Teaching

“There’s no such thing as neutral education. Education either functions as an instrument to bring about conformity or freedom.”

—Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed

“Master your instrument, master the music, and then forget all that [stuff] and just play.…  music is your own experience, your thoughts, your wisdom.  If you don’t live it, it won’t come out of your horn.  They teach you there’s a boundary line to music. But, man, there’s no boundary line to art.”

—Charlie Parker

Ready to get started?

I’d love to talk with you in real-time about how I can help you incorporate music-making into your life!  To schedule a free initial consultation, please complete this form.

Questions first?

If you’re not quite ready to meet up, I encourage you to read on!  Here are the answers I find most potential students are looking for:

What (and where) do you teach?

I teach (voice, piano, music theory, songwriting, musical theatre acting, and public speaking) year-round both at The Perfect 5th Musical Arts Center in Mechanicsburg, and remotely (I’ve recently taught students in Maryland, Illinois, California, Belgium, and South Korea) using Zoom.

How do lessons work?

For students seeking to maximize their growth as musicians and artists, I recommend weekly lessons.  This allows us to develop a healthy momentum toward our goals while allowing the student to take ownership of their own growth between sessions.

What do you charge?

Students who commit to weekly lessons with monthly billing receive a special discounted rate: half-hour weekly lessons are $37.50 per lesson.  Experienced students who have demonstrated appropriate stamina and focus may request full-hour weekly lessons at $75.00 per lesson.

What else do I need to know?

If you have a few minutes, please read on below to learn more about my teaching philosophy, including thoughts on practicing, lesson frequency and duration, and ad-hoc coaching, along with some thoughts on gender and identity. (And if you’d like to hear what some of my recent students have to say about me, you can watch a few testimonial videos here.)

You may also want to browse through other pages of my website for information about teaching locations and online lessons, scheduling, billing & payment, and other studio policies.

Pedagogy

In the simplest of senses, anyone who can push a button can play the piano—but making music at the piano is much more than knowing which of the 88 “buttons” on the instrument to push in which order. Similarly, anyone who can speak aloud and recognize pitch can learn to sing—but true vocal music is much more than words and notes.

The good news is that after more than three decades as a pianist and singer, I can offer my students sound practical wisdom they can use to make music more efficiently and safely. But behind every technical exercise is my singular goal as an artist: to identify human truths (from the most personal to the most universal), and to comment on them well and powerfully through music.

Practicing

Many students find the time we spend together during our weekly lessons to be a refreshing respite from the rest of their week.  If that’s the case, I celebrate that opportunity with you, and am happy to be able to facilitate the experience.  Your musical life is yours, after all!

If you have specific career, educational, performance, or other goals, though, you will almost certainly find that a short weekly lesson doesn’t provide the necessary forward momentum to get you there all on its own.  Fluency in music, as in any other language, is impossible to achieve without frequent immersion; and the muscles we use to make music “learn” through quality repetition, just like the muscles athletes use to swing rackets and jump hurdles. To maximize your musical growth, it’s wise to plan for some dedicated practice time at least five days out of each week. (I strongly recommend you add these practice times to your personal calendar, rather than trusting yourself to “fit it in sometime.”)

Even 10 or 15 minutes of practice, five times in a week, is preferable to a single longer session. Just make sure it’s quality time: studies have shown that it’s better to put in a few minutes of careful, dedicated work on a single trouble spot or technique than it is to hastily play through a piece and “chalk up” the time as practice.

Lesson duration

I recommend half-hour weekly sessions for nearly all of my students.  A half-hour session generally allows us to review the work you’ve done since I saw you last, address specific challenges, and set goals for the coming week.  More advanced students with increased stamina, focus, and work habits (especially those who begin to cover longer repertory, prepare for college auditions, etc.) may find full-hour weekly lessons preferable.

Lesson frequency

I’m often asked about biweekly (“every-other-week”) lessons.  As a way to save money, biweekly lessons can seem like a smart choice.  But reality being what it is, students who see me only a couple of times a month don’t progress nearly as fast (much less than half as fast, I find) as those who have that weekly “nudge” to keep them moving forward.  And that’s even assuming we never have to miss a lesson due to illness, weather, or travel.  Therefore, my studio calendar is built on the assumption that students commit to regular, weekly lessons.

Ad-hoc sessions and “coaching”

For students unable to commit to weekly lessons, I am happy to schedule ad-hoc sessions during gaps in my regular schedule.  To schedule such sessions, please first complete a Prospective Student Application.  I’ll be in touch to schedule a free consultation, at which we’ll discuss your experience and goals.  Once we’ve had that conversation, I’ll get you “in my system,” and you’ll be able to search for available times and schedule sessions in your Student Portal using these instructions.

Ad-hoc coachings are not eligible for the discount I give regular weekly students, and are billed at my usual hourly rate—currently $95.00 per hour, or $47.50 per half-hour.  Payment is due before the start of the session; see this page for payment information.

A few words about gender and identity

While technique and theory are obviously essential parts of the craft, making music happens only when the artist makes vulnerable, authentic connections to the material and to the audience.  To that end, I sometimes select (and am happy for students to request) repertory that crosses gender lines (e.g., a male-presenting student singing music written for a female character), where textual, thematic, and/or musical considerations suggest a student would make important connections with that repertory.

I also encourage students to share with me the name and gender pronouns they would like me to use to refer to them, regardless of what anyone else is accustomed to calling them.  The name and pronouns I use with students during private sessions may be different, if desired, from those used in communication with parents and others.  My official records (for scheduling, billing, and communications) can be updated at any time.

In short, your music should be yours, and it is my job to help you make your music.

Starting the conversation

If my pedagogy appeals to you, please submit a contact form; I’ll be back in touch with you (usually within 24 hours) to discuss how we might work together.