Leila Viss

Hi, I'm Leila Viss and enjoy teaching piano to around 45 students ranging in age from 6 to 89. I am drawn to discovering innovative teaching methods and successful practice strategies to encourage the average player stick to the bench for life. Customizing lessons for each student is a priority and therefore I provide "blended" instruction of Classical, Jazz and Pop. The ever-changing tools of technology assist me in my daily teaching. Every student not only has a private lesson but a lab session as well. Lab assignments include activities using the latest music software, MIDI, iPad apps, a Clavinova and more.

After receiving a BA degree in Piano and Organ from Dordt College in Sioux Center, Iowa, I married my husband (of 26 years), moved to Denver and received a masters in Piano Performance and Pedagogy from the University of Denver.

While maintaining a studio, I ventured into teaching keyboard classes in a nearby school district for 2nd-8th grade students for four years. Although those were the most challenging years of teaching I ever experienced, it was pleasing to know that the federally-funded program brought the piano (keyboard) to many kiddos who would have never even met Middle C without this opportunity.

I’ve settled back into building a larger studio and continue to diligently plan effective ways to make piano playing and music making a reality for any student. In 2012, I decided to try my hand at blogging and have found a new “love” at 88pianokeys.me.

My fascination with the iPad and apps resulted in the book The iPad Piano Studio: Keys to Unlocking the Power of Apps. What began as an idea, a nudge and then a reality is now serving as required reading for SMU graduate pedagogy students.

Invited by Pete Jutras, the editor of Clavier Companion, I now pen a column for the piano magazine called "Apps for Teaching."

I've served on planning committees for the MNTA (Music Teachers National Association) 2013 Jazz/Pop Track, the MNTA 2014 Improvisation Track and was appointed co-chair of programs by Sam Holland SMU-IPT (Southern Methodist University Institute for Piano Teachers) 2014 and NCKP (National Conference on Keyboard Pedagogy) 2015.

Much of the above activities in the previous paragraph has to do with my good friend and colleague Bradley Sowash--a dynamic jazz pianist, author and educator. He contacted me in 2012 to help him plan the 2013 Jazz/Pop track. Things haven't stopped since then as we have co-founded 88 Creative Keys. This joint venture features camps, clinics and workshops to promote creativity. Our efforts have been coined “The Eye/Ear Revolution.”

When not teaching, blogging, planning...I am usually practicing the organ and piano for my church position, adjudicating piano and composition competitions, presenting at conferences, exercising, and if there’s any time left, reading a good book (on my iPad, of course). Over the years I’ve spent a great deal of time attending soccer, football or basketball games of my three sons. Yes, they play piano too but seem to prefer the guitar, at least for now.

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