Thinking of Taking Piano Lessons? Here are Some Insights From the Owner of an Upper West Side Studio

I recently spoke with composer and pianist Alexander Barsov about his company, NY Piano School, which he brought to NYC at the beginning of 2020. Barsov and his instructors – all conservatory or university trained with years of experience teaching both kids and adults – provide lessons at their Upper West Side studio located at 37 West 65th Street (between Columbus Ave and Central Park) and can also arrange lessons at your residence.

ny piano school instructors

NY Piano School’s instructors

With clients coming from all backgrounds and ranging in age from 4 to over 80, we wanted to know what questions and concerns prospective new clients most frequently bring up. Here are their questions – followed by Barsov’s answers:

Why should I consider taking piano lessons?
It’s a beautiful escape from the stresses of work; an awesome social activity (specifically for anyone who wants to play chamber music); and you get to experience making music, rather than just listening to it, which is extremely rewarding.

Do I need to know how to read music before I start piano lessons?
Absolutely not.

What can I expect in my first piano lesson?
You will get to know your instructor and he or she will get a sense of your interests, goals and needs so they can tailor your lessons accordingly.

In the case of children: the instructor will meet them, gauge their current experience and needs and go from there. It’s the same process for complete beginners, but in that case, the instructor will start introducing the child to the piano: to the concept that when you touch the keys you are drawing the sound out of the instrument….you are literally creating a sound. A living sound. They will usually start playing at least simple melodies during the first few lessons to show them the very basics of a healthy technique.

Are there advanced courses or certifications available?
We’re very happy to work with advanced level students as well as complete beginners. We can help prepare students for Royal Conservatory certification as well as any other program a student has an interest in exploring.

Can I learn about music theory and composition during my piano lessons?
Yes, absolutely. Music theory is an important part of understanding how music works on the structural level. We include basic theory in lessons by default, but if a student has a specific interest in the topic we can go as deep as the student’s interest allows. We’re also happy to work with students on composition and songwriting.

Are there opportunities for performance, like recitals or exams?
Absolutely. Performances take place at least twice a year. We’re also considering an option for adults, where a handful of adult students could have a sort of social hour where they’d meet as a group with one of our instructors, play for each other and give each other feedback. Just a way to have a good time in a super casual and social environment.

What kind of music will I learn to play? Can I choose the genre?
Yes. We are classically trained and we can work with music of any genre, from pop to classical to jazz, even Latin at this point.

To learn more about NY Piano School and to schedule an appointment, please visit

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