Elements of Student Learning
Generally, students study a combination of sight reading, music theory, technique, ear training, music history, and artistic expression. I also encourage students to apply themselves to learn basic improvisation, understanding a lead sheet, and composition. I weave all these into lessons so each element is practical and you retain the benefit.
Though I teach classical technique and approach to creating sounds at the piano I encourage students to explore other genres of music that fuse classical and/or light jazz elements with more popular styles, including pop-classical fusion, film music, and what some might refer to as healing or spiritual music.
Music theory exams and piano performance exams are available for students. They are a great way to measure progress and help steer the student in alignment with their goals with piano and music.
I host two recitals each year and all students are encouraged to participate. Also available are piano festivals, either competitive or non-competitive for any student.
This is a view of two of my cameras at once in my online studio. They can have separate views and zoom in and out as needed during the lesson. I also have a 3rd camera not seen here.
I share music at the lesson with my app, ForScore. But you don't need that app. The music can be marked up just as in an in-person lesson. I send it to you after the lesson so you have a copy!
STUDENT AND TEACHER COMMUNICATION:
Even though each individual student has differing subtle and overt ways of perceiving and understanding, ALL STUDENTS learn the same way: by a combination of seeing, hearing and feeling music. All that is maintained during the live, online piano lesson!
Spoken and visual communication during the lesson is fluid and initially is a learning process for how the student and teacher communicate in this technological format. We become accustomed to one another rather soon. Just like we would in an in person lesson. This is no different, except we interact with each other using a high quality audio and video experience in the live online lesson. I have the high quality devices on my end so the student reaps the benefits! What the student needs for technology is simple, but must be at a minimum level, I'll describe later here.
MY THREE CAMERAS with INSTANT CAMERA SWITCHING:
I have a side view camera and an over the keyboard view camera, with multiple zoom in and out options so a student can see anything comparable to an in-person lesson as I demonstrate things at my piano. I have a third camera for close up views of my piano keyboard, my hands, arms, etc, as the student needs to see for demonstration purposes. Anything a student needs to see from a teacher demonstration is accomplished with the use of these cameras, which switch INSTANTLY during the lesson when needed.
MY USE OF APPS DURING LESSONS:
Apps are utilized in my teaching to help students learn.
One is called "ForScore" and is used to write my comments as I would in a student's music book, as if I am with the student in person. It is shared with the student live as I write them, and the student writes it on their music, and/or it can be texted or emailed to the student.
Another app called "Classroom Maestro" is used to demonstrate note reading, chords, and other things in relation to seeing written notes as they relate to keys on a piano keyboard.
-There are various apps and online resources I use during lessons. I also direct the student to acquire apps which assist with practice. They are appropriate for the age and advancement level of the student. Sight reading, note recognition, and hearing the music the student is learning, and more are utilized.
YOUR TECHNOLOGY WILL MAKE OR BREAK YOUR LESSON!:
-I require you have a device large enough to see my demonstrations. This if for your benefit. If you cannot see your teacher demonstrate what you need to see, because your screen is too small, how is that ever valuable? So, do not use a phone. Use a computer, laptop, tablet, or iPad - something with a large enough screen for you to view me. Use your phone only in an emergency, as a backup in case your main device fails, but not as your usual lesson tech.
-Your device, laptop or tablet/iPad, etc., will be positioned off the edge of your piano, so I may see both hands of the student and the entire profile as the student plays for me. How I appear in the pictures below are an approximation of what you need to look like to me.
- Concerning your device at the lesson used for Zoom: the newer the better. The faster the processor and more memory the better. The larger the screen the better for you to see my demonstrations. Ethernet connection is more stable than WiFi.
An external microphone connected to your device is likely necessary for intermediate level and above students. Beginner and elementary level students may or may not need one, depending on the quality of your device's built-in microphone at the online lesson.
-As needed, I make videos for you to supplement learning.
Your Piano and other equipment
An acoustic piano is preferred and a good digital one works well. Either upright style piano or a grand piano. If you have a digital piano, you need fully weighted keys that create the same range of dynamics (very soft to very loud) as an acoustic piano, a full size keyboard and pedal(s). If you have a 61-key keyboard that has weighted keys, that works too! That's about the number of keys in Mozart's piano way back "in the day".
This is needed so you can learn effective "technique". Technique is a word that describes what we do at the piano, the physical motions, to create the sounds that are beautiful, or powerful or otherwise expressing all the music requires.
I am happy to make recommendations on digital pianos if you like.
My name is James Heuser. I am a talented, dedicated professional instructor and musician who combines a love of music with a great desire to help you achieve your musical potential. That passion shows in all I do!
I create piano lessons individually for you with a personalized curriculum that reflects your interests and abilities. My primary goal as a teacher is to help you make a personal connection with playing music at the piano, that hopefully will last for a lifetime.
Simply put, my mission is devoted to you -- making the most of your musical interest, talent and ability -- and helping you achieve your goals.
Consistent practice is necessary to achieve your goals with music. Playing an instrument is a many faceted endeavor that requires breaking "beautiful playing" into many parts which are practiced separately, then in groups, with much repetition to achieve "the sound" we are trying to achieve. It is so rewarding to work in this manner. Your ear will love it and you will learn to enjoy the challenge!
You need to practice at least 5 days each week to make enough progress so you can enjoy the fruits of your efforts.
If you are a parent, please make sure your student has scheduled practice time, uninterrupted and quiet so they can focus. Your involvement as a parent is essential for student progress. They need your help to establish a practice routine, be their cheerleader and encourage them to stick with it because one day they will play the way they imagined they would play. Piano playing though enjoyable is seldom easy.
Music is for the whole family! I suggest you listen to good music, played by good musicians, and this will help your grow as a musician and pianist. Be sure to include symphonic based music with many instruments to train your ear for different sounds and colors. We try to recreate those kinds of sounds as we can at the piano. Yes, with the right application from the student, a note on the piano can sound more like a French horn and another more like a violin or a flute!
Listen to the best singers and play the melody along with them at home as you listen to their recordings to get a sample of different ways of creating a musical phrase, the "line" in music, and listen for the nuances of sound.
My Style of Teaching:
It is all about you. At our interview before lessons begin we discuss your background in music, your goals and interests. From our discussions, I develop curriculum that is specifically for you and your development, to achieve your goals and hopes with music.
Though I might use a book on occasion that appears to be part of a method of some kind, I do not teach a "method", if that makes sense. My approach is to help the student listen carefully enough to themselves so they can create any quality of sound desirable, to express the music. I use a variety of materials and books to fit the path of each student.
Each student learns differently and progresses at their own pace. Some need extra assistance to succeed whereas others just blaze along their musical path. I have patience and expertise to accommodate different styles of learning.