NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Have you ever thought about learning to play the piano, but just don’t have the time to get to a lesson every week?
There’s one teacher who says you don’t even have to leave your house, and neither does he.
WCBS 880’s Alex Silverman On The Story
Mark Miller teaches dozens of people how to play the piano, which isn’t that unusual.
“I’ve been doing this for ten years,” he told WCBS 880’s Alex Silverman.
What is unusual is where those students are.
“I have a student in Dubai, a virtually retired businessman in Oslo, Norway. Just got a new student in Hong Kong,” he said.
There’s also student Deborah Pitts on Long Island.
“I came upon Mark’s website. So, I thought, ‘Well, that’s so interesting. I wonder how you do that,'” she said.
Miller does it from his home in Chicago.
“The internet started to boom, like, in ’96. [A] few years after that, I thought ‘What if a student in Japan or China or Russia could read notes perhaps if they wanted to study jazz’… and so I thought, ‘I could write arrangements, convert them into PDFs, and send them anywhere in the world, pretty much instantaneously. So, I just need to find a way to speak with that student,'” he said.
So, he picked up the telephone. Though some of the students use Skype nowadays.
“Still about 70 percent of my students are just audio,” he said.
“What I was really amazed as is how I didn’t have to be there with him. He can hear everything on the phone. If I made one wrong note, he would hear it. He’d say ‘Oh no. It should be boy-flat instead of boy-natural,'” Pitts said.
Along the way, Miller has found that his method can be just what some students need.
“I teach a 14-year-old in Virginia, I just started with her three months ago, and she has cerebral palsy. I have a blind student in England. She’s in a wheelchair and she can only use her right hand,” she said.
For Pitts, it was just the convenience of it.
“You know, you can live out in the middle of the boondocks… not that I live in the boondocks, but I had been looking for a teacher for quite a while and all of the sudden, here he was,” she said.
“I really get great enjoyment bringing music into people’s lives who wouldn’t ordinarily think they could play,” Miller said.