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Practice Tips and Piano Lessons in San Francisco

By Suzanna M. - San Francisco Piano Teacher

Recently, as I was finishing up a lesson, I commented to my student's mother on how well he was doing lately. She said it was all part of being a good tiger mother. Of course I had heard of Amy Chua's book Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, but I hadn't realized the immediate impact the book was having.

I began casually asking parents if they had read the book. Those who had were quite inspired to get their kids on a very ambitious practicing schedule. While I do not agree with all of Ms. Chua’s extreme parenting tactics, a strong and structured practice regimen is something I do recommend to all the students I teach during my piano lessons in San Francisco.

In the book, Chua talks about forcing her kids practice for extremely long periods of time and how it helped them become superior musicians. One thing that was stressed to me in pedagogy class is that practicing in short but frequent sessions is far more productive than sitting down for a long period of time. I usually recommend practicing for ten to twenty minutes a day, depending on the age and level of the student. It is important to build good technique, especially when the student is young. But until the student has developed a strong enough technique to handle extended playing sessions, it is better to keep the practice sessions short to avoid strain on the hands. Even students at the advanced level should only play for thirty to forty minutes at a time.

One of my favorite tips for my piano students in San Francisco is to incorporate practice into the homework schedule by using it as a break between academic subjects. Ten minutes here or twenty minutes there add up quickly and will help any student achieve their playing goals and satisfy the most demanding tiger mother.

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John D.

Berkeley, CA

Learning piano is a great way to build a musical foundation. Piano students will learn how to use their ears to pickup on their favorite songs, in addition to working through books and fundamentals. Recently, a student who started from scratch went part of the way through the method book until she reached "When the Saints Go Marching In". We learned the chord structure of the song, and she learned to improvise over the structure. She decided to do the student recital, and performed a super fun 5-minute version of the song with a professional band. The whole room was into it and it was magical! Contact me for piano lessons and see what can happen when you understand not just how to read notes, but how music works when you play with a real band.

About John

*** Lesson Details ***
My students will develop a passion for music and a desire to play!

I like to get right to the experience of actually playing music. I start with learning songs, drum beats, and chord progressions and get to technique and music reading AFTER we have had some fun.

My key to successful teaching is to create a custom curriculum for each student. Some students are interested in the details of how to do it "right", and others just want to rock. I try to adapt to different learning styles and musical goals to give each student an ideal experience.

I want student
s to learn how to play, not just how to read or do drills. We will listen to music together, and talk about the function of each instrument. For drummers, I play bass lines on the piano and we lock into a groove. For piano students, I play along with drums or percussion. It's important for students to learn how to play with others, and to listen and get inspired by what's around them.

Students will have the option to perform in a student recital where you are backed by a band of professional musicians!

***John D.'s Biography***

I was born in Amsterdam, Holland, where my father worked as an opera singer. While listening to vocal warm-up arpeggios, my mother bounced me on her knee and taught me rhythms and rhymes.

In my family we beatbox, play piano, and sing together. The family moved to the States in 1995 where my parents worked as music teachers. My Dad is a voice professor at the University of Wisconsin, and my Mom runs an amazing music program at Country View Elementary School in Verona, WI.

I played in the band program throughout high-school and had an amazing and demanding music teacher and highly talented friends. The drumset became my passion and I played, blissfully and recklessly, as often possible. Our teacher took the high school band on a concert tour of Europe in 2002 in Austria, the Czech Republic, and Italy.

The band program led me to classical and contemporary music at the University of Wisconsin, where I honed my craft and discovered the profound breadth of music around the world. I paid my way through college as a member of the WI Army National Guard Band, a great wind ensemble with jazz and rock band components, and slowly built a career as a musician. I took every gig that came my way and created my own if nobody was calling. Pretty soon I became "œthe guy in, like, 8 different bands", including Funk, Rock, Jazz, Afro-Cuban, Brazilian, and West African bands. I've been working as a musician ever since, performing several nights per week, and teaching during the day.

I began teaching drum lessons to my friends when I was about 18 and realized I was really good at it. I began taking on private students and teaching group lessons and classes. Students of mine have achieved the highest ranks at the State Solo and Ensemble Festival in Wisconsin, and auditioned into the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestra. I am on the annual faculty Wildcat Percussion Camp, was adjunct faculty at New York University, and directed the world percussion ensemble at the University of Wisconsin. I've worked as a teacher with the Madison Area School District, Wisconsin Youth Company, YMCA, Global Arts to Go, University Settlement, and in many different public schools in the New York metro area. I taught a high school class called "The Spirit of Jazz", and

I've learned how to be a real teacher, to put myself in your shoes to help you achieve your potential as a drummer, and as a musician. My teaching style is to de-mystify the art of percussion: getting great sounds out of the drums, being prepared for any style, practicing productively, and focusing your mind.

I have a Bachelor's degree in classical percussion from the University of Wisconsin, a Masters degree in Jazz Performance from NYU, and have traveled to Africa, Europe, and Latin America to perform, record, and study. I have performed with Badal Roy (Miles Davis), Chris Potter, Kenny Werner, Brad Shepik, Lenny Pickett, Chuchito Valdez, and many other great musicians. I was Adjunct Faculty at NYU'™s jazz program, and at the University of Wisconsin dance program. I've given masterclasses at Juilliard, University of Michigan, Lawrence Conservatory, and many other colleges. I played for 5 months in the Off-Broadway show "Fun Home", and toured and gigged with a wide variety of bands.

I've recorded on nearly 20 albums and have been involved in many other projects. Ask me anything you want in our music lessons!
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Reviews

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Eva L. September 25, 2015
Piano · In home
Verified Student
Our son enjoys working with John. He is very patient with young kids. I am amazed at what he's learned in a year!
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Cristina E. September 25, 2015
Drum · In studio
Verified Student
John is a great teacher. My 7-yr old enjoys his classes. John is very patient and knows how to draw my son's attention back to focus. A lot of hands-on drumming even before my son knew how to read notes.
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Cristina E. September 25, 2015
Drum · In studio
Verified Student
John is a great teacher. My son enjoys his classes as much as his attenti
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John D.

John D.

Emeryville, CA 94608
(7)
starting at
$30 / 30-min
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Mack R.

Oakland, CA

I have been teaching piano for 35 years. I have had several student who started with me as beginners and advanced to playing in the jazz band in school. Over the years I have developed a unique technique for getting students started as beginners.

About Mack

I have a BS in music education received at Lehman College, Bronx, NY. I am a professional musician/ composer/ arranger.I received my teaching credentials at SFSU and have been a General music teacher as well as a, band teacher. I have studied trumpet with Classical ( Wilmer Wise)and Jazz musician (Bill Hardman) and big band arranging with Frank Foster( saxophonist and arranger with Count Basie Band). At present I am retired and teaching privately.

I have been teaching music for over 50 years as well as being a professional musician/ composer and arranger. I not only know my fundamentals ins
ide and out, but also I know many tricks of the trade. Over the years I have developed special teaching techniques that enable students to make sense out of music and progress rapidly on their instruments.I love playing music and aim at stirring that same kind of excitement abut music in my students.

To each lesson I bring a unique mix, encouraging the student to pursue excellence and also have fun. I am well qualified to teach: woodwinds( oboe, flute, clarinet, all saxophones) brass(french horn, trumpet, trombone, tuba), and piano.

*** Lesson Details ***
I make music interesting to learn. I encourage students to practice daily so they can improve. The more they improve the more fun they can have with music not only alone, but with others.

I am very patient with my students especially with beginners. I know that for them it is like learning a new language. Once they begin to increase their musical vocabulary, they will enjoy what they can do with music.

*** Studio Equipment ***
Seating for parents, basement studio, piano, drum set

*** Travel Equipment ***
Students should provide their own instruments.
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Reviews

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Gloria R. February 6, 2016
Piano · In home
Verified Student
Mr. Mack Is a very patient and great teacher.
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Kresimir T. January 17, 2016
Trumpet · In studio
Verified Student
Mack is great!
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Roya S. October 13, 2015
Piano · In studio
Verified Student
It was excellent
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Mack R.

Mack R.

Oakland, CA 94607
(8)
starting at
$25 / 30-min
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Benjamin G.

San Francisco, CA

• Provide interactive and engaging private lessons to students of all ages.
• Improvise and sight-read with students to help develop a working knowledge of musicality and movement.
• Help students listen to and understand the music they know and love through musical development and ear training.

About Benjamin

I have been studying music my entire life. I first sat down at the piano at four years old and have never strayed. After attending a performing arts high school, I studied music composition and theory at San Francisco Conservatory of Music. My studies not only enhanced my passion for music, but gave me an understanding of it and the listening experience. My desire to share this love and excitement led me to become a piano teacher. Developing my own teaching practice has required intense organizational skills and independent motivation and enhanced my ability to work with others as I interact w
ith my students, their teachers, and parents. In this position, I have had the pleasure of expanding my students’ musical understanding by introducing them to new and different styles and genres of music.

*** Lesson Details ***
Provide interactive and engaging private lessons to students of all ages at my studio and their homes.
Teach piano, music theory, and composition to students of all ages and skill levels.
Develop lesson plans, practice activities, and homework assignments tailor-made for each student maintaining their interest and heightening their skill.
Improvise and sight-read with students to helping them develop a working knowledge of musicality and movement.
Arrange popular songs and simplify advanced compositions to suit my students’ skill levels.
Help students listen to and understand the music they know and love through musical development and ear training.

*** Studio Equipment ***
I have 2 upright piano's and sound proofing equipment that helps reduce the intensity of the pianos.

*** Specialties ***
I specialize in improvisation and ear training. I love teaching in the postmodernist classical genre. I also love teaching popular styles and methods where the student chooses what direction they would like to go. I do not force my students to play music they don't appreciate.
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Reviews

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Charlotte R. November 20, 2015
Piano · In studio
Verified Student
Benjamin is the best teacher ever, talented, nice and open to every type of music you want to learn!
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Dan Briton July 28, 2015
Piano · In studio
Verified Student
Ben is patient when I am moving slowly through exersizes, he makes sure that I really understand how to read music and he is the #1 reason for me being able to learn the piano. He is very encouraging and I'd recomend him to anybody who seriously wants to learn how to play!
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Jassim L. July 22, 2015
Piano · In studio
Verified Student
Benjamin was really awesome. Definitely recommend!
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Benjamin G.

Benjamin G.

San Francisco, CA 94117
(15)
starting at
$40 / 30-min
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Lella L.

San Francisco, CA

I am both patient and enthusiastic as a teacher. I love music, and enjoy the opportunity to share my love of the piano with my students. Once I have determined the student's level, I find music that will help them progress towards a higher level.

About Lella

I studied Musicology and Piano Performance at the Shandong Normal University School of Music, where I graduated with my BA in 2005. I taught music and established a band at a property management institute while a student there, and established my own practice after I graduated. I came to the United States in 2013, where I have continued to play piano and have joined a local band. I am happy to continue sharing my love of music with my students here.

I began tutoring Mandarin in January 2015. As a native speaker, I can guide you to a very high level, and help you learn to speak with a proper
Chinese accent.

Please note: Online classes are available for Mandarin Chinese only. Piano lessons are only available in person.
...

Reviews

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Zoe January 27, 2016
Mandarin · Online
Verified Student
She was patient as this was our first lesson with Lella for our 7-year old daughter and our daughter froze up and would barely participate.
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Lilianna M. January 19, 2016
Mandarin · Online
Verified Student
Not at all what I expected. I wanted my beginner 5 year old with no mandarin experience learn a few words and sentences so she can speak with her Grandparents in HK. Lella was very nice but she expected my 5 year old to catch on after she said the numbers once or twice, of course she's not going to remember it on her first day. Lella explained, usually her students have some mandarin experience or school beforehand. It was very hard to understand her. Scheduling the right times were a pain. She wanted us to go buy a beginners book to help learn mandarin. Which I explained to her already what our experience level was and what we wanted out of the classes beforehand. If I wanted to buy a book then I'd do that and learn from YouTube. Waste of $15 for one session. I bought 4 sessions but I'm switching to a new teacher. I hope it's better with the next one. I should have known you get what you pay for.
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Wilcox A. November 19, 2015
Mandarin · Online
Verified Student
Very patient with my 7 year old and encourages him when he gets embarrassed.
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Lella L.

Lella L.

San Francisco, CA 94117
(7)
starting at
$28 / 30-min
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Warinya R.

San Francisco, CA

I started playing piano since I was 4 years old, this has led me to the love of piano. In session with me, you can expect to be able to learn how to read notes, and use the techniques to play your favorite songs beautifully.

About Warinya

Hello!
I am a recent graduate from University of California, Berkeley, majoring in Legal Studies and Political Economy minor. Teaching has always been my favorite thing to do! It feels great to share knowledge, techniques and skills on a particular subject and even better when the students can use it for their school and/or career advancement.
I started teaching in 2008 in Bangkok, Thailand. My first job was an English tutor for Thai students (part time) while attending the final year of high school. After I have moved to the US, whenever I have time, I always accept teaching jobs, mostly r
eferrals from my friends or friend of friends.
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Reviews

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Ava A. December 8, 2015
Piano · In home
Verified Student
In just 3 visits, she has completely changed my daughters' feeling about piano. They both are very happy with Warinya!!!
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Mohammed A. December 6, 2015
Piano · In studio
Verified Student
Warinya is an awesome teacher. Really encouraging and focuses the lesson on what you want to get out of it.
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Jason November 24, 2015
Piano · In home
Warinya was very attentive and helpful during our lessons. As a beginner with no experience at all, I felt she was able to cater towards my needs and develop lesson plans specifically for me. By the end of our first lesson, I was able to play the song "Heart & Soul". I look forward to taking more lessons from Warinya, and highly recommend her to any beginner students!
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Warinya R.

Warinya R.

San Francisco, CA 94117
(11)
starting at
$50 / 30-min

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Learn how to play the piano in these video tutorials from a professional piano teacher!

Have you always wanted to play the piano? We’re here to help! Get started with these 20 video tutorials hosted by San Diego, CA piano teacher Jordan M, one of our expert instructors with TakeLessons.com. In this free video series, you’ll get an introduction to the instrument and learn a few easy exercises to get you reading music and understanding rhythm!

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Intro to the Piano: Learn about the parts of the piano and how to find the all-important Middle C.

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Learn what all those sharps and flats really mean, and how to decode your music.

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