Why study music?

Music is so much a part of our culture that growing up without some music training precludes a child’s participation in some of life’s most enjoyable activities. The study of music enriches our lives, expands our artistic awareness, and develops our esthetic senses. Time and again research has shown that the develop-ment of musical abilities increases achievement in other, seemingly more academic, areas such as math, reading and writing.

But why study the piano?
Personally, I do not believe that studying the piano is better than studying the violin, clarinet, or any other pitched instrument. However, the piano is in more homes than any other instrument and is one of the easiest of instruments for the beginner to learn (but one of the most difficult to play very well). Although the piano is not usually a part of school bands and orchestras, it is also a very social instrument as used to accompany choirs and other instrumentalists, or as family and friends gather around it to sing their favorite songs. A piano player is always in demand and always has opportunities to use his skills.

Why study with Gay?
When I was in high school the piano teacher who had taught me since I was an 8 year-old beginner moved. I went to every other piano teacher in town and was unable to find someone prepared to work with an advanced student. I set my goal then to be the kind of piano teacher that I could not find for myself. So I studied piano and piano pedagogy in college and graduated from Brigham Young University with a degree in Music with a piano performance emphasis. Then I started teaching.

That was more than 40 years ago, and now I am teaching children of former piano students. Besides saying that I am old, that also says that I have a lot of experience. I have taught all sorts of students, some exceptionally talented, some quite slow, most very bright with more ability than they are willing to use. I know how to choose interesting music for all levels. I know how to break hard sections down to make it accessible. I can take the student as far as he/she is willing to go.

I really enjoy teaching piano. I enjoy my students and their quirky personalities. At the same time, I take my teaching seriously. This is my business, and I feel that I should be compensated well for my expertise and experience. I feel that it is my responsibility to give good service, and I believe that the level at which my students play demonstrates that I do have success.

Expectations

As the Teacher, I promise to:

– Teach year-around except for scheduled vacations and occasional other family events.

– Be there for all scheduled lessons and make every effort to stay on time.

– Avoid interruptions and distractions during lessons.

– Offer recitals or other performance opportunities at regular intervals.

– As students are ready and as time allows, include study of:
       Piano technique (exercises, scales, chords, etc.)
       Keyboard harmony (Chords, cadences, improvisation, harmonization)
       Musical periods, composers and styles
       Music theory as applied to piano playing
       Performance

The Student agrees to:

– Attend all scheduled lessons if at all possible.

– Bring all music books and the assignment notebook to each lesson. Having a bag to hold all piano materials is a good idea.

– Practice their lesson as assigned. That means looking at the written assignment and everything listed there.

– Practice enough. Even the most talented student must work to be good. While the time required for good preparation varies somewhat with the individual student, the following times are usual:

       Just beginning 20 min/day
       Elementary school 30 min/day
       Junior high 45 min/day
       High school to adult 60-90 min/day

The Parent agrees to:

– Provide a well-tuned piano for at-home practice. Having a good instrument for practice often means the difference between an average and an excellent piano player. Expecting a student to practice on a piano that is out of tune or has keys or a pedal that do not work is setting him/her up for frustration and perhaps failure.

– Help the student schedule a regular, quiet time for practicing. Morning hours or right after school before playing with friends or watching TV is usually the best.

– Provide transportation to and from lessons. See that the student arrives and is picked up on time. Please respect my time and that of other students. For example, do not bring your child 15 minutes early and pick him up 30 minutes late.

– Pay fees promptly.

Practicing

It is imperative that students come to lessons regularly if there is to be significant progress. It seems to be the nature of we humans to slack off or procrastinate our preparation without the regular accountability that comes with facing the teacher. Students’ technique suffers, instructions from the previous lesson are ignored, music already learned is forgotten, and it is difficult to pull out of the drift. If a student has not practiced well, even for a good reason, i.e. he was sick or out of town, it is best if he comes to the lesson. That lesson can be a supervised practice session, which also is very valuable.

I cannot emphasize enough the importance of regular practicing. I do have high expectations, and I teach students how to practice well, but I cannot make it happen. Please, parents, help your children to schedule their time so that their piano practicing gets done. If it is the last thing on the priority list, the thing that they do when there’s no homework, sports, church activity or birthday party, then progress will be minimal. The most talented student must work to develop that talent. There just is no substitute for diligence. Do you know the Law of W? “Work Will Win When Wishy Washy Wishing Won’t!” I have seen less gifted students learn to play very well through persistence and care in their practice. It is amazing what magic can happen!

If a student continually comes to his lesson unprepared, I will not continue to teach him. I will give a warning to the student, let the parents know the situation, and provide a probationary period. Then if preparation or attitude hasn’t significantly improved that student will be dropped and his time given to someone else at my discretion.