That's me

Photo by Cheryl Himmelstein

 

Hi There!  I’m Bella.

 

I’m a piano teacher in Los Angeles, but my story goes back to the 90’s when I was a teenager and I was obsessed with music. Mostly Grunge and Alternative, but also Motown, early Rock and Roll, and 70’s music, which were always playing on the local Jacksonville, FL radio stations.

 

Our life was pretty tough. My Dad was very sick for most of my life and my Mom worked 2 low paying jobs to keep us afloat. We had zero budget for music lessons. We didn’t even have a piano!

 

A very kind young woman saw something in me and taught me 2 months of lessons for free as part of a community service project. I had a cheap keyboard that I practiced on. After the 2 months were up, I taught myself from books, by ear, and through observing other musicians. I went to an incredible high school with a stellar music program. I was able to take voice lessons there as well as Music Theory and all for free.

 

Music was a real life saver for me during so many tough times. I knew it would be part of my life forever, but I didn’t originally plan to teach.

 

In college, I studied Sociology. I was working full time at a Women’s Shelter, taking calls on the crisis hotline and bringing in women who were escaping abusive relationships. It was definitely an intense job! But it gave me the money to pay for my rent and tuition. My plan was to graduate and become a Social Worker.

 

After 9-11, budgets were getting slashed left and right for non-profit organizations. I was really worried I wouldn’t have a job in the very near future. On top of that, the stress of listening to and witnessing trauma 40 hours a week for 3 years was starting to get to me. I decided to quit. It was a very spontaneous choice and very unlike me to not have a plan. Yikes! I didn’t have much money in the bank so I needed to find work fast. What to do? I had recently taught my good friend Heather how to play guitar. Just for fun. So one day she said “Why don’t you teach private music lessons?”

 

My first thought was: I’m not qualified.  Imposter syndrome is very real, because even though I had been practicing for over 10 years and I was already performing professionally, I didn’t think I was qualified to be a teacher. But she encouraged me because she had learned easily the way I taught her and also in a very short time. I thought it wouldn’t hurt to try.

 

You know what? She was right! After only one year of teaching, my schedule became so packed and I developed such a good reputation, I ended up moving all the way to Los Angeles to teach some of the most interesting people in Hollywood. I’ve been here for over a decade now and I absolutely love it. I’ve taught sweet little kids as well as Hollywood producers, actors, directors, agents and writers. I’ve prepped actresses who had to play musical characters on screen and I’ve taught rising pop stars how to play piano just so they can become better songwriters.

 

But the most fulfilling part of my job? Watching people go from knowing nothing about music to being able to perform at a sing along party. Meeting an adult who missed out on piano lessons as a kid or regrets their granted wish to quit so young. The adults who just know they would feel complete if they could only come home at the end of the day and play a few Jazz tunes before going to bed. 

 

Watching those students grow is what keeps me so energized every day. I love it. So now, I still teach 27 private students each week. I have a growing waiting list because there isn’t enough time in the day for everyone. I believe SO strongly in my method of teaching, and if you have the desire to learn, I REALLY want to show you how. So because my time is so limited, I have decided to branch out online in order to help as many people as possible.

 

This blog is only 4 months old as I write this, but I am spending every free second of the day on it because I really want you to learn how to play. I promise to keep putting out helpful tips and videos if you promise to practice what I show you. Please subscribe to the blog and keep in touch with me.

 

I recently published my first piano course INTRO TO POP ROCK PIANO CHORDS. It’s inspired by that first year of teaching as well as my first year of learning. I always go back and consider what helped me as a new student. The most important elements of any learning program are: fun and easy to understand. That’s what this course is about. Check it out.

 

With all of my heart, I want you to GO PLAY PIANO.

 

XO,

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