Zach Tolan

Zach T.

Grand Rapids, MI
100% Satisfaction Guarantee

100% Satisfaction Guarantee

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Lesson Details



Zach passed a background check that includes a SSN verification, national criminal record check, and sex offender registry search. Learn More
Zach delivers an exceptional lesson experience and ranks in the top 15% of our teachers nationwide.
Teaches students:
Ages 3+ and special needs

Teaching since:

Hello! I'm a full-time private music tutor who currently teaches over 50 lessons each week. In 2007, I began studying the education of historical child prodigies, like Mozart and Picasso, and the curriculums they used as children. At the same time, I was studying cognitive neuroscience, which informed my practice as a teacher. In 2009, I opened a set of fine arts studios for kids which was dedicated to teaching arts that improved the developing brain.

In 2015, I published an article on cognitive ergonomics on the practice of optimizing learning materials for ease and efficiency. In 2016, I filed a patent on a music notation system cognitively optimized for young beginners on piano and stringed instruments, especially violin, viola, cello, and guitar, and started a website designed for self-learning, kindergarten-to-college. As the lead curriculum designer, my job is to make a modern music curriculum more successful at getting young beginners started loving to play music than any other in the world.

I'm currently beginning work on the foreign language song sets for German, Spanish, and French, as well as the Partner Song Series, which is based directly on a piano curriculum written by Bach for his students, and was used by both Mozart and Beethoven as children!

I've worked with many special needs learners, including ADD/ADHD, low IQ, Autism, Down Syndrome, and blind students. The nature of my curriculum, designed for very young learners, naturally accommodates older learners with special needs.

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Chief Curriculum Designer
Oct 2016 - Present

I am the chief curriculum designer for Violin, Guitar, Piano, and Ukulele.

Music Teacher
Sep 2015 - Present
Public Schools, Homeschool Co-op

I teach private piano, violin, cello, and guitar lessons and group guitar classes.

Private Music Teacher
Sep 2002 - Present

I've taught 22,000+ music lessons on violin, viola, cello, guitar, ukulele, and piano! I specialize in giving a great start to beginners!

Private Teacher
Aug 2015 - Aug 2016
Marshall Music Co.

I taught private lessons and small ensembles for violin, viola, cello, and piano.

Curriculum Designer and Teacher
Aug 2009 - Nov 2012
Lil' Learners! Fine Arts for Kids!

I taught violin, viola, cello, guitar, and piano, and co-designed curriculum for Spanish, Chinese, Drawing and Painting, Fencing, Ballet, Martial Arts, Piano, Violin, and Guitar.


B.A. Philosophy
Sep 2003 - Jun 2005
Grand Valley State University


Fluent / Native Proficiency
Limited Proficiency
Limited Proficiency
Limited Proficiency

Photos & Videos

I want YOU to learn music!

Frere Jacques, from the Partner Songs Set at! The sheet music highlights blue and red partner parts.
Backe, Backe Kuchen! from the German Language song set Exact Deutsche. It goes with
This is a silent-era film I made with one of my students introducing
Alexander's 1st time playing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star!
Here is a sample video I made (from of a self-teaching piano song for beginners!
Here is a sample of my patent-pending self-learning sheet music for kids!

Happy students at their 2nd group class! (No prior experience!) Older beginners can play Fur Elise their first lesson!
Frere Jacques, from the French Language Partner Songs Set. Each partner plays Red or Blue! No partner? Play along with the Partner video!
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3 Reviews

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Kathryn Nov 19, 2017
Violin · In studio

I really appreciated that Zach was very understanding and flexible with crazy changing work schedules. He does a good job of mixing music theory, technical exercises, while still being open and even encouraging the student to working on styles and pieces they are interested in and enjoy. Zach is great about asking the student what they want to learn and work on, while still making sure that they are always learning something new and always pushing themselves. Zach always seems to genuinely care and get excited about music, teaching, and his students.

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Becky Nov 10, 2017
Guitar · In studio

Zach is very personable and figured out a great method to motivate my reluctant child--fake money!! He also developed his own musical notation to aid in helping students learn how to read music but in such a way that isn't as complicated as the standard notation. My son really likes him.

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Dawn Nov 8, 2017
Violin · In studio

My daughter is very shy and quiet. Zach is fantastic and she loves him! He is patient and funny. His way of teaching works! She is just 6 years old and is already playing songs after just 6 weeks. His music curriculum is so easy to understand and play! We've been very impressed.

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