We are long overdue for another Teacher Feature! (Learn more about Teacher Feature posts here).
A big thank you to Jeff Willes for being willing to share with us today. Meet Jeff Wille from the JW Music Studio in Texas!
- Name: Jeff Wille
- Area: Savannah, TX
- Website: http://www.jwmstudio.com
Please tell us about your piano and/or teaching background:
I started playing piano when I was 9 and took lessons for about 5 years which were primarily classically based. After that I developed an interest in rock music and started to learn the guitar from a teacher that was classically trained but was in a rock band. I took lessons from him for about 2 years or so and then after that I just spent hours and hours listening and learning on my own. I then became involved in 2 bands, one as a keyboard player in an oldies band and then one as a lead guitar player in a classic rock band. I’ve been teaching now for about 2 and a half years.
What is the most unique thing about your studio?
I value each person that comes to me genuinely as a person and not just a student. I want to know what is going on in their life and then build a relationship based on that connection that is made between us.
What is your teaching philosophy in a nutshell?
I want everyone to enjoy what they are learning and playing. I try to make lessons and playing fun for everyone that I teach. Music is supposed to be a great activity to ease stress, and/or have a emotional/creative outlet, etc.. The way I operate lessons is that we will have a structure and learn all of the basic concepts and theory, etc. but then I will tailor the lessons to what the student wants to learn. I will not dictate what we will do 100% of the time. I want to know what the student wants to do and where they want to go.
What is your favorite thing about teaching piano?
Seeing the progress each week and when students have light bulbs go off when understanding concepts, etc. and also to see how much fun they are having playing their instrument.
Do you have any clever teaching tips you’d love to share with us?
I try to make learning as easy as possible. I would say one of the most unique things I do for guitar students is that I use the piano as a reference tool when explaining concepts such as scales, intervals, chords, etc. and then translate them to the guitar. That’s usually when the light bulb goes off for the student.
How do you stay inspired as a piano teacher?
I attend the annual MTNA and Texas state conferences, as well as the bi-annual NCKP conference. The knowledge gained from these is incredible and so inspiring. Another inspiration from these conferences are the invaluable relationships created and then maintained with fellow teachers all over the country. I have met some absolutely great people these past few years that have been so helpful and inspiring to me. If you have met me you know who you are! Thank you!!! I just hope I can return the favor one of these days. I also subscribe to multiple publications for both piano and guitar that I read in my spare time (ha!)
What are your goals for improving as a piano teacher in the future?
- Getting involved with a local teachers association and finding a mentor not just for my instruments but also for business matters
- Continuing to play with some great musicians at my church to keep my “chops” up. :)
- Go to as many conferences and workshops as possible to build my knowledge.
- Maybe one day obtain my NCTM (Nationally Certified Teacher of Music through MTNA) for both instruments
Tell us about a rewarding or humorous moment in your piano teaching career.
I am teaching a student through the Music Link Foundation and experienced the most incredible moment of my teaching career and one of the best of my life when I was able to tell his mother that Music Link was donating an acoustic upright piano to them for him to play on! This boy has incredible promise as a piano player but has always lacked a good instrument to play on at home.
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Thanks, Jeff, for taking the time to tell us a little about yourself! It is so great to meet other teachers and learn about their ideas and perspectives. Have a comment? Leave it below.
I am always on the hunt for teachers willing to be interviewed! :) If you are interested, please send me a quick email through the Contact page. Then, you will receive an email from me with a list of interview questions to choose from. I would love to hear from you!