- How did you get started doing this type of work?
When I was sixteen, my friends would love to have me teach them theme songs from movies, cartoons, & anime because I was always playing a piano that happened to be around at a youth group, school auditorium, or one of our homes. I was often told I was a natural teacher even then, as after a single session people would come up to my friends impressed and ask them how long they played piano, and my friends would reply "20 minutes" :p They started referring me to their family members and friends of their family. I have learned so many things over the years from what works and doesn't work with my students, as well as from supervised teaching in my undergraduate work, education courses, education psychology, my concentration in piano pedagogy (how to teach piano), and my contributed grad school work in education.
- What advice would you give a customer looking to hire a provider in your area of work?
1) Find out what town the professional's studio is in. Thumbtack may have matched you with someone who lives an hour away. 2) Usually, high quality instructors form our own studio with extremely limited travel options. While it may be convenient to have a pro come to you, how important to you is the quality of the instruction? Ask me about the dozens of things I offer my students that most other instructors don't. 3) What is the range of achievement of the instructors past and current students? Request to hear some recordings or view some videos. 4) Unfortunately most piano instructors have not even been trained at a conservatory or even a music school in piano performance / instruction. There is sadly no legal requirement to have any sort of certification or expertise, so many people call themselves piano teachers even if they've never studied education, advanced technique, and with a master pianist. Unfortunately, this frequently leads to teachers often not conveying to students how to practice effectively, read proficiently, learn to master an unlimited number of pieces/songs on their own with increasing difficulty, and the technique required to play anything imaginable with beauty, comfort, and ease! Instead, many piano teachers unintentionally teach their students to play in a somewhat uncoordinated and musically uninspiring way, to always depend on teachers to learn anything on their own because their reading is so limited, to only learn one or two pieces each year, have one or two performance goals a year, and a very limited range of repertoire. Ask to attend a teacher's events and hear many of our students from all walks of life. You might be surprised that these inspiring students only started a year ago, or are a med student doing this on the side, or an ordinary kid who loves sports, or a child with a learning disability who has overcome these limitations in a performance, or a seven-year-old playing like be a high schooler, or a teenager playing at a professional level!
- What questions should customers think through before talking to professionals about their project?
1) Let's say it's a great match, and I'm excited to work with Dan to develop my piano skills beyond anyone's expectations! Would I step up and commit to a weekly lesson at his Setauket studio (with flexibility to reschedule or to do live 2-way video lessons when necessary)? 2) If I don't yet own an instrument, Dan can help me acquire one! What do I have space for, and what are my budget / space limitations for acquiring a weighted 88-key digital piano, or acoustic: upright / grand piano? 3) Am I interested in an average of 1 weekly lesson, or am I curious to try discounted multiple or broken up smaller weekly lessons (including options for guided practice sessions on FaceTime or Skype)? 4) When can I set aside time to practice each day? 5) Do I have any ideal future performance goals? Ex. Ultimately, I'd love to perform _______ one day for ________ at _______. (ex Moonlight Sonata or New York State of Mind for seniors or my fiance, at a casual get-together, dinner party, Instagram, or our wedding)