My name is Farrell Sylvest. I have a bachelor’s degree of music and more than 35 years of experience teaching private piano lessons. I have taught students ranging in age from 5 to 82. I have 20 years of professional experience as organist, pianist and choir director for several churches.
My Teaching Approach
I offer a blend of technical expertise and theoretical study. My goal is to help students develop and integrate a strong foundation in the structure of music while they learn to play expressively and musically. Depending on students’ interest and motivation, I also incorporate improvisation and composition.
Parents continue to engage me because I offer:
• Customized lessons
• Flexibility on scheduling
• Consistent progress
Intentions for Student Relationship
• To create an environment wherein a student feels physically and emotionally safe.
• To approach each student as a whole person.
• To attend each student within their unique process of learning.
• To give a student space and permission to communicate with me.
• To listen to what is not being said.
• To incorporate what a student uniquely brings to the piano in the form of their strengths and weaknesses, energy level, interests, what excites them and their motivation or passivity.
• To validate all correct actions and progress.
• To encourage improvements with patience and kindness; never judgment.
• To be honest and direct.
• To be clear in my communications and never assume that I am being understood
Intentions for Instruction
• To provide structure and pace for consistent practice of the skills and tools essential to accurately play the piano.
• To introduce rhythm as the foundation of music and the symbols providing information about rhythm.
• To teach a thorough understanding of the musical rudiments.
• To build confidence in the identification of notes on the staff and their relationship to the keyboard.
• To teach how to implement efficient piano practice.
• To teach the identification of symbols that define dynamics and to use them in the context of a musical piece.
• When a student has sufficient skill level, to broaden their level of musical interpretation and performance.
• Depending on the level, motivation and interests, to expand education on the theoretical constructs, the core of understanding music from the inside out.
I began rigid classical piano training at the age of five, continuing through high school at which time, through my Mother’s insistence, I began lessons on the electric organ with the church organist. My Mother found great joy in playing several instruments and had great hopes that one of her daughters would embrace her pleasure. Much to her despair, after twelve years of training, neither the instruments nor the instructors captured a passion for music.
Through an unexpected catalyst, my energy around classical music was suddenly charged. I had an opportunity to hear a professionally trained organist perform Baroque music on a three manual pipe organ with full pedal board. I didn’t understand the spark. I only knew that I was hungry for more and enrolled at the local liberal arts college known for its music program, particularly in organ study.
I was not driven by getting a degree but to explore this amazing instrument. I did go on to receive a Bachelor of Music Degree with a major in organ. I well remember my excitement in learning about the mathematical infrastructure of music. Primary, however, was the profound inspiration I received from my organ professor. He dramatically expanded my narrow view of music making and taught me how to listen and from listening, to make music come alive and speak, fulfilling its original intention.
My approach to teaching draws from the polar opposites of my instructors and my response to them. I learned to be a highly proficient technician from my piano teacher; skills that certainly eased my transition to the pipe organ. From my organ professor, I learned to listen and to hear the music from the inside out; from a place of what the composer might have intended. In combination with my technical ability, I now brought an ear that was acutely tuned to the music between the notes, freeing the music from its structure to express itself through playing. These two aspects of learning to play the piano and the organ greatly influenced the formulation of my goal and intentions that I bring to each lesson.
For more information, please contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org.