he Perfect Lesson
Dr. Guy Whatley is an internationally accomplished musician. He can be heard on Grammy-winning recordings and in concert halls across the world; he is recognized as one of his generations' leading performers and teachers. Numerous students have gone on to win major awards, attend world class music schools, and achieve successful careers in music. Guy Whatley truly loves teaching and he combines the highest musical and academic standards with a relaxed approach that is both fun and engaging. If you are looking to learn music or improve your piano skills, please be in touch for a consultation.
Dr. Guy Whatley is one of the most accomplished music teachers in America. Having worked as an educator and musician his entire adult life, he brings a unique set of skills and experience to each student and ensures that they develop fully in their instrumental technique, musical expression, and theoretical understanding of music. Dr. Whatley regularly teaches at prestigious universities and conservatoires the world over. Guy combines his world class education and career with a teaching style that is engaging yet fun and allows students of all abilities and experiences to grow in their skill and their love of music.
Dr. Whatley has performed internationally including an expansive list of the most renowned halls and venues notably, Lincoln Center, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and Carnegie Hall in NYC; Disney Hall in LA, The National Cathedral in Washington DC, Royal Albert Hall and Westminster Abbey in London, Sydney Town Hall, Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, and St Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican, as well as recent concerts in Japan, China, Argentina, Brazil, Central America and across the whole of Europe. He is in high demand to work with many of North America’s finest ensembles and has performed with the Grammy-winning Phoenix Chorale and the Grammy-winning True Concord Voices & Orchestra. Guy regularly gives presentations and coaching at various music teacher’s associations and has throughly studied keyboard playing techniques to develop healthy life-long playing abilities. His students have won competitions around the world and are currently attending such music schools as, The San Francisco Conservatory of Music, Vanderbilt University, The Juilliard School, and Oberlin Conservatory of Music.
Why take piano lessons online? Can music really be taught remotely?
Online piano lessons are extremely effective and personally I have found them to be far more efficient than in-person lessons. The primary advantage is that I can see and hear what you are doing up close — the camera can be positioned to show your hands allowing me to see your technique with precision not otherwise possible. You also get to play on the instrument that you practice regularly on, and in an environment that is comfortable for you. Additionally, a consensus of independent studies on distance learning (links below) have shown that students are up to 36% more focused and perform 22% better when compared to traditional in-person lessons. I have certainly seen this in action.
Furthermore, online lessons eliminate the geographical limitations many students face with no qualified teachers in their area. While also bypassing the costs, time, and energy wasted in travel, allowing for more time to be focused on study and practice.
What equipment do I need to start taking lessons?
All that is needed is a device with a good camera and microphone. Any recent phone, tablet, or laptop should meet these specifications. Also a high speed and stable internet connection is required. Access to a piano or excellent digital piano will be necessary as well as the commitment to have regular practice sessions.
Why study piano?
The mental and physical benefits of playing the piano are well documented and connect music making to a healthy life, body, and mind. Piano playing is a workout that sharpens motor skills and hand-eye coordination. It has been shown to reduce anxiety, heart, and respiratory rates; along with positively impacting other conditions. Piano playing boosts cognitive and intellectual abilities, sharpens memory, and boosts creativity. The positive impacts on mental health are particularly well documented (links below).
Further, piano music is beautiful and a life spent playing music is so much richer for it. The rigors of preparing for performances are hugely character building, and participating in piano competitions and performances are achievements highly recognized in academic applications.
Piano playing may be difficult, but with a great teacher it is very achievable. Having the ability to learn a piece of music is incredibly satisfying, and the mental and physical discipline fostered is invaluable.
What kind of teaching do you offer?
I primarily teach piano lessons. My students range in age from schoolchildren to retirees, and they range in skill level from complete beginners to advanced pianists with music careers. I love teaching, and I love crafting an individual approach to each student centered around that student's unique interests and needs.
I teach music theory alongside piano, as I strongly believe that reading and understanding music is a liberating experience that allows the student to ultimately learn any kind of music independently. I believe that the more deeply we understand the music we are playing the more we are able to express ourselves through music.
I also teach harpsichord and pipe organ, and have considerable expertise in these areas, but the majority of my teaching is piano and music theory.
What is your teaching style like?
My primary concern is the success of my student’s learning, and so I adapt my teaching to what is needed for each person. My general demeanor is easygoing and relaxed, and I want piano lessons to be fun and enjoyable. Little in life is as satisfying as succeeding in music, to facilitate this, I combine an approachable and fun teaching style with the highest musical and educational standards.
What types of students do you work with, are there age or skill limits?
I enjoy working with all ages and skill levels, and have had success with students ranging from young to old, schoolchildren to retiree, beginner to advanced. It is never too late to start learning an instrument, however the earlier you start the easier it will be long term. I work with various organizations with the aim of partnering my students with peers of equivalent skill level to play in ensembles. These organizations include the Arizona Chamber Music Experience and the Phoenix String Quartet Camp.
Will I have opportunities for public performance?
When students are ready nothing focuses the mind like performing for an audience, and I go out of my way to create ongoing opportunities for public performance in my studio and the wider community, working in tandem with a number of music and arts organizations. Many of my students also participate in competitions and festivals. However, I recognize that some students may choose to never perform in public and I am also very respectful of this.
Do you follow a set curriculum?
No. I like to craft individual programs of study for each student built around their unique personalities, talents, and interests.
What genres of music do your students play?
My students play all genres of music. Obviously some genres are more suited to the piano than others, but I go out of my way to make sure that my students play music that interests them. The majority focus on classical piano music, but I like to be as open-minded as possible, and particularly with young children I have seen great success from adding in popular songs and film scores, for example. I ensure all my students develop creatively and artistically, exploring a wide range of music.
Can you help in the purchase of an instrument?
Yes I can. There are many types of digital and acoustic pianos and it is important that you get the right instrument for you and your situation, I want to help with this. I can also advise on the long term maintenance and tuning of your instrument.
Do I need to read music?
You do not need any prerequisite skill to take piano lessons, but in our sessions you will learn to read music if you cannot already. In my experience not learning how to read is very limiting, and you will always need a teacher to show you how to play every new piece, rather than having the skill to learn whatever music you desire. It is akin to loving novels but being unable to read them yourself, requiring them to be read to you; that is what it is like learning piano without learning how to read music.
What expectations do you have of your students?
I want you to succeed, and will work very hard to help you. But ultimately you must learn through playing the piano and that means that you have to practice. I fully understand the complexity of modern schedules, and I will help you to practice as efficiently as possible, but if you cannot find time for some piano practice most days you will not succeed at learning music.
When you are not teaching do you still play concerts?
Yes, I play concerts all over the world. Here is a link to my artist page. Here is a video of me playing J.S. Bach 5th Brandenburg Concerto with the Arizona Bach Festival.