Piano Lessons for Adults

Parent Q&A

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  • Piano teacher for adult

    (2 replies)

    Hello, I’m a beginning piano student, and would like to find a teacher in the N. Oakland/Rockridge/Elmwood area. I’m looking to play the piano for fun, and would like to find someone who works well with adults. Any recommendations? Thank you! 

    I would recommend Becky Boblak.  She is an accomplished teacher who works mainly with children and teens but also has experience with adults.  My children both have studied with her and have happily learned fluency on the piano.  She relies upon the Suzuki repertoire to guide her teaching patterns but is versatile enough to incorporate many other kinds of music.  Her contact is:


    or call 510.472.2834

    Vicki Hurd, she is in the phone book under Peter and Vicki Hurd.  Located on the edge of Piedmont/Oakland.  Very good attitude and charming as well.  My son took lessons for about 5 years from her but she also teaches adults.

  • Dave Barry described the sound of his first band as if "strange and powerful instruments had been given to people as a treatment for neurological disorders".  In my case, that would literally be the truth.  I have something called motor dysgraphia, which means that my fine motor (finger) control is very poor and practice does not help.  My handwriting at 50 is the same as it was at 7.  My gross motor control (elbows and shoulders) is OK (I'm fine at racquetball).  For a good time, watch me trying to work a smartphone.

    I've decided to take the bull by the horns and purchase a Bass Guitar, amp and (most importantly) headphones.  Victor Wooten is safe, I assure you.

    Does anyone have any suggestions for a teacher that would be able to come up with ideas to work around what I can and can not do to come up with solutions?


    We have a perfect teacher. Our daughter, 17, was frustrated with traditional lessons, requirements for practice, learning notes before playing, etc. We found a wonderful teacher who just met her where she was, has worked with her and within a month she was playing songs, learning to read music, and practicing of her own accord with no nagging. She loves music lessons now. Her piano playing is coming along beautifully. Best of all she is enjoying music. He also teaches voice, and she is working on that as well as piano with him. He's a pianist, composer, songwriter, music director. Larry Tasse reachable at 510/316-1573, email: lpt270 [at] yahoo.com. He will come to your house, and I couldn't recommend him more  highly.   

    Kai Eckhardt

    Brilliant Bassist, teacher and able to think out of the box...really!

    He plays with Zakir Hussain, and he works with my learning delayed troubled youth 

    in Oakland public schools.  Text him, tell him Deb sent you - (510)207-5709  He's a genius, kind and sooo helpful!

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Reviews Related Pages

2012 - 2014 Reviews

Want to resume piano study

Dec 2013

I would like to resume piano study after a long break. I played all through high school and was at an ok level way back then. I have to be careful of my hands because of my job. Prefer someone near North Berkeley/Albany area. Barbara

Hi Barbara, I was in your boat too--played as a child through Jr high and wanted to take up lessons as an adult. I highly recommend Jessica Klass, 510-233-2811 or klass piano [at] gmail.com. When I initially called her she was able to gauge pretty well where I was over the phone so in our first trial lesson we started working right away. As a teacher she is wonderful. I have recommended her for children and adults alike as she is very good at teaching to the individual student. She is also a lovely person. Good luck in your search! Nam

Can't say enough good things about Janet Somers in Rockridge. She is a long-time teacher here, highly credentialed whom I believe used to also teach at U.C. Berkeley. I've studied with her going on five years and have made astounding progress (especially given my relative lack of practice time due to a busy schedule, which she has been very patient about) and have been greatly enjoying the process. I've appreciated her bing rigorous yet easy-going, her great sense of humor and great communication with a professional adult like me who I admit can be difficult. It's worth the effort and/or the wait to get in with her. I don't think she even has a website yet but her email address is janetsomersmusic [at] gmail.com, phone is 510-653-6783. Brian

Our classical and spanish guitar teacher, Michael Goldberg - his wife, Phyllis is a well regarded piano teacher. (510) 486-1863 is their number. They teach out of their studio on Ward Street, Berkeley pmog

Hi Barbara, I have a great recommendation for you: Rebecca Bogart specializes in teaching adults who learned to play piano when they were younger and want to start playing again. Her website is: Rebeccabogartpianostudio.com and she teaches in El Cerrito. She uses the Taubman Technique which helps pianists play well without hurting their hands. I played pretty seriously up until I went to college and started playing a year ago. I love my lessons with Rebecca. She has extensive knowledge of music history, theory and repertoire and she is a wonderful performer herself. One of Rebecca\xc3\x82\xe2\x80\x99s greatest strengths as a teacher is that she is able to provide instruction to students at any level (including other piano teachers) to bring their musicianship to the next level. I have worked with many teachers in 4 different states and Rebecca is the best teacher I have ever had. Best of luck in your search and I hope you start playing soon! E.S.

I would highly recommend Belle Bulwinkle. She is on the faculty at Mills College, teaches in Rockridge, and she's an exceptional pianist and teacher. She has taught some of her students for 20 years, and she is patient and immensely skilled. Piano fan

Looking for piano teacher for adults

Aug 2013

I recently got a piano (finally) and am looking for a teacher who can help me refresh my skills. I played about 10 years as a child and want to work on classical skills. I've had a few issues with my hands at the computer so I want a teacher who can help me be careful about that.

We have an incredible piano teacher Rita Varadi. She was recommended to us by our previous piano teacher who left California. I have seen amazing changes in the piano playing of my two daughters who blossomed with Rita. She finds a way to bring out the best out of my daughters and she finds music they fall in love with. The variety and amount of music Rita offers to her students to choose from is incredible. I took a few lessons with Rita to be able to help my younger daughter with her practices and got inspired by Rita\xc3\x82\xe2\x80\x99s teaching. I had never taken piano lessons before, fell in love with them, and have been taking piano lessons with Rita for over five years now. I LOVE them. Rita gives piano lessons at her studio in Montclair. Her phone number is (510)482-8224. We live in North Berkeley and go to her studio for lessons every week - would not go to any other teacher even if she lived next door. Feel free to e-mail me at eblanter [at] sbcglobal.net with any questions you might have. I will be happy to answer them and give you any additional information.

We have had a very good experience with our piano teacher Alice Montgomery and highly recommend her for children. She may be very good with adults as well. She designs lessons to meet the skill level and strengths and learning style of her students. She is patient and enjoys the company of children. The best part is that she will come to your home. She can be reached at aliceintune2010 [at] yahoo.com. Tanya

I highly recommend Kathryn Winter for both children and adults. She is such a calm, yet motivating teacher, under whose instruction, my daughter improved dramatically. She teaches out of her home in Berkeley, off Solano Avenue. Her charges are extremely reasonable. We think the world of her and recommend her without hesitation, especially for those seeking a more traditional method of instruction. Her number is 510-527-3839. anon

2010 - 2011 Reviews

Seeking adult 'refresher' piano instruction

Oct 2011

We recently welcomed a piano into our home, and I am looking to refresh my piano skills. I can still read music, but am seriously rusty, after having played during most of my childhood. Anyone know a good teacher with reasonable rates? Kira

Hi, My daughter's piano teacher is really wonderful! She would be an excellent choice for an adult who is seeking ''refresher'' piano instruction, but she's also superb with children and teens. Her name is Amy Valentine Brookes, and she gives lessons in her home in Berkeley. Amy is an excellent teacher. She has a calm, encouraging approach and a tremendous amount of technical knowledge. She uses techniques that are designed to protect against injuries to the hands, and that also allow a student to play with greater ease. While Amy is very familiar with classical repertoire, she has encouraged my daughter in her interest in jazz and popular music. I highly recommend Amy for students at all levels. If you would like more information, feel free to contact me, or you can contact Amy directly at: aimsta.b [at] gmail.com. eve

Piano lessons for adult beginner

Aug 2009

Hi. I would like to take piano lessons and would appreciate recommendations for a piano teacher for an adult beginner. I live in the Richmond hills and would be willing to go anywhere from Berkeley to El Sobrante for lessons, or to have an instructor come to my home. Thanks, Michelle

A wonderful piano teacher for adult beginner as well as kids of any age is Arlene Sagan. She has been teaching my kids piano for many years now and we love her. Her phone number is (510) 525-5393. She lives in the Thousand Oaks district of Berkeley. Grace

Jan 2009

looking for a piano teacher for an adult student who wants to learn in Oakland/CastroValley/Berkeley area. Any suggestions? available on weekends? music appreciator

There is a woman in Oakland, Tamara Saunders, who is just an amazing teacher. She teaches all ages, and yes, adults too. She has a gift for teaching. You will learn quickly, you will develop quickly, and have a wonderful time as well. I would rave more, but call her. You will understand for yourself. Tamara 338-1215 love this piano teacher!

I would highly recommend Leonard Sherman for piano lessons. He has over 12 years experience and I was very happy with his patience, methods and coaching style. His website is www.leonardsherman.com if you would like more information.. also he can be reached at 510-684-6382 Scott

Now that I have retired I am studying with Joe Mumm. He is very patient and thorough and works with me until I have satisfactorily learned a concept. He is very skilled in always finding new and imaginative ways to put an idea across. I am confident under his guidance I will finally achieve my lifelong dream. I enthusiastically recommend Joe and feel he would work well with students of all ages. He is located right above 580 near Fruitvale and can be reached at 510 530 0264. He also has a website www.treetopiano.com. Magda Oakland retiree

Jan 2009

I am looking for a piano teacher and would love recommendations. I would prefer someone who can come to my house, but that isn't necessary. I am looking for someone who can help me continue to learn and improve, introduce me to new music, and keep the lessons fun and encouraging. Thanks for your suggestions! Robin

Again, it's Tom Wyse - smart, funny and accomplished, he will guide you through the best way for YOU to learn the instrument. He's in North Berkeley, but may be able to come to you. 684-8525 kim

Lynda Schneider is a fabulous piano instructor for kids, but has just started doing adult classes. She is also a composer, has a degree in Psych. and is really nice (but she'll make you work!). I think her email is lynda [at] fluidpiano.com or google her website at fluidpiano. kl

I highly recommend our wonderful piano teacher Rita Varadi. I see amazing changes in the piano playing of my two daughters, aged 14 and 9, who have been taking lessons with Rita for over two years. The variety and amount of music Rita has and offers to her students to learn is incredible. She finds a way to bring out the best of the girls and she finds music they fall in love with. I took a few lessons with Rita to be able to help my young daughter with her practices and got inspired by her teaching. I had never taken piano lessons before, fell in love with them, and have been taking piano lessons with Rita for two years now. She gives piano lessons at her studio in Montclair. Her phone number is (510)482-8224. We live in North Berkeley and go to her studio for lessons every week. Elena

I take jazz piano lessons from Sallie Hanna-Rhyne at her house in Berkeley. My daughter took from her for a number of years and now I am. I had classical lessons growing up but as an adult was out of practice and wanted something different. She teaches all levels, both kids and adults, and will teach you jazz standards, blues, salsa, and samba. The recitals are unlike anything I had as a child. They are casual and she invites other jazz students (sax, trumpet, flute, etc.) to play along with you. Sallie is a wonderful teacher. Her number is 510-843-1963. Susan

Phyllis Plotkin is a wonderful, very experienced, and patient piano teacher who gives affordable private lessons in her home in the Rockridge neighborhood of Oakland. She teaches both kids and adults, and uses the Taubman technique which helps to prevent overuse injuries and strain. She stresses enjoyment and fun, both in playing and in practice. Her number is 655-4939. Helene

I would like to recommend my teacher, Joe Mumm. Thanks to Joe my piano studies have become a great joy in my life. I work full time and canbBPN archives but the recommendations are 2 years old.t practice as much as I would like (although I really enjoy practicing), but Joe is always very patient and supportive. He works with my impatience and encourages me to slow down and learn to play well. He is very thorough and guides me in developing a well rounded musicianship working with technique, theory, reading and most importantly playing with a sensitive ear and musicality. We have even worked on basic voice lessons to train my ear. You can check out his website at www.treetoppiano.com. His number is 510 530 0264. Maggie Oakland Upper Laurel

July 2008

My husband has been wanting to learn the piano. He is musically inclined (but never formally trained) but doesn't have a lot of time (full time job, father, etc..) Looking for a low-key, low-pressure, fun intro to playing piano - maybe focusing on the ''creative'' and less structured side... Preferably in the Lamorinda, WC or N. Oakland/S. Berkeley areas. Maybe a class or instruction. anon

I highly recommend our wonderful piano teacher Rita Varadi. I have seen amazing changes in the piano playing of my two daughters, aged 13 and 8, who have been taking lessons with Rita for over a year and half. The variety and amount of music she has and offers to her students to choose from is incredible. Rita is very gentle, she somehow finds just the right music for every student, and goes at whatever pace you prefer. I took a few lessons with Rita to be able to help my young daughter with her practices and got inspired by her teaching. I had never taken piano lessons before, fell in love with them, and have been taking piano lessons from Rita for over a year now.

Rita gives piano lessons at her studio in Montclair. Her phone number is (510)482-8224. We live in North Berkeley and go to her studio for lessons every week - would not go to any other teacher. Elena

April 2008

Looking for more recent recommendations. I had become an intermediate-to-advanced pianist by college, but it's been 15 years since I've played. I'd love to find a wonderful, relaxed piano teacher for adults, especially one who can give me a huge array of recommendations for pieces I could play. Looking for someone especially in Berkeley. Thanks!

My background is similar to yours, and I had a great time studying with Jerri Witt in San Francisco (415-753-1095). --Krysten

I would like to recommend, very highly, my son's piano teacher, Yvonne Donnelley. She also teaches adults and is truly a ''wonderful, relaxed piano teacher.'' She gives lessons at her house in Elmwood, and is very accommodating and understanding about schedules changing but is also serious about making progress. My son has been a student for over 4 years and has made great advances in his abilities. Her telephone number is: 510 644-3828. Celia

I have a wonderful piano teacher,Leslie Perelman, who is knowledgable, enjoyable and patient. She can be reached at 843-6904 or lhperel2 [at] yahoo.com. Karen

For beginning blues/jazz, I recommend Sallie Hanna-Rhyne in North Oakland. Her number is 510-843-1963. For classical, I recommend Linda Schneider, in El Cerrito-her number is 510-527-6202. Both of these women are very experienced, highly skilled and devoted teachers. laura

2006 - 2007 Reviews

Nov 2007

I am looking for a piano instructor in Alameda who teaches adults. The ideal instructor would be someone easy-going who likes jazz/improv techniques. Melanie

Try The Alameda School of Music on High St. 769-0195 Lisa

Try calling Alameda School of Music at (510) 769-0195 and explain what you'd like. They have several good piano teachers and will refer you to someone who's a good match for you. (Or check out their website, http://www.alamusic.com/ and pick your own!) Kathy

Oct 2007

I'm looking for a piano teacher for an adult with modest and long-ago playing experience. Looking to read music, play by chords, theory fundamentals, but wholly for pleasure. Thanks. Marian

I can highly recommend Kate Stitt as a piano teacher. She teaches both children and adults. I've been taking lessons with her since last year (I'm a beginner reg. both playing and reading music), and have very much enjoyed her teaching style and progressed a lot. She teaches out of her home in North Berkeley. You can reach Kate at (510) 559-9353. Have fun! Anke

Hello Marian, My 9 year old daughter has been studying with Joe Mumm of Tree Top Piano Studio for two years. He teaches students of all ages and welcomes beginners and intermediate students. My daughter enjoys her lessons enormously due to Joe's unique teaching style. He is a kind and talented teacher, with kid-friendly teaching methods that she really responds to. He plays musical games and varies the format of the class so that the instruction is interesting and fun. My daughter's interest in music continues to grow and her motivation to learn to play the piano is exciting for us to watch! We are happy to recommend Joe if you are looking for piano lessons. Joe is conveniently located off Lincoln Ave near Sequoia Elementary in the Dimond District of Oakland. You can check out his website, www.treetoppiano.com, to read other endorsements. Joe's number is 510 530 0264. Anne

2004 - 2005 Reviews

Aug 2004

I'm looking for a fun-loving, easy going piano teacher who will come to my house and give me lessons weekly. I need someone who can deal with the chaos of a baby-driven household and have a sense of humor about it all. This is for my mental health, so I want someone who will make it fun and low-pressure-- sometimes I can't practice at all and need someone who will roll with that and not be jugemental, etc. I've had about a year of lessons so I'm still a beginner. Have checked the postings already about this and haven't found someone to fit the bill exactly. Thanks! wanting to play

To the person looking for a piano teacher - I have a recommendation for you: Eric Glick Rieman. Disclaimer: he's my partner. But he's also a great piano teacher, who loves teaching and has a knack for tailoring his teaching to what the students are interested in. He's been playing music for close to 40 years, he has an MFA in electronic music from Mills, and he is a professional musician. I have the great luck to be married to him, so I get to hear his music all the time.

He teaches children and adults. His focus is on creating a good experience, not creating concert pianists - he loves music, and he wants to create opportunities for people to develop a good relationship with music, rather than being scared off by their lessons. He plays anything from classical and new music, to experimental, to jazz, and he particularly likes to incorporate improvisation into his playing and teaching. He's looking to add some students. Phone number is 510-848-3159.

By the way, we have a toddler, so the ''chaos of a baby-driven household'' wouldn't be an issue! Jen Gall

I've recommended Tom Wyse before for people with kids, but he also teaches adults. He is totally fun, gives you a sense of mastery over the keyboard, by exploring both classical sight-reading and chord-based technique, and developing your ear. He is mid-30's, I'm guessing, very hip and eccentric. You can go to his house, or he will come to yours. He is out of the country til 9/5, but his cell phone number is 684-8525. He is a neighbor, and also teaches my 9 year old son and some other folks we know.

Robert is an excellent classical piano instructor. He teaches my two kids (ages 5 and 14) and myself. He has an innate ability to relate with youngsters, they just all seem to like him! He currently attends UC Berkeley as a music student and performs there on numerous occasions. He's very serious and enthusiastic about what he does. His rates go for $25/half hour or $40/hour, very much worth it (he also drives to your home!) He's been our teacher for four years now, and he is giving us the great gift of music. You can reach him at 510- 704-8430, or I think his email address might still be rdanipou AT hotmail.com Katie

Feb 2004

I am a 24 year old who has been banging around on my piano for a few years, but I have not had any formal training and would like to learn how to read music. I live in the University Village in Albany (around Gilman & San Pablo) and I am looking for a piano teacher offering lessons in the evenings or on weekends. Since I am without car, I am looking for someone near enough to walk to or close to public transportation. I am also interested in hearing thoughts about what constitutes decent rates for beginner's lessons. Thanks so much, Sarah

My son takes piano lessons from an excellent teacher located in North Berkeley, near Sacramento and Cedar. His name is Ernie Mansfield and his number is 524-2055. He is an accomplished musician and composer, and teaches a variety of instruments, including piano, flute, sax, etc., to both children and adults. You can check out his website at www.mansfieldmusic.com . As for rates, the going rate seems to be $25 per half hour for music lessons. I pay this for all my kids lessons on piano, guitar, and drums. lisa

June 2003

I'm looking for a good piano instructor for an adult in the Berkeley, Albany, or Pinole area. I've read through previous recommendations, but am hoping to get more suggestions. Thanks! jami

Sam Rudin is a gifted, enthusiastic, highly perceptive teacher of adults (as well as younger people) with nearly 30 years experience. He has an amazing ability to move among all styles and impart the 'sense' underlying different musical genres. I've seen his work with people of quite disparate abilities and interests, and he's consistently sensitive, patient, encouraging, and hugely inspirational. As an extraordinary professional performer, Sam brings a real-life dimension to his teaching which I think is enriching even if you have no interest in ever being heard by anyone else! He'll teach either on his baby grand in his home studio in Oakland, near Emeryville, or will travel to surrounding areas. His phone is 510-654-3808 and website is: http://www.hurricanesam.com/lessons.php (Please let him know that Page referred you -- and have fun!)

I recommend Mary Triest. She teaches piano and voice to all ages. A number of my friends go to her, my daugher and I have each taken lessons when it fit into our schedule. She even gave voice lessons to my rabbi. She has given a lot of adults the confidence to embrace and succeed at music after we get to believe that we can't, cause we're past that age of learning new things. She's fun and yet serious. She's off Mandana - not far from Lake Shore in Oakland. Do tell her I recommended her when you call. Her number is 836-0295. Dawn

January 2003

Looking for a piano teacher for an adult, who has taken classical lessons for 9 years, and two children, beginners, ages 9 and 7. Need someone who will come to our house in North Berkeley. I saw the postings on the Websie and found 2 teachers (Michael Rubin and Herb Riffkin) that would come to our home for the lessons and so we are meeting with them. Are there any others you can recommend? kate

hi, I don't know if you are interested in a particular style... but, I took lessons from Sam Rudin for 7 or 8 years. I had taken classical lessons as a kid, but I wanted to learn how to play jazz. I feel that Sam is one of the best teachers around. His own style of music is barrelhouse blues and R He is a very casual guy, and his teaching style is also casual. His teaching method is organic and personalized. I loved that he would bring in music theory only as it came up naturally, rather than in an academic way. It makes learning music more experiential and relevant. I know that he has experience teaching adults and kids. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions. He has a web site: http://www.hurricanesam.com his phone: 510-654-3808 Hae

I'd appreciate any leads to a very good classical piano teacher for advanced students and another teacher who is very good at teaching voice, particularly in preparation for boroque and opera singing. The S.F. Conservatory of Music teaches an 8 week class, but I'm hoping I may be able to find something a little closer since I have a toddler. Susan

I've taken lessons from Robert Schwartz in San Francisco for several years. He is an amazingly, wonderfully, rapturously, flawlessly, vibrantly good pianist! And a GREAT teacher! (And a kind, funny, smart person.) I've been taking piano lessons for twenty years or so, and Robert is -- by several orders of magnitude -- the best pianist and the best teacher I've taken from. Alysson

My piano teacher is fabulous. Chip Brimhall. He's on Milvia and Parker in Berkeley. 549-0657. He teaches classical and is really excellent. He's a very acomplished pianist and teaches in a way that you really learn to hear and learn the music, as well as technique. He has an array of students from very young to us older ones. (I'm 47). He teaches all levels. He has some very gifted and talented advanced students (Sam Adams, son of composer John Adams) and just average people who love music. Give him a call. He's also an incredibly kind and really nice person. Good luck with that. June

Earlier Reviews

June 2003

I would like to ethusiastically recommend Leslie Perelman as a piano teacher for children and adults. She has taught my two daughters and myself for the past two years and she recently became a certified ''music together'' instructor for young children. Leslie is engaging, thoughtful,loving and kind. She has been teaching for over 15 years and is also a California credentialed teacher. She may be reached at 524-3858. Karen

May 2003

I highly recommend my piano teacher, Brian Schacter. (510.295-7383) I've been taking lessons for a little over a year, after having abandonned lessons over 30 years ago. Brian teaches all ages and levels, is extremely encouraging and patient, and, depending on where you live, will come to your house. I'm learning jazz improv, but Brian can teach classical, rock, etc. as well. (Most of his students are kids, not parents like me.) Feel free to contact me if you'd like further information. Lainey