher, knows more about music than I'll ever know about anything, and shares exactly the right amount with me each session. He is incredibly patient, upbeat, encouraging, and helpful. When I make mistakes he's constantly patiently encouraging and helping me with various approaches to piano technique. I am a completely new student who could not read notes. Steven is sensitive to how to pace me and shows me new ways of learning that fit my personality and level. I could not imagine a better piano instructor/mentor than Steven. If you're within range of his studio and you're planning to take piano lessons at ANY level, I would strongly urge you to work with Steven. You will learn and thoroughly enjoy the experience!

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Elaine T. Apr 30, 2015
Piano · In studio

What a great teacher!!!

I'm a beginner and learning how to play the piano with Steven Niles had been an amazing experience. He was very helpful and patient with me . I highly recommend him to anyone who wants to learn how to play piano . BRAVO!!!👍👍👍👏👏👏😄

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lydia Z. Nov 24, 2013
Piano ·

An awesome teacher

I have been learning piano with Steven for about 15 months. Steven is a very intelligent, enthusiastic, patient and caring teacher. I had a wonderful learning experience with him and I would definitely recommend him to anyone who is interested in playing piano and gaining more knowledge of music theory!

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Margaret B. Oct 30, 2013
Piano ·

A Responsive and Knowledgeable Teacher

I've been studying with Steven for nine months now, and I'm enjoying lessons, and even practicing, more than ever.
Steven is serious about his teaching. He seems to enjoy finding
accessible ways to explain technical matters. He has a friendly open manner and a good sense of humor, making lessons a pleasure.

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Margaret B. Jan 29, 2013

Knowledgeable and Patient Teacher

Steven is knowledgeable and articulate. In each lesson, he imparts information about technique, musical style, and theory. He always finds something positive to say, while at the same time sharing information that leads to improvement.

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TerenceF Apr 11, 2012

Excellent teacher

I went to Steven for help with my technique, and he gave me solid advice that rapidly improved my playing. I'd recommend to anyone.

SireenO Nov 28, 2011

Smart piano teacher!

Steven is very passionate about teaching and playing piano. He's very smart in finding different ways of teaching and getting the point across. He has been patient with me and made the lessons fun experience. I've had few lessons and look forward to keep learning from him =)

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StephanieC3 Jul 16, 2011

Steven is an awesome piano instructor. He has the knowledge and passion to teach. What else can I say, he's brilliant!!!!

YangH Jul 13, 2011

Thank You:-)

Steven is really an excellent and nice piano instructor. He is so patient with me, teaching me from the basic, including tempo, rhythme.I appreciate the chance to learn from Steven.Steven let me learn piano in quite a new way for me compared with the way I learned as a child in China. After taking Steven's lessons, I got to know more interesting things about piano, and got to know the hidden reasons behind different rules. He applied physics into explaining the strength, and position of fingers. As I am very interested in learning composing, Steven involved composing knowledge into theory training session. I learned basic knowledge useful for composing, including subject, transposing. He is a very thoughtful instructor. I like his style of teaching, and trull enjoy his classes:-)

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Aug 2011 - Present

Los Angeles City College

Teaching Class Piano, Applied Piano (individual instruction), Music Appreciation, and Music Theory.


Doctor of Musical Arts
Aug 2001 - May 2007

University of Southern California

Master of Music
Aug 1998 - May 2000

University of Southern California

Bachelor of Music
Aug 1995 - May 1998

University of Southern California



Fluent / Native Proficiency


Fluent / Native Proficiency


Music Teachers National Association
Jun 2007
The MTNA was founded in 1876 with the goal of advancing the value of music study and music-making to society while supporting the careers and professionalism of teachers of music. With nearly 22,000 members in 50 states—and more than 500 local affiliates—the MTNA is the preeminent source for music teacher support, where members embody like-minded values and commitment to their students, colleagues and society as a whole, while reaping the rewards of collaboration, continuity and connection throughout the lifetime of their careers.

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