What Ages and Levels Do I Teach?

I’ve enjoyed working with students ranging from age five through adult.

Students of all levels have studied with me, from brand-new beginners needing positive foundational experiences to advanced students needing incisive guidance for honing their artistry.

The age and ability of each student necessarily informs how I work with them. I don’t restrict my studio to a particular “profile” of student. I don’t, for example, only teach students who are interested in pursuing music professionally, or students who do competitions. All are welcome.

When are Lessons and How Long are They?

Normally, students sign up for once-a-week lessons, and the standard lesson length for most students is 60 minutes. New beginning students have the option of doing 45-minute lessons, and I offer 30-minute lessons for especially young beginners for whom shorter lessons would be more appropriate. For advanced students, 90-minute lessons are an option.

Lessons are offered year-round. My studio’s “academic year” more or less coincides with local schools’ academic years in terms of when regular programming is scheduled and when there are breaks. Students should plan on meeting for regular weekly lessons from the beginning of September through the end of May. Summer scheduling is more flexible, but I strongly encourage all students to study throughout the summer and stay as close to their regular routine as possible.

What Kind of Piano Set-up Should Students Have?

Success in learning piano depends on regular practicing, so it’s very important for students to have regular access to a piano. I have students who use electric pianos as their main instrument as well as students who use acoustic pianos, and either one can work.

If it’s an acoustic piano, be sure to schedule regular tunings with a licensed piano technician. Wisconsin weather will do a number on wooden instruments. Twice a year is recommended, and once a year is minimal.

If it’s an electric instrument, be sure that it’s made to emulate the experience of playing an acoustic piano, because not all electronic keyboards are. For piano lessons, you’ll want it to have weighted keys and, ideally, a full-size keyboard (a beginner can get by with starting on a 61- or 76-key model, but they’ll outgrow it as they progress).

In addition to the piano itself, there’s the piano bench. Adjustable-height benches are ideal, but one can also adjust for bench height using things like mats or firm cushions. Some students may need foot rests, if their feet don’t reach the ground. Many electric pianos come with a built-in keyboard stand, but if yours doesn’t, consider getting an adjustable-height stand that’s built to handle the weight of your piano.

These are the basics. Depending on the situation, I may recommend other accessories as well.

Do Students Have Performance Opportunities?

Yes! While there is no “performance requirement” for anybody in my studio, I absolutely encourage students to do performances and support them through the process. Given the pandemic and all the uncertainty surrounding it, I have not made arrangements for any upcoming in-person recitals, but if there’s sufficient interest in participating, we will have a live-streamed studio “virtual recital” (date TBA).

In addition, students always benefit from performance and masterclass opportunities offered through Madison Area Music Educators (MAME), of which I’m a member-teacher. These include group recitals, an auditioned honors recital, ensemble performances, a music composition festival, and masterclasses for beginner/intermediate as well as advanced students. Noteworthy “external” opportunities for pianists in the Madison area, held annually, include the Wisconsin School Music Association (WSMA) Solo & Ensemble Festival and the Wisconsin Music Teachers Association (WMTA) District Auditions, as well as concerto competitions with the Madison Symphony Orchestra and Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra.

Want to Know More?

You’re invited to fill out a Request for Interview & Trial Lesson, which can be accessed from any page by clicking SIGN UP on the menu bar. The interview is an opportunity for you to ask me questions and for me to get to know prospective students, while the trial lesson offers you a short preview of what regular lessons with me might be like.

If you’re not quite there yet but you have a simple question that I haven’t addressed anywhere on this site and you’d like an answer to, feel free to e-mail me at stanek @ pianowithjeff . com (without the spaces)