Distance Piano Lessons

I thought it might be fun to share with you the progress of some of my distance learning piano students.  With students as far away as England and Spain and as close as Chicago, I feel very fortunate to be able to teach these students some of the knowledge I obtained from my former jazz teachers Alan Swain and Tony Caramia.

Ray Foulkes has been studying with me for over 5 years now!  He resides in Romsey England near Southhampton.  Ray has mastered his Open Position Chords and is able to transpose several tunes into any of the 12 different keys!  Ray is learning ” block style” voicings now as well as how to arrange songs with more complex chords , i.e. Dominant 11+’s, 13ths and Quartel voicings.  Ray was interviewed on BBC Radio Wales in November 2005 and you can hear him performing by clicking on the link at www.pianoweb.com

Ruth Rothstein is my youngest student at age 84 !!  Ruth always wanted to learn to play piano and speak spanish… Well I don’t know about her language skills but I do know she can play a mean leadsheet! Ruth began distance lessons in August 2005 and now has a repertoire of over 25 songs.  Maybe more importantly, she can sightread a song/leadsheet in minutes, and get a relatively ” big sound”‘ now that she has mastered her triads!

Jim McVicar is one of 2 students from Santa Rosa , California.  Jim had studied off and on for years before I began teaching him in January 2006.  It is such a pleasure to hear him playing songs like  ” That’s All ” and ” Misty” and ” The Nearness Of You”  on his beautiful Yamaha Grand Piano!.  He plays many of the songs with ” advanced closed position” voicings.. voicings that only a very few professional jazz pianists know or use. Some areas of concentration that Jim is learning now are: open position voicings ala Alan Swain, so called ” scalar fills”, quartel chords, and some ” beginning improvisation” techniques.

Carol Rosofsky is one of 3 distance students who live in Chicago.  You know they say ‘ the teacher learns more than the student”.. well this could not be more true.  Carol has helped me to ” think out side the box”.. as a teacher.  I often need to/ want to change my paradigm when teaching Carol.  She is more of a ” hands on  learner ” and I’m more of a  conceptual learner. This past week’s lesson was one of her best.  I felt so proud when she asked to ” play her 11+ chords around the circle again!”.  As Carol remarked ” I think I’m getting this”..

Betty Walkiewicz is my dear student from Portland.  Like many adults, Betty took a year or 2 of piano as a child but always wanted to get back to it as an adult. After seeing an article in Costco magazine she called me in January 2006 and she began taking lessons from me.  Betty has already mastered her closed position 4-note chords and recently even impressed herself with her ability to play Moon River nearly perfectly the first time through. As I reminded her, this is the power of knowing all your chords!  She often comments that she  ” just loves to get a new lead sheet ” from me via email.  It’s like getting a gift in the mail.

Noel Romey is a graduate student at the University of Arkansas.  He is visually impaired but that has not stopped him from studying one of his passions… jazz piano!  Noel is transposing tunes into multiple keys and really enjoying the creative side of jazz piano.  Areas he excels in are:  Reharmonization of  ” Standards”, improvisation and music theory.  Noel is an inspiration to me as a teacher!

June Cantwell called me 6 weeks after an article in the Riverside County , California  Enterprise newspaper.  I was surprised to be getting a call so far in the future from when the article first ran. But June later told me that she cut out the article and waited to call me because she knew she would be vacationing and didn’t want to start til she knew she could have consistent lessons.  Never having played before, June is now playing 6 -note chords in open position after less than 2 years of lessons. As I reminded her in the last month, she is playing out of a book that I studied in after 10 years of piano lessons! Does she play these professional sounding chords perfectly every time.. no.. but she knows the theory and I’m certain these chords will be second nature in the upcoming months. Go June!!

Look for more interesting comments on piano students in the next days and weeks. And thank you to all my students over the years for all there questions.  There quest for knowledge has made me want to improve my skills as a teacher and professional jazz pianist!