Meet John Douglas
John Douglas began playing piano at age five and has been giving piano lessons since he was thirteen. Learn more about his training below.
John’s Training As A Pianist
John Douglas first began taking lessons from a college student by the name of Winston Swift when he was 5 years old. Winston used to write short piano compositions and give them to John to play. The pieces were fun to play and John loved learning them. He still has a couple of these handwritten pieces that make him recall his first instructor with fondness. To this day John enjoys composing piano pieces for his young students and letting them name them. He has found through experience that if you compose something for a student you will rarely have any problem getting them to practice it. He got that idea from Winston. John took lessons from Winston for approximately 5 years. Winston drilled John thoroughly on the technical aspects of playing (scales, arpeggios, chords) and music reading. John believes that the selection of the right person as a child’s first piano teacher is critical as good early training will provide the student with a solid foundation on which to build as they progress.
John’s second piano teacher was Mrs. Elaine Dysart and he credits her with having the greatest influence on his playing ability. Going beyond pure technical ability, she taught John how to be musically expressive, the importance of tone quality and most importantly, how to produce it. She did not accept harsh and strident tones which happen when the keys are pounded on with a heavy hand. She taught John how to listen and evaluate the sound he was producing and how to balance that sound in union with other notes. Years later, when Mrs. Dysart passed away at 100 she left a note requesting that he play at her memorial service. John felt touched and honored that she chose him to play as she had many students over the years.
Another teacher John greatly admired was Esther Jones, his pipe organ instructor. She taught him the skills that allowed him to be hired as a church organist while he was in high school and still is to this day. While organ techniques are often very different from piano, John has found that the skills learned can be very beneficial for piano as well.
Later while John was studying piano at USC he had the rare opportunity to study under world renowned pianist Daniel Pollack. Mr. Pollack is a famous concert pianist and master teacher who has toured the world and played with orchestras and as a soloist on practically every continent. Many pianists want to study with him so John was very honored to have been his student.
John says he will never forget the lessons, skills, and techniques he learned from these fine teachers and considers it his personal responsibility to pass them on to his students today.
How John Became a Piano Teacher
John began teaching at age 13 at the suggestion of his second piano teacher, Mrs. Dysart. He had been taking lessons from her for a few years at that point and she suggested that he give beginning piano lessons to some of the younger kids in his neighborhood. He would tell her about his students and she would suggest what materials to use and solutions to any problems his student’s might be having. He recalls her giving him much useful advice along the way. To this day he says he can still hear her voice making a point in his brain. She did not tolerate mediocrity and because of her John was able to recognize when his students were not achieving at an expected level and he needed to adjust his work with them accordingly. By the time he was 17 in his last year of high school John had 30 piano students and was earning a good income. After high school he received a full scholarship to USC with a double major in both piano and organ performance. He has been teaching piano ever since.
What John Loves About Playing And Teaching Piano
What John enjoys most about being a piano teacher is taking a new student who literally knows nothing about playing the piano and helping them achieve a level of playing ability that they will enjoy for their entire life. A number of his students have gone on to win awards and recognition. His proudest moments are when one of his student wins accolades and his or her parents are proud. In addition, through piano teaching he enjoys helping his students learn skills and qualities that will benefit them in all areas of their lives. For example, piano students learn patience, perseverance and that hard works pays off. He also gets satisfaction from knowing that a number of his students have gone on to become piano teachers, church musicians, an orchestra conductor, a composer, and a singer in the well known rock band Jefferson Starship.
What gives John the most enjoyment and satisfaction from his own playing is the kind words and personal notes he receives from people who have said they were really touched or moved by a piece he has played. When his playing makes someone feel joy or in some cases to shed a tear or the music really speaks to them, that is when he gets the most happiness from his playing.
John Douglas Rancho Piano: Piano lessons for all ages and abilities, piano tuning and repair.
Address: 23139 Joaquin Ridge Drive, Murrieta, CA 92562