Dean Curtis Music Studio
One important service I provide is my students' eligibility to participate in the annual state music exam administered by the Music Teachers' Association of California (MTAC). This gives valuable structure and goal-setting and is an enjoyable and confidence-building experience for children.
It is said that my special quality is an ability to relate to and communicate with students as individuals, perceiving and responding to each one's unique gifts and challenges. I teach children and adults, beginners to advanced. I have extensive experience working with gifted children, but also have had good success with students of average musical talent. I believe, and my work has continuously showed, that music study is beneficial for virtually every person.
I have a Master of Music degree from The University of Texas at Austin (excellent music school) and have taught for 35 years. I received an Excellence in Teaching award for my music appreciation course at Tulane's University College. See my Yelp page (Dean Curtis piano Oakland CA) for more student/parent reviews.
I can't imagine a more satisfying occupation than teaching music. One gets to hang out with some of the greatest geniuses of humankind over the centuries, sharing their gifts of heart and mind, and to connect with others on this high plane regularly. I'm so thankful I found my way to this profession.
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Frequently asked questions
What is your typical process for working with a new student?
I analyze the student's technical needs and observe what kind of communication works or doesn't. I ask questions to determine as clearly as I can what the student wants from the lessons. I balance assigning what the student wants to play with assigning material I know to be essential for learning. Assignments include technique exercises, reading and writing exercises, ear training, and forays into music literature, as well as pieces.
What education and/or training do you have that relates to your work?
I hold a master's degree in music theory and composition from The University of Texas at Austin, where I was fortunate to study piano with Stanley Potter and Gregory Allen. I also completed a practicum in choral conducting post-Master's.
Do you have a standard pricing system for your lessons? If so, please share the details here.
My fee is $60 per 60-minute lesson. For 30-minute lessons (for young beginners) the fee is $35 (because almost as much preparation is needed as for an hour lesson). Usually by the third year I will recommend the student's expanding the time to 45 minutes, at $45 per lesson.
How did you get started teaching?
I worked as a teaching assistant during my Master's work at UT Austin and discovered I was an effective communicator.
What types of students have you worked with?
In universities I have taught music theory and class piano to music majors, and music literature and private piano to non-majors. In arts schools I have taught chamber music, piano and theory to high school and middle school students. In my private studio I have taught a wide variety of adults and children, some of whom have pursued careers in music and virtually all of whom have gone on to enjoy music-making and music appreciation.
Describe a recent event you are fond of.
We have occasional performance parties at my house (I teach at home) for the children. They enjoy playing for each other and observing each other's progress over time. These are always fun and satisfying. (And, of course, there are cookies.)
What advice would you give a student looking to hire a teacher in your area of expertise?
Meet with the teacher and see whether you have rapport and whether you feel the teacher is more interested in you as a person than in pursuing his/her own agenda. Look at the teacher's training and reviews to determine whether the person is well qualified in the field.
What questions should students think through before talking to teachers about their needs?
For adult beginners in music: What kind of music do I want to play? What specific pieces do I want to learn? How much time can I devote to practice? Will my practice be consistent, or frequently interrupted? What music is my favorite? Am I open to the teacher's recommendations for practice activities? Will I be patient with myself?
For parents considering a teacher for a child: What music does the child like? Does the child sing? Does the child noodle on the piano at home? Is there any music activity in the school? (A good teacher will discover for him/herself how the child learns best and what sensitivities the child has, but of course any insights the parent can offer will help.)