D. Riley Nicholson Music

D. Riley Nicholson Music

1 hire on Lessons.com
1 employee
14 years in business

About this pro

I teach piano and composition to a wide range of students who are passionate and excited about music! 

Specifically I prefer to teach: 

All levels and ages of piano students  

Beginning to advanced composers 

I love working with many types of students, from beginning young piano students to advanced adults. I also have extensive experience coaching professional and pre-professional artists on modern music. I am eager to work with a wide range of instrumental students and composers, and am flexible in teaching different types of music that interest the student.  


Composer and Performer Bio:

D. Riley Nicholson has performed and composed for a wide range of ensembles and performance venues including music for contemporary ballet, theater, orchestral music, chamber music, and vocal music. Riley feels comfortable writing for electric guitar one day and string orchestra the next; his music can be described as metaphorically rich, innovative, and modern, but never inaccessible or overly intellectual.

Fascinated and committed to working with artists outside of music as well as within, past collaborations include original music for Ballet Memphis's Cecily Khuner, Three Penny Theater, Cello Street Quartet, SFCM New Music ensemble, Balmoral Chamber Orchestra, Ensemble Roar, Hot Air Music Festival, San Francisco Conservatory of Music Percussion Ensemble, University of Memphis Percussion Ensemble and many other talented artists and organizations.

Riley is the three time recipient of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music Professional Development grant, and is the recipient of the Horizons Foundation grant in support of his work One, for large string orchestra, which headlined Hot Air Music Festival on March 6th, 2016.

Riley has a M.M. in Composition from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, a B.M. in percussion performance, and a B.A. in psychology from the University of Memphis. During his studies, Riley studied with David Garner, Mason Bates, Ryan Brown, Kamran Ince, and many other insightful teachers.  

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San Francisco, CA 94121
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What is your typical process for working with a new student?

Composition Students: 

First, I like for students to present and/or play any pieces they've written in the past to gauge their compositional voice, style, and experience. Then it's important to talk about a students self-perceived compositional voice, musical influences, and goals.  Then we develop a lesson plan devoted to theory and analysis, ear training, and composition projects tailored to each student individually.  The first few lessons are so important for me to really guide the composer in a direction that is helpful specifically for an individual.

Piano/Percussion Students: 

First, if they have previous piano or piano experience, I love to tell them to play any pieces they can for me so I can gauge their current level.  Next, we talk about what type of music they like; it's important to engage students with repertoire they are interested in mixed with classical repertoire.  Then we talk about goals, time commitment, and develop a plan that works for the student.  

What education and/or training do you have that relates to your work?

I have studied and played piano and percussion since I was 12.

B.M. Percussion Performance University of Memphis

M.M. Music Composition San Francisco Conservatory of Music 

Do you have a standard pricing system for your lessons? If so, please share the details here.

1 hour lesson: $50

45min lesson: $45

30min lesson: $35

What types of students have you worked with?

Beginning piano and percussion students 

Coaching professional and preprofessional musicians on modern music

Young and/or new composers 

Describe a recent event you are fond of.

My large string orchestra piece, "One," headlined Hot Air Music Festival 2016.  For this work I was the composer, development director, executive artistic director, producer, copist... well everything! It was a huge undertaking to make this large work happen (large in scope, length, and instrumentation). However, more than any other piece, I feel I really found my voice with One, and it was incredibly rewarding to share it with such a diverse and generous audience. 

What advice would you give a student looking to hire a teacher in your area of expertise?

Look for a teacher that is both passionate about teaching and passionate about what they do corroborated by real world performance and/or compositional experience.

What questions should students think through before talking to teachers about their needs?

Why do I want to play and/or write music?  What does it mean to me? 

What are my goals in various areas: technique, performance experiences, repertoire, ect.? 

How much time do I have to devote to practicing? 

***If you don't have an answer for this; that's ok! However, these are important questions to ponder as you