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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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Phoebe P.

San Francisco, CA

About Yu Tian (Phoebe)

M.M in Piano Performance from Manhattan School of Music
B.A in Piano Performance from UCLA

I have studied and worked with Arkady Aronov, Walter Ponce, Antoniette Perry, Max Levinson, Gloria Cheng, Malcolm Bilson.

I currently work at The Hamlin School in Pacific Heights a Piano Instructor and am on the Piano Faculty at Community School of Music and Arts (CSMA) in Mountain View. Previously, I worked at Citibabes LLC in SoHo as well as at Brooklyn Musical Arts. In addition, I also have my own private studio in San Francisco.

I have experience working with both children and adults ra
nging from 4-37. I also am very familiar with preparing students for different music tests: NYSSMA, ABRSM, Music Development Program, and CM. If students are interested, there are 2 recitals annually that students can perform in--the latest was held in Steinway Hall in December, 2012.

Phoebe P., a native of Singapore, began her piano studies at the age of three at Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts in Singapore. During her early years, she participated in the Associate Board of Royal Schools of Music (ABRSM) and passed the Practical and Theory exams with distinction. At the age of 10, Phoebe moved to the U.S and continued her pursuit in music, studying with Dr. Michael Martin, a retired Professor at Chapman University, California. Under the tutelage of Dr. Martin, Phoebe won several prizes.

At UCLA, Phoebe studied with Walter Ponce and 2009 Grammy Winner, Gloria Cheng. in 2008, Phoebe attended the 18th Curso Internacional De Musica Scala in Juiz de Fora, Brazil. During her attendance, she performed two solo recitals. Her other achievements include receiving 2nd and 3rd place in the Benno Rubinyi Piano Competition in 2008 and 2009, respectively. Phoebe was also granted a number of scholarships from UCLA, including the Guck Foundation Scholarship, Joyce & Aubrey Chernick Scholarship, Grancell Award, and Sophie & Pick Memorial Scholarship. Phoebe was also active in the Gluck Outreach program, where she performed all around the LA county. In addition, Phoebe was a part of the UCLA Chancellor's Residence Recital Series, performing both solo and chamber works.

Phoebe continues to expand her spectrum of music performances. Besides sharing her music through performing, she also does so through teaching. She believes that music making should be fun and enjoyable, and has dedicated herself to customize lessons according to the students' needs.

*** Lesson Details ***
My teaching style and lesson plan is different for each student because every student has his or her own needs. During my first lesson, I usually like to talk to the students to get an idea of what they would like to achieve with playing the piano. For some, it might just be for leisure, learning the contemporary repertoire. For others, they might want to focus on nailing that famous third movement of Mozart's Turkish March Sonata. I believe that communication in key! My main priority is to make music enjoyable for you, so if ever you feel overwhelmed, or not fully challenged, let me know, and we can figure out a solution. I also promote my students to ask me any questions that they might have and discuss with me any issues they might encounter during the week while they've been practicing. I am by no means a strict teacher, but that doesn't mean that I tolerate students who do not put in effort. As long as I can see you are trying, that is all that matters. For children beginners, I like to use the Faber and Faber Piano Adventure series. They are fun and have many delightful little tunes. With the adults, sometimes they have their own piano books they want to work off from. If not, I'd also recommend the Faber and Faber Adult Piano Adventures.

*** Studio Equipment ***
I have an upright Yamaha UX3

*** Specialties ***
I am a Classical Pianist, so I have a strong foundation in Baroque, Classical, Romantic, and Contemporary Music.
...
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Phoebe P.

Phoebe P.

San Francisco, CA 94107
starting at
$40 / 30-min
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AJ M.

San Francisco, CA

About AJ

Hey there! My name is AJ and music is my life. Whether its composing, performing, studying, teaching or just listening, I aim to fill my days with music. Nothing makes me happier than sharing my love of music with others, especially when it means helping someone discover music making for themselves. To me, music is a source of endless joy, excitement and fun and I seek to show that to all of my students.

Background - I studied jazz, classical and electronic music at UC Santa Cruz. Received a B.A. in music in 2006. I've been a professional music teacher for 10+ years, including teaching at
various Bay Area music schools and acting as band director for youth rock bands. I have also been actively playing in various bands in the Bay Area for the past 10+ years.

*** Lesson Details ***
First and foremost, I want to teach music/songs that you are interested in. I've found that lessons are much more enjoyable and effective when we are playing music that the student has a personal connection with. What this means is we start off by figuring out songs/bands/genres that you've always wanted to learn and then I provide you with a clear, incremental path towards achieving your goals. I will also help you figure out how to make your person practice time as effective and enjoyable as possible. no more long hours of mind numbing practice that sucks all the fun out of playing music. I have music books and song books that I use to supplement your lessons. I'm also fully capable of providing accurate and custom made transcriptions of any song you want if you can't find the sheet music yourself.

After 3 months, you will be able to play a song from start to finish, just like you hear in the recording, and you Will have a solid understanding of the fundamentals of your instrument and a clear idea of how to move forward and continue improving

*** Studio Equipment ***
Electric Guitar
Acoustic Guitar
Bass Guitar
Small Practice Amp
Electric Piano
Uke
Banjo
Mandolin
MIDI Controller
Microphones and Other Recording Equipment

*** Travel Equipment ***
Portable Electric Guitar - Ipad (with Midi Keyboard and various drum machine/metronome programs)

*** Specialties ***
I specialize in rock and roll music, specially indie/alternative/punk styles... but I am very well versed and knowledgeable in jazz, folk, blues and pop as well.
...

Reviews

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Jakob W. May 13, 2014
Guitar
Verified Student
Amazing experience

AJ is a wonderful instructor. He really listens to what your goals are and what kind of music you're interested in. His teaching method is focused on practical application so you can start playing real songs quickly. I've loved the sound of guitar all my life but only as an adult have I been able to pursue learning to play. AJ shares a passion for music and it's shows in his enthusiasm during lessons. He's very patient and encouraging. I might never be a beast on the guitar like he is (he's literally has a lifetime of experience) but I'm already able to play songs I enjoy and hope to write some of my own soon.
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Robert L. August 27, 2013
Guitar
Verified Student
Overall a great experience teaching an old dog a new trick!

I really enjoyed working with and learning the guitar from AJ. He is incredible with his ear for music and ability to play a variety of guitars! He was patient with me as I started to learn guitar at the age of 49! He was very encouraging and I would highly recommend him to anyone who has never played before. AJ made the chords incredibly simple to learn and I was amazed at how quickly I could actually play something that sounded like music!
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AJ M.

AJ M.

San Francisco, CA 94110
(2)
starting at
$35 / 30-min
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Sandra M.

San Francisco, CA

Beginning students can expect to learn note reading and technique exercises designed to strengthen the fingers and help the student recognize common musical patterns, as well as starting to play simple songs immediately, and then songs using left hand chords.

Intermediate students can expect to learn more difficult pieces involving left hand and right hand chords, as well as basics in musical interpretation and improvisation.

Advanced students can expect a focus on the musical subtleties on more advanced works.

About Sandra

I am a classically trained pianist and trumpet player with a
bachelor's degree in music education. I have taught for over 20
years, to both adults and children, with a focus on classical basics
and music theory for beginners and stylistic development in various musical styles for intermediate and advanced students. I teach from a standard
method, but adapt my teaching style to the personality and learning
strengths of my students.

I teach from my home in the Castro neighborhood.

*** Lesson Details ***
You can expect a calm teaching atmosphere and a generally laid back approach t
o your learning. I am experienced in teaching students of all musical backgrounds or none, and adjust my expectations accordingly. I teach from a standard method, but incorporate other methods as well depending on what you want from your lessons. We will work together to determine how you learn best and what you want from your lessons. If you are a beginner, within 3-6 months you will know how to read music, know basic theory, and be able to perform pieces suited to your level at recital. If you are intermediate or advanced, we will focus on your technique and understanding of the music you are playing or desire to play.

*** Studio Equipment ***
Yamaha Spinet Piano

*** Specialties ***
I am classically trained, but well-versed in many styles.
...

Reviews

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Elisabeth G. January 29, 2013
Verified Student
Excellent in all regards

Sandy is great. She is supportive and encourages me beyond what I think I can do (and usually I can do it). I've only been working with her for 3 weeks and already my high notes (my biggest problem) are much better and I'm sight reading at a much higher level. She is helping me to have a goal (an audition about 5-6 months) which gives me the incentive to practice when the going gets tough. She is helping me to bring my love of music back into my life.
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ChristineH July 23, 2012
Sandy is extremely patient! She is very fun to work with and I am enjoying my lessons thus far. Thanks Sandy!
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BrunoO July 13, 2012
Very happy

Sandy rocks! She's just really smart and always finds a way to keep me focused and entertained. Really happy with my trumpet classes :)
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Sandra M.

Sandra M.

San Francisco, CA 94114
(14)
starting at
$42 / 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.
...

Reviews

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Lance June 12, 2015
Piano · In home
Verified Student
Great first lesson
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Lauren D. March 6, 2015
Piano · In studio
Verified Student
Very good at reassuring me when I'm stressed out from the piece I'm learning... which is all the time. He is very helpful and really knows his stuff!!
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Gayle S. December 13, 2014
Music Theory · In studio
Verified Student
Benjamin is excellent, a music theory whisperer. In a few hours, my son went from a complete block to totally understanding and completing of all the music theory he was assigned. Most of all, he now understands the concepts and application and use. Really amazing work, incredible teacher. Can't say enough.
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Benjamin G.

Benjamin G.

San Francisco, CA 94117
(10)
starting at
$40 / 30-min
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Jacquelyn W.

San Francisco, CA

About Jacquelyn

Hello! My name is Jackie and I am a concert pianist and singer living and working in San Francisco. I teach students of all levels and ages. I love working with children as well as adults, whether they have professional aspirations or simply want to pursue music as a hobby. I have a master's degree in piano performance, and I am currently pursuing a second Master's degree in Vocal Performance from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. I have had the privilege of performing with orchestras around the United States. I have performed in Carnegie Hall, and at the Kennedy Center in Washington D
.C.

I am a very friendly and enthusiastic teacher, and I desire to help every student develop a love of music and become the very best they can be. I believe in working toward goals that will bring each individual student satisfaction and accomplishment. I have helped many students prepare for the ABRSM exams (the graded assessment tests set by the Royal Academy of Music). I have also taught college music theory and ear-training classes.
...

Reviews

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Rodil (Deo) D. March 23, 2015
Piano · In studio
Verified Student
Have you seen conservatory conductor-teacher Fletcher rip into jazz drummer-student Andy in the movie Whiplash? Famous quotes: "Were you rushing or dragging?", "There are no two words in the English language more harmful than 'good job'."

Thankfully, Jackie is in NO way like Fletcher. She's kind and very encouraging, though firm and exacting at the same time. She will not say 'good job' if you don't deserve it. If you've seen her youtube piano and singing videos, you know that she comes from an impeccable classical background, so understandably her standard is very high. She doesn't tolerate 'sloppy' playing. I've been studying with her for 6 months plus, and I'm still trying to earn a star on my drop-rolls. I'm also still struggling to maintain a technique that does not vacillate between legato and staccato when doing scales with a metronome.

Before coming to Jackie, I could not read sheet music, and can only 'play by ear' (improvise) the melody/accompaniment while reading lyrics and chords from sites such as ultimate-guitar. I tried all kinds of software and apps, including 'Playground Sessions' and 'Piano Marvel' but with limited success. However, I just recently tried the new 'Flowkey' webapp, and was pleasantly surprised to see that I can now handle some of the beginner and intermediate level sheet music.

Here's a youtube video of some of us, her students, performing in our piano/voice recital: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r01ElWcOVmg

There's just no substitute to a real great personal teacher like Jackie, who can not only guide you, but ultimately motivate and inspire you.
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Robert S. May 19, 2014
Piano · In home
Verified Student
Excellent professional teacher - extremely well qualified to teach and or perform - listens well and responds with easy to understand effective communication.
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Jacquelyn W.

Jacquelyn W.

San Francisco, CA 94102
(2)
starting at
$40 / 30-min

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