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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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Kathryn G.

San Francisco, CA

About Kathryn

From the moment Kat was tall enough to reach the keys she made so much noise on her family's piano that they eventually bought a kid-sized version to keep in her room. When Kat turned 7 her family got her the best present ever; lessons with an amazing piano teacher.

Kat also began to study flute several years later and soon realized that music was the life for her. She majored in music in both high school and college graduating with a BA in Music from St. Norbert College in DePere, Wisconsin.

Kat has a very diverse career in music. From a full time private music teacher to the Musi
cal Director of a Burning Man Opera, to the Section Leader for a Youth Orchestra, to the keyboard player in a Theatrical Heavy Metal Band, Kat is always thrilled to stretch her wings and try new things.

*** Lesson Details ***

I teach Sundays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays in San Francisco, and the rest of the week in the Santa Cruz area!

I have a ridiculous sense of humor. I believe in stickers, high fives, and celebratory fist-bumps. And yes, that goes for the adults as well.

I always looked forward to my lessons because they were so fun, even if I knew I hadn't practiced enough. That is exactly what I try to create for every student I work with.

Besides the humor, I customize lesson plans to fit you. Not just the types of music you want to learn, but HOW you learn. My number one goal is that you completely understand what you are learning. I don't mind in the least if I need to explain a new lesson 10 different ways-€“ we will work together until you really get it! Understanding what you're doing makes it so much more fun.

Have a favorite song stuck in your head, but the sheet music is still too hard? No problem. I'm happy to write the song out for you at your own level. I want you to enjoy yourself, and if that means Lady GaGa then I'm happy to oblige. I will probably stick Mozart in when you're not looking just to make sure you're learning a lot of different things, but that's what teachers are for.

Of course we cover fundamentals and start with the basics. I typically incorporate music theory and ear training with your lessons as well . In 6 months on piano, with regular practice, you will be comfortably reading music and playing songs you enjoy with both hands AT THE SAME TIME! (Gasp!) On flute in 6 months you will also be able to read music comfortably, will no longer feel like you are about to drop the flute at any given moment, will have a solid range of notes and have a solid feeling of control while you play.

I look forward to sharing music with you!

*** Studio Equipment ***
piano, seating for parents

*** Specialties ***
My number one goal is comprehension -to make sure that all of my students really understand what they are doing. I work very hard to ensure an atmosphere where all of my students - no matter their age - can feel comfortable to say "I don't understand".
...

Reviews

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Lindsay November 18, 2016
Piano · In studio
Kat is absolutely the best! She takes all of the intimidation factor out of things and is an excellent instructor. I'm an adult student, returning after decades away from the piano, and feel so good about my progress thanks to Kat's approach. No matter how I feel going in, I leave our sessions feeling confident and excited to learn more. She is a gifted musician and instructor!
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Ayda October 21, 2016
Piano · In home
Verified Student
Great instructor! My daughter loves her.
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Kayli October 5, 2016
Piano · In studio
Verified Student
My 5 y o just had her first lesson with Kathryn and I was so impressed with how engaging and patient Kathryn was. They covered quite a bit considering my child is completely new to playing music. As soon as we walked out of the room, my daughter said "I can't wait for my next piano lesson!"
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Kathryn G.

Kathryn G.

San Francisco, CA 94122
(30)
starting at
$31 / 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.
...

Reviews

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Erik F. October 2, 2016
French Horn · In studio
Verified Student
Mack is a great and patient teacher. Our son was assigned the only French Horn for his middle school beginning band class. We are clueless on how to help him. We found Mack on Takelessons. He got great reviews and lives not too far from us. After the first lesson, our son could play the entire C major scale! He can't wait for his next lesson. Thank you, Mack. We are so lucky to have you.
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Cynthia N. September 14, 2016
Piano · In home
Verified Student
Mac is a very patient and excellent instructor!
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Joseph L. August 24, 2016
Trumpet · In studio
Verified Student
Just one lesson so far but Mack has me moving along with things to study and improve. He has a lot to offer and I very much appreciate his patience.
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Mack R.

Mack R.

Oakland, CA 94607
(15)
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.
...

Reviews

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Michael September 2, 2016
Piano · In studio
Verified Student
Benjamin is a great for me . Very patient . Thoughtful lesson plan
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Dan Briton May 16, 2016
Piano · In studio
Verified Student
Benjamin is a wonderful teacher! I always look forward to seeing him for a lesson and my playing ability increased EXTREMELY during my time with him!
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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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Benjamin G.

Benjamin G.

San Francisco, CA 94117
(17)
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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Kayli September 21, 2016
Piano · In studio
Verified Student
We just had our first lesson and we hit a few bumps but my daughter has never had music instruction before so we're giving it another go next week to see if things go more smoothly. 3 stars above says meets expectations, and though it didn't, I just hesitate to give someone 2 stars based on one lesson.
Here are some details from class:
My daughter (K) just turned 5 but is pretty mature for her age and has expressed an interest in learning the piano so we signed up for individual lessons with Lella. At the start of class I mentioned again (I had noted it at booking time as well) that K has had zero experience with music instruction. Immediately Lella sat with K on the piano bench and started explaining treble clef sign, bass clef sign and what hands they relate to. Lella also has a thick accent as I was trying to follow along with her explanations with a little difficulty. She even asked if K speaks Chinese and I said "no" so she said "you're Indian right?" My daughter would look around from time to time while Lella was explaining at which point Lella would just keep seeing "Pay attention sweetie!" Then she asked my daughter to write the numbers 1-5 in a book and when she said she didn't know how to write the number 2, Lella laughed and said "you know, but you forgot right" so I spoke up and explained "no she has not been taught to write her numbers yet, but she can read/recognize them" to which Lella seemed very surprised, so I felt the need to say, "she's still in preschool. But if you write them she'll be able to tell you what they are." So then Lella switched to counts, explaining about the values of different notes. She asked my daughter if she had questions, to which my daughter said "I think I understand what you're saying, if it's just a circle that means four, but if it's a circle with a line..." And before she could finish her thought Lella said "no that's not a line, it's a stem". At another point when Lella asked if she had any questions, my daughter slowly said "yes... what's velour?" And when Lella looked confused I had to step in and explain that Lella was saying "value", the amount of counts for a note. By the end of the half hour lesson, Lella had reached her explanation of middle C, which she described to my daughter saying "this is middle C because it's in the middle, there are two black keys, then on the left is C. Can you find another one?" When K didn't respond right away, she repeated herself, and again another time. So I said "she really has had no previous music experience, I think you need to even explain to her that those are called keys, like there are black keys, white keys..." And Lella just looked at me confused.
At the end of the lesson I agreed to buy the theory book so we can practice that at home, and Lella asked if I can sit in on the next lesson to help explain things to my daughter, because she "doesn't really focus". I agreed to sit in on the lesson, for my own benefit so I can help her with HW since I also don't have music experience. But I also mentioned to Lella that her accent is quite strong and I think my daughter was having trouble understanding her, and Lella seemed surprised by that comment.
I don't know... it says on Lella's profile that she has worked with young kids but I can't really see how the class was any different from how she would teach me, an adult with no prior music experience.
Oh! I forgot to mention something so basic - when we met Lella she thought I was someone else so I re-introduced myself and introduced my daughter. Then as we were saying goodbye at the end of class I realized Lella had never introduced herself to my daughter, so I asked "oh, what would you like K to call you, Ms. Li, or Lella? Ms. Lella?" She said Lella was fine so I turned to K and said "Tell Lella bye K." It just hit me, I mean that's something about creating a relationship with a young student. Speaking to them directly, making that connection. Lella was really smiley which gave the impression she was friendly but she never really made a connection with K who is the student, not me.
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Marissa August 22, 2016
Classical Piano · In home
Verified Student
Lella quickly recognized what I needed to practice and brought me a great book that helped me get back to where I was very quickly.
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Taylor June 14, 2016
Chinese · Online
I had a wonderful experience with Lella! Great lesson!
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Lella L.

Lella L.

San Francisco, CA 94117
(16)
starting at
$35 / 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.
...

Reviews

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James November 30, 2016
Piano · In studio
Verified Student
Great first lesson. I'm looking forward to the next one.
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Cameron S. February 8, 2016
Piano · Online
Verified Student
Teacher was fantastic, extremely pleasant and kind, and on time! Would recommend her to other students.
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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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Warinya R.

Warinya R.

San Francisco, CA 94118
(13)
starting at
$50 / 30-min

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Free Piano Lessons with an Expert Teacher

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!

Video #1: Intro to the Piano

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

Video #2:
Piano Basics

Learn about proper posture, hand placement, and other beginner essentials.

Video #3:
Reading Piano Notes

Learn about the treble and bass clefs, and tips for remembering the notes on the piano.

Video #4:
Time and Key Signatures

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

Video #5:
Understanding Rhythm

Follow along to master quarter notes, quarter rests, and half rests.

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