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.
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 an instrument 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. (Contact the Conservatory office for information.) Beginning piano students may use a digital piano for the first few years of study. For those who choose this option, we recommend a digital piano (not an electronic keyboard) with 88 weighted keys (full keyboard). The digital piano should also have a stand and a music rack. Parents/students who use a digital piano for their starter instrument should realize that this is a temporary solution to the need for an acoustic piano. Please note that electronic keyboards are not an acceptable alternative to the digital piano or acoustic piano.
Organists must make arrangements to find their own instrument for practice. The Conservatory cannot provide practice space for students.
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
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 an integral part of the Suzuki method of instruction and work in conjunction with the weekly private lesson. 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 taught by faculty with a Master of Music degree in piano pedagogy and performance from Westminster Choir College. It will include group involvement in creative listening, technique, and movement activities. The group instruction will be enhanced by weekly private lessons taught by graduate students in the Master of Music program. Princeton 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.
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||$138|
|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
Galina Prilutskaya, 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.