Meet Sue van Wetten – Stoney Creek Piano Teacher

My Piano Journey

I was lucky enough to grow up in a home which had a baby grand piano.  My mother played the piano.  When she would play a Chopin Nocturne, I would lean against the piano and something inside me was fierce to learn to play the piano.  I was five years old.

Alas, she wouldn’t let me start piano lessons until I was nine and a half years old.  She thought I wouldn’t practice!  I participated in a few Kiwanis festivals, and recitals with my piano teacher’s studio.  Piano meant so much to me that when my teacher, Vincent O’Kane, stopped teaching in Mississauga and started teaching at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Etobicoke, I  travelled an hour and a half (three buses) each way to go to piano lessons.  Ten years after starting lessons, I started my ARCT in Piano Performance, and completed it in ten months—with first class honours. I started a Bachelor of Music at University of Toronto (five one hour classes for one credit of theory!, I was crazy) (music component was finished, just had two credits left (sigh)).  Don’t ask me to teach music history, okay?

What I’ve Learned Over 25 Years of Teaching Piano

When I first started teaching piano, I adhered to the Royal Conservatory of Music’s (RCM) curriculum, with the occasional popular music piece added for interest.  Twenty-five years later, I teach most of my students both popular music and easy/intermediate versions of well-known classical pieces they know and love.  I also supplement with absolutely fantastic music from a variety of composers.  Realistically, most students only take piano lessons for a couple of years.   This way, even if they leave after a few years, they take a love of music with them and a repertoire of pieces that will mean something to them.

What Makes Me Different from Other Piano Teachers

  • I have a love and passion for music and the piano.  But I bet that’s what many teachers say.

  • I respect and care for my piano students, and have a personal relationship with each one.

  • I don’t stick to one piano book, but will supplement with other books.  pieces and little exercises to add interest and fun.

  • I teach my students how to practice.

  • I teach my students how to count, and explain why it is important.

  • I teach students to read by interval, what I call ‘looking ahead’, not by F A C E, etc.

  • I teach students how to think and problem-solve.  They learn to evaluate their own playing, and how to target, assess and fix problems.

  • I encourage my students to give me their best.  If they don’t, as one mother said, I push, push, push!

  • I teach current, popular piano pieces and easy/intermediate versions of well-known classical music.

  • I will research, purchase and help my students play the type of music they want to learn (for example, classic rock, Christian, Star Wars, musicals).

  • I give little exercises which give students the understanding of harmony.

  • I’m personable, patient, flexible and kind.

  • I listen to my students and value what they say.

  • I ask most of my students to memorize some pieces, so they always have music in their back pocket.  There is nothing more embarrassing than telling someone you play piano, that person asking you to play, and you saying “I don’t have my music”!

  • I review note names in a fun way!  Bean bag toss, anyone?  Fishing game?  Frog hopping?

  • I have a holistic approach towards all elements of learning – which includes theory games!

  • I don’t teach to an exam.

  • I give my students the  freedom to enjoy piano.

  • I tailor my lessons to the student, not a program – my lessons are highly customized

If you’d like to see my studio or ask me some questions, you can get in touch here.