Gerald Rizzer

Gerald Rizzer

5.0 (3)

About this pro

With 40+ years of teaching piano, theory and chamber music;  performing professionally with The Chicago Ensemble, which I created; and composing, I bring considerable knowledge to lessons I give and am able to work with players of all ages(I have students age 5 and age 88) and accomplishments. I incorporate discussion of music theory and history to a greater extent than most piano teachers.

I enjoy watching students progress. I enjoy the relationships that occur between me and students, some of whom I get togethr with 40 years after they were students. 

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Chicago, IL 60640
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3 Reviews


  • Vicki Cheng

    I started piano lessons with Gerald 3 years ago and just passed AIM piano exam Level 11 in both theory and performance. Gerald is a great teacher, kind (sometimes too kind), patient, dedicate and has passion in teaching music with 50 years experience. I feel I'm luck to be his student.

  • Julian Harvey

    I have known Gerald Rizzer for many years. He has a very easy going approach to teaching but on the other hand is extremely good at helping the student improve his or her performances and musical capabilities. He is especially interested in the structure of the pieces the student is working on and can improve interpretations by focusing on that structure. He is the leader of the well known Chicago Ensemble and his abilities as a professional performing musician are beyond reproach. I highly recommend him.

  • Louise Smith

    Gerry is a brilliant, kind, extremely musical teacher with a comprehensive knowledge of classical music. (He also knows and loves the American songbook, and occasionally surprises me by interpolating some Irving Berlin or George Gershwin into a lesson.). Gerry is also expert in music theory, and is terrific at integrating that knowledge into practice, which adds depth, understanding and meaning to my experience. He is helpful, encouraging, patient, curious, and open to new ideas and new music. I wholeheartedly endorse Gerry as a teacher and as a wonderful musical leader and friend.

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What is your typical process for working with a new student?

I ask them to play anything they can, then discuss what they played, asking questions about the structure of the piece and commenting on technique and interpretation.. If they can't play at all, I introduce them to the keyboard, demonstrate hand position and ask them to imitate a simple melody. For students who are not beginners, I ask them to sight read. I determine their knowledge of scales, keys, harmony and music history. 

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

BA in Music (Phi Beta Kappa) University of Chicago; Masters in Music Yale University (Charles Ditson Fellowship); continued study at Juilliard School of Music, NYC; 25 years of participation in music theater writing workshop, with productions of several shows.

I am the founder, artistic director and pianist for The Chicago Ensemble, a professional chamber music group present subscription concerts in Chicago for oover 40 years.

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

$60 an hour

How did you get started teaching?

I first was given undergraduate students to teach when I was in graduate school at Yale. (One of them is a Chicagoan who  became a composer and returned to studying with me in recent years.)

What types of students have you worked with?

I currently have about half-and-half adults and children. The adults are mostly professionals in other fields but advanced pianists. Some have participated in adult music theory and chamber music classes that I have taught. I have had students who were with me for nearly 20 years I accept children from the age of 5 if they are eager, although 7 or 8 is a preferable time to begin lessons with me. I have worked with many teenagers, in private lessons, music theory classes and  chamber music. I formed and directed a summer chamber music camp for teens and developed a year-round pre-collegiate program for talented teens. 


Describe a recent event you are fond of.

A celebration took place when The Chicago Ensemble, the professional chamber music group of which I am the founder, artistic director and pianist, began its 40th season.

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

1) Have a piano or keyboard to practice on; 2) Determine how much time you can give piano practice, with the understanding that regular practice of shorter sessions is preferable to sporadic long sessions with many days of no practice; 3) Determine how committed you are to music and to learning to play; 4) Decide whether winning competitions is your main goal. (If so, there are others who stress this more than I do); Determine if your interest extends to music theory, composition and ensemble playing