From My Keyboard

I’m John Viljoen.  I teach piano to students of all ages from beginner to advanced, both internationally through Zoom and locally in Oak Harbor, Whidbey Island, Washington.

I follow a student-centered approach.  Here’s what that means to me: 

A new student arrives at their first lesson with excitement and enthusiasm.  Often, their goal is to finally learn a piece they’ve dreamed of playing.

Or they’re excited because they’re finally putting into action their dream of learning the piano.

My purpose is to keep that excitement alive.

Learning the piano takes a lot of work.  It takes a lot of focus and determination.

And patience.

As a student, you need to dedicate yourself to the process of learning the basics — not just the notes, but how to play them.

To master those basics, there will be lots of simple pieces and simple exercises that must be learned so that, one day, you can play the Moonlight Sonata, or “River Flows In You” . . . whatever your dream piece may be.

All that hard work and nuts-and-bolts learning can quench enthusiasm.

How to keep that excitement thriving? 

With consistently positive teaching support,

With encouragement, patience, compliments and gentle corrections when needed.

Whenever appropriate, I’ll give you pieces you want to learn WHEN you’re ready to take them on.

A piece that a student wants to learn is rocket fuel for piano enthusiasm.  You work harder and take greater care with pieces that inspire your enthusiasm.

I’ll also choose pieces that will broaden your musical experience.

This student-centered approach works.

Students stick with piano lessons much longer . . .

. . . which means they’re more likely to gain the skills to play advanced pieces. 

Piano teaching isn’t a job.  It’s a calling.

I started learning piano from our neighborhood teacher when I was eight years old.  I was lucky to be her student. From her I learned the value of patience and positive support.  

As I learned more and more, she gave me pieces from her library that opened up worlds to me. 

When I was ready, she gave me a piece that I wanted to learn.

What valuable lessons these were in piano teaching.

In college I continued to study piano and perform in recitals.

During my business career I continued to practice.  I focused on pieces by Beethoven, Bach, Mozart and Debussy.

I studied under Lorraine Debnekoff, a student of the great pianist Rudolf Ganz.

In 2013 we moved to Whidbey Island, Washington.

Shortly thereafter, I began teaching piano at a local music studio in Oak Harbor. on the north end of Whidbey Island.  

I began with one student, and then another . . . 

. . . and then more and more, until my teaching studio was thriving and my schedule was filled.

.It has been a joy to see my students grow as pianists from their first beginner books to playing Chopin and Dave Brubeck.

I’ve marveled as they excelled.  I’ve been thrilled at their performances at our recitals.

I’m lucky to be doing this.  To teach people to make music on the piano is a great privilege.

I start early in the morning, and get home late at night after my last lesson.

But when you enjoy what you do, it’s not work.

It’s a calling.