Lesson Structure



All lessons are 1 hour in length.

Lessons are generally broken into three parts:




Warm-ups are tailored to each student according to their needs and direction.  Therefore, this will be developed on an individual basis during the initial few music lessons.




I believe that to be a complete musician, you need to truly understand music. That means more than just being able to play what you see.  SIGHT READING is a helpful skill.  It allows you to play new pieces that you’ve never heard before just by reading the instructions on the page. That is especially valuable to classical musicians and other traditionalists. Being able to sight read is helpful when playing another person’s original piece or when composing your own music to share with other musicians, like in a band setting.  It gives you more control over the music being played by fellow band members.  There are two forms of sight reading: Grand Staff and Charts. What you choose  to explore depends on your own musical goals.

The Grand Staff divides the music into separate lines for each hand. It is used for wide range instruments that can play more than one note at a time (like the piano and harp). Classical piano and harp music are written on the Grand Staff; it displays every note exactly as it should be played. I can teach you to read both lines at the same time so you can read hands together by the second lesson. Then we will write your choice of music at a level that is easier for you to play. That way, you can play an easy version of your favorite tunes . . . now . . . hands together.

Charts are just one staff of music containing the melody, but written above that melody is the code for the harmony, called chords. The chords contain all the notes that the arranger thinks you can use to create your own accompaniment for the melody.  Any instrument can play from that chart if the musician knows how to read the melody line or knows the code for chords.  Some charts may also contain words to the song.  Charts are used mostly by professional musicians in all genre of music, but rarely classical.  It is also the most convenient way to share a large repertoire of music in a band, jam setting or as a solo performer at parties. I can teach you that amazing chord code and get you playing those chords from charts by the fourth lesson.  Then we will write your favorite or original melody and add the chord code above, so you have a chart of your own song. Of course you get to play it . . . and other musicians can too!






Some folks panic when they hear the words Music Theory, but it’s just an explanation for what the human ear already knows. Remember as a kid when you always asked “Why?” Don’t you hate being told to do something without knowing the reason?  When you understand why and how, you can create music all on your own.  My personal goal for you is to make you no longer dependent on me.  How?  What chords to use, reading charts, creating an accompaniment . . . these just a few skills that require theory.  In your own language, I explain how music works using metaphors associated with your hobbies, work or interests. Then we apply that theory throughout the lesson until you see it, hear it, and feel it.  Then you own it!  Some of my students get such a kick out of this process, they want a whole lesson devoted to just learning theory!



To be a complete musician, you need to be able to hear music and play back what you just heard. Playing by ear involves a lot of trial and error. But it is worth it, since it allows you to improvise jam with other musicians, pick up songs without buying music and steal or collect musical ideas from other musicians (hahaha). Understanding patterns in music will remove most of the errors, and  basic theory will remove the rest.  You need to hear the Melody Line and Bass Line and also keep a steady Beat to hear the Rhythm. Then you can play both hands by ear.

To hear a melody line, you hum the notes back slowly. That allows you to label the ups and downs, skips and leaps.  A handful of clever tricks is all you need to hear, repeat and even write the melody  you just heard.  During the very first lesson, you will be typing melodies that you hear on a computerized music program.

The Bass Line is also the chords or harmony. I will give you the Chord theory needed to educate your ear, along with a series of games and exercises involving actual jam sessions to get your ear talking to your’ harmony hand.

Keeping a steady Beat comes first. Every musician must feel a steady Beat  to understand Rhythm. Being able to hear and repeat rhythm patterns will allow other people to identify the songs that you’re playing.  It also means that other musicians can play along with you.  I use a series of games involving walking, passing a ball, drumming and a computer program to get you grooving on Beat and Rhythm.

I have taught beat and rhythm through music and movement to dancers and musicians of all ages.



I know all my students will agree when I say, this is the most fun part of the lesson.  Every month there is a new theme for writing music. That’s right!  You can produce a new original piece, each different from the last. Pop, jazz, jigs, waltzes, different forms of classical and romantic . . . even tangos.  With an understanding of each style and theory, the music practically writes itself.  Some students even use their lesson compositions on their professional CD’s . . . yes, they are that good.  Composition is also used as a tool for ear training and theory games. I save every composition on my computer and you get a printed copy with your copyright at the bottom, just like real sheet music. Then we can record you playing your own pieces on a CD.  They make great presents to family and friends!



Have you ever wondered how some musicians can play without music or even knowing the song?  It’s not magic, and yes, it is a skill that can be taught and learned. You need Ear Training and Theory, and a level of fearlessness that allows you to experiment. There are no mistakes when improvising . . . just opportunities for creative solutions.  It’s one endless educated guessing game using patterns to anticipate the next move. I will give you the tools you need.  How?  By analyzing each piece before you play, removing the sheet music or listening example and then paraphrasing what you remembered, you will be able to play your own version of what you just described.  You can do this at home. Youtube is a great resource for improvisation. You get to play along with your favorite band.  Now THAT’S fun!!!!



I teach students of all ages.  The video below comprises 4 student, including a first-year student.   I am very proud of each of them.




Toni Knight Music Stuio - Student Recital Merrill Gardens    Toni Knight Music Studio - Harp Student Christmas Concert   

                    Student Recital at Merrill Gardens                                         Harp Student Christmas Concert



How I Teach

Tocato Tango

created by Joni Bowen.