Graphic showing "Susan's Music" title with piano and music notes

My name is Susan Adams Bentley and I teach piano lessons in my home studio, located in a Los Angeles suburb called Hacienda Heights, California 91745. My home is less than a mile south of the Hacienda Blvd. exit from the 60 Freeway. Please see the Contacts page if you would like to get in touch with me. Parts of the following cities are within 10 miles of my home studio:

Arcadia
91007
Covina
91722, 91724
Glendora
91740
La Puente
91744
Placentia
92870
Santa Fe Springs
90670
Azusa
91702
Diamond Bar
91765
City of Industry
91744
Montebello
90640
Pomona
91768
Temple City
91780
Baldwin Park
91706
Downey
90241, 90242
La Habra
90631
Monterey Park
91754, 91755
Rosemead
91770
Walnut
91789
Buena Park
90621
El Monte
91733, 91731
La Habra Heights 90632 Norwalk
90650
Rowland Heights
91748
West Covina
91790
Cerritos
90703
Fullerton
92832, 92833
La Mirada
90638
Pico Rivera
90660
San Gabriel
91770
Whittier
90601, 90602


LESSON FEES

  

WHY CONSIDER TAKING PIANO?

Music is a universal language that elicits many different emotions. Creating music, whether you write it, play it, or sing it can be a very satisfying, rewarding, and uplifting experience. In my opinion, music, like art, is good for the soul. My instrument of choice is the piano. I love to play it, compose music for it and to teach others how to play it.

Music is not just good for the soul, there is scientific evidence that it is also good for brain development. For example, physicist Gordon Shaw published a study in 1993 that showed that listening to classical music had a positive correlation with improved IQ, latter dubbed the Mozart effect. He cofounded the nonprofit Music Intelligence Neural Development Institute, which later developed an elementary school curriculum using piano keyboard training and software designed to improve math learning ability. You may read more about Gordon Shaw here. There is much more information about how music can enhance a child's education at education.com. For more information, just Google "music and learning in children" to widen the search to investigate this subject.

I believe every student should have the opportunity to delve into the wonderful world of music if they choose to do so. I know it helped build my self-confidence when I was a child. It lit up my youth as nothing else. Perhaps it can do the same for your child … or for you. Piano lessons are not just for children … they are for anyone who has wanted to play the piano and has decided to “go for it”!

If you have a child who expresses an interest in music, I encourage you to nurture that interest by finding a suitable teacher. If you are an adult who thinks it is too late to learn to play an instrument, please reconsider. Typically, about 15% of my students are adults! It’s not too late. It can add a new, creative dimension to your life.

PIANO LESSONS - MY WAY

My philosophy is simple - there should be laughter along with learning. It takes a lot of work to learn to play the piano. The journey should be a pleasant one and I strive to make lessons as happy a time as I can for students!  With practice, patience, perseverance, a positive attitude, as well as family support, children and adults can learn to play the piano!  

I must caution parents and prospective students that I only teach in English.

The following list describes how to get started taking piano lessons from me:

1. "Get Acquainted" Meeting   This is the first step and it's free! Whether the potential student is a child or an adult, this free meeting is extremely helpful. It gives us a chance to get together and chat, ask questions, discuss goals, and basically acquire enough knowledge about each other to help us make our decision ... to start piano lessons or not. The meetings are usually between 10 to 20 minutes.

2. Lesson Lengths   From my experience, I've found that a 30-minute lesson is usually an effective length for most students to start. Optimum lesson time varies from student to student.

3. Music Books   Generally, new students begin with Bastien Piano Basics at an appropriate level, depending upon whether they are a beginner or a transfer student.  The books cover the basics, including technique & theory. As students advance, additional music is added as well as more in-depth theory.

4. Yes, Learning to play the piano is work, but it's worth it!   Success requires a positive attitude, perseverance, dedication, discipline, a desire to learn and practice the effective way, which I teach new students.  Initially, students learn the intellectual aspects ... reading notes, learning the note values, how to count, what are dynamics, and the very important technique of playing legato (smooth and connected). Though they understand all these facets of playing music, getting this information from the brain to the fingers is more of a challenge. Keeping a positive attitude and understanding that this is what is to be expected for beginners will help the learning process.

Learning to play the piano can be fun too. For example, when a student learns to play a composition well, I sometimes accompany them on a synthesizer. The student is the soloist and the simple beginning tunes sound quite pretty with the added accompaniment. Besides being enjoyable, this introduces students to ensemble playing right from the start. It prepares him/her for whatever musical opportunities arise in the future, whether playing in a school band, accompanying music at church, playing in a rock band, etc. 

5. Progress CD's: These are CD’s we make for the students near the end of the year to document their progress. There is no extra charge for the CD (unless the student wants extra copies). Making the CDs is a lot of work, but we think it is a valuable resource and it is our gift for the student.

We record pieces as the student perfects them throughout the year. These pieces are then compiled onto a CD, complete with CD label (which includes the student's picture) and CD contents. The CD not only demonstrates the student’s improvement over time, but is also sometimes helpful for developing a critical ear. Progress is sometimes difficult for the student to recognize. However, listening to pieces that span the year (or multiple years) can make the improvements in technique and mastery of increasingly more challenging pieces apparent to the student and his or her family. Hearing this progress can be very encouraging. Parents also like to share the CD with other family members to show their pride in their child's accomplishment.

6. Rhythm: To help students learn rhythm (the heartbeat of music), students must learn to count aloud on new pieces. Clapping the rhythm before playing the notes is also very effective. Students need to get an understanding of the rhythm before learning to play the actual music. I sometimes accompany students with a drum machine, rather than using the traditional metronome. It sounds better, it’s easier to keep the rhythm steady when accompanied by a drum-like sound, and it’s more fun!  Metronomes, however, are a very helpful aid for a student to use at home to perfect their rhythm.

7. Student Support: I generally require a parent or guardian to sit in on each lesson so they can take an active part in their child’s musical studies. Many parents know nothing about music or playing the piano, but they learn as they help their child. To meet this requirement, I am willing to change lesson times, when necessary, if given adequate notice Parent involvement is very important to help the child learn. As a teacher, I hear the student just once a week. The parent or guardian, on the other hand, can listen to some, if not all of the student's practice time. At the very least, parents can encourage their children to practice! Gentle, positive encouragement is invaluable to help the student progress. 

8. Purchasing books, sheet music, etc. The client may purchase the required music books from me or buy them elsewhere.

MY MUSICAL BACKGROUND

Music has been a big part of my life. I was fortunate to be blessed with a natural musical ability. I literally begged my parents to let me take piano lessons, which was a financial burden for them. My dad worked for the LAPD, my mother was a stay-at home mom, and money was tight. I was 8 years old when they found a local piano teacher for me. She was a sweet lady and I loved taking lessons, however she wasn’t the best teacher for me.

Fortunately, a family friend, who was a musician herself, advised my parents to get me a more experienced piano teacher. I was introduced to Lucille Vogel Cole, who was a concert pianist in Europe in her youth and a student of Leschetizky, an amazing pedagogue. She had a wonderful teaching studio in her home in Pasadena, California … complete with a stage, two Steinway grand pianos, and a room large enough to hold around 150 people for recitals. For talent to truly bloom in a student, a good teacher is absolutely necessary. A student needs a guide on the journey of discovery. Mrs. Cole was a wonderful guide for me.

My parents couldn’t afford to pay her normal fee so Mrs. Cole generously gave me a partial scholarship for my lessons. When I was 12 years old, I auditioned to be the youth soloist with the San Gabriel Symphony Orchestra. What a thrill to learn that I had won. I can still picture how it felt being on the stage with the orchestra, the bright lights, and the audience.

I studied with Mrs. Cole until I was 21 years old and I am very grateful for the experience. During the years I studied with her, I played in recitals every year or so. These were very stressful because they were close to two hours long and I was the only soloist. I fought stage fright and never felt calm before a performance. I played on the radio, had my picture in the newspaper, and performed in a variety of concerts. As with all things, I had my successes, I had my failures. But what an experience it was.

I attended Pasadena City College and received my AA degree in Music. Their Music Department was absolutely fantastic. I learned so much in the two years I spent there. Mr. Robert Heckman, the choir teacher, took me under his wing and helped me improve my interpretation of the various piano solos I was learning. He helped me to put my soul into the music and enhance a melody so that it ebbed and flowed to create a lovely effect. He was one of the most gifted teachers I ever studied with and I will always be grateful for the time he spent teaching me more about the beauty of music.

My music education was spent almost exclusively on classical music. As I matured, I decided to branch out. I started singing and accompanying myself on the piano. Singing romantic ballads and bluesy songs is a lovely break from classical music. One of my performances was on the Queen Mary in the Queen's Ballroom. I sang and accompanied myself on the piano. It was a special night, and when I received a standing ovation I was thrilled. Now, thanks to my husband’s knowledge of computers and synthesizers, we are able to record accompaniments that include a wide range of instruments. It’s something we enjoy doing together.

I made a decision when I was 21 years old that performing and traveling on concert tours was not the life for me. Instead I chose teaching and I've been doing it for over 40 years. It has been a great joy to teach students who love music and are willing to invest the time and effort it takes to play the piano well.

GOING HOME

This melody had been going around in my mind for months. I finally turned it into a finished composition and my husband named it, “Going Home” ©2012 Susan Adams Bentley.

The “Going Home” main instrument is my piano (a 1907 Steinway A). I recorded the piano first, using a pair of DPA SMK4061 microphones. My husband worked with me to choose additional instruments to enhance the sound. He has an engineering background and is very knowledgeable with electronics and computers. Without his input, there probably would have been just a piano solo, without any other instruments! He handled all the multi-track recordings while I wrote the music for the other instruments.

We used voices from Native Instruments Komplete 6 and Ivory II for the other parts. I copyrighted “Going Home” and am now sharing it with those who enjoy classical music with a definite melody.

 
If you would like to listen to it, just click the “Going Home” picture below. I hope you enjoy it. If you would like to contact me, my e-mail is Susan@SusanAdamsBentley.com.

Going Home

 

 

 

 

 

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