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!
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, you need to make sure your student has scheduled practice time, uninterrupted and quiet so they can focus. Your involvement as a parent is essential for the progress of your student, so please help them establish a routine for practice, be their cheerleader and encourage them to stick with it because one day they will play the way they imagined they would play.
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.
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.
It is all about you! At our interview before lessons begin we discuss your background in music, your goals and interests. If you are a beginner or elementary level student I then choose a method book, so-called, that is right for you and your development.
Though I might use a "method book", I do not teach a "method", if that makes sense. My "method" if it could be called that, is to help the student listen carefully enough to themselves so they can create any quality of sound they desire, to express the music.
If your progress is such that you are beyond "method books" level, then you will have a personalized curriculum to address your abilities that is not tied to a method series.
Each person 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 for different styles of 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.
Though I teach classical technique and approach to creating sounds at the piano I encourage students to explore new 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. Composers such as Yiruma and Rosemary Duxbury come to mind as examples.
Music theory exams and piano performance exams are available for students. If you are in Texas you can partake in the TMTA theory exams for students in school grades 1-12. Otherwise ABRSM theory and practical exams can be for you if you like. These exams are never required, but suggested.
I host two recitals each year and all students are encouraged to participate. Also available are piano festivals, either competitive or non-competitive.
Elements of Student Learning
An acoustic piano is preferred. Either upright style piano or a grand piano.
If you must use a digital one, it is best to have fully weighted keys that create the same range of dynamics (very soft to very loud) as an acoustic piano, a full size keyboard and pedals.
This is needed so you can learn proper "technique". Technique is a word that describes what we do at the piano, the physical motions, to create the sounds that are pleasing to us; pleasing on many levels.
I am happy to make recommendations on digital pianos if you like.
Concerning your device at the lesson used for Zoom or Skype: 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 required for intermediate level and above students. Beginner and elementary level students may or may not need one, depending on the quality of your sound at the online lesson - which mostly depends on the quality of your device.
Live Online Piano Lessons
My style of Teaching
Your piano and other equipment
-Compared to an in-person lesson, teacher-student verbal communication must be altered to accommodate that we must speak one at a time to each other, since talking at the same time, such as making a comment while the other person talks, does not work.
-How I communicate and demonstrate differs compared to an in-person lesson to clarify what I am communicating. Since students have different subtle and overt ways of perceiving and understanding, I find it important to be more precise and direct in some cases, and more "wordy" in other situations. 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 an in person lesson.
- 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 utilize apps in my teaching. One 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 via text or email after the lesson. Another app 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 apps and online resources the student can use for piano practice to assist in their learning, both for sight reading and hearing music they are learning.
-Your device will be positioned a couple feet away from the end of your piano, slightly above keyboard level. This gives me a side view (Important for me as a teacher), seeing both hands of the student on the piano keyboard and the whole student profile.
-An iPad or other tablet or laptop or computer is needed for the student to view me during the Zoom or Skype lesson. Phone screens are too small for the student to see me, my demonstrations and screen sharing that is part of the lessons.
-As needed, I make videos for students to supplement their learning.
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 tailor piano lessons individually with a personalized curriculum that reflects the students interests and abilities. My primary goal as a teacher is to help each student 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 talent and ability -- and helping you achieve your goals.