Piano Teaching Technique
My own training since the age of 8 was traditional in the sense that I was given a solid technical foundation with scales, arpeggios, chords along with effective exercise books, theoretical training (score reading, harmony, counterpoint, etc.), ear training (often called solfege) and extensive sight reading. I was encouraged to learn as much repertoire as possible in order to learn as much as possible as early as possible. My piano studio utilizes the same “method”. I am strict about the technical and sight reading aspects as that gives the student the proper tools to play almost anything he/she wants to. Though I teach these to all, I am less strict on the theory and ear training as I gauge these according to the student’s seriousness, his advancement, and his future goals in music in general. Repertoire is one thing that I always try to make as fun as possible for the student. It is our end goal to play music pieces and it is the reward we get after extensive training in all the previously mentioned areas.
"I came to Raja with an exhausting professional schedule but really wanted to learn how to play. Within one year, I was impressing my friends and family with pieces that I learned and a technique to be proud of. Thanks Raja!”
- Barbara O’Leary
“Although Raja prefers to teach more advanced students, he accepted my 12 year old daughter because he felt she had an aptitude for music. This was a relationship that I saw grow into 3 years – and Raja’s patience with my young teenager was endless. I was sorry to see Raja leave New York for Las Vegas.”
- Nadine Kirchner
“Raja has taught John since he was 9 and has not only become his respected piano teacher, but somewhat of a friend. John looks up to Raja and is always excited when Raja arrives to teach a lesson. Raja is simply excellent with children.”
- Marjorie Steiner
“I’m doing my PH.D. at NYU with limited time but I love playing the piano. Raja helped me choose a piano at Steinway Hall (used!) and then took me from a bad amateur to one that plays Chopin Etudes, Liszt, and now almost anything I want. His emphasis on good technique gives one the tools to play whatever one desires. He doesn’t impose any one particular style of music – only that you be disciplined and committed to your practicing.”
- Francis Gallin
1. How much do I have to practice to play well in one year?
A: I recommend my students to practice at least 30 minutes, 5 days a week. I like to give my students a “weekend” time off. The human body (hands) learn by repetition and consistency. It is not unlike the training for an athlete.
2. How long are lessons and how many times a month?
A: Lessons are one hour in length and are weekly. Though I generally don’t take total beginners, 30 minutes will suffice for that level only.
3. I only want to play casually – I’m not looking to be a Horowitz – do I still need to dedicate significant practice time?
A: I won’t lie to you and you must understand what you are getting into before beginning piano lessons. Learning piano is a difficult and serious skill (don’t mean to be so cerebral about this!) and must be a dedicated part of your life. If you love music and you are dedicated to your practice, I can almost guarantee results. I see this all the time and it’s wonderfully rewarding.
4. I am extremely uncoordinated with my hands and fingers. Do I stand a chance at playing the piano?
A: Absolutely. I’ve had students with the most awkward hand positions and training can get over any normal “lack of coordination”.
5. As a parent, how does learning the piano benefit my child in general?
A: Excellent question with proven answers. Numerous studies have proven time and time again that music education for children significantly elevates their ability to excel in mathematics, science, literature and of course, overall creativity. A child’s self esteem and often overall intelligence also benefits from learning musical concepts and learning how to conceptualize the written score into a melody.
6. (For the ladies) I have long/fake nails – can I still learn?
A: I have come across this issue a few times and I always must chuckle as I see my poor female students struggle. Sorry ladies, if you’re going to play the piano, the nails will have to be cut. No long nails or you’ll either crack a few or always be frustrated!