The Teaching Years (2001 - 2012)
Above and below are some pictures from a few of the annual student recitals I organized while teaching piano at The Gelb Teaching Institute in Redwood City, California.
I loved organizing these recitals. With the help from my wife Sheryl and her parents Joan and Bruce, they evolved into events attended by more than 100 people. My students of all ages performed in front of an audience (an important experience), while their families and friends watched and listened. To end the recital, I played a short set of pieces. We then socialized over snacks and beverages. I was so proud of my students whether they performed or not. It was satisfying to get an “extended family” of people together with a common desire - bringing music into our lives.
I realized I got the biggest thrill out of watching beginners develop from little or no prior instruction. Particularly rewarding for me was seeing the students that studied with me continuously for 6-10 years become fine pianists. For over a decade I focused primarily on teaching piano and really grew to love it. It is gratifying to have learned so much from my students and their families.
In February 2012, I left the San Francisco Bay Area to expand my musical career in New York City. I definitely miss the people the most: students, families and friends. A special thanks goes out to everyone at Gelb Music and my coworkers there. It was the best place I could imagine having a teaching studio. I now am a student, studying composition at Juilliard. I’m also recording my own piano compositions and arrangements.
I was incredibly touched by the comments and testimonials from students and parents after my move to New York. I have posted them below. Thank You So Much, Everyone!
"The fact that all 3 of my kids studied piano with Joe (2 for over 7 years!) is a tribute to his wonderful teaching. Joe is a patient, kind and encouraging instructor who brings out the joy of music in his students. He adapts his lessons and music choices to each student's interest: at his recitals we heard jazz, classical, contemporary and even original pieces from the kids. It is incredibly difficult to find a piano teacher (as I discovered when Joe left) who is comfortable teaching both jazz and classical at an advanced, or even intermediate level. This ability is definitely one of Joe's greatest strengths. Combine that with a fun, relaxed, supportive approach and it is easy to understand that Joe is unique. My kids and I will always be grateful to Joe for the formative role he has played in building their love of music."
"I loved taking lessons from you, and we really miss you!"
"You are an awesome musician and teacher"
"Our daughter was 15, and an absolute beginner, when she started taking piano lessons with Joe. She loved his teaching style, his kindness and his passion. She was very sad when she had to stop her lessons with Joe as he decided to move to NYC"
"You know we were crazy about you too and feel very fortunate that Sierra had you for a teacher/mentor for SO many years!"
"I miss you and hope to see you soon :)
Always your student,"
"Joe is the best piano teacher I've ever had. He's understanding, fun, and an
incredible guy. I've learned so much from him - you won't find a better teacher
"Teacher Joe is a great piano teacher and good with all ages. Our daugther, Marissa, took lessons from Joe for over three years - ages 10 - 14. During that time, Marissa's love for music grew in large part due to Joe's work with her on the piano. He will work with the individual to devise lesson plans that engage and challenge the student. Marissa learned classics, modern tunes, sang with some of her pieces and even wrote her own music under the direction of Joe. We can not say enough wonderful things about Joe. You would be lucky to have him as your piano teacher. He would still be teaching Marissa if he had not moved 3000 miles away."
"Thank you so much for all the great teaching. I learned a lot from you."
"It was really enjoyable working with you. Your patience and calm
demeanor made it possible for me to get past my early lessons where my
aptitude and skill were wanting. I'm still working hard."
"Joe has been instrumental in not only teaching piano basics to our daughter but also instilling in her long term motivation to contniue studying music and piano. He has unique ability to adapt his approach, motivational techniques and teaching style to fit each student's ability, learning preferences and personality. Every week our daughter was looking forward to her half an hour of joy and learning with Joe."
"To be honest with you I was desparate and worried about finding someone whom Yashar be as comfortable with as you and be able to continue playing piano. Working with you had a very good effect on Yashar's playing piano, he got more interested and more serious in practicing piano. I think I never thanked you and didn't tell you how you motivated Yashar."
"Our son is pretty shy, but Joe helped him feel right at home from the first lesson. Joe tailors his lessons to the student's needs and learns to read the kids in a way that best helps them grow as a musician. Because he is so patient and encouraging, even reluctant students emerge more confident. At the same time, he's not a pushover. He expects that students do their best and give 100% effort. We were very sad to see Joe leave California, as our son was making great progress with him."
"Joe is an extremely professional musician and teacher. He is patient, kind and has an excellent rapport with students of all ages. The student recitals were always a treat because we were able to see the improvement of the students AND we got to hear Teacher Joe play, too. He is an expert in all styles of music, particularly classical, jazz, and blues. He also composes. He is the complete package. If you're looking for a teacher who will make learning the piano an enjoyable and rewarding experience, Joe fits the bill."
"In my opinion I think it has taken pretty long to find a new piano teacher. I think you are the best piano teacher ever."
Sherlen and Scott Paulsen
"Joe is the best piano teacher anyone could ever ask for. Not only is he a brilliant, versatile piano player, he is kind, funny, attentive and knows how to bring the best out of every student. He also knows how to push them to be their best without making them feel bad in any way. My 11 year old son took lessons from him for several years and never complained about going to the lessons. We are so happy for Joe and his wife on their move to New York, but we were very, very sad to see him leave. We are now on the look out for a new teacher and I'm sure it will be hard to find someone anywhere near as good as he is."
"Joe is a wonderful piano instructor. His patience knows no bounds. His positive attitude and passion for music is infectious to his students. He has helped my son cultivate a life long passion for music and learning to play the piano."