These are the questions I would ask...
...starting with the #1 most important question of all:
Q: Should my child want to learn piano or can I make him/her take lessons and hope the interest will grow?
A: PLEASE do not force your kid to take lessons! A child who is made to take piano (or any instrument) will not practice on his own and you will create
a negative dynamic in the home. Unless you have discussed lessons with your child and he/she is excited about the idea, leave it alone and let them develop their own interests.
Q: Must I own a piano to take keyboard lessons?
A: You must have access to a practice instrument. For organ, you will need to make arrangements with a church, or be willing to transfer your technique between piano and organ.
An electronic keyboard is actually an ideal way to get started in organ technique.
Q: Will an electronic keyboard be okay for learning piano?
A: Many of my students have electric keyboards. I myself have a couple Yamaha portable grands and an 88-key Casio Privia. It's best to buy one with weighted, touch-sensitive keys. I also strongly recommend models
with at least 5 octaves (61 notes) and a jack for a sustain pedal attachment. Check here for my keyboard shopping tips.
Q: Do I need any special equipment for voice lessons?
A: A music stand so you can practice in a standing pose would be helpful. Many singers practice in front of a mirror to monitor their posture and breathing. Some students like to record their lessons on tape so they can play back the accompaniments during the week.
If a tape recorder is not used, you should have a tuner or some pitched instrument to give key references for the songs you're working on.
Q: How much do lessons cost?
A: $22.00 per half hour, payable monthly in advance. Forty-five minutes for $33 and an hour for $44 are also available for more advanced students.
Q: When and where do you teach?
A: Saturday through Tuesday at Holy Cross Anglican Church in Franklin. Wednesday through Friday at The Classical Academy of Franklin (formerly Eagles Nest Academy) on Del Rio Pike, the Williamson County Recreation Center off Mack Hatcher, and the Brentwood Indoor Sports Complex off Concord Road.
See my schedule for openings.
Q: How often do I have to practice?
A: There's NOT an app for that! Regular practice is the cornerstone of progress. Beginners should expect to practice their assigned lesson material 4-5 days a week, 15-20 minutes per session. By the time the student reaches Level 1 of the Faber method,
he/she should allot 30 minutes a day at least 5 days each week. Young kids think playing through a piece once is practicing. NO, IT'S NOT! Each piece needs to be repeated 3 times or more to catch mistakes, apply expression (dynamics, tempi, etc.), and bring the song
to a polished condition that can be proudly presented to the instructor. Of course, you can play around as much as you care to. Even casual playing will help develop your skills.
Q: How young should a child begin?
A: I recommend they have some socialization like preschool or kindergarten before starting lessons. The child should have some concept of the student-teacher relationship...that they are there to learn and will be asked to practice during the week.
Age 4 is the youngest I start children using a fun pre-reading method.
Exception: I started Helen Liang (at left) when she was just 3 years old. She has been successful due to her parents' commitment and involvement.
For more on this topic, see
Q: Can music instruction make my child smarter?
A: Some studies and theories (like the "Mozart Effect") support this idea. Music and math are supposed to be processed in the same part of the brain. See Piano Lessons for interesting facts.
Q: What if I don't like lessons?
A: There are no contracts. You may stop at any time without penalty if proper notice is given (2 weeks). NOTE: If you quit mid-month or without giving notice, there will be no refund of tuition paid for that month.
So it makes sense to finish out the month.
Q: How do I know you are a safe person to leave my child with?
A: Firstly, parents are more than welcome to sit in during lessons, just like Maddie shown here with her mom...busy texting! Secondly, as a parent of two kids, I am very conscientious about protecting your child's well-being and maintaining appropriate space.
Thirdly, my background checks are on file with the TBI (Tennessee Bureau of Investigation), performed while in substitute teacher training for the Franklin Special School District, and the Williamson County Sheriff's Department, performed as a
pre-requisite for employment with Parks & Recreation.
Q: Do you participate in Piano Teachers Guild?
A: Not anymore. See Why I don't participate in PTG for an explanation.
Q: Can I learn to play by ear?
A: Playing by ear is an aptitude. I can guide you if you possess the gift. But I can't give you the gift.
Q: Can you teach me jazz?
A: Sure, but it will be method-based with a solid theory foundation. Jazz is not free form--it is highly structured.
Q: Can I learn to play in a short time?
A: Absolutely not! Music is a language and playing an instrument is a physical skill. You wouldn't expect to be proficient in
German or ballet after just one year of study. See more about "quick-learning methods" here.
Q: What about learning organ--do I need a background in piano?
A: Definitely! Organ is a complex instrument requiring established keyboard skills. It's like
operating an audio control board while playing piano at the same time.
Q: What else do you teach?
A: I offer instruction in theory, ear training and composition as well as vocal coaching.
Q: What should I ask at my first meeting with you?
A: Please see Parent Questions for a guide.
Q: Do you teach adults?
A: Yes, such as Hiroko shown at left. However, working adults often discover they can't find practice time. Studies show it's also harder to learn music if one hasn't had a foundation during childhood.
I ask prospective adult students to seriously weigh these two factors before beginning lessons. It may spare you disappointment down the road.
Q: If my question isn't answered here, is it okay to email or call you?
A: Sure--please do!