Both of my kids took part in Jay's music class for preschool aged kids and I can't say enough good things about the experience. His wealth of musical knowledge is amazing and his approach is both organic and authentic. You won't find another program like it in Seattle and your kids will have a blast!Pros: Encouraging, Smart, Fun, Good communicator
My daughter, who is now nearly 9, came weekly to Jay's studio for music lessons when she was preschool age. While the lessons are structured, they are also quirky (unlike with corporate kiddie music classes, where the instructor didn't come up with the material). The kids get to soak in the environment of a dedicated musician, in a room filled with all kinds of instruments. My daughter did not become any kind of music prodigy because of Jay, but she started taking piano lessons lo these many years later and is taking to it like a duck to water. And she has great taste in music. I credit Jay for opening up her ears. (And yes, they really do get to take apart the piano!!)
p.s. I rate this learning experience 4 stars because it was Great / More Than I Expected. If my daughter would have never wanted to quit, I would probably have rated it Excellent / Simply the best.
Our son (now seven) has been taking classes with Jay for... it must be four years now.
I learned of Jay from a musician friend who recommended him; when I first inquired, there was no space in his youngest class, so I went on the wait list for a year. A year later, I called back, and was delighted to learn there was room.
I had no idea what to expect, and wanted only that our son develop a love for, and appreciation of, music—for I grew up in a house full of music, but never learned to play any traditional instruments competently (or even incompetently). Parents who want a teacher to turn their little darling into the next Mozart or YoYo Ma, or those who are interested in music because it raises math scores because the kid *must* get into Harvard, would find a better fit elsewhere.
Our son has been with Jay since then. About two years ago (I think), it became clear that the group classes were no longer a good fit. Our son had not chosen an instrument yet, and we had no desire to push (and Jay won't allow it), but we all talked, and made the decision to move our son into one-on-one classes with a fairly open format which has included: making instruments, reading music (my son is far better now than I'd ever been), playing piano (weekly) and other instruments as interest has arisen (as Jay teaches the kids not read music, and to *understand* it, shifting from one instrument to another is not that challenging, which blows me away), composing pieces, learning about instrument history, composers, and—one of the most important and impressive aspects of Jay's teaching—learning how to listen to music, think about it, think about what you like or don't like, and why. I'd not understood how someone could teach the development of a musically critical ear in a young child, but Jay has done so.
Jay Hamilton is, simply put, a master teacher. I am a teacher (prof. at the UW), and so I know from good teachers. Jay is one of the best teachers of anything I have ever observed (or had the pleasure to meet). Our son is quirky, perfectionistic, headstrong, highly kinetic, and highly sensitive to error. I have seen Jay handle tough situations (a struggle with a piece, a fear of failure, a freeze up) with absolutely remarkable ability and calm, knowing when to be firm in the way that shows a kid you respect them, and when comforting in the way that shows the kid you care more about them than perfection of a musical piece.
He is a better teacher than any of my son's teachers in school (and he has some good ones). I have used Jay as an example as I've talked to my son's teachers about how best to teach him; I have learned myself from Jay about how to deal with my son's perfectionistic impulses (and, in some ways, how to deal with my own university-level students). He is one of the most gifted teachers I've seen.
But let me be clear: Jay is not merely a music "teacher." He is a composer, a musician, an instrument creator and maker, an impressively intelligent and thoughtful person, and almost criminally creative and innovative. He's funny, patient, responsive, firm, observant, and protective of the child's musical and emotional development.
Jay patronizes neither the child, nor you. He will put your child's development and interests before your dreams of Carnegie Hall. He is an excellent person in every way, and I could not recommend him more.
Jay taught my son, a middle schooler, with a required music program. In two years he became the best cellist in his school. He was able to accompany gifted soloists in his class, read and play new music, and get an exposure to different genre of classical music. Jay is a great teacher whose influence will stay with my son so that some day he can find solace in having music an active part of his life.
Jay teaches music not just instruction on single instruments. Our daughter studied with him for over ten years beginning at six years old, they played many instruments together and over time she learned to compose and play her own pieces. He is a very creative, patient and flexible teacher who provided excellent instruction, encouragement, practice structure which prompted creative output from his student. Highly recommended.
I took piano lessons from Jay for a couple of years before relocating out of Seattle. I have a 2 & 1/2 year-old son who I plan to enlist in Jay's lessons as soon as we return to Seattle.
Jay is very knowledgeable, on both theory as well as practice of many instruments. He is patient, methodical and customizes his lessons to your individual needs. The lessons build on previous stages and offer just the right amount of challenge every time on the way to the next level. I started with very little music theory background and I felt we were able to build on that quickly. Jay is a very personable, fun, well travelled and an interesting person.
I have no reservations recommending him to anyone who would like to explore his or her musical side. I thoroughly enjoyed the learning experience.
My son attended the class for 3-5 year olds for about a year and I think it was a great experience for him. Jay has a broad variety of instruments the kids can play, some known and some he made himself. Strings, percussion, wind, lots of fun. There was always a new song to learn each week. The class is structured with the same format each week which I think is very helpful for that age group. I would highly recommend this class.
For anyone who took lessons long ago and wishes to return to piano, I would highly recommend Jay as a coach. I found his unique perspective on repertoire possibilities and his patient but precise watch over rhythmic and voice balancing issues indispensable.
Jay's small group of 4 and 5 year olds was a great place for our daughter to explore the world of music, without pressure to choose an instrument or the intensity of one-on-one instruction, but with great joy and a sense of wonder.
Jay guides the small group to become aware of sounds, consider the range of sounds that might be musical, explore how various instruments might be made, classify tones and pitches as "high" or "low," and even leads them toward a grasp of beginning music theory using "stomp and clap" exercises. It's a rich, rigorous, and fun approach to early music instruction. An added bonus for the whole family are the "homework" CDs that Jay creates--after a year's lessons, we had an amazing collection of wonderful music--some of it familiar, but many artists, compositions, and songs we would never have found on our own. Jay provides a unique and valuable experience for music learners.
Jay was our first music teacher for both our boys. He introduces children to the world of music in a very non-threatening environment. The first day, he takes his piano apart and show the student how it works. He encourages his beginning students to try out different instrument families until they find an instrument that speaks to them; and if they want to change instruments later, that's OK too. He nurtured our younger son's interest in composing. Jay is also very supportive and helpful if a student needs to move on to another teacher -- he told us that he had taken our son as far as he could go on his chosen instrument, and helped us find a new teacher. We frequently go back to Jay when we have questions about music instruction.
My daughter was a student of Jay's from the age of 4 through 12 (middle school). She started with group lessons and quickly progressed to solo piano. By 4th grade, she added in guitar.
Jay was the perfect teacher for my child, who has a great natural talent, but is not always focused about practicing. He was firm, but never berated, and cut her some slack when needed. He always, however, worked to make sure she was engaged, and challenged her with a variety of lesson plans. He selected music she would enjoy playing and encouraged her to compose from a very early age.
As a parent, I appreciated the fact that he was flexible about schedules (you could do a make-up class if you missed one of your monthly lessons). I was also grateful that he did NOT have recitals. Personally, I hate the performance pressure that puts on a child. His rates are very reasonable and paid on a monthly basis.
He also offers some terrific summer workshops on the history of various music styles and composition/recording. That one culminates in a session at Jack Straw—very cool!
I would definitely recommend Jay to anyone who wants to nurture a love of music in a child. We only stopped lessons when the academic pressures of middle school got to be a lot AND my child had music instruction in her school.
Jay Hamilton made music fun for our son. First on the xylophone, later on the piano, week after week, for ten years, from elementary school through high school, our son always looked forward to lessons at Jay's.
When he grew older, when he had to choose what activities to continue, what activities to drop, he always chose to continue piano lessons at Jay's.
I think that Jay never lost sight of who he was teaching and why. Our son wanted music in his life as a hobby, as a way to relax, as a way to have fun. Jay always saw that. He tailored his teaching to that end.
Jay also managed to adjust to the changing learning styles as our son grew older and changed. Whether our son was in elementary school, middle school, or high school, Jay was always on the mark