Schedule a Lesson with Chris
Chris currently has limited openings and accepts new students by audition only. The purpose of the audition is simply to assess a student's skills and level of experience, and to match them with the teacher that will best meet their needs.
If you're interested in working with him, please contact us to arrange an audition. Thanks!
Learn More About Chris
General Teaching Style
My focus is positive reinforcement; I want my students to work hard, and build good habits. I select material that helps students become well-rounded: They can read notes, rhythms and chord symbols well, they know their blues scales for improvising and they can sing.
I also find it helpful to isolate skills, and believe that a student should work on one skill at a time. For example, if the goal is to work on improvising, we'll write in the letters of the notes, so that they're not struggling with reading as well. This means they'll spend the most energy on improvising.
I'm also great at building momentum, and think that a student should be working on roughly 1 - 3 songs/exercises at a time, and reach 80% completion after 3 to 4 weeks.
As far as curriculum goes, I've researched every single curriculum I could find, trying to find the best one. Eventually I found each had its own strengths and weaknesses, so I pull from everything to keep my students motivated.
I've also made over 1000 custom arrangements of songs for students based on their ability level to address the lack of fun, contemporary piano arrangements available. These arrangements include everything from movie and video game themes to rock and jazz songs.
Focus & Goals of the First Lesson
My only goal with a brand new student during our first lesson is to hook them by showing them how fun music can be. I do this by showing them an example of my most effective teaching, usually it's a song they can learn quickly without any musical background.
For adults, that ends up being a Beatles song that some students have learned how to play slowly in as little as 10-25 minutes. Learning how to play Mary Had a Little Lamb quickly isn't that inspiring, but when a student can play 3 notes with the left hand and a beautiful Beatles melody they actually RECOGNIZE with the right hand -- and the whole thing actually sounds good enough to make their friends think they've been playing for months -- then they're hooked and willing to put in much more effort for the next song.
For kids, we have a few options depending on their age. I'll pick from a few different songs they might recognize, like I Got A Feeling by the Black Eyed Peas. I'll choose a small amount of the song for them to learn quickly so we can jam together on piano and drums. Or even better is teaching the parent an easy part. Sometimes we'll even have the parent play drums and I'll play a piano part and then the lesson really ends on a high note!
Music takes work, there is no way around that, but progress is faster when the student is excited, and if I can show them all the short cuts.
- Extreme organization
- Large teaching repertoire - over 1000 customized handouts for students that I've personally made. Mostly for contemporary styles of music.
- 100+ online video lessons
- Customized songs for each student - I'll adjust the difficulty of a song based on my experience with that student. They should know how to play their song within 3 to 4 lessons.
- Familiar with the latest teaching methods and technology.
Additional Experience & Instruments
I really struggled learning to play the piano. I even quit when I was 12 for about 2 years, so I look at where those pain points were and how to make it easier for my students.
At one point, I was teaching about 2500-3000 lessons per year, or about 80 students per week. That added up to a lot of experience really quickly! I was able to see which common questions and problems pop up, and figure out the best way to answer them for students.
I also play and sing at dueling piano shows regularly, and am particularly skilled in teaching students how to play and sing together with an emphasis on the piano accompaniment styles. While you don't sing differently, you do change the way you play the piano when you're accompanying a singer, versus solo piano. I help students setup their piano grooves so that it complements their voice.
In addition to the instruments that I teach, I also play the guitar, trumpet, bass, banjo, harmonica, ukulele and sing.
Most Inspirational Music Moment
Being at Berklee surrounded by 3 music schools in a really small area was incredible. Walking around on those 3-4 blocks was like an alternate universe where everyone was a musician. Everyone was singing on the streets, carrying their instruments around. Random jam sessions in the coffee shops. Even the baristas and bankers were musicians. I think I learned more from fellow students than the teachers.
I had spent hours and hours listening to and transcribing Michel Camilo's music. When I had the opportunity to take some master classes with him and shake his hand, I was pretty emotional.
Hearing John Mayer give a master class on song writing was amazing as well.
Top 3 Desert Island Albums
- Weezer - The Blue Album
- Michael Jackson - Greatest Hits
- AC/DC - Greatest Hits
- Stevie Wonder - Greatest
(I imagine needing the last two to get me pumped up to build my raft and for all my island workout montages.)
- Oscar Peterson Trio - "OSCAR PETERSON TRIO PLUS ONE" with Clark Terry
- Ahmad Jahmal - Digital Works
- Michel Camilo - One more Once or Michel Camilo Big Band
- Horace Silver - Song for My Father
- Monty Alexander
Listen to Chris
- Public Folder - This is where Chris posts files for his students