About

The Belmont Piano Teachers

Michal Harris
Owner
Piano Instructor

Biography

Michal Grace Harris is the owner of and piano instructor at the Belmont Piano Academy located near Boston, MA. She received her masters degree in piano performance from the University of Michigan and currently resides with her husband in Boston.

As a member of MTNA (Music Teachers National Association) and NEPTA (New England Piano Teachers' Association), Michal has been teaching private piano lessons for over fifteen years and is thrilled to be able to pass along her love of music to her piano students. She is particularly passionate about helping all her students learn to develop healthy technical habits at the piano. She has several students who have competed and won first place prizes in the American Guild of Music. From beginner to advanced level young pianists, Michal believes that there is always a solution for every technical and musical problem, and thrives on helping students find those creative solutions.

Teaching Philosophy

My goal as a classical piano teacher is to equip my students with all of the tools they need to be independent learners, as well as technically accurate and creative musicians.

I believe my role as a teacher is to aid each student in getting to this place of independence, and then stand to the side, offering professional input to help guide them further. Every student should be able to read, understand, and eventually musically interpret for themselves the piano score in front of them. Though I do believe there is some place for rote learning in music education, it should never be the primary means of learning.

Technical accuracy is not only aesthetically necessary in classical music, it is also bi-product of healthy body movement. I spent several years in my late teens and early twenties debilitated by crippling tendinitis in both of my arms as a result of unhealthy piano playing. For years afterwards, I studied how my body moved naturally at the piano, experimenting with arm weight and proper alignment and posture at the keyboard. I worked extensively on muscular retraining with my private piano teacher at the University of Southern Maine, Laura Kargul, and somatic integration therapy with Craig Williamson (MSOT). I have also studied Alexander technique and therapeutic belly dance. All of these techniques opened the door to healthy, more accurate and beautiful playing, and I am still making more discoveries - our bodies are so wonderfully designed!

Every one of us is creative by nature. We will never play the same way, or sound the same way. As a classical musician, I am trained to follow the composer's creative direction in the piece in front of me - but within those boundaries I find the freedom to have a distinct sound. By providing the learning tools they need and helping each student discover technical freedom, I believe it is possible for each musician to unleash their own unique musical voice.

Claudia Tomsa
Piano Instructor

Biography

Claudia Tomsa has been a professional piano instructor for over twelve years to students of all ages and levels. She has been affiliated with several schools including The Community School for Music and Arts in Ithaca, Metropolitan Academy and Arts in Motion in Seattle, as well as The Play School for Music and Arts in Romania. Claudia was born and spent her early years in Romania where she studied with Stela Dragulin at Transilvania University. She came to the United States to attend the Walnut Hill School for the Arts in Massachusetts with a full scholarship. After receiving a Bachelor of Music degree from Ithaca College, she earned her Masters in piano performance at the University of Southern Maine. Her teachers include Sylvia Chambless, Read Gainsford, Phiroze Mehta and Laura Kargul.

Along with appearing in solo recitals in the US and Romania, Claudia has shared the stage with both vocalists and instrumentalists. Her experience in the field of collaborative piano has won her an assistantship in accompanying and vocal coaching at USM as well as a collaborative artist position at the Aspen Music Festival in 2005. Claudia has also played in master classes with artists including Margot Garret, Richard Hundley, Michael Tree, Ani Kavafian and YoYo Ma.

Teaching Philosophy

Claudia believes that learning to play the piano cultivates and promotes significant life skills such as determination, discipline, and perseverance. Most importantly, she considers piano to be a skill that anyone can attempt regardless of talent level.

Her goal is to nurture the love of music in each student while using the study of piano as an enjoyable means to experience it.