Private Piano Lessons
Hello, Students and Parents!
No matter your age or background, I would be delighted to teach you to play the piano. My approach to teaching is based on a few key ideas: that playing the piano is a very special gift, that it is a commitment that requires steady focus over a period of time, and that anyone can learn to play the piano well. It is a very human activity. It touches the soul and sets the hands free.
Very often there are life lessons to be learned while studying the piano. Children learn to play for themselves, what it means to be individual. I believe the paramount factor for children is that they feel good about themselves. Playing the piano is a wonderful way to develop this confidence.
Adults learn to put aside their everyday cares and worries and engage with the instrument at their own pace.
I love watching students grow, discover themselves, and become better musicians. It is why I teach. I grow along with you as we move through songs, exercises, and theoretical concepts.
Though my professional specialty is jazz, I also have a deep appreciation and understanding of classical music. We can incorporate elements of jazz and classical music in your lessons. I will develop a learning plan for you that is tailored to your individual goals and interests.
WHERE TO STUDY WITH ME
At the duCret School of Art in Plainfield, NJ: Mondays, Thursdays, and Fridays. Contact me to set up a time.
At Rutgers Community Arts in New Brunswick, NJ: Tuesdays and Saturdays. Call (848) 932-1866.
At your home in the Princeton area: Wednesdays. Contact me to set up a time.
my new unique
piano lessons program!
My Students' Accomplishments
~ Berklee College of Music
~ Lafayette College Jazz Ensemble
~ Princeton High School Jazz Bands
~ Montgomery High School Jazz Band
~ Montgomery Middle School Jazz Band
~ NJ State Regional Jazz Band
~ Rutgers Summer Jazz Institute
~ Church performances
~ School talent shows
~ Many recitals and sing-alongs!
From a Jazz Piano Day Camp 2008 student:
"I've learned how to read chords and improvise. The classes were fun, and the variety of students that I met with were really cool. I liked that there was an art class at the end of the day. I made a lot of friends. My hand-eye coordination skills have gotten better, and I liked the songs that we learned. The teachers taught very well, everyone was friendly there, and it was a great experience. I liked the teachers' technique of showing us how to listen to music and then describe the music through drawing and painting. It made me like jazz even more.
I like how jazz starts off slow and then it improvises and it just keeps going. I love the energy it gives. Now that I have learned how to improvise, it's really fun to play on the piano.
Most of all, this class has brought me to a higher level of understanding and loving jazz more than before.
Once again I do not have enough words to express my gratitude towards you for sharing with me your love for the arts. This has been an awesome experience that I will never forget."
From a 2009 piano student:
"If it wasn't for the knowledge you gave me I would not be going to Berklee."
Check out my reviews from current and former students!
Piano Lessons Q & A
Q. Should I get a digital keyboard or an acoustic piano?
A. A real piano will respond to your feelings and your touch with much more life and soul than a digital keyboard. It is an artistic companion. It has a soul of its own.
A digital keyboard is a useful tool in learning fingerings, patterns, rhythms, and simple songs.
Which is more expensive? These days, they are about the same. Many people give real pianos away with only the moving cost, which can range from $300-$700. A piano will need tuning twice a year for about $100 each tuning.
And which will fit in your home? For a small space against the wall, a spinet piano or a keyboard will take up about the same amount of space. An upright piano is a bit bigger.
Many parents think, "We'll get a keyboard to start, and if our child is inspired and wants to keep up the lessons, then we'll get a piano down the road." Truthfully, my feeling is that the instrument itself is a large part of what inspires a child to play music. I grew up on an acoustic spinet piano -- a small, humble piano, but it was real!
So, acquire an acoustic piano if at all possible. Sometimes they can even be rented -- try Jacobs Music, 800-610-3015. Try CraigsList.org. Or see if there is one at your school or church that you can use.
There is no substitute for the authentic sound and experience of mallets, wood, and strings, and no substitute for the finger strengthening that occurs with daily practice on a real piano.
Q. How do I keep from feeling tension in my wrists?
A. Try some "yoga piano": breathe deeply and slowly while playing your exercises and songs. Move your arm, wrist, and hand in gentle circles as your fingers move through the patterns. Make sure your wrists are bending both upward and downward, not just upward. Feel light as a cloud in there. I can give you specific help with wrist relaxation techniques, which are very important to piano playing.
And don't play exercises for long periods of time each day. It is far more effective to play them for a few minutes daily than to play them for an hour a day, three days a week.
Q. How long will it take me to be able to play nice songs, or cool jazz, for friends and family?
A. If you do your assignments diligently, you can reach this goal in two years. You will need to practice about five days a week.
I will give you the tools and the encouragement you need to become a beautiful, confident pianist. The rest is up to you.
Q. How can my child balance school, family life, and extracurricular activities including piano?
A. My experience as an in-home piano teacher as well as a piano teacher in local schools tells me that it is healthier for children to have just a few scheduled activities each week. This way, they can give each activity a real chance. And they will have enough unstructured time to play by themselves and develop their imaginations.
So, make choices!
If your child is taking piano lessons but does not have the time for daily practice, that is a sign that he or she may be over-scheduled.
Attending piano lessons once a week and practicing once or twice a week will not create a positive experience for teacher or student. The reason for this is "we're teaching it to your hands," as I say to little children. It isn't enough for the student to understand what to do. Her hands need to learn the movements, and the only way to accomplish this is daily practice and repetition.
You and your child might find it helpful to set aside a certain time of the day for piano practice. I used to practice after dinner as a young student. Some families can find 20 minutes in the morning before school, then 20 minutes in the afternoon to finish. A word to the wise: Let your child be part of the time-scheduling process. It will help him or her feel motivated to practice.
Then once you have your plan, keep to it. Don't let distractions or bustle take over.
The result will be that your child will not only learn the piano, but will learn priceless lessons of diligence, faithfulness, and time management -- a foundation for success in all areas of life!
Q. My child has trouble sitting still and focusing.
A. Limit his or her screen time. Make sure most of his play time is spent away from screens, outdoors, reading, playing with building blocks or Legos, playing sports, doing arts and crafts, playing imaginary games, and playing face to face with other children. In today's digitized world, this advice may seem unusual. My 20 years of experience as a teacher tells me that screens are harmful to children's development in many ways. Don't give young children tablets or phones, and limit their daily screen time as much as possible.
I know that may be difficult to do. It's how we all grew up, in the world before phones and tablets! I was allowed one hour of TV per day.
Spend time playing with your child every day, away from screens and without structure. Praise your child genuinely and often.
Every child has the innate ability to focus.
Q. My child enjoys piano lessons, but I have a hard time getting her to practice at home.
A. How important is it to you? If you feel that learning the piano is vital, and cannot be given up, then your child will respond. I have found that those students who practice consistently, and who return year after year, are those whose parents consider piano lessons to be a necessary part of their education (like math and English) and do not allow them to quit.
I have also found that these children learn to enjoy and love the piano over time, because they have continued the lessons long enough to play and understand beautiful music. Eventually, they will feel confident that music is a part of their lives and that they can play an instrument. But it takes time and patience.
As adults we understand the value of piano lessons and keeping up with practice over a long period of time. An adult will either grow up to say, "I'm so glad I stuck with it!" or possibly "I wish I had stuck with it." I am here to do my best to inspire, to encourage, and to impart the wisdom of years.
Here are some creative, real-life solutions to uncomfortable practice situations. All of these have worked for families I know:
1) Play music with your child, even if you don't technically play an instrument. Clap along or sing or experiment with a few notes on the piano.
2) Do not remind your child to practice. Instead, find ways to get him into the room where the piano is and wait patiently for him to remember to practice on his own. It may take days or even weeks -- this is the patient, persistent, gentle approach.
3) Try the reward system. Let your child know that he will get something special over the weekend if he practices well all week. Then stick to the plan! Don't give the reward if the practicing does not go well. In that case, give the child another chance -- another week of practicing with the possibility of special reward.
4) Remind your child of the fun, healthy, positive experience she has at lessons. Use my name: "Let's look at your assignment book and see what Ms. Buzash wants you to do." Have the child call me during the week.
5) Arrange for your child to practice at school, at church, or at a friend's house or relative's house instead of at home.