FAQs and the Five "W's" Part 2: Who, Where, and When Do You Teach?

FAQs & the Five "W's"

Today, I'm continuing my new series of posts based around the Five "W" questions (Who, What, Where, When, Why). The specific questions are:

  
What do you do?

Who do you teach?

Where do you teach?

When are you available?

 Why do you teach?

 

Every one of the above questions is important because they form not only the basis of my personal teaching philosophy, but they connect to some of the most frequently asked questions I get from both current and potential students. If you are a music teacher, asking yourself these questions can be a great starting point for developing your own philosophy and business model. If you're a music student seeking a new teacher, the Five W's are EXTREMELY important questions that you should ask every teacher you interview. You will learn more about that teacher's personality and vision than you could ever get from a list of accomplishments or a resume or even another student referral (although all of those things are great as well). So without further ado, on to Part Two: Who (or "whom"), Where, and When Do You Teach?...


Who?

EVERYONE. ANYONE. That's right. Music is not just for elementary school children. I don't know why that is such a commonly misguided assumption. I accept and have experience teaching students from age 5-75. My personality and style typically resonates with teens and young adults, but that doesn't mean that they are my only "target." I believe that absolutely EVERYONE IS MUSICAL, so I aim to nurture and support that musicality in anyone who is interested. That said, let me highlight some particulars regarding very young children and older adults.

YOUNGER CHILDREN

There is quite a broad range in maturity at ages 5-7. I usually recommend meeting in person so I can assess a child's development level and determine if they are ready to start lessons. Physically, children need to have developed the fine motor skills in their fingers to a certain point of independent control before they will be ready. If you're not sure about how to assess this with your child, you can try this simple finger dexterity test.

In addition to the physical requirements above, here are some other important readiness factors:

  1. Does your child know the difference between left and right?  Playing the piano requires the use of both hands, so being able to distinguish one hand from the other is an important skill.

  2. Does your child know the alphabet, specifically the first seven letters (A-B-C-D-E-F-G)? The musical alphabet is made of seven letters.  It is important for your child to be able to identify and name these letters in order to identify individual keys on the keyboard. While I do not focus on reading notes until much later, students will still benefit greatly from being able to recognize the first seven letters of the alphabet on the page, as this is still used to indicate chord progressions and form.

  3. Can your child read?  While it is not an absolute necessity, a child with even basic reading comprehension will find a lot of things easier, including the ability to practice more independently because they can read the instructions on their own.  Much of the music in this program tends to have lyrics for the child to sing while they practice.  Being able to read allows students to sing the lyrics while they play which can increase their rhythmic accuracy and timing. Again, this is not a deal-breaker. Many younger students of mine have easily overcome this hurdle by listening to the provided audio tracks and memorizing the lyrics.

  4. Can your child count to ten? Counting rhythm (1-2-3-4...etc.) does not require an advanced understanding of math, but beginners are expected to have some experience with counting out loud and even recognizing numbers 1-10. Recognizing the distance between notes (intervals) also relies on some familiarity with fractions (half and whole steps).

All of the above are considerations for parents wondering when their child is actually ready to begin lessons. For students who are NOT quite ready, there are a number of excellent music programs in the area that cater to younger children - preschoolers and even toddlers. 

SENIORS (OLDER ADULTS)

I thoroughly enjoy my adult students who are brave and audacious enough to start music lessons "later in life," despite the common misconception that music lessons are for children. I think that those adults - some of whom took lessons as a child, but stopped for whatever reason, and are now choosing to try again - are some of the bravest and most inspiring people...ever. When someone who has worked hard for many years, retires and then decides to take music lessons because now they have the time and resources that they never thought they had before, I am more than happy to work with them. However, I'm just going to say to any adults considering lessons,

DON'T WAIT.

Don't buy in to the "differed life plan." You really have no idea just how much music lessons will add to your life and self-expression. Please do not assume that it is just a "leisure activity" or underestimate its importance.

Music acts like a magic key, to which the most tightly closed heart opens.
— Maria von Trapp

Regardless of age, my specialty is making music lessons accessible and effective for everyone in their busy 21st Century lives. For adult students especially, I don't demand hours and hours of practice, and recitals, and competitions, and exams because I want students to make music for their own reasons. If it's fun, and rewarding, and challenging in a positive way, they will spend however much time they can practicing without me setting some arbitrary goal. Should a student want to perform at recitals or competitively, I can provide opportunities for them to follow that path with my full support. But I don't believe that that path is for everyone.

While practicing scales and etudes, drilling, and studying different periods of music are all legitimate and useful to learning how to play the piano, certain aspects of musicianship are missing which were taught to most young musicians hundreds of years ago. These concepts are improvisation, composition, and accompaniment. Johannes Brahms and Johann Sebastian Bach are two of many famous composers who were taught to do these very things.
— Michele Favero-Kluge, pianist (from A World Where Everyone Plays)

In addition to the above, I actively seek students who already have an interest in writing their own songs, composing, or producing music in a recording studio. My own experience in these areas has made me uniquely qualified to connect piano lessons with music theory, composition, arrangement, and audio production on a continuum that will hopefully open many doors of opportunity for students wanting to express themselves artistically. For those seeking a career in music, I can prepare you with many of the tools you will need to fulfill that dream.


Where & When?

I live and teach in the thriving, vibrant, and diverse community of Whittier, California. Centrally nestled between a group of communities comprising Southeastern Los Angeles County and North Orange County, Whittier is adjacent to a great number of good schools and community music and arts programs. 

Since I teach both at my studio location and at my local community center, my schedule can vary, but my studio location general hours of business can be found in the footer section of this website. While many private teachers only teach during afternoons and evenings, taking breaks during the summer months, and roughly mirroring the school calendar, I teach year round and do my best to offer lessons and classes from morning to evening 6 days a week, year-round.