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Piano/Musicality Lessons from a solid Pro (Upper West Side)

I tailor my lessons to the student's needs. Those needs might include:

Starting at the very beginning, dusting off some old skills, sharpening your professional skills, improvisation, sight-reading, really useful ear-training, technique (can you control the piano?), learning to play by ear that song that you heard on your smart phone, understanding chords, voicings, modes, structure, what is the circle of fifths and why should I care?, learning to accompany yourself when you sing and coming up with a version of the song that's much better than the sheet music, classical, jazz, pop, theater, rock, the whole musical universe. I'm a pianist, but also a singer and songwriter, so I understand how to help you in those related areas. So if you're ready to jump in the musical pool, I'm ready to show you around.



I’ve been playing all my life, so my perspective on this is different from most people.  Nevertheless, I’ll put it in a nutshell by quoting Van Cliburn, the legendary American Pianist:  “The ancient curriculum was gymnastics, mathematics, and music.  The gymnastics was to develop the body for the trip through life.  The mathematics was to show you how to get from point A to point B.  But music was what gave you the reason why you were taking the journey at all.”



I’ve been teaching piano privately for many years.  I teach both adults and children.

My students have fit into many categories:

Total beginner children

Children who were not happy with their previous teachers

Total beginner adults

Adults who are convinced that they’re tone-deaf and not musical

(I enjoy proving them wrong)

Adults who studied earlier in life and would like to start again

Singers who would like to learn to accompany themselves

Songwriters and music producers who want to play better in order to express their musical ideas more thoroughly

Piano teachers who would like to develop their improvisational skills

Voice teachers who would like to better accompany their students

Musicians who play another instrument, but would like to master the piano.


    Lessons are tailored to the student’s level and area of interest.




I like to give my piano students a total musical experience;  by that I mean a course of study that includes:

Ear Training

Sight Reading







 If we liken learning music to learning a foreign language, we might say that Ear Training is like trying to hear the language and understand the words.  Sight Reading is like knowing how to fluidly read the written words of the language.  Improvisation would be the ability to expound freely in that language whether in conversation or monologue.  Music is a language, with many different dialects.  We study many of those, and find that they’re usually related to each other in some way.

Listening is closely related to ear training, and involves listening to recordings to understand and identify what is being heard.  Theory is the study of the underlying structures in music and should always be useful and applicable to playing.  Technique  is the ability to physically be in command of the piano and not have it be in command of you.  Repertoire is the body of songs and pieces that the pianist learns.



I have noticed over the years that children are often much more relaxed about improvising than adults.  For some adults, the idea of letting go and creating something new on the spot is like diving head first for the first time into ice cold water.  Once they find that they can create for themselves however, they love it.  It’s curious that improvisation is such a mystery in the West outside of Jazz and Rock’n’Roll circles, because it once existed in what we now call “Classical” music.  Bach, Mozart and Liszt all had great improvisational skills, and their improvisations often became written compositions.  Today most classical musicians are not taught these skills, yet Jazz musicians improvise freely as a way of life.  I teach students the underlying structures that are used in improvisation.  Once you know what they are and can also hear them in others’ music, it’s not so hard to do.




Materials vary according to the student’s level and area of interest.  However, more often than not materials might consist of some of the following:


A book of music manuscript paper in which the student and I may write down musical examples and the assignment for the week.

A digital recorder or smartphone is very helpful for my recording myself demonstrating. If you don't have one, I may record on my ipad and email the file to you.

Youtube is very useful for studying pianists or songs or pieces that we're working on.

A book of pieces for very young students, appropriate to their level.

A fake book for students who are learning jazz.  This is a large book containing hundreds of lead sheets (outlines) of songs.

A classical anthology to develop technique, repertoire and good reading skills.

A book of scales and exercises to develop good technique.

    Beyond that, we may use sheet music, itunes, classical portfolios, or anything else that will get the student to where he or she wants to be musically.


Jonathan L. Segal has been teaching piano for many years. He has also taught music to gifted children in both public and private New York schools.

    Jonathan is an Emmy-Award nominated composer who has written over one thousand compositions for television.   As a pianist he has worked with a wide variety of artists including Dizzy Gillespie, Chuck Berry, Nicolette Larsen, Denis Leary and Oscar Brand.  He has worked in TV, film, theater and records in many capacities including pianist, singer, composer, actor, and music-director.  He also entertains as a Jazz pianist and singer at New York area corporate and private social events.

Jonathan playing the piano

Piano Lessons NYC

Jonathan in recording studio
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