Jonathan L. Segal Pianist/Singer
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JAZZ, POP/ROCK, CLASSICAL, BROADWAY, BLUES
EAR TRAINING, SIGHT READING, IMPROVISATION, LISTENING, THEORY, TECHNIQUE, REPERTOIRE
TESTIMONIALS -Scroll down
"Jonathan is a wonderful teacher. His great gift is to intuit what a student enjoys about music and teach with that in mind. For my son, every lesson ended with improvisation. For my daughter, there was a focus on popular songs she could play and sing. Technique and musicality are taught hand in hand with something more important: the sheer pleasure of making music. While my son has moved on to guitar, my daughter, a vocal student at LaGuardia (Thanks, Jonathan!), does a combo voice and piano lesson. She comes home every day after school and plays and sings. There is no better testament to Jonathan that that."
"Simply put, Jonathan is the best. I decided to start taking piano lessons for the first time at age 40 (!), and couldn't be happier to have Jonathan as my teacher. He has a mastery of the piano so that he can teach all different types of music - whatever you are looking to learn. He is patient and explains things clearly. I have learned so much already! Most importantly, Jonathan has a great personality and the lessons are FUN. I look forward to going every week.
Jonathan is worth every penny. My only regret is that I didn't find him sooner! "
"Jonathan is a wonderful teacher! As an adult student who already has piano experience, I was looking to take jazz lessons and Jonathan was the perfect fit! He has a wealth of knowledge in all kinds of musical styles. As a teacher he is patient, open, funny and adapts each lesson to what you want to achieve. I have thoroughly enjoyed my lessons with him!"
"We were looking for a Jazz piano teacher for our teenage daughter. How lucky we were to have found Jonathan Segal! He's exceptionally talented and patient - a rare combination. Our daughter has been going to him for weekly private lessons since 2015 and is very happy with his instructions. She looks forward to her time with Jonathan every week and can't wait to get home and practice what they worked on! I highly recommend Jonathan to anyone seeking quality piano lessons."
"My kids always enjoyed their piano lessons with you and actually practiced without me having to threaten them! Thanks to you, they both still play. Adam plays for the sheer enjoyment of it. He has a keyboard in his room in Virginia (he's still in the Navy) and puts on his headphones and plays! Thanks, Jonathan! Besides being a fantastic musician, you know how to inspire and teach.'
"Jonathan is the perfect teacher for young and old alike. His personality and sense of humor coupled with his passion for his art combine to orchestrate the perfect symphony of learning, creativity and fun!"
"Jonathan is a fabulous teacher who connects well with children and creates an enjoyable environment inspiring them to learn and love piano. My two daughters, 15 and 10, are very different students and players, yet Jonathan is able to teach each uniquely while making it fun.
From my girls:
10 year old - “He is the best teacher I’ve ever had (inside and outside of school)! He is so nice and makes learning a lot of fun. I really look forward to going to the lesson every week."
15 year old - “He is an amazing pianist and teacher. Very enjoyable – he’s funny and good at teaching a variety of genres!"
"Is there nothing he can't do?! I have put Jonathan to the test! He is extremely well-rounded as a teacher and I have single-handedly tested many of his musical skills. In our lessons, we have dealt with everything from picking out the piano accompaniment off of a recording that i wanted to play myself, reading and playing classical pieces, interpreting lead sheets; pop songbooks and written-out jazz arrangements. He even has lent an ear to my own original songs. Even when we work on the same piece week-to-week, each lesson is never the same.
As virtuosic as Jonathan is, i have never felt intimidated. He always manages to make piano more accessible than just a musical discipline. He is also extremely patient to even the most resistant student, as I have not been a quick learner when it comes to learning jazz improv."
" Typical story: I played classical piano for 10 years, then stopped for the next 10 years when I went to college. Recently, I decided to take a 6-months sabbatical, and was determined to learn jazz piano; or, more fundamentally, ear training, so that I stop relying on sheet music as a crutch. I met with 3 different piano teachers, and I ended up picking Jonathan, who was by far the best. He was very versatile, introducing bits of jazz history and famous jazz artists every week, and helping me make mental connections between well-known classical, jazz, and pop pieces. I would bring in my Spotify playlist to dissect certain tracks, and he would suggest how I could practice with them. Most importantly, he assigned me jazz pieces that could be easily improvised on, and imparted me with a set of common runs that I could use. He would push me to improvise on the spot, which was really out of my comfort zone, but that was the only way I could learn, and (miraculously, it seemed) I did start getting better week after week. I also noticed that my ear started picking up on other melodies and chords when listening to music. All in all, I took a total of 10 lessons with Jonathan. Not only was it a fantastic experience, but also I did get out of it exactly what I signed up for, jazz improvisation and ear training. I would definitely recommend Jonathan to other adults that are looking to pick back up their piano skills."
"My two sons, ages 10 and 7, have been playing piano with Jonathan Segal for over 5 and 2 years, respectively. I chose "playing" and not "taking lessons," very consciously, because Jonathan's jazzy, improvisational, and playful teaching style has made the lessons more like creative play and a labor of love than lessons for my boys. They are both progressing and mastering the basics, including ear training, sight reading, and theory, but also delight in composing music with him often. Jonathan's sense of humor, with its whimsy and sense of fun, is a riff of its own, just like his music. That is why my older son asked him 'Why can't I live with you?' "
"Jonathan Segal is not only an extremely talented pianist but also a very skilled and insightful teacher of piano whether classical, jazz, or pop. He is a very nice guy with a great sense of humor that makes the piano lessons even more enjoyable -- not to mention more productive ! I highly recommend him. I am very glad to have found Jonathan as an instructor for studying piano."
"Our son has been taking piano lessons with Jonathan for several years. Out of all the teachers our son has had, Jonathan is far and away his favorite. Lessons mix technique, theory, scales, improvisation and songs; genres include classical, jazz, rock, pop and more. Jonathan can play anything and more than that, can teach anything! Jonathan respects his students and teaches to their ability—lessons are fun and fast moving, yet demanding. For more advanced students, Jonathan’s performance background is a bonus--he has helped our son prepare for concerts at Madison Square Garden and The Bitter End. Jonathan has been with us every step of the way and we will no doubt be with him every step of our son’s musical career. I would whole-heartedly recommend Jonathan to students of all levels."
"The most wonderful thing about Jonathan Segal, besides incredible musicality, his kindness, and his uncanny ability to pun, is the way he "gets" my kid. He tailors his lessons specifically to fit my son's interests and talents and quirks, he knows how to inspire him, make music fun for him, when to push him forward and when to let him take the lead. I couldn't imagine a better piano teacher for my, or anyone's child."
"All 3 of my children have learned to play the piano with Jonathan. Each grew musically because Jonathan adapted each lesson to their individual needs. They can all play a variety of styles of music and have even been encouraged to compose their own. Piano skills are subtley covered and supported without my children dreading scales and practising."
"Jonathan is not only a fabulous teacher who has helped my son learn to read and play music but also has the ability to reach the children and understand their different learning styles. He has instilled a love for learning music in my child. They connect on this musical level and my son looks forward to his lesson each week where he is able to express his musical (and sometimes comical) side with Jonathan."
"Taking lessons with Jonathan has been a blast. While I'm not a "new" person I'm a pretty new player and the variety of music I've learned has kept it interesting and challenging. We've worked on classical pieces, Beatles, bluegrass and jazz and blues. He's taught me a lot of theory as well as practical technique. And how to practice. The past few years have changed the way I listen to music."
"My two very different daughters have taken piano lessons from Jonathan over
the past four years. One is studious and serious, the other artistic and
dreamy. Both have loved going to lessons. Both girls feel that Jonathan
teaches them more than just reading music. He teaches them to appreciate
the music and they both have learned about different genres of music such as
blues, folk, and jazz that they may not have been exposed to otherwise. He
also encourages them at their own level so the process is stress-free. I am
impressed that one teacher could appeal to and inspire two such different
"I really want to thank you for being such an amazing teacher. You don't just teach, you inspire and I knew that's what would happen."
"Jonathan has taught piano to three of my four children and to
impossible-to-teach-anything-at-all-to me. Not only do I now play
Beethoven better than Melvin, the Shitzu down the block, in spite of my
incapacity to practice more than once a month, but my children have
developed both a competency at the piano and a love for and
comprehension of music that I can only envy. Jonathan is a pleasure to
be around, my children (and I) adore him, he makes the learning fun and
exciting, and I have watched my children go on to be life-long music
lovers largely because of his talents as a teacher. It's hard to
imagine doing better than Jonathan."
"Our two daughters began studying with Jonathan over five years ago when they were just 5 and 7 years old, respectively. They now play quite beautifully and we cannot imagine our home without our piano. They hate to practice, of course, but they can't seem to walk past the piano without giving it a play. Jonathan has been an enthusiastic and engaging teacher who goes out of his way to tailor his lessons to the needs of the kids, to keep them interested and also to have fun. By exposing the girls to an array of musical genres, from Pop to Classical to Jazz to American Standards, our girls have not only learned how to play, but are developing an appreciation for all types of music. We look forward to continuing their musical education with Jonathan!"
"Why can't I live with you?"
Gabriel. age 7
"My son is very happy to play a different genre of music other than classical and Jonathan has peaked his interest in different types of music. He has helped him with his singing and performing ability. He looks forward to his lesson every week. The lesson is enjoyable to him and that's because of Jonathan's warm and fun personality."
WHY SHOULD YOU LEARN TO PLAY PIANO?
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.
THE ART OF TEACHING PIANO
I like to give my piano students a total musical experience; by that I mean a course of study that includes:
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 since 1973. 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.
Click Here to Schedule Piano Lessons
Jonathan L. Segal Pianist/Singer