Dr. Zent’s Philosophy of Teaching Piano
Dr. Don Zent teaches piano lessons to students from ages 7 to 90, including children, teens, and adults from Jessamine County and Greater Lexington area in Kentucky. Teaching at Asbury University, Wilmore, Kentucky, from September through May, he offers private piano lessons in 30-minute blocks per week.
For beginners at the piano, Dr. Zent uses the piano as a means to teach a strong foundation in music education. By playing attractive and enjoyable pieces, beginning students focus on reading music well, learning patterns of rhythm and notation, musical symbols and terms, intervals, scales, and chords. Intermediate and advanced students are provided excellent repertoire, mostly classical, considering individual skills of the student and fortifying weaknesses; furthermore, knowledge of music theory continues, enhancing understanding of prepared pieces. Dr. Zent teaches how to produce a beautiful, singing tone, how to adjust the sound so that individual lines have the appropriate weight, how to shape a phrase, how to adjust fingering and technique to achieve the easiest possible solution for fluent playing of a passage, and how to use the pedal effectively; furthermore, he focuses on understanding the entire architecture of the piece so that one can form a reasonable interpretation, on observing carefully markings of articulation and dynamics, on strategies for productive practicing, and on methods for secure memorization. All of his students learn to play piano expressively and lyrically in a singing style, playing pieces that are interesting, enjoyable, and refreshing both to hear and to play; at the same time students gradually develop a solid, flexible technique.
Dr. Zent’s philosophy of teaching piano involves combining specific praise and specific criticism, a balance of strong, honest encouragement on the one hand with forthright ways to conquer weaknesses so that they become strengths. Realizing that all challenges are effectively met through persistence and discipline, he has high expectations for his students; yet he is gentle in his approach.
The piano is truly a wonderful instrument: it is a joy to learn to play it for one’s self and to share piano music with others. To this end, Dr. Zent’s students participate not only in a yearly piano recital in May but also prepare pieces for the National Guild.