A Boston grand piano with lesson books ready to play

    . . . about the importance of a patient approach

Before I started taking lessons, I would occasionally sit directly under the keyboard of the upright piano in my parents' home and listen while my older sister practiced her lessons. My favorite was a country dance by Beethoven.

Each week, my mother brought me along to wait while my sister took her piano lesson at the home of her instructor. Her teacher demanded excellence from her students, but had a rather rough approach to getting it, which usually ended with my sister in tears.

Of course, she quit playing the piano as soon as she was old enough to make that choice. To this day, she regrets giving up playing such a beautiful instrument, but she and I both understand why that happened: She had learned impeccable technique, but along the way the joy of playing music was lost.

Maybe partly as a result of that memory, I have always taken a totally opposite approach. I believe that patient, encouraging guidance, while gradually fostering the love of playing music, is the most effective approach to instrumental instruction. In teaching more than 200 piano and guitar students over the years, I have always remained true to that belief.