Frequently Asked Questions
Currently, there are 3 options for lessons:
- Online lessons via Skype, Facetime, etc.
- Video submission lessons
- In-person lessons
This is where we schedule a time during the week to meet via videoconferencing software like Skype, Facetime, etc. to conduct lessons. Online lessons can be regular, weekly lesson times, or variable if needed
Video Submission Lessons:
This is for the individual who may have irregular hours or otherwise may not be able to do online lessons due to poor internet connection. Students video record themselves playing the lesson assignment, upload the video to me, and then I respond with comments and the next assignment via video upload as well.
Students in south Florida can have lessons in-person with me at my home studio in Boynton Beach, FL. Lessons can be regular weekly times, or scheduled as-needed.
If you are taking voice lessons, then the answer is no, although having at least a small keyboard to find your pitches on will be very helpful – or even a piano app on your phone. Being able to practice with a piano helps your ear training, reading ability, and intonation – all of which are helpful for singers to be able to do well.
For voice students, a lot depends on where in their development they are starting, their overall health, and what level of repertoire they are learning. Most beginners should do 15-30 minutes a day, consisting of vocalises (vocal warm-ups) and work on songs. If a student is not feeling well, especially if they do not have a solid technique, I strongly recommend waiting until they feel better before practicing. Without a solid technique, they can cause some damage and develop poor singing habits. Having said that, the more frequent the practice, the faster the progress. Also, voice students need to spend time listening to good singing. Since most singers on the radio do not sing with a healthy technique, I will often provide suggestions for them to listen to, and listening should be a part of their practice time as well.
I believe that everyone can learn to sing and learn to sing better. I teach a classical singing technique based on the physiology of the voice. I believe that understanding how the voice and its components work help the teacher direct a student to the correct sound. If someone uses their voice the way it was meant to be used, then they will be able to sing in any style by changing the stylistic means, and not the way they sing. I do not, however, bog students down with anatomy; I just tell them enough so that they understand the basics so that they will become masters of their own instrument.
Some people believe that either you can sing, or you cannot. But no one would assume that someone would be able to play football without being taught the rules of the game, how to throw the ball, how to tackle, etc. Of course, there are those with natural talent, and those who have a wonderful voice that may be hidden under a poor technique. The main purpose of voice lessons is to teach the student how to sing – how to be the instrument as well as how to use it – so that they can make the best out of what God gave them. If the student has a passion for singing, regardless of their career path they can become better at singing – even if they are what some call “tone-deaf”!
I prefer to ask how often, as frequency makes a big difference in a student’s progress. Piano playing is a difficult skill to develop, and the fewer days of practice, the harder it becomes. When students aren’t able to practice daily, they become frustrated because they are not able to play a piece they could play better before when they were practicing regularly. They will also not advance on to new pieces as quickly so they will become bored with the music. Daily practice, however, will make the most of the lessons and will keep piano playing fun and enjoyable.
For beginner piano students, assignments will take roughly 20 minutes a day to complete. However, if there is a day that they only get 5 minutes, I prefer that over 0 minutes! If a student practices more than 15-20 minutes per day, generally they will progress at a faster pace. As a student progresses, practice time will need to increase, but generally they should expect to practice 45-60 minutes per day.
Practice time can be broken up to have the same if not better effect. So, 15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes after school works just as well, if not better, than all at once.
If you want to take piano lessons, then a good acoustic piano or a good digital piano is necessary. A digital piano has keys that are the same size as a regular piano, has all 88 keys, and is not the same as a “keyboard” or “synthesizer”. A keyboard or synthesizer has a very different touch than a piano, and if students begin lessons on these, they will soon become frustrated. Playing piano requires strength in the ligaments and tendons in the hands to press down the keys at different speeds. If you learn on a keyboard, whose keys require virtually no strength to press down, you will have difficulty when playing on an acoustic or digital piano.
An ideal instrument is an acoustic grand piano, but I understand that is not always possible – especially when you may not be sure you will continue your piano studies to make it worthwhile! I recommend that you get the best piano you can afford, because with most things, you get what you pay for. Many local music instrument stores offer digital piano rentals. Digital pianos often take up less space than most small upright pianos, and these are ideal for apartments or condos where silent practice may be necessary (either by turning down the volume or using headphones). Many of these stores allow you to rent for a period of time and then apply your rent payments toward the purchase of a piano when the lease is done.
If you must use a non-weighted keyboard, just understand the limitations and do the best you can with it until you are able to upgrade.
Basically, I take students at every age and level of ability. I believe everyone can get enjoyment from playing piano. I teach mostly classical, but if a student has an interest in jazz, hymns, or some other style, I will try to incorporate that into their repertoire. Once a student reaches a certain level of playing and theory as determined by the student’s goals, then we can shift the focus to mainly that style.
I also believe in practicing efficiently and creatively. This helps the students progress faster and not dread practice time. Each lesson is spent focusing on finding creative and fun ways to practice a tough spot in a piece, as well as addressing any technique issues. I try to use the repertoire to cover most technical exercises instead of exercise books like Hanon which are repetitive and sometimes boring (if there’s a student that enjoys that, however, I do give it to them!).
Music is everywhere in our lives: not only in the home, but on TV, in cars, in stores, in churches, at fairs, and pretty much anywhere you can think of. Creating music is very rewarding for the individual, as it not only gives one a way to unwind after a hard day, there are many other benefits as well. And piano offers its own benefits not found in other instruments.
There are a myriad of other studies out there on the subject, as science is discovering what musicians have known all along: that music makes a person more well-rounded. I’d rather not focus on the side benefits of piano, however, because the real reason why someone should study piano is direct: it’s a beautiful instrument with tons of beautiful music written for it at any level of playing and in most styles. It is a discipline that requires hard work, but everyone can learn to play and get enjoyment at any age and ability.
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