Frequently-Asked Questions about learning music, the studio, and your teacher
+ What are you like as a teacher?
I have a great sense of humor, attention to detail, and pride myself in doing things the right way (so you don’t have to re-learn them later). I am laid back but professional, patient, and will always ensure you have support – and fun!
+ What kinds of students do you teach?
My specialty is creative adults & children and I cater to adults and children of all stripes. Essentially I’m open to any student who wants to be there. So any level or age as long as your attitude is great! My speciality is budding songwriters but I pride myself in making songsmiths out of anybody.
Many of my adult students are returning to piano or music, or have excelled at (or even have careers in) guitar, DJing, music production, and songwriting. Others have never played, and some people on both sides of that spectrum can’t read music until they come to me.
+ What’s the first (piano/voice/music theory/songwriting) lesson like?
We will about your experience with music, music theory, piano, singing, any other instruments, and what kind of music you’re interested in learning and creating.
We’ll talk about your practicing commitment and your space at home; your instrument (keyboard or body).
Once I’ve assessed these things, we can start some exercises then I can give you some assignments. Lessons are individualized: we will come up with a lesson plan together based on combination of regular materials (Faber piano series and other books) and music selections that you like.
If you have certain music in mind you’d like to learn, please bring those ideas or sheet music. Even if you want to learn songs by ear, learning from sheet music (and having something to refer to between lessons with my notes on it) helps tremendously and is a part of the learning process.
+ What are other lessons like?
You and I discuss your progress or roadblocks since last time and any questions you had.
We’ll warm up with scales and exercises if you have not already, then jump into the material. We will also re-assess the material as your progress in the coming weeks, like adding supplements, or switching styles or concepts as needed.
+ What do I need? (Books & materials)
- A love of music – or at least a curiosity
- A keyboard or a piano at home or easy access to one at least 3-4 times a week
Don’t worry if you think you don’t have a good ear or rhythm, that’s why you’re coming to me.
If you don’t have your own books or sheet music I’ll gladly give you the names of music to purchase. I can also purchase music and exercise books for you and add the purchase cost to your monthly bill.
+ How often should I take lessons?
Typically weekly lessons are best to keep you on track; this assumes you’re practicing at least 3-5 times a week. Going too long without a lesson can get you off track – you can practice incorrectly and reinforce incorrect methods or notes! (Trust me, my students report this).
For the best results for your weekly lessons I recommend a half hour for younger children, 45 minutes for older children and an hour for adults. Some adults find biweekly (every two weeks) works best for their schedules; others do weekly or 3 times a month, and others prefer 45 minute lessons. Others still – those traveling for work a lot, for example – just come when they can.
+ How often should I practice?
As much as possible! Although correct practice is more important than practicing a lot and not doing it correctly. Really, you should practice as much as you’re able to do so without strain (mental or physical). Everybody is different, but some general guidelines:
Children should practice 4-6 times a week ideally, 10-20 minutes per session. After that, brains and hands and backs get tired and practicing can actually reinforce incorrect posture, hand position, and even wrong notes and rhythms.
*Adults should practice 4-7 times a week *(ideally at least 5-6 times). Your brains also work differently, so shorter (but more frequent) practicing can be more effective than it would be for a child, especially when starting out. And it probably fits your busy schedule more! Longer sessions are still encouraged however.
Kids and adults: You can practice more than once in a day! A 5-10 minute session in the morning and 20 minutes in the evening is great!
+ How much are lessons?
Please contact me for current rates, which are based on lesson duration. For best results lessons should be once weekly; other options may be available depending on your case, schedule, and teacher availability.
+ When is tuition due?
- The short answer: monthly. Pay-as-you-go costs slightly more.
- Due after your initial lesson – for that lesson and any remaining lessons during that month
- Before each subsequent month, for the entire month, in advance. Typically at your last lesson of the month, tuition is due for the next month.
+ How long have you been playing/writing/singing?
I’ve been playing piano and writing songs since I was a child (1986) and began lessons in ’87. By 5th grade I was playing better than most of my peers, and by high school was winning competitions and teaching piano and music theory.
Around that time I returned to choir and begain singing and playing as a soloist, and in college was writing and arranging for solo singers and chorus (pop, rock, and classical works). I majored in Composition with a focus on music for piano, voice, and strings, after a brief stint as a Piano Major; I really wanted to write! I also began songwriting as a college freshman.
I began formal voice lessons in my 20s after years of singing and choir, and now teach voice, songwriting, piano, composition, music theory (chords and so much more). I am also a performance coach, so if you’re getting ready for an audition, just let me know!
+ What do you play and sing?
+ Do you travel to my home or do I travel to you?
I have a great studio where my students love to learn, so my students do come to me. I know some good teachers who do travel; none of them enjoy it, and it’s the number one complaint about their jobs. With BA Music Studio you’ll get a happy teacher and an environment free of the distractions of your own home.
In addition, I provide access to a grand piano; keyboard; iPad; and other instruments and equipment (recording, for example). These things can’t travel. You’ll also find that in-home teachers tend to be younger and while they are great teachers, spending half your time traveling costs you valuable time gaining experience.
If you’re still looking for an in-home teacher, I’m happy to provide a recommendation!
+ Do I have to learn (fill in the blank)? Classical music, reading music, etc.?
Yes and no is the short answer! I’ll never make you learn anything you don’t want to; but much like learning to read or learning a new language, you have to work with material that’s appropriate to your skill level and will help you develop the skills you want to meet your goals. For example, for adults new to learning piano, some simpler melodies are required learning, as is learning to read music.
If your goal is to play keyboard while producing music, just let me know – I ask all of this up front at your first lesson. You won’t want or need to learn Beethoven, though if you have a hankerin’ just let me know. I’m happy as long as you are, and can teach you to play chords, improvise, songwrite, and get comfortable on the keys, even if it’s ultimately only a MIDI controller you’ll be playing on.
You still get to learn on a grand piano, though. 🙂
+ What about your rates? Why are they (fill in the blank)?
I’m definitely not expensive, and a quick search will reveal that. My rates are roughly in the middle for piano teachers in Los Angeles, and since I (humbly) pride myself more than that – a voice coach and songwriting coach as well — I may seem at first glance slightly more expensive than some piano teachers on the Los Angeles northeast side. That also means I’m less expensive than most voice coaches in LA, since I have to balance between the instruments I teach (voice & piano) and I wish to have the same rate for both.
That said, in my experience, the teachers you may also be reaching out to and comparing are 5-10 years younger than I am and 5-10 years less experienced in performing, writing, and teaching. So if a lesson with me is $5 more, that may be why. If a lesson with someone else is $10+ less than with me, chances are they just moved to LA and don’t know the market or are in school/just out of school.