Linda Zhou – Piano Teachers

Specializing in Classical Piano
Strong background in Contemporary styles
Studying at Temple U. for Piano Performance
Beginner to Advanced Students

Linda_bioHi Philly! I’m a Southern Californian who found her way to Philadelphia two years ago, in search of more rigorous classical music training on the historically and culturally saturated East Coast. I had been taking piano lessons since I was a mere little four-years-old and have been involved with anything and everything artistic my entire life–whether it be photographing for campaigns, songwriting in the midst of teenage angst, sharing poetry about early 20s angst with strangers, taking dance lessons despite lack of coordination, designing paper ads for free–you name it. But above all of my loves, music has been an anchor, the path to finding purpose, and a gift that I want to give away through teaching.

Lessons are especially important for piano students because they tend to work in solitude more often than in groups. This makes the piano student’s interactions with musical colleagues that much more significant and the sole responsibility of the piano teacher to influence positively a precious task to undertake. While I make sure my students maintain a disciplined practice, I am more concerned about their personal well-being and how the learning process and musical performance can benefit that than a trophy or public recognition. Of course, if an advanced student has goals to take on the professional world, I will guide them every step of the way but not without ensuring his or her music comes from a healthy state of mind.

I’ve now been teaching for five years with a nearly finished Bachelors of Music, and have been focusing more of my energy into teaching as a career rather than working alone as a performer. I hope that within the next one to two years, I can take my passion for teaching to the next level and pursue a Masters in Education and teaching certification. No matter where my pursuit and promoting of education takes me, I hope to always be able to work with piano students of all levels and ages.

As an absolute beginner, we will be learning from the Faber method series unless otherwise requested. Continuing students moving from a different studio can choose to stay with their current method or switch to Faber. I will happily accommodate any methods, but request students stick to one series and include supplemental theory and technique books in addition to the performance books.

See you at the keyboard soon, Philly!

When did you begin playing piano and why?:
When I was a mere four-years-old, my god-parents bought me a toy keyboard which my parents couldn’t keep me off of. My amazingly selfless parents invested their resources into a variety of activities for me as a child and quickly recognized my natural affinity towards music. I began taking lessons seriously when I entered high school, realizing my passion for a creative, intangible sort of expression.

What are your personal goals as a musician?:
Now that I’ve spent most of my life pursuing classical piano and am a course away from receiving my Bachelor of Music in Piano Performance, I would like to begin deeper exploration of different styles such as jazz and electronic music. I also hope to bring more awareness to personal and interpersonal development within the classical music scene whether it is in the pre-collegiate, collegiate, or professional world.

Do you have a memory of a time when a musical concept or technique really clicked?  Something you’ll remember forever?:
I have always been a romantic pianist, to the point where my extraverted romanticism had begun bleeding into composers like Bach and Beethoven. There will always be a debate on the limitations, or lack thereof, within different historical periods of compositions. But I have learned regardless, expressing tragedy and other emotions containing similar intensity does not always have to be dramatic or outspoken. In fact, I have learned it is perhaps even more intense and meaningful when expressed in silence or constraint. This concept especially clicked when I read these words in one of Hemingway’s letters:

“Saw tragedy tonight. I was in a drug shop opposite the Marigold Gardens and a girl was telephoning in a booth. She was kidding some one over the wire, lips smiling. And talking cheerily away and all the time dabbing her eyes with a handkerchief— Poor kid it was terrible bad whatever it was.

What is your favorite piece of advice from one of your past (or current) teachers?:
My current teacher, Dr. Mikhail Yanovitsky, is constantly over-pouring with wisdom. I love mostly everything he has to say about life and music so I am going to have to share more than one! 

  • Music is connection. Your hands connect to the keyboard and the piano becomes an extension of yourself. Each note is connected to the next seamlessly, creating flow instead of a jagged touch. You can play the fastest, most technically demanding pieces and impress audiences in this way, but it may not be remembered as deeply as touching hearts.
  •  It’s okay to play wrong notes (when you already know how to read music). Free yourself from the fear of incorrect notes and channel your focus into maintaining rhythm. It is better to play messy with authentic expression than it is to play crystal clear with restrained musicality.

What was your most challenging moment learning an instrument?:
My most challenging moment while pursuing piano seriously was to, in fact, not take it so seriously. This is not to say I shouldn’t have been working diligently or that the value of musical studies is being undermined. An instrument is merely an extension of yourself, not something substantial enough to encompass your entire identity. Being able to laugh and let go when not playing as well as hoped for is necessary for maintaining a healthy relationship between you and your music. It’s challenging to not look back on a recording and berate yourself for all the ways you could have done better and to simply be happy for what you could do at the moment, to appreciate that your body is well enough to show expression in this way at all. Things could always go better, but it is more important to accept that our reactions and attitudes can always be better too.

What is your biggest musical achievement?:
I still remember all the hours I would spend as a high school student listening to pieces I could only dream of playing. Last year, I started learning Ravel’s Jeux d’eau, a piece that can make even a conditioned practitioner feel lost in a sea of one million notes. But it is as I got frustrated that I suddenly remembered the time I spent four years ago, imaging myself playing this piece beautifully and expressing myself through the various sounds of water. My frustration was lifted as I could feel proud of myself for being able to read through, and eventually, tastefully play this piece. I may not have any flashy distinguishers or international claim to my name as a pianist, but in an often cut-throat and self-deprecating environment, I found achievement in being able to be at peace with my music and artistic journey thus far.

Favorite thing about teaching?:
My favorite part of teaching is interacting with and encouraging my students. When a shy student begins opening up, when not-as-shy students excitedly share with me about their day, simply making a student laugh or smile—these moments mean just as much to me as their musical accomplishments.

What is a piece of advice you would like to share with anyone learning music?:
It’s all a process. Approach everything with a balanced mindset. Music is a language—use it everyday or it’s going to escape your tongue before you know it. Use it to communicate something about you because you are worth being heard. Listen to a variety of performers and interpretations and learn to articulate both praise and criticism. Remember to breathe, relax those shoulders, and don’t be afraid to ask questions or make mistakes!

Personal music projects: i.e. bands, groups, shows, recording, etc. (if any):
Nothing concrete at the moment, but always interested in collaborating with artists of all types to create multi-media performances and reach new audiences.