Piano & Organ Instruction
Piano, Jazz Piano, Organ
Ena Bronstein Barton, Department Head
Private piano and organ instruction coordinates the development of several areas, including listening skills, technique, musicality, and knowledge of repertoire written for the instrument. Students learn note reading as soon as they are ready (children are often ready when they are reading words.)
Our faculty is knowledgeable in diverse and updated pedagogical methods and will choose materials appropriate to each student, taking into consideration age, learning style, and level of ability. Instruction is given in building helpful practice habits and in preparation for performance as it pertains to each individual student.
In addition to traditional teaching methods, the Conservatory provides Suzuki instruction, which stresses the development of ability through the “mother tongue” approach. The method emphasizes learning through listening, imitation, repetition, games, and practice—with the teacher, parent, and student working as a team. Progress is made from skill to skill in carefully structured lessons that include parent participation and help for the parent who will be guiding home practice. Listening daily to recordings of the music the children will play is an essential part of the method. Each week, a Suzuki student attends a private lesson and a group class. Group classes are a very important aspect in that they stimulate interest, reinforce musical and technical development, and provide opportunities for performance.
Private jazz piano lessons are available for students interested in learning how to improvise, read lead sheets, play by ear, play solo, and play with a group.
Students are required to own or have access to a piano or organ for practice during the week in order to take private lessons. Those who do not own a piano should investigate local music stores to rent or purchase an instrument. Organists must make arrangements to find their own instrument for practice. The Conservatory cannot provide practice space for students.
Beginning piano students may use an electronic keyboard for the first semester of study only. For those who choose this option, we recommend a touch-sensitive keyboard with at least 66 keys. The electronic keyboard should also have a stand and a music rack. Parents/students who use an electronic keyboard for beginning lessons should realize that this is a temporary solution to the need for an acoustic piano.
Families with prospective students under the minimum age* may request an interview (30-minute maximum) if they would like to be considered for private instruction. Families will be asked to complete a registration form and pay an interview fee of $30 before the interview. Upon acceptance of a student under the suggested minimum age, the registration fee and tuition deposit will be due before the student can be placed with a teacher.
*The minimum age for traditional study for piano is 6; for Suzuki, 4; for organ, 12 (2 years of prior piano study is preferred). The recommended lesson length for beginners is 30 minutes.
Westminster Conservatory offers a wide range of classes and ensembles to meet the needs of every student, from the beginner to the most advanced student, regardless of age. Some classes are intended as an introduction to music, and require no previous experience. Others are designed to complement private instruction.
See below for class descriptions
|Class Name||Number of Classes
|Suzuki Piano Group
Age 4 and above
|Piano Lessons Plus!
30-minute private lesson
|Piano Plus Encore!
Returning Piano Lessons Plus! students
30-minute private lesson
Registration for classes is for the full academic year (most classes run 32 weeks per year). Class length is based upon minimum enrollment (3-person minimum for 45-minute class; 4-person minimum for 55-minute class). Some classes may be offered with a smaller enrollment by reducing the class length. In this case, the tuition remains the same.
- Suzuki Piano Group
Ages 4 and above
Group classes are required for all students taking private Suzuki piano lessons. Classes are 45 minutes in length, with 32 classes in the academic year. Princeton location only.
- Piano Lessons Plus!
Year I: Beginners Only
Ages 7-8 years
This program offers children an opportunity to study piano in both group and private settings. The weekly piano class will be supervised by a piano professor from Westminster Choir College’s nationally renowned faculty. It will include group involvement in creative listening, technique, and movement activities. The group instruction will be enhanced by weekly private lessons. Both the group and private lessons will be taught by graduate students in the Master of Music program in piano pedagogy and performance at Westminster Choir College. Princeton location only.
- Piano Plus Encore!
Year II: returning Piano Lessons Plus! students only
This program continues piano study in both group and private settings. The weekly piano class will include group involvement in creative listening, technique, and musicianship activities. Weekly private lessons will be taught by graduate students in the Master of Music program in piano pedagogy and performance at Westminster Choir College. Princeton location only.
- Piano Explorations
Grades 1-2 (beginners only)
In this class children will explore the world of music through the piano. No prior music training is required, but it is preferred that students be able to read words. Interaction with a small group of students encourages an enthusiasm to play and encourages quick learning of musical concepts and short pieces. Piano Explorations has proven to be a rewarding experience for both parent and child. This class is a wonderful preparation for future private lessons. Students should have access to a piano or keyboard (minimum of 66 keys) for practice and are expected to maintain a consistent practice schedule. Parents are encouraged to participate in the student’s home practice. South Brunswick location only.
- Jazz Explorations
Paul Hofreiter, Instructor
Grade 8 through Adult
In this class, students who already have some background in jazz will take their knowledge to the next level by playing in a small group and combining jazz with other musical styles (jazz/rock, jazz/hip hop, jazz/Latin, etc.) in addition to honing their traditional jazz performance skills. Students will explore playing through longer forms over time-tested jazz standards, and will also be encouraged to explore different ways of playing these compositions, as well as working on their own arrangements or compositions. Music written and performed by the students will be presented at a year-end recital either on Westminster’s campus or off-campus at a live venue. An interview/audition is required for placement. Princeton Academy location only.
Experience the joy of making music in a small ensemble! Westminster Conservatory offers reading ensembles as well as coached chamber groups, depending on the playing goals of the student.
Chamber Music Classes
See below for class descriptions
|Class Name||Number of Classes
|Adult Chamber Reading Ensemble||8||3 hours||$180|
|Coached Chamber Ensemble
Registration is for the full academic year. Class length is based upon minimum enrollment (3-person minimum for 45-minute class). Some classes may be offered with a smaller enrollment by reducing the class length. In this case, the tuition remains the same.
- Adult Chamber Reading Ensemble
Marjorie Selden, Coordinator
Dedicated to the joys of sight reading, this program provides an opportunity for adult musicians to meet every other week to play together in small wind, string, piano, or mixed ensembles. New ensembles are created each week. The groups, working on their own, read through music provided by the coordinator at the beginning of each session. Westminster provides music scores, studio space, stands, and pianos. Wind and string players bring their own instruments. Participants are expected to have some sight reading and ensemble experience. Each morning session will include a coffee break with light refreshments and time to socialize. Princeton location only.
- Coached Chamber Ensemble
Elena Panova, Coordinator
Students of any age or level are matched with other musicians in a small ensemble which meets weekly for individual coaching by a Conservatory faculty member. This program will introduce students to a broader range of repertoire and provide the opportunity for interaction with other musicians at the same level. Participants are encouraged to perform in community settings. This class is open to all instruments. An interview/audition is required for placement.
Susan Bennett Bakshi
Ena Bronstein Barton
Anna de Groot
Eunju Joung Kim
Mary Elizabeth Latorre
*All PDF files require Adobe Reader (free).