James Boyk, 1943–2019, on his teaching philosophy:
I TEACH TECHNIQUE AND INTERPRETATION to serious students from high-intermediate level on up, including pre-professional and professional performers, and other teachers. My studio is in West Los Angeles.
EVERY STUDENT IS unique. One student responds to visual imagery, the next responds to logical instructions almost in the style of a computer program. Both are musical and intelligent! What differs is the style of their intelligences.
Student comment #1:
“Jim’s gift is that he understands that every person learns differently… an unparalleled teacher in my experience.”
I’M A CONCERT AND recording artist who has taught for almost 50 years. I studied piano with Leonid Hambro at California Institute of the Arts (CalArts), Aube Tzerko in Los Angeles, Gregory Tucker at Longy School, Henry Harris and George Lucktenberg at Interlochen, and Elizabeth Gould in my home town, Toledo, Ohio. I also studied music theory with Leonard Stein, who was Schoenberg’s assistant. My degrees are a Master’s in piano from CalArts, 1973; and a 1965 bachelor’s in mathematics from Harvard, cum laude.
I’ve performed professionally since my teens, and my live concert recordings are warmly received in the USA and abroad.
Student comment #2:
“Lessons were a revelation. I never worked like this before. All the images, the ways of learning. A very systematic, broad view of a piece, musically and technically; you know of tools, new tools. You help in laying out the problem and finding the appropriate solution. Not in playing a hundred times the same passage, but in thinking about it.”
AS PIANIST IN RESIDENCE for 30 years at California Institute of Technology (Caltech), in Pasadena, I gave solo and ensemble concerts and more than 800 sessions of Alive! with Music, weekly gatherings of music and talk attended by students, faculty, staff, visiting researchers, members of the local community, and children. I also taught piano to Caltech undergrads, graduate students and faculty members. Along the way, I’ve given clinics for Yamaha’s top 100 North American piano teachers, and served on the faculty of “America’s most prestigious piano festival,” the International Keyboard Institute & Festival, in New York City.
Student comment #3:
“An unforgettable experience. Exceptional richness as artist and teacher, as well as an original approach to music and a powerful capacity to get the best out of those who work with him.”
Student comment #4:
“Wonderfully enthusiastic and effective teacher. While ever eager to convey new and fascinating insights, he would always listen to what I had to say.”
MY BOOK FOR students and teachers, To Hear Ourselves As Others Hear Us, describes simple but powerful techniques for using recording as a tool in practicing and teaching.
Student comment #5:
“If you’ve used his book, ‘To Hear Ourselves As Others Hear Us,’ you’ll realize that the technique it describes, though laughably simple, is astonishingly effective at improving your musical ability.”
MANY MUSIC STUDENTS are also gifted in math and science. Teaching these students is far easier if the teacher knows something of these fields, as I do. Besides my Harvard math degree, I founded the Caltech Music Lab and directed it for 25 years as a faculty member in Electrical Engineering (while also Pianist in Residence). Students came to the Music Lab for the course I invented and taught, “Projects in Music & Science.” Supervising their projects, doing my own research into sound, acting as recording-engineer for the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony Winds, Japan’s Kodo Drummers, and other artists—all this has enormously improved my playing and my teaching.
Student comment #6:
“You really need to stick a notice on your website to the effect that lessons with you are addicting. I can’t imagine going back to ‘old style’ lessons now.”
I MIGHT BE a good teacher for you if you’re looking for piano technique that makes sense in terms of how the piano and the body work. If you expect music interpretation to make sense to both heart and mind. If you want to convey emotion to an audience more intensely. If you’d like to learn to start from a score you’ve never seen or heard, and end up with a performance that’s expressive, physically comfortable, and memorized. And if you want your questions welcomed—and answered.
If I’m not the teacher for you, try this article; it has helped hundreds of people choose a teacher.
Student comment #7:
“His attention to the physicality of playing is far beyond anything I’ve experienced with other teachers. Knows how to think outside the box and tailor lessons to get the most out of his students. Studying with him has been a tremendous inspiration to me.”
  • ”Debussy, Reflets dans l’Eau”]
  • ”Weber, Grand Duo Concertante (clarinet/piano)”]
  • ”Beethoven, Seven Bagatelles, Op. 33″]
  • ”Prokofiev, Sixth Sonata: Finale“]
TEACHING in New York City
  • ”Piano Teaching-Moments”]
  • ”What I Wish I’d Been Taught”]
  • ”A Piano Lesson”]
  • ”For Gifted Young Pianists”]
TEACHING at California Institue of Technology
Student comment #8:
“James is an exceptional piano teacher. In fact, he’s the best teacher I’ve ever had—and I mean of any subject.”