Portland Piano Players Message Board › Piano Teachers

Piano Teachers

Rick N.
Portland, OR
Post #: 6
If you are taking or have taken piano lessons in the Portland area, who were your teacher(s)? Where were they located? What is their teaching style? What are their specialities? Would you recommend them?
user 3403247
Portland, OR
Post #: 5
Thks Rick for putting this out there, looking forward to it's enrollment!
A former member
Post #: 1
Thanks Rick for starting the discussion. It's a nice topic. I've had a wonderful teacher for several months. She was a music student, but is graduating very soon and leaving Portland. Although she is young, she is very talented and humble. I'm looking for a new teacher now.
Megan H.
Portland, OR
Post #: 1
I have yet to attend a piano playing meeting, but I hope to soon. I'm a piano teacher in the Portland area and teach about 50% adults. By that I mean about half of my students are grownups, not that they are all half-grownup!. Although that would be fun.
You can check out my website here: http://www.meganhughe...­. If I have a specialty, it is tone, technique and ease of playing, all devoted to music-making first and foremost. I am the fifth generation in the Beethoven lineage, through Leschetitsky, Alexander Raab and Don Lehmann. I am also the antithesis of the piano teacher with rules and a ruler.
Christopher C.
user 28206762
Group Organizer
Portland, OR
Post #: 1
I am a little reluctant to post a full reply because I am afraid I will be too critical of my current piano teacher! But I guess it is all for the common good. I will omit his name though, ask me if you want to know, he teaches through a local piano dealer.

First though I will mention a couple of things I liked about teachers from my past (who were in Nashville unfortunately).

One was my piano teacher for a year in college, Dr. Kris Elsberry, who also taught undergraduate music theory, ear training and form and is still a prominent music educator. One of the best things I remember about those lessons was how good Kris was at picking out pieces appropriate for my evolving skill level and covering a range of musical periods. I think that is a pedagogical art to that; pushing students into pieces that are too difficult frustrates them, and keeping them in pieces that are too easy or uninteresting bores them. Kris also had a fantastic comprehensive knowledge of classical repertoire. There was a another great teacher and pianist at that school too whose seminars I took for a year, Dr. Robert Marler, whose incredible knowledge of Beethoven was an inspiration. His piano seminars were exercises in humility for all students but especially those like me who had slight piano background.

I think my current teacher was weaker in both of these areas. I got into pieces that were too tough for me and he didn't really help correct that (I had to figure it out and dial back my ambitions), and there were many instances where his knowledge of baroque and classical repertoire seemed much more cursory, but then that is probably to be expected when compared with a music theory professor or a Beethoven expert with a doctorate.

Another favorite teacher was a guitar teacher I had in Nashville, who was a real guru-level jazz fusion player, Stan Lassiter. His approach to mastering the instrument was like a martial art. Every little step led to another, and the system led you to eventually know all sorts of possible sound production techniques and also every note on the fretboard with every possible way to approach forming and playing scales, chords and arpeggios. I really admire teachers that can bring that kind of an efficient system of mastery to their students so that you feel like you are really making progress and seeing your skills expand.

My current piano teacher's approach has been much less consistent or organized than that - lots of very basic ideas repeated, and sometimes recommendations on playing certain passages would be reversed from one lesson to the next (which might be deliberate, but in this case I think it was more about forgetfulness and just reacting to me doing one thing and then the opposite).

My lessons this year in Portland were still valuable to me in just having a weekly coach to check on my progress and offer support and advice. However the more I mull it over, the more I think I would not recommend my teacher even on this level. For instance my teacher's advice on getting peak performance was to imagine that some hero of mine was listening to me play and I was trying to express in that one moment exactly what the piece should be. I have decided this was actually terrible advice and the opposite of the way I would help someone deal with performance anxiety; I would encourage them to adopt mental models that get away from imaging that someone is judging them, and instead focus on the pleasure of playing (even in practice - you should feel good!) and on sharing (e.g. playing for a child who is hearing that tune for the first time vs. some judgmental expert). Also my current teacher did not help me with a basic physiological problem with stiff hands even though I think this has to be a common problem and I described the problem repeatedly - it was on my own (with google's help) that I finally discovered the trick of warming them up with very warm water from the tap before playing.

My last lesson is next week and I am looking forward to them ending. I think I will take lessons again at some point but I will probably go with a more established classical performer or music school faculty in the future, or someone with a genius mastery system like my old guitar teacher.
Art R.
Portland, OR
Post #: 1
Hi All,

I've been a professional jazz pianist and composer for over 40 yrs and still perform locally both solo and trio.
I also graduated with honors as a Bachelor of Music in piano performance of classical music. The periods I most love and know are the Classical (Beethoven, Brahms etc), the Romantic (Chopin etc) and Modern 20/21st century (From Berg to Ravel). My teaching technique is guided by the students needs and desires whether classical or jazz.
I have developed my own system where one does not have to practice endless scales to improve technique.
I prefer adult students that have a real desire to learn no matter what their level (although reading music is a must).
I am open for a few more students.
Art playing a movement from one of his compositions
Art Resnick 503-232-3832
A former member
Post #: 1
I found it challenging to find a good teacher who is happy to focus more on pop and jazz piano -- most teachers I talked with wanted to teach in a certain way that they were familiar with (meaning the focus was on classical). Not that I am uninterested in classical music, but I want to learn how to play by chords, and have some fun playing piano now, rather than working on the discipline that would (hopefully) get me to play Chopin after so many years.

I've been working with Joshua since November. He does both classical (have some kind of degree, if I remember right) and jazz (playing in a band). Very patient, kind, and I think he plays well. I visit his place in SW PDX, but I think he teaches in Vancouver, too, if someone is interested.

Portland, OR
Post #: 1
Gained insights just by reading everyone's messages. Very appreciative of them!

As for me, I am at the juncture of deciding whom I will go next for piano lessons. I am taking three month break from the lessons.

On my own, I have found a few pieces that are fun to play and challenge me "just right". The interesting thing is that I keep practicing them more often than before when I had my lessons. I was surprised by the fact that I could find something that would truly motivate me to play. I believe that it's the internal motivation that will go far for me.

My current teacher was helpful in transitioning me back to piano playing as an adult. I did lots of scales and music pieces that reviewed what I'd learned in my teen years.

Now, I think I need to find a new piano teacher who has a system to guide me through the next phase of my musical development as a pianist.
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