Larissa Sokoloff Studio

Larissa Sokoloff Studio

13 years in business

About this pro

So many of my relatives have been teachers, I feel like teaching is in my blood. I grew up with an emphasis on education, learning, and valuing the unique needs of an individual student based on personality, and strengths and weaknesses. 

As no single teaching approach suits all students equally, I tailor my teaching to each student individually. My teaching approach is highly interactive and supportive, and is based on the classical method, incorporating technique, repertoire, and theory in lessons. 

My work and performane experience as a concert pianist has been especially useful in realting to my students, and understanding the challenges they face, both in study and performance. 

I have been teaching piano for 18 years, and have served as Lecturer in Piano at the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music Preparatory Department in Cincinnati, Ohio. I have also served as a competition adjudicator, led master classes at the pre-college and college levels, and presented lectures for both the Rotary Club and the Fulbright Commission for Educational Exchange. Recognized for excellence in teaching by the Royal American Conservatory, I hold a Founding Member Teaching Certificate from the Conservatory.

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Watching students progress, and gradually gain greater joy and fulfillment in playing the piano, gives me immeasurable satisfaction.

I find that the development of confidence and self-esteem, as students progress and realize their goals when they present their achievements in public performances, contributes to their personal development.

The study of music is an investment in the future of young people and their development as human beings, and it is a privilege to give them the tools to play an instrument and inspire them to achieve personal satisfaction in playing music.

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Nutley, NJ 07110
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What is your typical process for working with a new student?

I assess the strengths and weakenesses in a student's learning areas, and address these outside the curriculum books that students study.

For young students, various characters accompany children through their musical journey and learning of new material--other characters are added along the way and contribute to each lesson's "storyline" and musical narrative. 
Each page in their curriculum book contains a fragment of a musical story which serves as the backdrop for the introduction of a new musical idea, thus encouraging the child, from an early age, to learn and play music as if telling a story. The stories that introduce each lesson in the book are intended to inspire the student's imagination and develop creative skills. The book's approach is deliberately meant to make playing the piano fun and inspire a young child's interest in music.

There are music instructions on each page of the book which the parent can read at home to the student or use as a guide in practicing with a young child. There is also an accompanying workbook to reinforce basic musical concepts--the workbook involves writing, but also some ear-training exercises that I practice with the student and that are excellent in developing aural skills.

I use the curriculum books to help students orient themselves on the staff and keyboard, and understand how they are organized. Learning different hand positions, becoming familiar with the layout of the keyboard, recognizing musical patterns, and reading music by identifying relationships between notes rather than by rote--all lie at the core of learning music for new students. My role lies in growing these skills and knowledge effectively through exercises outside the books.

During the lesson we play the piano, practice rhythm through counting and clapping, work on proper hand position, and coordinate rhythm and counting with playing. Students also learn new pieces at each lesson--in the beginning the pieces are short but they present a realizable goal that brings a sense of achievement to the student, and the teacher too!

The early books for very young students encourage the student's imagination and creativity, and provides each new learning lesson with musical exercises that are both fun and integrate the core learning concepts.

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

A graduate of the Pre-College Division of The Juilliard School, I received a Bachelor’s degree magna cum laude from Harvard University. I subsequently graduated from the Peabody Conservatory of The Johns Hopkins University with a Master's degree in Piano as a Pi Kappa Lambda Honor Society member. As a Fulbright Scholar I pursued piano studies at the Franz Liszt Academy in Budapest, Hungary. I am also a recipient of an Artist Diploma from the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. 

I have been teaching piano for 18 years while pursuing an international concert pianist career. I have performed as soloist and with orchestra throughout the United States and Europe, appearing in concert venues in France, Hungary, Italy, The Netherlands, Russia, and Switzerland. Highlights of appearances in the United States include performances at the Phillips Collection in Washington, DC, the Ravinia Festival, the Harvard Club of Boston, the Sarasota Opera House, the Kosciuszko Foundation in New York, and the Down Town Association in New York as part of the “Harvardwood Presents” series.

A competitor in numerous international competitions, I am a recipient of a number of international awards, including the Halina Czerny Stefanska Prize granted by the Masterplayers of Lugano, Switzerland. I also received a Special Jury Prize for the "Pianist Possessing the Most Remarkable Expressive Skills" from the Ettore Pozzoli International Competition in Seregno, Italy, presented by jury chairman and Italian pianist Maria Tipo. I am also a winner of the Nena Wideman International Piano Competition in Shreveport, Louisiana.

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

Please inquire.

How did you get started teaching?

I started teaching as a Lecturer in Piano at the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music Preparatory Department in Cincinnati, Ohio, while pursuing a degree in piano performance at the school. I found that my own playing and performance experience allowed me to better understand challenges facing students. It also worked the other way; I found that teaching gave me greater insight into my own playing and made me a better pianist.

What types of students have you worked with?

All ages and levels, starting from age four; also students with learning disabilities. i have also worked successfully with adult students, both beginners and experiened players.

Describe a recent event you are fond of.

An 8-year old student won a competition and performed at Carnegie Hall. Even though he didn't know what Carnegie Hall was when I first mentioned it to him--of course his parents knew the venue--his excitement about performing gradually developed, and it was wonderful to see him strive to improve his playing to the best of his ability in preparation for his performance.

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

Find a teacher with a broad range if experience, who is willing to give you their full attention and the time that you need, and has a genuine interest in your learning about music and the piano. 

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

How a teacher addresses problems that lie outside the scope of the learning materials. Does a teacher just teach "the notes" and what the book already presents? What elements of playing does the teacher encourage?

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