4. Juilliard Trained Piano &Theory Lessons
SCOTT TESTIMONIAL 2015
I swore off music lessons after a bad experience in high school. My piano teacher insisted that I participate in a recital for family & friends and gave me a Mozart slow movement to play. I could get through it, but I could not play it the way I knew it should be played and my teacher did not give me special instructions to help me learn the ornaments like trills and turns. During the recital, I came to the first trill and froze. It was humiliating & I swore to never play another note--though I loved music and felt a deep loss. Listening to music became painful because I was convinced that I had no talent and would never be able to play pieces that I loved.
Many years later after I retired, a piano was left to me when a relative died. After staring at it warily for several months, I decided to try again and found a teacher who gave me Hanon exercises, a metronome and beginner pieces. But, my playing experience was frustrating despite diligent practice. My hands seemed to be stuck in first gear, and I could only play slow pieces from memory. All that changed when my piano tuner suggested that I contact Scott Johnson.
I checked out his website, saw Juilliard and Columbia in his resume and wondered if he would take on a relative beginner with my issues. It turned out that he works with people at all levels, and progress happened faster than I expected from the start because he brought such a wealth of materials & techniques--as though he had the resources of an entire conservatory in his back pocket.
In my first lessons with Scott, we threw out the Hanon and he exposed me to an amazing new world of music: Liszt's fingering for chords, Phillipp's exercises to develop a "quiet hand" and independence of the fingers, Abby Whiteside's discoveries about positioning yourself to play without reaching for notes, and so much more--a rich mixture of wonderful music matched to exercises for developing technique culled from the lineage of master teachers. For example, something by Beethoven is combined with exercises by his student Carl Czerny--so we have this amazing window through Czerny on how to approach Beethoven's music.
I suddenly realized that a lot of what held me back was fixable. After only a few weeks, my small hands were stretched enough to reach a 9th when I had barely been able to reach an octave. And he gave me music that I never dreamed I would be able to play. Things that seemed impossible, became possible because he gave me fingering that worked for my hands and showed me strategies for learning a piece more efficiently than my old method of playing it through a thousand times until my fingers learned it by rote. And theory is included in the lessons. So, I'm playing the music I love with more understanding of the musical ideas that are so compelling to my ear. Scott's wonderful teaching approach and his uncanny ability to find just the right exercises and strategies to help you through the hard stuff will have you excited about playing--and practicing--because he shows you exactly what to aim for and you can see the progress. No matter what your level, he will take you further than you expected. He's the best teacher I have had by far.