Most Commonly Asked Questions
Q: My child is [a certain age] is that too young to start learning the piano?
A: Age six is usually a good time to start. I have started children as young as five, but it can be a struggle as the student’s motor coordination may not be developed enough.
Q: I don’t have a piano, do I need one?
A: A keyboard of 4 octaves (32 white and black notes) will suffice for a beginner to test the waters. I would not suggest going out and buying a piano for a beginning student though, at some point, acquiring an acoustic piano is encouraged.
Q: What will the student learn?
A: From the first lesson students are taught to read music with the help of a note speller and learn to play basic, little pieces which will include whole, half and quarter note combinations. The student will be given finger exercises to get the fingers moving around. I use a variety of books for beginners such as Diller-Quayle, John Thompson, John Schaum and Schmitt Preparatory Exercises.
Q: How long should the student practice?
A: A brand new student, excluding the note speller work, should practice the piano at least 15 minutes per day, five to six days a week, if possible. Practice time will increase as the pieces get longer in length and more challenging.
Q: Do you have a piano recital?
A: Yes, the annual piano recital is held every June and for the past several years has been held at the Taft School in Watertown, CT. Students of all ages and abilities each play three pieces in a comfortable environment in front of an audience made up of family and friends. I believe that this is important as piano students, especially in the early years, rarely get a chance to perform before a group. If a child studies any of the other instruments from the string, percussion, woodwind or brass families, he or she would have a chance to perform in a marching band, youth orchestra or chamber group. The piano recital is intended to give students that opportunity to perform and also to learn how to get their pieces performance ready.
Q: What is the biggest mistake in learning the piano?
A: The biggest mistake made is in the selection of the first teacher. While it is perfectly understandable to comparison shop, the least expensive teacher is many times not the most qualified or experienced. Further, it is critical that beginning students get good instruction, as the early years at piano study are the true foundation of a student’s future ability, talent and technique. I have personally seen dozens of students waste their formative years with inexperienced or unknowledgeable teachers, as often times parents will eventually realize that their child is not progressing with a teacher and ask me to step in and take over the student’s instruction. I feel badly for the student and the parents when this happens, as their time and money has been squandered on inferior instruction.
Q: I am an adult and always wanted to play. Is it to late?
A: Thomas has taught dozens of older students in the past 35 years. he has found them to be more highly motivated, disciplined,having greater concentration and sharper analytical skills.
Q: Do you prepare students for music school? And what is involved?
A: Yes. Music school entrance preparation involves preparing a student for an audition. The preparation covers basic musical knowledge, key signature, major and minor keys, basic composition and cadences, intervals in all keys, ear training and sight singing. In addition, piano students usually have to perform some Baroque music (e.g. Bach), Classical music (e.g. Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven) and Romantic period (e.g. Chopin, Liszt).
Where does Thomas teach?
Thomas teaches from his well-appointed home studio in Watertown Connecticut and a satellite studio in Wilton Connecticut