Meet my piano teacher: dan the composer

I have wanted to be able to play the piano since I was quite young.   When I visited my maternal grandmother, a piano teacher, I would play with her piano.  I say, “play with,” because I never had formal lessons but I loved this instrument’s sound and I loved the way my fingers felt on the keys.

As I’ve told you, I love to sing, too.  When I was young, I would sing in the shower to an imagined audience; in the backyard, swinging in the swing; in my room to my dolls.  I made up shows and dances all the time.

I also sang in the church choir, but my knees buckled and my voice, usually a strong second soprano, became a barely audible, warbling reed when I was asked to sing solo.

When I finally asked for singing lessons, because of course, I thought one must have lessons to be a real singer, and I thought having lessons would give me the courage and confidence I lacked,  the woman (at church, of course) my parents consulted said I must learn to read music first.

Meaning well, and being the practical sort, my father rented a piano, bought “teach yourself to play piano books,” and told me if I learned to play the piano, he would not only buy the piano, but also give me the singing lessons I so desired.

I tried.  I reaaaallly tried.  But it was too much of a challenge and I finally gave up.  My grandmother showed me how to play a few chords and when I was at her house, I would sit for hours composing tunes and sounding out songs I knew by ear using the chords.  But alas, no piano at home and no singing lessons.

Fast forward, fifty plus years…

piano keys


I have just received my grandmother’s piano!  Though  I inherited it from her when she made her transition from flesh to light in the early eighties, it has been living elsewhere until now.  It has been completely refurbished and it sounds and looks fantastic!

My first inquiries regarding lessons from a locally respected teacher brought disappointment.  He would only give weekly (no less) lessons and the fee was more than I could pay.  So, I was on hold again until last week when I mentioned to  a visiting friend that I wanted to learn to play.  She said, “YouTube!  You can find anything on YouTube!”

And I did!  Plus, I think I may have found an absolute soul-match of a teacher for me!

His name is handle is danthecomposer and you can find him on YouTube here. His teaching/playing philosophy is fluid and open, giving the beginner permission to “see herself playing” and to find her own way of “fingering” the keys, to be “comfortable” in her body whether away from or at the piano.  I have listened to and practiced lessons one and two of his “Learn to play in ten lessons” series.  So far, I love it!

I have also bought ($3.99) and downloaded his e-book (PDF), Water Pianism: the guide in which he states:

Pianism embodies the self and is an extension of it; You play what You think about. As thoughts change, so too does playing; as experiences are gained, so too does playing change.

Give his composition above a listen.   It’s B.E.A.U.T.I.F.U.L!  I can see the ballet!

What do you really want?  If you know.  Go get it!

If you don’t know…explore, write, paint, sing, or dance until you do!


d. ellis phelps is the author of Making Room for George, (Moon Shadow Sanctuary Press, 2016) and of this blog.




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