Piano Lessons


“A  teacher is a person who never says anything once.”
 Howard Nemervo

"Music can name the unnamable and communicate the unknowable."

Leonard Bernstein  1918-1990

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    If you are thinking of investing in a music education for yourself or for your child, you want it to be the happiest, most productive experience possible. At the Donna Riesen Piano Studio, students will find an upbeat, rewarding program, which will provide a basis for a lifetime of musical understanding and enjoyment. Whether you are a beginner, or an advanced pianist, this studio can offer you a quality education.   

  If you are interested in signing up for lessons, please email or call to schedule a complimentary interview for us to meet and to discuss your goals. At this time you may pick up a registration form and tuition schedule. Once you decide that this program is right for you or your child, you may register, pay for tuition, and we will schedule a time-slot.


Through the weekly private lessons, regular group classes and special events, students of all ages receive specialized training in piano, theory, sight-reading, technique, ear training, development of performance skills, and much more. The private lesson format allows the teacher to concentrate on specific musical and personal needs. Goals and objectives are carefully developed for each student based upon age, ability, and interest. A wide selection of music is carefully selected to match the needs and strength of each student.

                                                                          Make Up Lessons Article.pdf



Recital performance is an important goal that builds confidence and self-esteem as well as enhances the student's learning experience. Students should take advantage of all performing opportunities for which the teacher, student, and parent feel he/she is prepared.

Following are some of the recital opportunities:

  1. 1.The annual studio recital held at the end of each school year.

  2. 2.Monthly recitals sponsored by MTAC (Music Teachers’ Association of California) offered  throughout the school year.

Community Service Recitals presented for people who cannot get out and go to a recital otherwise. These performances count towards the students' community service awards at schools, scouts, etc. and are a contribution to their community

Group classes / Group performances

Through the bimonthly small group classes, students receive encouragement, and develop strong performing and listening skills, as they perform for and with their peers in a stress-free environment.  Group events always provide valuable reinforcement of concepts introduced in the private lesson.

Certificate of Merit

This studio is proud to offer Certificate of Merit™, administered by MTAC, to its students. In this program students are evaluated in the areas of performance, sight reading, memory, technique, theory, and ear training. Evaluation and testing day is held at a local college in early spring (usually March), with registration in the fall. Students may be chosen by judges to perform in a branch honors recital, or at State Convention which occurs in early July. Qualifying high school seniors receive medallions.

Guild Auditions

The National Guild of Piano Teachers, a division of the American College of Musicians, offers students the opportunity to be evaluated in noncompetitive auditions in the areas of performance, memory, and technique. Evaluation day is held at a local church or studio in late spring (usually May).


Students with more serious intention on their music study are recommended to participate in some of the competitions/festivals throughout the year. In the process of preparation for the competition, extra lessons may be scheduled in addition to the regular lessons.

Following are some of the local/state competitions:

  1. 1. SCJBF (Southern California Jr. Bach Festival) - both the branch and regional, April-May

  2. 2. MTAC Contemporary Festival, December

  3. 3. MTAC Memorial Awards competition, April



A student taking piano lessons should practice on an acoustic piano, tuned twice a year, at home. Pianos can be rented locally if the student does not own one. The teacher strongly encourages using an acoustic instrument for practice. If it is not possible for the student to have an acoustic piano, at the very minimum a digital piano with weighted keys that is touch sensitive, has 88-keys and is equipped with 2 working pedals can be used for the first 6 months. Parents should plan to buy an acoustic piano within the first year of lessons.


Students are responsible for practicing their full assignment and preparing the lesson that has been assigned them. Students must also organize and remember to bring their assignment notebook and all books currently in use (even if no piece is assigned in a book that particular week) to lessons.                              Develop Practice Habits.pdf

How to Help Your Young Child Develop Effective Practice Habits

  1. Effective, daily practice is crucial for your child to make progress. Children aren't born with practice skills, nor are they developed overnight. Excellent practice skills take years to develop and must be taught. Parental involvement is necessary for children 10 years and younger, especially in the first few years of study. These are a few ideas you can use to help you child develop practice skills.

  2. Choose the same time of day for practice, a time when your child has the most energy and focus. Try practicing first thing in the morning after breakfast, and either right before or after dinner. Practice has to become as habitual as brushing your teeth or getting out of bed.

  3.     Make daily practice a priority, an appointment that cannot be broken.

  4.     Avoid distractions such as television, pets, visitors, phones, or interruptions for chores.

  5. Provide an environment with enough lighting and a well-tuned instrument. An acoustic piano should be tuned twice a year in order to keep it in tune.

  6. As a general guideline, a student should practice everyday at minimum, the length of the weekly lesson. For a student taking a 45-minute lesson, daily practice of 45 minutes a day is encouraged.. Allow your young child to practice in short sessions, 10-15 minutes at a time, 2-3 times a day. This is just a guideline, not an absolute amount.

  7. Plan each practice session with your child – Decide which pieces you are going to work on and what problems you would like to solve. Start each practice session with a different piece so that all pieces are practiced during the week. Supervise your child's practice sessions. Check proper seating and foot position before and during playing. Very young students need to use a foot stool or pedal extender. Sit next to your child and make sure he practices each piece that is assigned during at least 3 practice sessions during the week. It is not absolutely necessary to practice every piece every day. The assignments are written weekly in the practice book that I give each student. Reviewing this regularly will serve as a guide to weekly practice and learning. If you can't sit with your child during a practice session, try to be in the room to listen attentively. Sometimes your presence is all a child needs.

  8. Gently remind your child to practice every day if needed. Stress the importance of daily practice. Just like soccer, baseball or any other kind sport, you must practice the piano to improve. Playing an instrument involves fine motor skills that aren't required in other activities, so daily practice is essential. If your child wants improve as a pianist, then he or she must practice regularly.

  9.     Encourage your child when he practices consistently.

  10. Provide performance opportunities for your child. Have friends, relatives or family members listen to him.  Or, line up his favorite stuffed animals as an audience.

  11.     Ask your child to teach you. There is no better way to enforce a concept than to teach it to someone else.

  12. The following things do not work: Yelling at your child, using practice as punishment, comparing your child's progress to someone else's, criticizing your child without also praising his strengths.

  13. As a student becomes more advanced, more practice time is required. Consistent, focused practice is the key to progress.