My Piano Teaching Background
I hold myself to a standard that is not exceeded by anyone else in the industry. Put me to the test, and you'll see.
Call anytime and talk to me! I would love to discuss any musical training you've already had, if any, and your goals--whether to enjoy music by learning to play the piano, to make it your career or something else! If I do not answer the phone, please leave a message and I will return your call as soon as I am able. Beginners are always welcome.
My background is in classical music. Notice that many well-known pop and jazz performers had their roots or musical training in classical music. If you can play classical music well, you can play virtually any other style of music well. So, this is valuable. Even so, I guide the student to their musical interests helping them to find and retain the wonderful joy of making music at the piano. I do that by helping the student find that musician within themselves by patient processes, and the student manifests this through their own discipline of practice, which as I like to point out needs to be done in a spirit of enjoyment and love of music within the framework of World-Class level piano instruction.
I have found in life and in musical studies: when discipline is born of love, much is gained; when discipline comes solely from a mental forcing of the will, much is lost. So, one of my focuses as a teacher is to always help the student preserve the Joy of Music.
Text or phone: (512) 969-8529
My name is James Heuser. I am a talented, dedicated professional instructor and musician who combines a love of music with a desire to help others who want to achieve their highest musical potential. That passion shows in all I do!
I am returned to teaching piano in the summer of 2015 after about a 27 year hiatus. Prior to this I raised a family and had two intervening careers. I have found no more rewarding career than that of music - of teaching music at the piano. So I returned to my first love. I come with maturity and the ability to share many things of value with my students, because a music teacher has an opportunity to have a meaningful impact upon the lives of their students. So, together we will grow, learn and share. There is a time when the teacher is the teacher and there is a time when the student is a teacher to the teacher - and in other aspects besides that of music! We all have impacts upon one another that are sometimes obvious and sometimes not.
My best music professors have had a profound impact upon me, whether I knew it then or noticed it later in lfe. Three of them I have already mentioned and their positive influence upon me was more than just music.
There is one more, Thomas Benjamin, who was a Theory and Composition Professor at the University of Houston who also had an immense impact upon me as to his character as an individual. He taught my solfège classes and I took one composition course with him. He is an outstanding musician and composer, and I am grateful for his guidance to me in composition. He recently retired from teaching at the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore, MD. But it is these wonderfully positive impacts the teacher can have upon the student that sometimes are not fully appreciated until years later. So, I hope to leave all my students with a positive impact however long they study with me.
At this point in my life I feel especially drawn to the beginning, intermediate and advanced level students who are children and youth. Even, so I do accept students of all levels of attainment in music and of any background, including adults, and of course the "young at heart". Piano study is a wonderful endeavor for retired persons. I am able to guide anyone to achieve their musical goals. I have observed many times that in the context of learning to play piano, patience and determination are essential.
In the 1980's while a student at the University of Houston, I maintained a handful of private students for about five years. They were teens, college age and adults. I also taught private piano lessons at the Annunciation Orthodox School in Houston, Kindergarten through 5th grade, maintaining about 15 students for a period of about a year and a half. That school's general music teacher was working on a music degree while teaching. She and I had the same piano teacher, Mr. Robert Brownlee. She had to quit her post for personal reasons, and offered part of her position to me, that of private piano teacher for her students. I taught them at the school after hours, while the school conducted a search for a replacement general music teacher. Once they found that teacher, the students I had were given to her.
This time in the 1980's when I was teaching piano is when I formed the love of teaching. Though I had to stop teaching later, due to personal reasons, this love never left me. My intervening careers involved training as part of my job description, so I continued to teach after the 1980's, though in different environments.
Now, since opening my studio in June of 2015 here in Austin I have acquired students ages five through mid-60 's. Piano teaching is my full-time occupation. I am loving this even more than before, and am giving value to my students, because they appreciate my teaching, as they and their parents have told me. The mother of one of my intermediate students remarked that her son's playing has gotten so much better since I have been his piano teacher. I have an adult student who tried me out for several weeks. She likes my teaching style and says I help her more than her previous teacher, and she appreciates my patience. She has chosen to remain my student. I had several of my younger beginning piano students make handmade Christmas Cards for me that were so sweet. They love their piano lessons and their teacher. In May of 2017, one of my students won a Texas All-State Title at the TFMC Piano Competition in San Marcos, TX.
So, I'm doing something right! I am making this my career and utilizing my training and background as a musician and teacher. So, here I am in a wonderful return to the love of teaching music at the piano. Do come and be a part of my piano studio and find for yourself the Joy Of Music.
My background and experience can help the serious student who wants to be a professional musician and/or concert pianist. I teach these students to play with a beautiful line, gorgeous tone, effortless "technique", remain true to the intent of the master composer, and find their individual expression within that context. Yes, I teach the way of the so-called "Romantic Pianist" for those who are interested. Imagine a fusion between the approaches of Rosina Lhevinne and Nadia Boulanger concerning the art of music making at the piano. This is what I give to my students. Don't let this pass you by.
Any student can learn to play by ear, in a simple, beautiful style. Virtually all musicians created their own music before the mid-1800's. It's time we, as those of a classical music background, understand the importance of being able to improvise at least simple music as part of our being a complete musician. That is done by understanding principles of harmony and listening carefully. Solid foundations in music theory, history, analysis, and aural skills are also provided as part of the curriculum.
Simply put, my mission is devoted to you -- making the most of your musical talent and ability -- and helping you achieve your goals.
My Musical Education Background
Thanks to my university piano professors Robert Brownlee, Leonidas Lipovetsky, and Robert Glotzbach, and my internalization and application of their teaching over the years, I have what it takes as a pianist and pedagogue to guide beginning, intermediate and advanced students to build and/or maintain a great foundation to pursue a love of making music at the piano, or enter a university as a piano major. My pianistic lineage from my music education is traced back to Harold Bauer, Rosina Lhévinne, Isidor Philipp and Nadia Boulanger, all highly influential pianists and pedagogues of the 20th century, whose influences are still strongly felt today worldwide.
Prior to the 20th-century, the lineage of my piano teachers goes back to Franz Liszt, Frédéric Chopin, and Ludwig van Beethoven. More information on this lineage is found here. So I combine the best elements of these major figures and approaches to music, to bring them together into a unified whole as a piano and music teacher. I am here to help you find your inner musician and allow it to flourish as You desire.
Mr. Lipovetsky was a student of Rosina Lhevinne. I am so grateful to him for showing me the value of authenticity, the need to look beyond the printed note into the realm of the mind of the composer and to always bring life to music. Making music come to life and be essentially a living thing was a consistent, wonderful element of his playing and teaching. He also insisted upon the student pursuing the real meaning of the music and "saying it"; finding that sometimes hidden message of the composer and bringing it out into the open with clarity and distinction so it is evident to all who listen.
I am also very grateful to Mr. Robert Brownlee, who was my piano professor at the University Of Houston. He was a student of John Elvin at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music. John Elvin's teachers were Isidor Philipp, Nadia Boulanger and Harold Bauer. Mr. Brownlee, by patient determination, helped me connect with that musician within and more than any other teacher led me through the path of inner discovery of how to bring forth great music from the piano. I owe him much for his insights that helped me unleash the understanding of how to play music the way the composer had intended it to be played. Whether Bach, Schubert, Beethoven, Liszt, Schumann, Ravel, etc., it mattered not the composer, because he helped me learn to really listen to myself; especially in the context of the demands of the music, which demands are not always obvious, nor always documented in the score.
This is perhaps one of the greatest gifts a teacher can bestow upon the student, to endow and enable him or her to draw upon the artistry and direction of that Great Teacher within. This may seem a bit esoteric, but is actually eminently practical. We as pianist musicians are bringing the composer's artistic ideas to life, so where does that come from? We draw them out from within ourselves. But we have to know where to look! It is the same dynamic as if we play music that we ourselves actually composed, but tempered with a respect for the composer's musical style and traditions making sure it is his or her music we are playing. As such the playing of the great music of the masters always bears the stamp of the pianist's individuality upon it, while the artist remains true to the composer's intentions.
Here the wonderful hand of Harold Bauer seems to be in action through John Elvin to Mr. Brownlee to myself. Harold Bauer was the only major concert pianist in history to change music careers as an adult, from being an established concert violinist and chamber musician to that of concert pianist. And he did so essentially by teaching himself to play the piano, having no known teacher in childhood or youth. He was able to change careers to that of a concert pianist virtually by himself, although with direction and teaching later in life, as an adult, from the great pianist Paderewski.
How is it he could change careers from a violinist to a pianist so effectively? Because fundamentally, he could completely listen to himself and had learned to be his own best teacher. This is the essence of the "inner musician" that is contacted and brought forth as I lead my students in the path of discovery of their own musician within. This also is the wonderful legacy he has passed down to his students, and the work continues. Always remember to thank your teachers. I am grateful for mine.