Piano Lessons with Alex Ayala
Meet Our New Piano Teacher
I teach piano. I graduated from the University of the Arts with a BM in music performance. While at UArts, I studied under piano teachers Don Glanden, Tom Lawton and Trudy Pitts. I also received guidance from some of Philly’s finest musicians. I am currently a freelance musician performing in a wide range of diverse bands and ensembles. As an educator, I teach intermediate/advanced piano with an emphasis on jazz, rock, blues and contemporary music. My methods involve the basics of note-reading and technique, as well as ear training and theory to provide a fun musical experience that goes beyond the notes on a page. It is my goal to share my passion of music with my students and to help them find their musical passion.
When did you begin playing [instrument], and why?: Trumpet was my first instrument. Through trumpet, I was able teach myself piano. There was something about it that just came naturally to me…I could do things on the keyboard that I could not on the trumpet. I got serious about the piano when I was in 8th grade and stuck with it since.
What are your personal goals as a musician?: My goal is to constantly learn and constantly grow. One can always strive to get better no matter how ‘good’ one gets.
Do you have a memory of a time when a musical concept or technique really clicked? Something you’ll remember forever?: When I was a sophomore at UArts, one of my teachers made us improvise over a tune using only quarter notes and with no accompaniment. That concept forces you to really be able to hear the harmony as you are soloing and helps with memorization. That was a big milestone in my development.
What is your favorite piece of advice from one of your past (or current) teachers?: Knowing the tune is one thing, but you don’t have complete mastery over it until you internalize it and make it a part of you.
What was your most challenging moment learning an instrument?: Understanding that sometimes one has to take a step backward before they can take a few steps forward.
What is your biggest musical achievement?: I’m not sure which of my achievements can be considered the ‘biggest’…but one of my favorites was being in the 2011 Boston Crusaders Drum and Bugle Corps. For an entire summer, I got to tour half of the country with 150 other performers who I consider family. It was completely different from what I currently do in my professional music career…but performing in stadiums packed with thousands of people is something I will never forget.
Favorite thing about teaching?: Being able to teach my students about how to live a fulfilling life, in addition to music.
What is a piece of advice you would like to share with anyone learning music?: Listening is just as important as practicing, and always listen with an open mind.
Personal music projects: I’m in a rock band: Cold Roses (just released our first album: ‘No Silence in the City’) and a jazz group: Norris Street Trio. I also starting playing with an 11 piece big band: The Hoppin’ John Orchestra. I have also performed and recorded with various other groups as a freelance musician.