Please read the FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) list below then call (360-927-1881) or email me if you have any questions.
A. Location and studio: My home studio is located in Ferndale near the corner of Church and Thornton Roads and near Cascadia Elementary School. I teach on a Yamaha DC7 7′ 6″ Concert Grand with Disklavier (computer/recorder). This is an extraordinary instrument. It is a concert/conservatory level instrument with the technology to record your student and playback immediately (on the piano) for feedback and instruction. We are within 15/20 minutes of Lynden WA, Blaine WA, Bellingham WA.
B. Credentials and Experience: I have taught piano in Whatcom County since 1984 from beginners to adults (including local piano teachers). I have played piano professionally since 1976. My schooling includes a Bachelor of Music degree (Magna Cum Laude) from Western Washington University (in classical piano “performance” and “jazz studies”) and I’ve studied under Ford Hill, Nancy Yaeger, Jeffrey Gilliams, and Nadine Clarke. I am active in the Whatcom County music scene in various jazz groups and have recorded 7 CDs of solo piano. I was the house pianist at Semiahmoo Resort for 17 years, entertaining thousands of guests. I also have 7 children whom I homeschooled with my wife Diane (who has an earned master’s degree in education and taught in the Ferndale public schools). I completed a Master of Divinity degree at Regent College (Vancouver, B.C.). My full time work is that of husband, dad, and formerly, the 36-year pastor of the Ferndale Alliance Church. I have also served on the faculty for several years at the Blaine Jazz Festival, teaching piano, jazz, and theory. I also serve on our Ferndale city council and formerly Ferndale’s mayor.
C. Tuition and Lessons: 1. Tuition for weekly 1/2 hour lessons for the 2023-24 school year is $140 per month ($120 for the 2nd and 3rd child in the same family) payable on or before the first lesson of each four week period [see schedule] . [Note: 45 minute students are $180/month.] A lesson/tuition payment schedule is below. Please pay by check or using my PAL PAL link as no receipt will be given unless you ask. You can also use Venmo. Thanks!
D. The Schedule: In general I follow the Ferndale Public School schedule. There will be no lessons on public school holidays. No lessons over winter and spring breaks. There will still be lessons on so-called “staff days” when students are out of class but the teaching staff works. On “snow days” please call me.
E. Missed Lesson: There are no deductions or refunds for missed lessons except for protracted/long-term illness. I will try to schedule a “make-up” lesson for students who notify me in advance that they will not be attending their lesson if there are extenuating circumstances (illness or an extraordinary scheduling conflict). Also, I am usually happy to teach an extra “free” lesson during school holiday weeks (Christmas, Spring Break, etc.) but it is up to the student/parent to request the extra lesson.
F. Other Costs: Most of the student’s piano music will be purchased by the student. Some will be loaned to students. Please take good care of music and return when done! There is no charge for the student spring (June) recital. Piano music can be purchased at some of our local music stores. Both the Bastien and Faber series seem to be available at Wind Works Music at 2405 Meridian Street (Fountain District, near downtown), or call (360) 733-5840.
G Summer: I do teach piano in the summer for usually an 8-10 week session and encourage students to continue their studies. Contact me for more information (360) 927-1881.
H. Your Piano: Your piano (or digital piano) must be in good working condition. All the keys and pedals must work. Ideally, a piano should be serviced (tuned) twice a year. Once a year is a minimum. Please maintain your piano! It will make a big difference in how much your child enjoys piano. I can recommend a piano technician or you can look in the yellow pages. Love your piano! If you are needing to buy a used digital piano or real/acoustic piano, check out my “How to buy” videos on my home page. Touch-sensitive, 88 key digital pianos are fine for the first 2-3 years of learning. It also isn’t hard to find fine acoustic pianos, sometimes for free. Again, review Jon’s “How to Buys” videos.
I. Practice Environment: Your child must be able to practice in a place that is comfortable (clean and warm) and without distractions. If your piano is in the major “traffic” area of your home then either move it or encourage family members (including yourself!) to stay clear during scheduled practice times (unless you are assisting your young child’s learning).
J. Age: In general I will take any grade beyond the first grade and any level of adult. There are teachers who will teach at grades lower than 2nd but I prefer to start at about the same time children are reading sentences (and are able to sit in one place for 30 minutes!). At times I have taken students who are beginning first grade, but they generally need extra attention and support from a parent.
K. Practicing: “Practice does not make perfect … but it makes better, much much better!”
1. Students are expected to practice 5-6 days each week. I encourage each student to take one day off each week from practicing. The “sabbath principle” applies to practicing and homework too!
2. Beginning students should practice 25 minutes each practice day. This can be done at one sitting or in two shorter sessions each day. A regular schedule (daily time slot) works best.
3. Some students will also do theory (written) work which is important to your child’s musical development. It’s a good idea to do this in pencil!
4. Students are expected to work on their lessons and assignments during scheduled practice times. After lesson work is done students may improvise, “play around,” or sight read new music on the piano. I encourage this type of creative exploration but I think it should be done within the discipline of learning their lesson material that assign. I am also more than happy to help young students who are interested in writing music. We cherish creativity!
5. It would be normal for a student to not play each assigned piece every day. Generally, a student might work on 1/2 to 1/3 of the work assigned on a given day. Or, if a student is working on scales he might do half of them each practice.
6. For younger younger ones, it is a bonus if a parent (or older sibling) assisted with the lesson. Most of the “beginner” books are easy to follow.
G. Communication: Talk to me! If you see something in your child’s practicing which you think would be helpful for me to know about don’t hesitate to call. I am interested in providing for your child the most positive musical experience and opportunity to learn about one of our greatest musical instruments-the piano. I see myself as a team member with you in the education and promotion of music to your child.
H. Jazz, Pop and Worship Music: I am often asked to teach jazz to my students as well as contemporary church/worship playing. In general I am happy to do so within the context of teaching traditional piano. They go together and build on one-another. I would seldom teach a young pianist “just jazz.” Also, students are invited to bring to lessons music from school performance groups like jazz (stage) band. For the more advanced student I do offer one-time “coaching” for special needs situation. See below.
I. Recitals: Generally, we hold a year-end graduation type recital in early or mid June. Students are generally expected to learn and memorize (optional) 1-3 songs to perform for other students and family. This is an important part of the musical process: learning to share and perform before others. [We make it fun!]
J. Concerts: I encourage kids to listen to as many pianists as they can. They can attend various recitals and concerts in the community. Notably, at WWU. Listen, listen, and listen some more! And CDs or digital downloads can be fantastic as well. I am happy to provide suggestions. And I’ll even make a shameless plug here: You can hear me perform now and again in our community!
I note here that there are some great performance at the local schools, and at Western Washington University. You can call the music department there (360-650-3130) and ask to receive their concert mailing list. Also check out the “Take Five” section of the Thursday edition of the Bellingham Herald
K. Openings: I am currently teaching (mostly) Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. I have a handful of openings and will do my best to schedule your student. Though not always possible, I try to schedule families together if they wish. And former students get schedule preferences over newer ones.
L. Adult/Advanced Coaching: For accomplished adults and very advanced teens I can offer specialized “coaching.” Usually, this is the occasional 30 minute or one hour lesson where I help a pianist with a certain classical piece they are working on, provide some help with some aspect of jazz playing, help with some church/worship music, give some pointers on theory or writing, or some other special one-time circumstances. The cost is $100/hour. or $50 for half an hour. This is not designed or would it be appropriate or helpful to replace regular weekly lessons for the beginning or intermediate student. It is to help the accomplished pianist in some special area where you think I may be helpful.
M. Summer Lessons: Yes, I do teach in the summer and encourage your student continue if they are able. I generally cover a two month period from mid/late June through mid August. Just ask for details!
Call Jon at 360 927 1881 or email at [email protected]