Not accepting new students as of September 2019. Private piano and violin lessons for all ages. (I also teach beginning cello, viola, bass, and guitar.) My studio is located at Baseline and Power Roads. In rare cases, I will come to you for an extra $60/month. Weekly lessons are 30, 45, or 60 minutes long (depending on skill level, age, and experience), and I give prizes, rewards, incentives for practicing and achievement (Music needs to be FUN). I have a Bachelor's Degree in Music from Arizona State University.
I teach students (any and all ages) music in a way that reaches them and instills a lifelong love of music. I adapt lessons to the student's individual needs and learning styles. Working with the student, I help them understand where we're going in lessons and why we're covering the things we're covering. I help my students set goals, explaining what the goals will do for their overall playing. Learning to play music takes discipline and commitment, but it can also be fun and enjoyable and inspiring. I give prizes, rewards, and incentives for achievement (long-term and short-term) to motivate, inspire and nurture my students. I also offer lots of varied performance opportunities throughout the year to spice things up and remind them why they want to learn music. Seeing other kids doing what they do (playing the piano, etc.) always gives kids a boost of energy to keep improving. It helps them see what they could sound like in the future. Seeing their peers playing makes them want to play better. It's a very important part of learning. I also help students prepare to play at their own performance opportunities such as church functions, Regional and All-state auditions, Metropolitan Youth Symphony, East Valley Youth Symphony, Phoenix Youth Guild, Mesa Youth Orchestra, Mesa Young People's Orchestra, school orchestras, school choirs, school bands, and school jazz bands, etc. (All these activities promote learning in my studio.)I teach all aspects of music including, but not limited to, classical music training, technique, scales, chords, arpeggios, phrasing, feeling, styling, ear training, reading music, playing by ear, classical repertoire, popular repertoire, jazz, music history, music theory, how to write your own songs(composition), improvisation, sight reading, fiddling, etc.I've been teaching for 20 years, and I've been playing violin and piano since I was five years old (my mother was a piano teacher, so I grew up with music and teaching). I've also studied voice, cello, viola, bass, guitar, organ, and a bit of brass, woodwinds, and percussion. I've played in church functions, national orchestra events, school orchestra, honor orchestras, accompanying singers, etc. for my entire life. Music is what I do.
Tuition Policy: For a 30 minute lesson once a week, it's $127.50/month, every month, regardless of how many weeks there are. Payment is due at the beginning of the month for the whole month. I accept cash, checks, venmo, paypal. (go to bottom of page for details of tuition policy)
I am a member of: East Valley Music Teachers Association (EVMTA) Arizona State Music Teachers Association (ASMTA) Desert Valley Music Teachers Association (DVMTA) American String Teachers Association National Music Teachers Association
Events: DVMTA/EVMTA/ASMTA events including: MARATHON DAY/MUSIC IN THE MALL: a recital at the mall, or a retirement community; COMPOSERS CELEBRATION CONCERT: an opportunity to perform in a concert dedicated to a specific type of music; ARIZONA STUDY PROGRAM: an intense theory training program with a written theory test at the end of the year as well as a chance to be play for and be critiqued by a master adjudicator at ASU; ORIGINAL COMPOSITION FESTIVAL: where I help students write their own songs; CAVALCADE/ENSEMBLE: where students perform duets as a group at Mountain View High School or ; MUSIC CARNIVAL: preparation for the AZ Study Program, where students play fun music games and review theory concepts in a fun way; ORGAN STOP PIZZA PARTY: a pizza party at Organ Stop Pizza; AWARDS IN EXCELLENCE: a competition where winning students receive a trophy and a cash prize; ACHIEVEMENT DAY: an opportunity to be critiqued on songs, playing ability and technique, composition, music theory, music history, ear training, duet playing, etc. Students receive a ribbon or trophy depending on the level they enter; DEVOTED PERFORMER AWARD: where students meeting the requirements get a large trophy and a cash prize; OUTSTANDING SENIOR SCHOLARSHIP: where graduating seniors can apply for a scholarship (cash prize) toward college due to their dedication and talent in music; FALL/SPRING/SENIOR RECITALS: opportunity for the best, most prepared students to perform among the best of other teachers' students at My First Piano; HONORS RECITAL/PIANO COMPETITION/PRIZE PERFORMERS: more opportunities to compete and perform; I also hold my own private recitals each year of just my own students at My First Piano.
Parents always ask me about how to MOTIVATE their kids to practice, so I'm including a bit here:First, nobody wants to practice. They want to "play" piano/violin, not "practice" piano/violin. Unfortunately, playing requires enough practice to get to the point where you can just read and play music, or just sit down and make up your own music. (Just like it takes years of learning to read and write before you can sit down and enjoy reading the Harry Potter or Twilight series.)That being said, here are things that work well for most people:Routine:If you can find a time for practicing that works on a consistent basis, this is the ideal situation. Some people practice before they go to school, some practice right when they get home from school and before homework [homework will get done no matter what because it has to, but practicing doesn't "have" to get done, so if it's the last thing of the day, most people are too tired to do it.] So in general, the earlier the better, although that's not the case for everybody. You'll have to see what works best for you. Again, I emphasize that it should NOT be the last thing you do for the day. If you're tired, and all you want to do is relax, anything you do besides relaxing is going to be un-enjoyable. And if it becomes the routine, you'll eventually start to resent practicing, not because you don't want to play/learn music, but because you're associating music with being tired and everything else that goes along with trying to wind down at the end of the day. In rare cases I've seen the opposite be true, where practicing helps the child unwind from the day - but that is extremely rare.Environment:The ideal environment varies from person to person - some need absolute quiet and isolation, with no one else in the room to distract them. Some need the parent sitting in the same room so that they don't feel alone, or even sitting with them on the piano bench helping them practice. Others can't have their parents near them because they feel like they're being watched/controlled/judged/et cetera and it makes them anxious and resentful. Etc. Etc. The dynamics between parent/child, sibling/sibling, and student/practice are extremely varied. Just pay attention to whatever your kid is presenting, and don't hesitate to ask for suggestions.Punishment/Reward:Practicing should never be a punishment. But it can be a "chore". If you do chore charts, like cleaning your room, taking out the garbage, etc., practicing can be on the chore chart too. And then they can mark off their chores as the finish them, and if they don't get their chores done, they don't get to go play with friends, watch TV, play video games, or whatever fun thing is happening that day. On the flip side, if they do get all their chores done, they can go play with friends, or they can go play video games, or watch TV, etc. (As a side note, if there's something genuinely unique or special happening, never use "you didn't practice, so you don't get to go to this" or practicing and music will immediately and suddenly become something the kid resents.)Then, you can also have an overall reward system, like, if they do all their chores every day for the whole week, or the whole month, then they get a treat (i.e. a new piece of clothing, a new toy, a new app for their tablet, an ice cream, a trip to the movies, a play date with friends, a lunch date with a parent --- whatever will excite and motivate the individual kid.)You can also set up a point system - they get 1 point for every day they practice, or 1 point for every ten minutes they practice, and then have different rewards/prizes for certain amounts of points - 300 points = xbox game, lego set, trip to Castles and Coasters, etc. Or 1 point = $1, so they can save up points and then buy whatever they want with the points they've earned - remember, 1 point can be whatever you make it - ten minutes, thirty minutes, whatever. The point system for time practiced has very tangible results - it's not an all or nothing system. Every time they practice they're earning points toward a "big" goal, like a lego set, or video game, or a sleepover, or something that they wouldn't otherwise get. And make sure that whatever system you use is only used for music, to make sure that it's a reward they wouldn't otherwise get. For some people it helps to set a timer to let them know how long they need to sit at the piano. Or a stop watch that will keep track of how long they practiced, then they can add that time to their points chart.A good general rule for how much a student should be practicing is this: practice five days a week, each song/scale/item three to five times each day. (Of course this varies with age and skill level. Every person is different and I will help them figure out the best ways for them to practice.) I also recommend students listen to classical music each week, and/or the CD that correlates with their music curriculum. The more they listen to (and move to) music, the better. You can set up a similar reward system for listening to classical music too. (Listening to classical music has a ton of benefits aside from helping them to learn music better and faster - just google it and you'll find tons of data on this.)Hope this helps!
Details of Tuition Policy: Some months there are 5 weeks, some there are 4 weeks, some there are 3 weeks. Over time, it all balances out. My basic rate is $60/hour, or $30/half hour. There are 52 weeks in a year, minus one week for the week of Christmas equals 51 weeks. 51 weeks x $30/half hour lesson = $1530/year. $1530 divided by 12 months = $127.50/month. So, it's $127.50/month for a half hour lesson once a week, regardless of how many weeks there are in a month, including one week off for Christmas. For vacations/missed classes/illnesses/makeups: If you know you'll miss a scheduled lesson for a valid reason (i.e. family vacation, school concert, illness, etc.), let me know as far in advance as possible. If you let me know in advance, then I will do my best to reschedule that lesson. If you no-call/no-show, you forfeit that lesson and its payment, and do not get a makeup lesson or a refund. If the student is sick, and you call to let me know, I will do my best to schedule a makeup. If you no-call/no-show for any reason, you forfeit that lesson and its payment. During the summer, we can schedule double lessons on the weeks you're here to makeup for the weeks you're gone, or have two lessons in one week - the second lesson turns into a "how to practice" session, which is always very beneficial. If I could have two or more days every week with my students it would be amazing! They would excel so fast. But that's not usually possible, so the weeks where we do a makeup and have two classes are very valuable. As a side note, I do have students that I see multiple times every week and they move at a much faster pace, so if you're interested in that let me know.
Here's what a few students have said about me:
"Tiffany is an amazing instructor and my kids have done so well in the year that we have been working with her! They enjoy lessons and always talk about how she tries to incorporate their personal likes and interests into the music that they are learning to play. I have had experience with many instructors as a student myself, and I am so pleased with Tiffany's work, attitude, and commitment to my children's music education. I highly, highly recommend Tiffany Westlake as a piano instructor for your student regardless of level." --Anjie
"My boys have been working with Tiffany for almost a year. The change I've seen in them musically has been invaluable. All my boys sing in choirs and have voice coaches but since starting piano, they've excelled in areas of range and technical identification of chords. For instance, my 14 year old recently scored top three in the Regional chorus auditions in "sight reading". (A classical piece is given to the student 5 minutes before they go before the judges to sing) When my son came home he was ecstatic -- his first words were "I know its because of Tiffany! I was imagining myself playing it on the piano and I could hear what it was supposed to sound like. . ." My boys range from 17 years old to 7 years old and Tiffany works fabulously with all of them! She's patient and encouraging and a welcome presence every time she walks through the door." ---Lori
EVMTA (East Valley Music Teachers' Association), DVMTA (Desert Valley Music Teachers' Association), ASMTA (Arizona State Music Teachers' Association)