About Me

A first-generation college student, I left the farm in Oklahoma to study piano.  Later I went to Northwestern University to pursue voice studies, fulfilling the second of two lifelong passions.  My first loves in piano are Chopin and Debussy, whose works I am always studying.  As a classically-trained tenor, I have surveyed German, French, Italian, and Spanish art song as well as standard operatic repertoire...including studies in foreign language and diction.  Before moving to South Florida, I performed in the Chicagoland area as a professional chorister at Churches, Temples, and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Chorus, in addition to occasional work as a Church pianist.

Teaching Philosophy

My first piano teacher was my mother’s childhood friend. Her encouragement of me continued through my final college recital. She never introduced me to classical piano literature, but she gave me skills needed to enjoy piano even after suspending lessons in high school. I’ve never stopped playing.

In college, before transferring from architecture to music, I studied with a master teacher (nationally certified with the Music Teachers National Association). It was then I realized that I had no idea how to practice, my body was tense and stiff, and I lacked confidence facing difficult music.  The last problem lingered longest in my adult life.

Three things represent the core of what I would impart to students: thoughtful practice both productive and enjoyable, the benefits of a relaxed body and mind, and confident optimism approaching difficult music. These, with the love of piano and the gift of music as a calming pastime, a lifetime joyful pursuit...what my first teacher gave me...represent my teaching philosophy and goals.

  • Bachelors of Arts degree in Piano from Oklahoma State University

  • Master of Music in Voice and Opera from Northwestern University

  • Music Teachers National Association (MTNA)

In addition, I acknowledge two correlative points. First, students should have the highest quality instrument possible. Practice on a poor instrument produces poor students, and can curtail even promising music studies.  I offer my assistance if asked about piano brands and models. Second, help students explore and express their own emotional and spiritual life. This is where they will find the sweet and savory flavoring their music...and where they will encounter the joy that music can become for them. It is not enough to give imagery and examples to help mimic musicality.  Direct them to their own source.

©2021 by Jay Decker-Drane