Johnandrew Slominski Piano Studio
MY TEACHING PHILOSOPHY
I interact with my students in a way that is honest, open, direct, and encouraging. Humor is important. My communication style is crafted with the goal of enabling my students to in turn be able to communicate more fully with their own audiences, listeners, and perhaps even students.
Demonstration constitutes a crucial part of my teaching. Whether working in the classroom or in private lessons, I want my students to experience my vision for their success. I move fluidly between communicating ideas to my students through words and sounds, and I strive to give my students the best possible pianistic and musical model. Our work relies on experiential and empirical transmission of skills, knowledge, and modes of thought: in the art of music we transition fluidly between the realms of sound, sensation, and physical movement; this constitutes much of the “what” that leads to refined practice, musical thought, and creativity.
I emphasize efficient and expressive strategies to help my students use their practice time as efficiently and effectively as possible. I draw many of the practice techniques that I teach from principles of Gestalt psychology, physiology, and musical analysis. I encourage my students to integrate their analytical mind and their creative imagination in order to solve musical and physical problems.
I often ask questions of my students—both literal and rhetorical: How can we solve “X” difficulty? Why are we interested in “Y”? Questions encourage dialogue and go both ways; that is, I encourage my students to bring theirs to me. I pledge to have an answer for any “Why are we doing this?” question, and relish the curiosity that comes from asking difficult questions.
I encourage my students to perform frequently, and I provide regular studio classes in which they can practice getting nervous in a friendly, constructive environment. Performance anxiety, especially with regard to memory, is an important issue for all musicians; in my teaching and performing I use Alexander Technique principles and Attention and Memory Training methods developed by Dr. Raymond Gottlieb and Dr. Robert Pepper.
History, Analysis, and Meaning:
Classical art music is, in large part, the product of past cultural climates, and the ways in which this repertoire is relevant in the twenty-first century is not always readily apparent. I believe that as an educator I have a responsibility to provide my students with ways of identifying closely with the music they study. I manifest this in my teaching through work in historical performance practice, musical analysis and perception, and historically influenced discussions of musical style, culture, and experience.
My physical approach to the piano focuses on a natural, healthy, and efficient use of the body. I work to build my students’ technique through comfortable, balanced arm weight and effective communication between large and small muscle groups. I teach technique not as an end in itself, but as a means by which my students are able to most freely project their complete expressive potential. I do not adopt a single technical regimen, for no two students are identical, nor are all students’ needs the same. While technique is essential, we approach even the traditional “bread and butter” of technical skills (scales, arpeggios, chords, trills, etc.) in the context of repertoire—when possible—and always with music-making in mind.
Photos and videos
Frequently asked questions
What is your typical process for working with a new student?
As your instructor, I am committed to guiding your growth as a musician, pianist, and person. Progress takes time and effort by all parties, and my job is to uphold my end of our mutual contract. We begin with a thorough discussion of your goals at the piano, including where you've come from, where you hope to go, and what is most important to you in music and in life.
I am always available as a resource to you—for lessons, advice, repertoire, and more. I will have your best interests in mind at all times. I will provide opportunities for you to engage different aspects of piano study, including performance, concert attendance, health and wellness at the instrument, pedagogy, historical listening, and discussion.
What education and/or training do you have that relates to your work?
I earned a doctorate, two master's degrees, and a bachelor's degree (in addition to the prestigious Performer's Certificate--the most recent pianist to have received this honor) from the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York.
I have performed and taught throughout the United States, Asia, and Europe, and my recordings have been broadcast on public television, public radio, and syndicates nationwide.
Do you have a standard pricing system for your lessons? If so, please share the details here.
Please contact me for a current pricing system.
How did you get started teaching?
I was raised by a teacher - my mother was the first person in her family to graduate high school, and then college, and she became a teacher. Eventually she was my teacher during the years she homeschooled me in elementary school, and I grew to appreciate the incredible work, knowledge, and dedication it takes to teach. It became my life's calling.
What types of students have you worked with?
My students range the gamut; the youngest to date has been 3, and the oldest 78. They include professional musicians, amateur musicians, college students, children, retirees, those who want to play for fun, those who want to play for themselves, those who want to play for others...and so the list goes on.
The point is that we figure out together what it is that's best for you--and work toward that goal collaboratively.
Describe a recent event you are fond of.
It was so lovely to see my student Ethan perform in a masterclass for a visiting artist at Portland State University. He played Beethoven, Sonata Op. 27 No. 2, and it was his first public performance (outside of our studio) with that piece. We are so lucky to have organizations like OMTA (Oregon Music Teachers' Association) to help facilitate this communication between students and artists.
What advice would you give a student looking to hire a teacher in your area of expertise?
If you are looking for a piano teacher, ask for a sample lesson. Some of us charge, some of us do not, but it is imperative that there is a "click" between personalities. Some of those clicks happen immediately, and everyone knows when that happens. Others develop over time--so give yourself space and time to decide on what learning environment is best for you.
What questions should students think through before talking to teachers about their needs?
Consider your goals--where are you now, in terms of achieving your current and/or past goals, and what is it that you would like to do at the instrument?
I always ask my new students (and returning students, at the beginning of each year) to write down and share with me three goals for the short-term (1-6 weeks), medium-term (4-12 weeks) and long term (6-24 months). These goals are negotiable and open for discussion, and I help my students craft and subsequently achieve goals that are both meaningful and attainable.