Teaching Philosophy, etc.

New news: Laraway Lake Piano Studio has moved to Lansing, and will therefore no longer be known as the Laraway Lake Piano Studio!

The move has brought about a long-needed opportunity for reimagining my professional future. My teaching philosophies, as outlined below, remain the same. BUT, I am interested in pursuing a slightly different focus for the next years of my teaching. Principally, I’m interested in teaching students who are either already teaching, or who expect to teach in the future. Combining a traditional piano lesson with individually-tailored pedagogy study and preparation.

Of course, I’m always happy to teach students who want to learn more about music and the piano!

If you’re interested, please reach out through the Contact Me page.

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I have had many people over the years ask what they should look for when looking for a piano teacher. It’s actually a really important question; possibly more important than many people realize.  We can start with this comparison: it takes more than being able to read pretty well and do simple math to be an elementary school teacher. Many believe that the first-grade teacher is the most important teacher your child will have, and the same goes for your child’s first piano teacher.

There are piano teachers and music teaching businesses everywhere; a dime a dozen one might say. Many offer cheap lessons, cheerful waiting areas, easy makeups for busy families, and no commitment beyond a month-by-month arrangement. 

What I offer: thirty years of teaching experience; two advanced degrees focusing on piano performance, music education, and piano pedagogy; a thorough understanding of how children learn, how they learn music, and what is crucial for children to learn at each stage of development; the knowledge and wisdom to teach beginners in such a way that they develop sound musical and technical foundations, to transition these beginners from early-musical-development into reading music with understanding and playing with ease, continuing to build on this foundation with intermediate students by adding keyboard and technical skills, experiencing the vast breadth and depth of the piano repertoire, and building disciplined and productive practice habits and techniques; and an ability to hone even the most advanced students’ playing both technically and musically.  I can take your child from a young novice to polished performance of the most advanced repertoire, can teach them the rewards of disciplined practice and consistent effort, the shared joy of progress made and music shared, a focus on excellence and the joy of its achievement. 

My students consistently score the highest in the state for the Royal Conservatory Music Development Program on their practical and theory exams, and have gone on to major in music in college.

More specifically:

For beginning levels I use the Music Moves for Piano method, which incorporates Edwin Gordon's Music Learning Theory -- developing the child's audiation ability through singing, chanting, and movement alongside instruction at the piano. All young beginners (younger than 8) are taught in pairs or groups, since young children learn much better in this format.

As students learn to read music and progress to more advanced levels, I continue to develop their audiation skills and encourage sound music-reading and practice habits through use of varied and interesting repertoire, development of technical skills, and creative activities such as composition, improvisation, and transposition.

Accomplished pianists work on continually building a vocabulary of practice techniques,  developing awareness of performance practices, solid memorization techniques, and how to incorporate a solid technique into personal and expressive playing.

At all stages we develop the ear, a facile and relaxed physical approach to the piano, and consummate musicality.

I organize two recitals every year, and encourage students to participate in a variety of musical and testing activities to provide benchmarks and performance opportunities throughout the year.

My credentials include a DMA in Piano Performance with a Pedagogy Cognate, which included extensive course work in the Music Education area; as well as faculty appointments at Interlochen Arts Camp (2005 to present), Grand Rapids Community College (2005-2019), Michigan State University (2003-2005), Hope College (1997-2005), and Calvin College (1997-1998).

For further information, please use the Contact Me page located at the last tab of the website.

update 1/22/2020