Jan Stevens -Piano Lessons in NJ
Piano - Vocals - Keyboards -Lessons

Piano Lessons in the convenience of your home (NJ)!

(Hawthorne, Glen Rock, Wyckoff, Ridgewood, Fair Lawn, No.Haledon,
and Bergenfield, Teaneck, Tenafly, Englewood, Englewood Cliffs, etc.

clip artWhatever age or level the student is at musically -- whether beginner, intermediate or advanced -- the lesson plan will be individually tailored to the student's abilities, learning level and talent. When I meet you at the initial lesson, an evaluation is made of which piano "method" (the book[s] or series) might be most suitable for the student's needs. Pop, classical, jazz, blues, etc. As many international academic and scientific studies have shown, piano study helps students in other areas of life too, and younger students are better able to excel at schoolwork, mental ability, study habits, and creativity. A deeper enjoyment of all kinds of music adds so much to an appreciation of the arts and culture, and the quality of life.

Intermediate and Adult Students:

Teaching adults (and teens) has long been the most exciting musical experience for me. Adults want to learn on their own, and are more than willing to put in some effort to attain goals. I structure these lessons a bit differently, of course, than those for children.

Some older students may want to pursue a more classical music track; some are more interested in being able to play standards and popular, jazz and/or rock tunes. If it's good music.let's do it! The Beatles, Beethoven, Duke Ellington, Billy Joel. it's all good. The foundations of music itself never changes -- theory, or the mechanics of music --is essential for an understanding of chord structure, harmony and melodic framework. This allows you to more easily get through a set of chords and pop tunes of any kind. The more you know about what you're doing, the easier and more enjoyable it is to do it. There are easy-to-undertand ways of teaching this, and I use them, so it's not as complex as you think. Simple to more advanced classical pieces are often introduced for technique and background for almost all students as a basis-- but the emphasis on your own musical goals is always a basic concern. Jazz, pop tunes, show runwa, rock, classical, etc. Below under "METHOD BOOKS" are some examples of some of the materials used and work we might do, if you have previously at least a year or so of piano. It's never too late to come back to music, no matter how long it's been!

Younger beginners:

faber piano booksSince every student is a unique individual, a personal approach is taken, based on their abilities and learning capacities. Absolute beginners are introduced to the very fundamental and easy approach of the Alfred Method, or Faber, or perhaps Bastien. Most modern piano study books initially use the easier learn-by-finger numbers approach to orient the student to note values, direction of the musical "phrase" and basic rhythms. Then, the note names on the staff are gradually introduced. Each student's needs are evaluated in order to see if other drills or maybe additional material is required, such as the Alfred "NoteSpeller" books, which are highly effective for learning the treble and bass clef notes. Other students may have problems with counting beats and rhythms, in which case other ways of learning and perhaps even a metronome might be recommended. (In fact, a metronome is really a necessary -and inexpensive - tool for anyone taking lessons. One’s approach to tempo and rhythm is greatly improved by their use. If the student is not practicing on an acoustic piano, some of the consumer keyboards (Casio,Yamaha, etc. for example) have one built in. Now, most smartphones offer various metronome apps, and almost all are FREE!

In my teaching, I try to work at the individual student's pace of learning, yet with the goal of to making progress and creating enthusiasm-- so a modern and proven teaching approach is used, while encouraging the student's strengths and accomplishments. Every effort is made to make music enjoyable, and some of the early tunes are easily recognizable by many students from nursery rhymes and songs in school. As they grow musically, students acquire a unique discipline that, as many studies show, has a significant effect on his or her learning habits and later development. As a concerned music professional, I also try to meet on an ongoing basis, as warranted, with the parent at the lesson time if possible,to report on the student's progress or possible challenges. Since lessons are often tightly scheduled, this is done informally and/or as arranged, but if you ever have questions or concerns, please feel free to call or email me). Your child's musical progress is important to me, and I am glad to discuss it at any time we are both available.


Method Books and Songbooks:

Various method series books are used: I have found the Faber and/or Alfred method series of instruction books to be very effective for most, but , Bastien, the Brimhall series or David Carr Glover, or John Thompson (only for the classically inclined )are also used, depending on ability and interest.

From time to time, I also provide various pertinent articles from the Web about music and music theory (and theory excerpts and examples) of specific interest as necessary. Individual classical and pop pieces are brought in too, (Bach, Chopin, Beethoven, Schumann, Mozart, Gershwin, Satie, Rodgers and Hart, etc.). The “tried and true” of music never goes out of style!

Theory, Harmony and Technique

Jazz piano booksOnce again, so much of understanding music depends on learning the "mechanics of music" so you can better read and understand sheet music, find chords and progressions on your own and gain a capacity perhaps to improvise and maybe even compose!. Some material I use I have put together myself, and I also use various texts such as Mark Levine's "Jazz Harmony", the Berklee method, Alfred’s Theory series for beginners, Bastien's "Intermediate Theory", and various others. For technique exercises and dexterity, the well-known texts by Hanon and the popular "FingerPower” series are sometimes used, as well as other source material. Some students don't want as much theory so I go with what works best for you!

JAZZ students – or those curious to study improvisation (whether jazz or rock or pop) and accompaniment techniques : Introductory to advanced theory and harmonic structures and analysis, voice -leading,scales and arpeggios and progressions, a study of various types of Blues progressions and structures, and (depending on the student's level): various levels of pop arrangements of the Great American Songbook, solos and standard tunes by pianist Bill Evans, various transcriptions and arrangements, (Chick Corea, Duke Ellington, Oscar Peterson, Bud Powell et al) charts form The Real Book(s), Andy Laverne's "Tons of Runs", Dominic Aldis’ “Classical Approach to Jazz Piano”and many others.

About practicing...


PRACTICE time is really the key to the student’s progress and success. I make a habit of advising students HOW TO practice as well – with specific time–saving ways to work on specific parts, making theory enjoyable and understandable, harmony methods and interval relationships, etc. If a student does not have a dedication to uninterrupted practice time, no matter how wonderful their abilities may be, progress is doubtful. It needs to be productive, so the student feels a sense of accomplishment too. Generally, younger beginners (ages 7-10) ideally should practice for 15-20 minutes every other day. Some beginners even prefer to practice EVERY dayfor 15 -20 minutes, and that’s great – so a regular time should be encouraged, and parents are also asked to see that the student does his or her best to stick to it. Of course, this needs to be based on the student’s age, time and schoolwork concerns, disposition, etc. Intermediate and advanced students will, of course, need more time to do the work assigned.

After the first year or so of lessons, if all is going well, daily practice -- or at least a concentrated 45 minutes every other day is recommended. I give students a very reasonable amount of work to do -- taking into account, of course, possible extracurricular activities. Therefore, I would expect students to make every attempt to practice the pieces assigned and to complete any additional writing work (theory, notation, etc.) that may be given to help them progress. There may be certain weeks where this is not possible; perhaps the student may have mid-term or other exams, a school event, etc. This is completely understandable. In such cases -- especially if the student was unable to practice much that week -- it might be better for you to call and cancel that week's lesson (with as much advance notice as possible). This is far more preferable than for the student to show up for the lesson unprepared, as it might be a frustrating experience for us both.

I encourage parents to monitor the student’s practice time often, and to support his or her musical journey. The efforts needed to make music, and the vast enjoyment derived from being creative through music is something from which they will gain great benefits for a lifetime!
I appreciate your reading this material and feel free to contact me with your questions and concerns. Thank you!

-- Mr. Jan R. Stevens

See also my page on "BENEFITS OF PLAYING AND STUDYING PIANO" for some scientific facts on this subject!

Remember: Your first lesson/evaluation is FREE, so Email me today!

Listen here
for an MP3 sample of Jan Stevens at the keyboard...
this brief medley of three tunes runs about 3 minutes.

PIANO INSTRUCTION or piano/ keyboard / vocals or bands for your party!
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( Lessons in parts of Passaic County and Bergen County only... )