My Story with Piano...
My first keyboard was a hand-me-down keyboard from the 80's that my brother had given me after he lost interest in piano. As a misfit 13 year old who had just moved from another country, I found myself with long stretches of time, sitting on the couch, playing random notes on the keyboard. When I joined choir, I found ways to connect what I learned in choir to the piano...and little by little, I wore out that tiny keyboard as I slowly taught myself how to play simple melodies.
Piano became a place, an escape, to express feelings I didn't really have words to express. At the same time, it was a challenging place where I learned how to understand how music works in general and see, right in front of me on the piano, where I could sing. Being in choir, I was the only kid who couldn't match pitch...and having the piano to show me where notes were totally changed what was possible for my voice. Suddenly, an instrument that you can't touch or see (your voice) had a concrete, clear representation on the piano. I could see that middle C was a struggle to reach, and I could see my progress.
Little by little, I started playing chords and went from passively listening to a song I loved, to being totally immersed in the sensory experience of playing the song...where you hear and notice things you never noticed before about your favorite songs. It was like my life was lived in black & white, then after piano, my world became full of color.
I loved piano so much that when my parents offered me a car, I turned it down in favor of a piano.
I didn't love piano to become a concert pianist though. I loved piano because it gave me a deep sense of connection to my feelings and a way to relate to others that wasn't so steeped in competitiveness and putting up fronts. If I took out piano from the story of my life, I would also have to take out my deepest friendships...and my way forward to becoming my authentic self.
With such a deep passion for music that showed up in my love for singing and piano, you'd think I would have looooved piano lessons...oh no, not at all.
My first piano teacher I'll never forget. He sat me down at the piano, set up a book then told me to play. I started playing, and before long, I heard...SNORING! My teacher literally fell asleep. At the end of the lesson, I picked up my book, walked out the door and still heard snoring behind me as I closed the front door. After a few more lessons like that, I quit.
As time went on, I found other teachers and later in college began taking piano lessons and classes. Something was missing though. Piano classes would go on and on about quarter notes, circle of 5ths, etc. Although I found the topics really interesting, I was puzzled by how classes and lessons for beginner piano players started with all of these terms and concepts! When I was teaching myself, I just started playing. I learned only as much as I could apply in the moment. I had freedom to create, to explore.
I did find the disadvantages of having taught myself piano. There were habits that had crept in, there were places I was stuck that I didn't know I was stuck, that made playing overall harder. The lessons and classes I took made a huge difference in that way, but I knew when I taught piano, I would teach it differently.
While all this was going on, I was getting a degree in vocal performance as a music major. I saw how really great singers would struggle to learn their songs, sing the right notes at the right time, sing with a backing track or accompanist, sing in harmony, among other struggles. Although there is a lot that goes into singing, a major part of what was missing for them, was that they never really learned how music actually works. They never saw with their own eyes exactly where a note sits on the piano, so they were always sort of playing their vocal instrument, in the dark...they couldn't see or touch the notes they were expected to sing. What made this even harder, was that although there were piano proficiency classes in college, there were so many facts and terms thrown at them, that they couldn't just learn what they needed to help them in their singing.
What if piano lessons could empower your singing rather than complicate? What if you're too scared to sing, but piano builds the a solid way forward?
So over the next ten years, as I began teaching voice and piano, I saw how piano can radically change how easy it is for you to sing, but also how piano can be taught differently. What if you can bring all the benefits of self-teaching with the feedback and help of a teacher who has walked that path before, without the drawbacks of either?
Not only that, but what if piano lessons could be focused on getting you reading music, playing your favorite songs and having your music learned within the lesson, so that you can go home and just enjoy what you've already learned, equipped with ways to explore on your own, from a desire to connect with music in a deeper way, rather than an obligation to "practice!"?
So that's what Synergistic Piano Lessons are all about. They are designed to help you, as a teen, adult or several-years-young beginner get connected to your love for music, connect with the feelings inside you'll feel more easily through the piano than through words and pave the way for collaborating with others through music. They won't necessarily help you become a concert pianist, a music theory whiz, or learning solo classical pieces (although those are welcome, too).
If you're a songwriter, you'll love how you'll read music and learn songs without killing your creativity in the process, but instead empowering your songwriting skills.
If you're wanting to sing and play at the same time, you'll be delighted by how easily you can connect the timing of your sung notes with when and how to play your notes on piano.
If you're a beginning singer, you'll have a whole new way to get to know your voice that makes learning how to sing a lot easier.
If you don't want to sing or play with anyone else, just want to enjoy piano on your own, you'll find it refreshing to sit at the piano and connect with yourself and music in a new and deeper way.