Piano Lessons for Teens & Preteens

Parent Q&A

  • Boogie woogie/blues piano teacher for teen

    (2 replies)

    I'm looking for an experience boogie woogie and blues piano teacher, located in Berkeley for my teenage son, who's had several years of lessons so far.

    I would highly recommend my teenagers' piano teacher, Mark Van Slyke. Mark is an excellent instructor and we've been very happy with the progress we've seen in our teenager. Mark actually taught my son blues mechanics, blues theory, playing style and some boogie woogie as well. Mark's contact is below:

    https://pianobymark.com/

    917-999-8290

    Email: glassterracestudios [at] gmail.com

    Both of my kids have taken piano from Scott Fleming for years and he teaches a broad range of music styles, including boogie woogie and blues. He has a pretty full schedule so you might have to wait for a spot to open but I think he's worth the wait. He teaches from his home or will come to yours. 510-849-2086. flemusic [at] mail.com

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  • Summer Piano Lessons

    (2 replies)

    My 16 year daughter has a little bit of piano experience but would like to take lessons.  During the school year, it's hard to fit this in, so we are looking for a teacher that would be available for weekly lessons during the summer.  Looking for a fun, energetic teacher who can help with the basics, but likes to weave in current music to make it more interesting. We live in South Berkeley and would like someone who will come to our house.

    RE: Summer Piano Lessons ()

    I highly recommend Janet Somers, 510-990-2152, janetsomersmusic [at] gmail.com. She has been teaching both my daughter and me for several years. Janet is really fun and energetic, and FUNNY! Plus, she displays that unusual combination of patience and attention to detail common to all the great teachers I've known throughout my life (very unusual). She has enthusiastically tailored my daughter’s lessons to her interests in popular music, while still providing the classical foundation that we feel is essential. Both my daughter and I have greatly enjoyed our lessons and have made great progress. (A caveat: She's in Rockridge so not too far from you, but I’m not sure whether she travels to homes - we didn't ask.) Good luck!

    RE: Summer Piano Lessons ()

    I would give Scott Fleming 510-849-2086 a call.  He was my daughter's piano teacher for years and has many students of all ages.  Scott allows them to select music that they are interested in which promotes more practice.  He lives off of College Avenue near Derby and will teach in your home as well.  Our daughter took lessons into high school which was longer than anticipated - which I believe was due to Scott's personality.  He's a very nice teacher.

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  • Piano teacher for serious teen player

    (3 replies)

    Our teenage son has played piano for a while, has shown real talent for the instrument and a strong desire to continue playing longer term. He did well in a few contests recently. Does anyone has a recommendation for a piano teacher for a serious player including coaching them for competitions? We are looking for someone in the Lafayette / Walnut Creek area.  Thanks.

    My son has been studying with Marina Tolstova for several years.  She has some very talented students and teaches in Walnut Creek.  Phone is 415-871-5577, email marinasonoma [at] usa.com

    I realize she is not in Lafayette/Walnut Creek, but I would highly recommend Betty Woo (510)339-9419 for piano lessons. She teaches at her home in Montclair. She is also on the faculty of Holy Names University and Cal. My daughter studied with her for many years, and all her students develop into amazing pianists. Peggy

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  • Seeking musically flexible piano teacher for 12-year-old

    (8 replies)

    I am seeking a friendly and flexible, but educated, piano teacher for my 12-year-old daughter, who wants to play rock and pop in addition to the standard repertoire. We’ve been told she’s very musical, but prior teachers have either been strict in sticking to the classical tradition and not receptive to her interests, or conversely, willing to let her play anything but not able give her a solid musical education. I am in north Oakland but would be willing to drive anywhere in the western part of the east bay for the right teacher.

    My kids go to Jim Carmichael, who teaches from his house very near Chabot Elementary School in Rockridge.  He is a very patient teacher, and a very skilled pianist, with definitely the musical education you seek.  As far as flexibility, you can email him the same description you put here, and see what he says.  My kids have played a variety of styles, but leaning more toward classical.  They really love working with him, they have been taking lessons since pre-teen age and are in high school now.  You can email him at jc88 [at] att.net .

    I recommend Roland Sayn, he teaches my very independent 7 year old guitar and piano, and he has a great repoire with him.  He graduated from sf state in music theory, is a practicing musician and I really appreciate the way he interacts with my child.  Respectful, creative and firm. Good luck! 510 387 5721

    The piano teachers recommended by other parents all sound great!  I'd just like to add the name of my own child's piano teacher.

    Jane Webber has been teaching piano to our child for six years, and her studio is located just across from Live Oak Park in North Berkeley.  She teaches flute as well as piano, and is excellent at meeting her students exactly where they are and guiding them to the next level. Moreover, she is extremely kind and supportive.  Here's her website: http://janewebbermusic.musicteachershelper.com/ 

    We went through three piano teachers, none of whom was a fit for my musical (but hard to please) 15y-old daughter, before finding the amazing Janet Somers in Rockridge. I think Janet fulfills what you’re looking for. She has a B.A. in Music from U.C. Berkeley, so she is clearly educated. But I actually think the best thing about her may be her sense of humor. Many times I’ll pick up my daughter from her lesson and she is still laughing over some joke or something funny that happened and insists on telling me about it. My daughter is playing the classics, but also simple arrangements of pop and rock songs that Janet has created just for her (not out of a book! She just asks what tunes my daughter likes, listens to them on youtube, and makes an arrangement suitable to her level). There are even some jazz and boogie woogie pieces. I am certain that my daughter’s enjoyment of the material and the lessons are the basis of her motivation to practice now, compared to before. Her progress compared to previous teachers has been nothing short of amazing. One caveat I should mention: Janet IS a stickler about making sure my daughter practices, she will notice if she hasn’t practiced by the lack of progress and will question her about it. So I would call her “strict” in that sense, and also in the sense of teaching music theory (far beyond whatever I learned as a child). But I feel that on balance, this is actually a good thing. Janet’s email address is janetsomersmusic [at] gmail.com and her phone number is 510-990-2152. One more caveat, she tends to be very booked up and we found it difficult to get a place in her regular schedule at the beginning. But now that we have an established relationship, I have found her to be very flexible when times need to be changed.

    Kristin Davidman

    510-848-2268

    She is in Berkeley with over 30 years experience.

    I highly recommend Scott Fleming 510-849-2086.  He teaches at his place off of College Ave. near Derby or will come to your house.  He teaches kids of all ages.  Our daughter started when she was around 8 through 15.  He allows the students to select music for lessons and works to keep them interested.  He is very nice and has mentored some amazing musicians.

    I wanted to do the recommendation my self but my daughter volunteered, so, I thought that will be even better.  If you want to contact me or my daughter let me know, we will be happy to answer any questions you may have. 

    Hello, my name is Carolina and I've been taking piano classes with Annette Skloot since I was 4 years old. Now I'm in high school and even with all the homework I have I still make time for piano class because it makes my day so much better.
      Anette is an amazing teacher. normally we fallow the pieces of a book but if i want to bring a piece in she is more then willing to help me learn it. I do not think of Annette as a teacher she is more then a friend to me. She is nice and caring and welcoming to all. She will guide you to become the best piano player you can be.

    You can read Anette Skloot's info in the BNP.  Good luck

    I recommend Chris Houston, who teaches in Berkeley, off Claremont Ave (very close to Star Market). He sounds like he could be a great fit for your daughter. My son has been taking piano lessons with Chris for the past year, and absolutely loves him. Chris is a highly skilled teacher, who focuses his instruction on the student's musical interests, while providing a very solid musical education. My son had taken lessons with two other teachers before we found Chris, and I feel like his musical skill, as well as his love of playing the piano, have both increased enormously since working with Chris. Give him a call- he is wonderful! 510.907.1324 

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  • jazz piano teacher who also teaches classical, for teen

    (2 replies)

    My 16-year-old son has expressed a desire to quit classical piano and learn jazz. I, however, feel strongly that I want him to continue with classical as well and would like to find a  teacher who is comfortable and very competent in teaching both styles. We are in Berkeley near the U.C. campus. I am willing to drive him anywhere in the east bay but am hoping for a teacher close to BART so that he can get to and fro on his own.

    My young teenage daughter started taking jazz and classical piano a couple years ago with Janet Somers in Rockridge, whom I’d read about in reviews here. She already had a fairly solid classical piano background but wanted to add jazz to the mix, so we needed a new teacher. Now, in addition to hearing the sounds of Bach and Mozart coming from the piano, I also now hear my daughter playing simple blues and jazz tunes. She now has the idea of trying out for the school jazz band, so needless to say, as a semi-pro jazz trumpeter I couldn’t be happier. Janet is near the Rockridge BART station and can be reached at janetsomersmusic [at] gmail.com or 510-990-2152.

    My teacher is classically trained and is a jazz pianist. He teaches jazz and classical and he's fantastic.
    His name is Steven Snelling, 415-846-1022, steve [at] stevesnelling.com

    His prices are reasonable.
    I meet him at Piedmont Piano in Oakland, which is about 5 blocks from BART.
    Good luck,

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Archived Q&A and Reviews


Questions
  • Patient Piano Teacher for Teenage Boy?
  • Piano/keyboard lessons for digital composer?
  • Serious piano teacher for 11 year old
  • Piano teacher who can teach jazz to teenager?
  • Piano and/or guitar teachers for teenager
  • Piano teacher for 17yo for theory & technique
  • Jazz/rock piano teacher?
  • Need piano teacher for both jazz and classical for teenager
  • Looking for excellent in-home piano teacher
  • Teacher for 19-year-old to learn sight-reading
  • 17-year-old drummer wants to learn piano
  • 14-year-old interested in jazz piano
  • Teen daughter wants to branch out to jazz
  • Piano teacher for 16yo guitarist

Patient Piano Teacher for Teenage Boy?

Sept 2014

My 14-year old son needs a new piano teacher. He really likes to play. However, he has ADHD, so his practice sessions are very short, which means his progress is slow. Can anyone recommend a teacher that would be a good fit? Ann


Hi, I'd recommend that you try a lesson with Doug Brown. He's in Oakland. Doug is very calm, kind, and patient. His email is dougmbrown72 [at] gmail.com. anon


Sallie Hanna-Rhyne is an enthusiastic, patient teacher of jazz and blues piano who works very well with teenagers. Her number is 510-843-1963. Laura


Piano/keyboard lessons for digital composer?

March 2014

My son is really into digital recording using his computer. He plays the bass guitar in school and can read music (bass clef), but he wants to learn how to play keyboard/piano in order to develop more serious competence in composition. He loves film music, powerful symphonic pieces, and dramatic music in general. He spends most hours of the day listening to new music as well and knows his rap and indie music. Is anyone out there a good teacher for someone who has these interests? He has started learning a little keyboard but wants to learn more. Thanks!


My kids' piano teacher, Eric Glickrieman, in South Berkeley sounds like he could be a great match for your son. He teaches a wide skill set (reading, improvising, playing by ear, etc.) and encourages kids to compose and follow their own musical interests. He has had a kind of composers' collective with kids (though not sure if the collective is active right now or not). Besides being a piano teacher, he's also a composer himself, and he has taught kids to use composition software, etc.

He's also a very warm, sweet person, who really loves and connects with children, and he's a parent of two boys. Here's his phone number... 510-225-5269 and email.. ooglick [at] yahoo.com
teaching website: http://www.watergoesintotheair.com
performer/composer info at: http://www.ericglickrieman.com
Good luck finding the right teacher! Jenn


Serious piano teacher for 11 year old

Nov 2013

We are looking for a recommendation for a piano teacher or music school in Berkeley/Oakland. We would like a very rigorous and meticulous teacher to focus on technique and theory, someone very demanding and focused on the classical repertory. Dy


Phyllis Plotkin, a piano teacher with 30+ years of experience, has a home-based piano studio on the Berkeley/Oakland border. She's particularly good with ''serious'' students and those ready to master more challenging technical issues. She uses the Taubman technique of finger placement to reduce injury/chronic stress, and solve other technical issues. Phyllis usually has limited openings, but would be worth checking out. http://www.phyllisplotkinpiano.com/index.html vocational music maker


Probably too far for you, but I HIGHLY recommend Barbara Becker in Walnut Creek (Rossmoor). Website is http://www.barbarabeckermusic.com/lessons.html


Hello Dy, I highly recommend Joe Mumm. My 9 year old daughter has been studying with him for almost 5 years now and has grown tremendously as a musician in that time. He has inspired her to want to become a professional player, teacher and composer. He is very knowledgeable in theory, technique and composition but emphasizes that they serve performance \xe2\x80\x9cyou are not learning how to type but how to become an expressive artist\xe2\x80\x9d. We are very impressed with his well- rounded program of performance, theory, sight-reading, ear-training and technique and that he continually challenges our daughter to set high goals and the very patient and supportive way he guides her in achieving them. The focus has been on classical repertoire but he has been happy to include other genres. You can reach Joe at 510 530 0264 or visit his website at www.treetoppiano.com. His studio is located between I-580 and H-13 in the Oakland foothills. Jaquay, Oakland Mom


I'm not sure what you mean by ''serious,'' but if you look at the names of the piano teachers in the Bay Area whose students consistently win awards, are invited to be soloists at festivals, etc., you'll see the same names coming up again and again. Check out the MTAC piano concerto soloist competition winner lists and note which teachers live in the area. Many are based at the SF Conservatory. We're blessed to have many great teachers in a 50-mile radius of Berkeley. One good example: http://www.danielcheng.org/Student_Achievements/ Kinda insane, huh?

If you're thinking more along the lines of finding a teacher who'll engage your young pianist, treat them as an artist, and expect them to put in the hours of practice and theory study, I couldn't think of anyone better than Elizabeth Swarthout. She is a veteran teacher of piano who has taught many teachers herself. She used to be based in Berkeley but is now in the East Richmond Heights neighborhood adjoining El Cerrito. I am not sure if she is accepting new students or not, but it's worth inquiring because she is truly a great teacher: meticulous, but also kind, humorous, and very patient. She teaches with the Taubman Method to prevent strain injuries and would be a great match for a serious student because she is as serious about your potential as you are--or more. My daughter was never going to be a pro pianist, but has a serious appreciation of music and excellent technique that will last her whole life. http://www.golandskyinstitute.org/teachers/bio/elizabeth_swarthout

Another teacher I've heard great things of for advanced students but have not had experience taking classes with is Rebecca Bogart. Again, getting a spot in her studio is tough, so if she has an opening, better go for it. http://rebeccabogartpianostudio.com/ Schubert fan


Piano teacher who can teach jazz to teenager?

Nov 2012

Our teenage daughter has taken classical piano and it's become like pulling teeth. She has lost interest and says she wants to do jazz. Is there such a thing as a piano teacher who can teach, or even specializes in, teaching jazz? We're in Berkeley so close by would be good, but we've been going all the way to El Cerrito for the classical lessons so don't mind travelling a bit in either direction as long as the teacher is in the east bay. More importantly my daughter needs someone very patient who can encourage her to stick with it this time. Ben


ou and your daughter should check out the Jazzschool in the heart of the Berkeley arts district. The school offers training for students of all ages and skill levels, and its founder and director, Susan Muscarella, is herself a jazz pianist. www.jazzschool.com Music Lover


I would recommend Ken Berman. You can email him at kberman [at] bentleyschool.net Anon


I highly recommend a young woman named Holly Mead, who teaches privately in her home near Lake Merritt. She is a very well-trained jazz and classical pianist as well as a composer, young, vivacious, and a member of a recording and performing Tango Band. She is lots of fun and has high energy. She demonstrates great dedication to her students! I know her well because she studies classical piano with the same teacher I do and also teaches music at a Montessori preschool, the Applegarden Montessori School in Montclair, which I direct. I think the world of her. You may contact her at: 510-575-1446. Naome


Sam Rudin is your man. He is a superb jazz/blues pianist. My son, now 17, has been taking lessons from Sam for five years and gone from plunking keys to really making music. Sam is a good guy, great musician, and is good at meeting kids where they are. He teaches at his place (Emeryville/Oakland line) but also will come to you. Sam's number is (510) 654-3808. Sam Fan


I don't personally know of any piano teachers in the area, but I am going to give you some meta-advice. When I lived in the Boston area and was looking for a jazz piano teacher for myself, I found one through a local music school (Berklee College of Music) -- this was before widespread Internet use, I found a posting on a physical bulletin board. Along those lines, you might want to ask around at the Jazzschool (http://jazzschool.org/) in downtown Berkeley. Also, BHS has an excellent jazz program (http://www.berkeleyhighjazz.org/), and even if your daughter isn't a student, they may be able to point you in the right direction. My personal experience is that I took piano lessons as a kid (initially mostly classical, later some pop), but gradually lost interest, probably around the time I was a teenager. You can do your best to encourage your daughter, but ultimately if it's going to work out, it's going to have to be something that she wants to do. I wish I had stuck with it in high school and college, but I didn't. Perhaps if I had discovered jazz sooner, I would have. If she's interested in jazz, take her to see some live jazz performances with pianists, and buy her some music from jazz pianists -- my personal favorites are Marcus Roberts and Oscar Peterson. Good luck! Rich


I highly recommend my son's piano teacher, Eric Glickrieman, who teaches out of his home in Berkeley. He teaches improvisation, blues, and jazz, as well as classical, and has students of all ages and levels. He teaches theory and improv from the get-go. Eric is an amazing musician -- a composer and excellent pianist himself. He seems to somehow gently inspire kids to practice. My son looks forward to his lessons, and I have been so gratified, as pianist myself, to find someone who can meet my son at his level but who I feel confident will still be a great teacher for him when he's advanced. Eric is super friendly, kind, and fun, to boot -- and he's a parent, so he understands children. Reach him at 510-225-5269 or ooglick [at] yahoo.com. Jenn


Our son has been taking jazz piano from Janet Somers in Rockridge for the past several years, since losing interest in classical. This seems to be quite common and jazz piano has been a great way to go in our case. We did try at first a couple of the teachers I see mentioned in the digest today in response to the query, but ended up with janet, who panned out to be the one who gets along best with our son. Besides being very patient, she is extremely competent, effective and rigorous (so says my wife, who has musical training herself). As an added bonus she has subtly managed to convince our son, who had lost all interest in classical, that continuing the classical a bit with her along with jazz would be to his advantage in playing jazz. He really looks forward to his lessons now. And although it was not the most important consideration for us, her rates are also very reasonable especially in comparison with some of the music schools not too far from her. Highly recommended, number is 510-653-6783. Ron


I would strongly recommend Joe Baer Magnant, a wonderful music teacher who recently moved to the Bay Area from New England and trained at the Berklee College of Music in Boston. He has been teaching my 10 year old son and I guitar for the past few months and we are both really enjoying it. He manages to be both professional and playful, a combination which my son and I both enjoy. Joe really goes out of his way to connect with my son in terms of how to practice, choosing what to play, etc. He also teaches piano and I know he has a special affinity for jazz. Check out his website at http://www.baersmusicservice.com/ Paula


Piano and/or guitar teachers for teenager

May 2012

My 16 year old (with some music background) wants to take up piano again, and both she and her younger sister (age 13) want to take guitar. Ideally, we would like a teacher who can come to our El Cerrito home, OR teach on the weekends (in your home). Thanks for any recommendations, especially for teachers who will come to the house (we have an upright piano in great shape and in tune). MKS


I would like to recommend Herb Riffkin. He teaches both adults and children. Talented and flexible, he has been able to maintain my son's interest in the piano and in music over the years. He lives in El Cerrito but travels around the bay area to teach in the students' homes. Hingman


Piano teacher for 17yo for theory & technique

Dec 2011

Can anyone recommend a piano teacher who will give my 17 year old daughter a quick but sound grounding in the basics of music theory and technique, while keeping her engaged and feeling that she's ''doing music''? She spent several years playing violin until age 11, and then her middle school years playing clarinet. Now she wants to return to doing a little music, spending her final semester of high school taking piano lessons as a grounding for any type of music she might want to dabble in later. Ideally, this person would live in or a short drive from Alameda. Thanks for any suggestions you can offer. Piano playing Mom


I can highly recommend our piano teacher, Julianna Graffagna. She has many years of experience (in voice as well) and has been teaching my daughter and a friend of hers for a few years (and me for a lesson too). She has a nice collection of students of all ages, and performs vocally professionally. She is very sweet too (!!) Julianna will work with your daughter at any musical level, and will tailor whatever music theory and background you want as well. She is in North Oakland, near 51st and Broadway. I've known Julianna for more than 20 years, so feel free to mention my name (Laurel). Her phone number is: 510.435.7844


I have a great piano teacher to recommend: Karl Goldstein. His phone number is 848-3422. He lives in Berkeley, right next to the North Berkeley BART station, so BART-ing to his house is super easy. He has taught my son for nearly 7 years, and I have to say that I have never experienced any teacher of anything who is as gifted at positive encouragement to achieve high standards. His way of guiding his students with enthusiasm and insight is fairly miraculous, and his students absolutely blossom. He teaches beginners through very advanced students, children and adults. You can visit his website: karlgoldstein.com. I could not recommend him more highly!! Susan M


Jazz/rock piano teacher?

Dec 2011

HI, I am looking for a jazz piano teacher for my son in North Berkeley. sylvie


After seven years of classical piano lessons, my daughter switched to lessons with Sam Rudin. He specializes in boogie, blues and jazz and teaches at either his home or yours. She picks a song by an artist she's taken with (by The Beatles, Erroll Garner, James Taylor, Abba...) and he arranges it according to her ability. Her schedule has gotten very busy now that she a freshman in high school, but she still makes time for lessons with Sam and she practices daily without me having to remind her. His website is http://www.hurricanesam.com Brenda


I can highly recommend Cynthia Bythell as a jazz and rock piano teacher in Berkeley. Cynthia has a professional jazz/swing band and she's been teaching my daughter piano/voice for about 7 years. My daughter has gone through many stages of interest and Cynthia has always gone beyond any expectation for each type of music. When my daughter became interested in blues, Cynthia taught her how to turn any song into something very bluesy. Another year, my daughter did a lot of pop/rock tunes. Over the years, we've seen lots of students leaving/entering her house before and after our lesson and I can say she has students of all ages and types, all with smiles on their faces. She's a delight to learn from. Cynthia Bythell 548-5839 Happy Piano Mom


I want to recommend our amazing music teacher in North Berkeley (near Cedar Rose park). Her name is Regina Pontillo and she is a gifted preforming jazz musician who teaches beginners to advanced level piano, guitar and ukulele. She has been teaching my 13 years old son piano and my 11 year old daughter guitar for the last three years and they adore her. She is fun, engaged, and finds the best way to communicate with each child according to his/her temperament and music preferences. Last summer they spent a whole month on a summer camp she led, where the children filmed the original Willy Wonka movie. This included learning script, preparing art work, dancing, singing . . . It was so creative and they had so much fun all day, and Regina was great in giving them a fun, warm, family-like feeling. Her phone numbers are: 510-558-8960,510-332-2150. Nona


Need piano teacher for both jazz and classical for teenager

Oct 2011

I'm looking for someone who may not exist: a piano teacher who can teach both jazz to a teenager and classical to an adult (myself). We preferably would like someone also willing to come to the house, which no doubt further narrows it down. (But hey, I can try!:) I prefer someone with a sense of humor, not a dour- faced strict teacher but someone who still is serious about music. Sandra


After an extended search and trials with several teachers who turned out to be so-so, including some at expensive private music schools, we came across Janet Somers, a real gem. Janet is that rare piano teacher who is strict but funny (she has a really great sense of humor), serious but still managing to be casual and friendly, hard driving but so nice that I and my teenager (we both take lessons from her) don't realize how hard she's pushing us and are both making stupendous progress.

She is also rare in that she truly teaches a mix of both classical and jazz piano. Some teachers, we found, claimed to be able to teach jazz but when push came to shove, actually were just teaching written arrangements of jazz songs. I wanted to learn the basics of jazz improvisation but these other teachers, who were mainly classical, really turned out not to have a clue. We also encountered teachers who, on the other hand, were jazz players but knew next to nothing about classical. Janet seems to be a rare combination. She has a degree in music and is highly classically trained and deeply knowledgeable about music theory, and is also a dyed in the wool jazz musician. She teaches a mix of both genres and tailors it to your interests. She also makes a point of taking the theory she might be teaching you for a jazz piece and showing you how it applies to the classical piece you might be playing, which has really opened my eyes and ears to the connections between the two genres. Janet may be one of the few teachers around capable of, and also interested in, pointing out these kinds of connections, which has made lessons with her a real musical education - not just learning how to play an instrument.

I can't recommend her highly enough. I've also found her rates to be very reasonable among the other teachers and schools we tried - higher than some, but lower than others, and she is definitely one of the top teachers around. One caveat: she doesn't travel to your house. She's in Rockridge and you can reach her at 510-653-6783 or janetsomersmusic [at] gmail.com Louise


Looking for excellent in-home piano teacher

Nov 2010

I have a 12 year old daughter who has had approx 6 months of piano lessons until we recently moved to North Berkeley and stopped lessons as teacher lived too far away. She also has three years of sight singing, singing and performing with the San Francisco Girl's Chorus, so while her piano intro has been brief, she can sight-read. Recently, with no teacher, she has taught herself to play Fur Elise and I now need to find her a new teacher as soon as possible so she can get back on track. Would like to find someone who is highly regarded, is willing to come to our home (we have a wonderful 1926 Steinway Grand which I love to hear someone playing...), and who is creative and not too rigid. Daughter is a high energy, competitive, creative person, who needs to enjoy learning. Thanks!


Phyllis Plotkin in North Oakland is a great piano teacher. I know because I am a neighbor and a number of children (and a few adults I know) on our block take lessons from her and tell me they enjoy their sessions. She has a great website with testimonials and a bio you can check out. http://www.phyllisplotkinpiano.com/index.html

From her website: ''Each student is unique in strengths. There are visual, aural, kinesthetic and intellectual learners, and various combinations of all four. Lessons will promote the strengths, already there and try to encourage and improve the learning skills less developed.'' Ina


Teacher for 19-year-old to learn sight-reading

Jan 2010

My 19 year old son will be home from college this summer. He wants to learn how to read music and take a beginning jazz dance class. Anyone know of a great flexible teacher for piano or sight reading? Maybe one who will come to our home?


Our family has a much beloved piano teacher who used to teach at a conservatory in St. Petersburg Russia. Her name is Dora Jibitskaya and her telephone number is (510) 893-5454. I would highly recommend her to anyone either wanting to start or continue piano classes. She is an excellent pianist herself and knows everything but most importantly is an excellent teacher and can impart that knowledge with a nice attitude and a great sense of humor. She teaches at her home but also through the Piedmont Piano Company. Our kids love her. Berna


17-year-old drummer wants to learn piano

Feb 2009

My son is a drummer and has been trying to teach himself piano. I would like to find someone who can help him learn piano and music theory in a way that is relevant to him. He is 17 and needs a teacher who can relate to his musical interests (not classical) and teach in a more 'free-style' manner. I think someone on the younger side would be best. Thanks for any suggestions. We live in El Cerrito. musician's mom


I know the perfect match for you: my good friend ''Hurricane'' Sam Rudin, a professional working musician who has taught piano to adults, teens, and youngsters his whole life. He's inspirational, flexible, patient, and knowledgeable of the whole array of ''Americana'' genres. Check out BPN recommendations at: http://hurricanesam.com/content.php?file=piano Tell'em Sharon referred you!


Mitch Schrift in Albany on Ramona Ave. is an excellent piano teacher for boys and adolescents. 528-2827 marilyn


I would suggest Bryan Dyer, vocalist and vocal percussionist with SoVoSo, and vocal coach and piano teacher for Young Performers International. He is a wonderful teacher and role model for teens, and would, I think, be very much on the same wave length as your son on issues of music theory, free style and alternatives to classical piano studies. He's a great person to be around, and a wonderful motivator. You can reach him at 510.531.3050. It might take him a few days to get back to you as he tours with Linda Tillery. Leela


Try Joe Mumm 530-0264. He has a piano studio in the Fruitvale district of Oakland. He is in a music masters' program at CSUEB (Hayward) and his first love is jazz. hey hey hey


14-year-old interested in jazz piano

April 2007

My 14-year old son has decided he'd like to add piano to his drum skills. I'd like to find him private lessons to start. I know he's far more interested in jazz, say, than classical. Got suggestions? thanks Patrice in No. Berkeley


Two suggestions on piano instruction. First, contact Susan Muscarella at the JazzSchool in Berkeley. She can surely help you out. (510) 642-5062 Second, you can also try Miles Graber (510-734-8643) in North Berkeley. Miles is a classical guy, as far as I know, but I am sure he can make a suggestion or two. Good luck. Nathan


I know an excellent jazz piano teacher. His name is Jarrett Cherner. He teaches piano throughout the bay area and has his own jazz band. You can view his website at www.jarrettcherner.com or give him a call at 617.331.0079. He is also young and good with teens. Adrian


I highly recommend Michael Rubin (again)!!! He taught both of our kids over about 8 years. We consider him a part of our family. He gives his all, and then some. Always stays much longer than we pay for. Comes to our home. Versatile. Classical, jazz, popular music. Many instruments. Well-loved by all of us!!! One year he went trick-or-treating with us. You gotta meet him!!! His number is 206-6265. Mention The Longs. Heidi


If your student appears to be serious about jazz piano, contact The Jazz Schoool in Berkeley. Our son took several lessons in jazz drumming there while he was in high school, and learned a variety of skills, and gained the inspiration of teachers who are workng professionals. If they determine some private lessons to learn fundamentals would help at first, they would probably be a good place to start for referrals. Highly recommended. Walter


Aaron Seeman on Piedmont Ave @ has been my music teacher for almost 2 years and he has taught me everything I know. He teaches adults and kids and has an MA in music. He teaches piano and accordion, but also knows at some drums and bass guitar, so your son might find it helpful to have a piano teacher that knows a lot of instruments in many different styles. You can google search his name and check out his website. I recommend him highly. His number is 510- 601-1117. Little Accordionista


My good friend Sam Rubin (performance name = ''Hurricane Sam'') is an excellent teacher of children, teens, and adults of all ages. Depending on schedules, he can travel to you (anywhere in the central East Bay area) or you can travel to his studio in Oakland, near the Emeryville border. He is amazingly talented, perceptive about students' needs and ambitions, patient, inspiring. Testimonials from several who connected with him via prior recommendations on the Berkeley Parents Network can be read at http://www.hurricanesam.com/content.php?file=piano Sharon


William Beatty is a fabulous jazz musician and piano teacher. He works out of his home on the Arlington Circle in N. Berkeley and is great with kids. His email address is: wbeatty[at]earthlink.net. Elizabeth


I highly recommend my piano teacher, who is great with teens also. His name is Brian Schacter and he can be reached at 510.295.7383. Brian teaches either at his home in North Oakland or at your home. I have been studying music theory, jazz improvization, American folk tunes, etc. for over 4 years and would be happy to answer any questions. Lainey at lfeingold[at]earthlink.net piano student / mom of teen


Teen daughter wants to branch out to jazz

Nov 2005

I have read the postings on the web, but would like a more recent recommendation for a piano teacher in the Berkeley area. Our teen daughter has a wonderful piano teacher, but we are not sure that he is the one to stay with. His focus is strictly classical training. Our daughter wants do branch out into jazz piano. She is never going to be a concert pianist-- she just wants to continue to play piano so that she can sit down and play a broad range of music, including Broadway tunes. We want a good piano teacher who can understand the goals and needs of an individual student and tailor the lessons accordingly. Thank you.


i am looking for a good piano teacher for my 12-year old son. does anyone have any recommendations for someone good, not too expensive (maybe $25 - $30 per half hour) and in the rockridge, oakland area? lex


Ellen Hoffman is a great piano teacher for teens and adults. She teaches jazz, and is just an amazing teacher, person, choral director (she is director of The Berkeley Broadway Singers chorus), arranger, composer, etc. She'd be great for a teen who loves to play Broadway, jazz, popular music, etc. She is in Berkeley and you can easily park on her street. Her e-mail is ellenlouisehoffman AT sbcglobal.net Good luck, June


Sallie Hanna Rhyne teaches piano in Berkeley. She is also in a Jazz band. I've known Sallie for about 40 years since I was a kid (she was a young teacher at my private school). Music is not my thing, but if it was, I would take lessons from Sallie. Call her at 510 843-1963 Melanie


For those looking for a great piano teacher, I can highly recommend Ernie Mansfield. He is patient and also is a great flute, sax, clarinet and guitar instructor. He can be reached at (510) 524-2055 or you can e-mail him at ernie AT mansfieldmusic.com


I wanted to highly recommend our Piano Teacher, Michael O'Dell. He has been teaching my 2 Kids (6 and 7 years old) and myself for over 1 year. He is really great with kids and an accomplished musician(he writes, directs and plays in so many local musicals, concerts, etc..). He comes to our house once a week (in Walnut Creek) and lives in Berkeley but will travel anywhere in the East Bay. His rates are quite reasonable. You can e-mail him directly at dmoepheus AT yahoo.com. let me know if you have any questions. thanks valerie valerie


I highly recommend Eric Glick Rieman for the people looking for a piano teacher. He plays and teaches everything from classical to jazz to improvization to new/experimental techniques. He's great with little kids, teenagers and adults, and will adapt lessons based on what is really interesting and motivating to the learner. Reasonable rates, and he'll come to your house in Berkeley, Oakland, or other places nearby. He's at 510-225-5269. anon


I would highly recommend Ernie Mansfield as a piano teacher. He can be reached at 510.524.2055 or: http://www.mansfieldmusic.com ernie AT mansfieldmusic.com Tom


To the parent who is looking for a piano teacher:

My 11 year-old son has been taking keyboard lessons from an excellent teacher, Leonard Sherman, for the past two years. (Len also teaches piano and the sax.) He has introduced my son to a range of musical styles (classical, jazz, even movie themes, like Star Wars and Mission Impossible) in addition to teaching my son how to compose, sight-read and do improv. Their relationship is very collaborative and I appreciate how open and responsive Len is to my son's specific interests. The result is my son has learned a great deal and enjoyed it every step of the way.

Len comes to our house (we live in Berkeley) and we pay $40 for 45 minutes, which I think is a great deal and totally convenient! His number is 510-684-6382.

I'd be happy to talk more if you'd like. Christine


Piano teacher for 16yo guitarist

Sept 2001

Can anyone recommend a piano teacher for a 16 year old boy? My son has been playing guitar for about 6 years and is interested in learning piano. I would like someone who's passionate about teaching piano, works well with teens, is talented and knows many styles of music. Someone who can teach him to read music as well as play by ear. Preferably in or near Berkeley. Asking too much? I hope not.


I highly recommend Saul Kaye, 235-4977, of El Cerrito. He is a very sensitive teacher and excellent role model for young men. He is also a professional musician and welcomes his students to attend his performances. Madeleine


I can't say enough wonderful things about William Beatty, 524-4230, who lives along the Arlington/Marin Circle. A jazz pianist and composer, with what seems like classical training, he teaches by ear and or by reading music. He tunes into his students wherever they are, and offers them a light touch to the next step along their path. Initially, he taught our son, who has visual perception issues, by ear, with whatever tunes, orchestral or movie themes he brought in, until, a few months later, our son announced that he was ready to read music. At student recitals the little ones begin the performance, followed by a jam session among the teens. Other intsruments, like guitar & sax, were in the recital as well. Mimi


To the person seeking piano lessons for her 16 year old son: I am a mother of 2 teenage sons, one in Berkeley High and one just graduated, so I'm quite familiar with the age group. I've also taught class and private piano, voice, winds and music fun-damentals for 25 years in Berkeley. For most private students my emphasis is on piano as a vehicle to a broader world of music, so I like to include many different styles and ways of approaching music, including, if desired, some theory and composition. My own background includes a wide variety of teach experiences and ages. You can read more at: http://www.creativefilms.com/Resume/music.html (scroll down the page a bit for teaching background and education). Please feel free to email me at bgray AT creativefilms.com


piano teacher recommendation--Amelie Mel de Fontenay 548-8936-- wonderful, but may be full Mirkala


I recommend, without reservation, my good friend Sam Rudin as a wonderful piano teacher for teens (and younger kids, and adults) in the East Bay. He has taught all age groups for 20-plus years, and knows all musical genres with a focus on popular styles. I've witnessed his lessons with a number of different teens: Sam is consistently enthusiastic, alert, knowledgeable, patient, encouraging, dedicated. Kids seem to really like him and to grow under him. As a very talented professional performer as well (e.g., annual appearances at the Freight & Salvage, etc.), he brings a kind of credibility to his work that I think inspires young people to want to do their best. Sam works from his home studio in Oakland (near Emeryville) but will also travel to homes in surrounding cities. His phone is 654-3808. (Tell him Sharon sent you!)


I would like to recommend Judith Meites as a piano teacher. Both my 14 year old daughter and I have been studying with her for the last four years. She works well with all levels, beginners as well as advanced students and is a master at adapting to the different learning styles of her students. She covers all bases: technique, theory, rhythm, sight reading and sight singing as well as how to practice effectively. You can contact her at: 510/843-4541 or mewzik at home.com --Wendy


Aug 2000

Re: jazz piano teacher: If you can get your daughter in with Susan Muscarella, probably the best known jazz piano teacher around, you should do it. Susan founded and runs The Jazzschool, on Shattuck between Channing and Durant (ie 5 minutes walk from BHS); she is a really dynamic woman. Several times during the year lessons stop for 3 weeks or so while she handles the enrollment at the school, which includes doing a lot of auditions for combos they put together. If you can tolerate this slight disruption, it'll be well worth it. Most of the kids in the Ensemble haved studied with her. I think the Jazzschool is 845-5373 but if not, it's listed in the phonebook. Nancy (8/00)