I teach private piano lessons at my studio in Princeton, New Jersey, combining over two decades of experience as both a concert pianist and teacher. My years of study in Italy (including a Fulbright fellowship) connect me to a European pedagogical tradition that reaches back directly to Chopin and Beethoven. As an American, I also embrace contemporary idioms of new music and jazz. I pride myself on customizing each student’s course of study to fit their own interests and goals. There are many ways to engage with the piano — from classical performance to improvisation and composition — and my students have gone on to incorporate theses experiences into their lives in many ways.
Contact me HERE if you’d like to know more about my studio.
I am fascinated by how the whole body interacts with the piano. Each pianist must learn to use all of their larger and smaller muscles efficiently — it isn’t just about fingers! When I start with young students, we play around with the force of gravity and how it can help us make sound on the instrument without effort. I develop technique that they can grow with, and which will support relaxed, sustainable playing habits for their whole lives.
I allow for a lot of creative leeway and exploration in the younger ages, progressing to more focused pianism as they get older and their abilities improve. General music topics in theory, improvisation, composition, ear training, rhythm, and musical literacy are all part of early piano instruction. I celebrate their natural strengths while remaining attentive to weaknesses.
My preferred age of beginning piano instruction is 7, although some 5 and 6 year-olds have the enthusiasm and focus to begin.
When a student reaches a point where they can perform short pieces from the Baroque and Classical period, we transition into serious classical piano study. At this stage, I gauge whether a student is motivated for more rigorous training, and we begin learning the masterworks of Bach (both J.S. and C.P.E.), Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven, and onward into Chopin, Debussy, and more. I always incorporate contemporary composers into instruction, such as Princeton University faculty composer Juri Seo.
My approach to instruction is non-dogmatic. I glean materials, resources, and ideas from across the spectrum, and don’t adhere to any particular school of piano instruction. Many different approaches work for different students.
For older students and their parents, I offer comprehensive guidance if they are bound for college-level music study. My position as associate artistic director of an international piano competition in Italy gives me a unique perspective on the world outside of my studio.
I encourage my students to seize many performance opportunities. They are required to participate in an informal Christmas concert in the fall, and a (more) formal spring recital at the end of the school year. I highly encourage my students to attend piano performances (including my own). The Princeton community is overflowing with piano concerts throughout the year.
Although a piano is a big investment, I have found that a student really needs to practice on one to improve. In general, electric keyboards are not sufficient. I am actively involved with Steinway & Sons in New York and local piano vendors such as Jacobs Music, and am happy to help families find one for their child (upright pianos and budget brands are fine). Sometimes, I have even been able to find donated instruments for my students.
It is very important to me that a child wants to play the instrument. With that in mind, the only way to enjoy the thrill of improving is to practice consistently!
Obviously, I encourage students to get carried away while practicing. However, the nature of learning a physical practice is that small regular doses are much more effective than sporadic marathon sessions. Especially for younger children, these can even be broken up throughout the day. The most important practice day is the one after the last lesson for retention, not the day before the next one.
- Children under 7: at least 15 minutes a day, five days a week. The main goal at this age is to encourage the habit of engaging with the instrument.
- Age 7-11: at least 30-45 minutes per day, five days a week (more serious students will be playing six or even seven at this point).
- Age 12 and up: at least one hour per day
- For a conservatory-bound pianist, I would recommend 2 hours per day on weekdays, and 3 or more on weekends.