Simon Karakulidi

Detailed Lessons Description


I am a concert pianist currently living in Germany. I am proud to have more than 20 awards from international piano competitions. If you want to read my artistic bio and read about the awards, and hear me play,please check my website: I am originally from Russia, and for the last two years I have lived in Europe. I am back in the states starting Fall 2024.

Here is my story: I started out as a jazz pianist but began dedicating myself to classical music around the age of 14. Two years later I was accepted to the prestigious Central Music School at the Moscow Conservatory. I lived in Russia until the age of 18, and even back then I had major success in international piano competitions. I moved to the US to study with a Van Cliburn Gold medalist under a full scholarship at Park University. I later got my Master’s in piano performance at Yale University. While in the US, I played all over the country and won close to ten international piano competitions. During the past two years I have lived in Germany, where I tried to absorb as much experience as possible about the German piano tradition. I am a U.S. green card holder now.

Here is why you should choose me over other teachers:

- I am a concert pianist and I have direct experience with preparing for high-pressure events (concerts and competitions). I’ve played with many orchestras all over Europe, the US, and Russia. “Those who can - do, whose can’t - teach” does not apply in my case. Check my website or YouTube to hear me play. I am still at the beginning of my performing career, and I am equally passionate about teaching and performance.

- I had a late start in piano, and that gives me an advantage as a teacher because I learned how to overcome very difficult problems. I am ECSTATIC about teaching piano because I recognize in every student myself somewhere along my path. The idea that I might be saving someone ten years of wasted practice time is exhilarating to me.

- I care deeply about every student and I will try a dozen different strategies to solve whatever problem you may encounter. Yet the problem will be solved or I will quit my job! :)

- I am not going to pretend that I have any super-complicated methods of teaching piano, and, frankly, I don’t have much faith in them. The highest-quality instruction you can possibly get is very simple, and the key is to be able to break down any issue into small chunks and solve the problem at its root.

- I am not a guru, and have no interest in becoming one – and insisting that my students play every piece “my” way or make my students dependent on me. I can, though, help you find your true voice on the instrument. I want you to get so good that you eventually can do away with piano lessons.

- I will approach your development holistically. We will focus on whatever interests you, yet I will try to gently expand your horizons. I love discussing with my students various recordings and pianists. We will interject bits of music theory here and there ONLY to help you memorize the piece (if you want) or to make you understand the logic of the composition better.

- I have been trained within the most prestigious schools in Russia (including the Central Music School at the Moscow Conservatory), Germany (Frankfurt Musik Hochschule), and America (Yale University). That gives me a very broad view of piano technique, repertoire,and performance.

- I will not give you an “amateur” treatment. I will treat you as a concert pianist with things getting in your way. It doesn’t mean, though, that I will set the bar too high and expect you to get there in one lesson. We will go one step at a time, and no problem will be left unsolved.

- I am available for lessons in person or online. If you are taking online lessons, I will implement adjustments that will compensate for the inevitable lack of emotional connection through Zoom. They can also be recorded if you like. I will ask you to send me video recordings of your playing so that we can discuss it together, and I will write for you detailed practice instructions and lesson summaries.

Here is what you will learn with me:

- how to approach the piece immediately, in an unintimidating way. I will show you how to learn and memorize music quickly and painlessly.

- how to feel comfortable at the keyboard. You need to know the basics of technique to feel at home. Knowing how to coordinate your fingers, wrist, elbow, shoulders and neck is crucial if you want to play effortlessly.

- how to make the music make sense for your brain and to learn to think in phrases rather than individual notes.

- how not to sound mechanical and to make the piano sing. Even if you have the best technique in the world, I still don’t want you to sound like a machine gun. There are many wonderful pianists in the world, but we only want to listen to those who touch us.

- how to interpret the music, whatever it is. Just as one example, two of my teachers are musical great grandchildren of L.V. Beethoven. We can discuss everything, including markings in the score.

- discriminating use of the pedal. Pedal is the soul of the piano. Sometimes there is just one way to get from a 9/10 pianist to a 10/10 pianist - to learn to use 1/2, 1/4, 1/8, and vibrato pedaling. Very few students get to that level, but if you persevere, I will be delighted to talk about those high matters.

My strategy is to teach you to practice as efficiently as possible. Most people are wasting their time practicing the instrument, then get frustrated and eventually abandon it. I will show you how to make your practicing meaningful. The goal is to make it easier and more enjoyable, not harder. I would describe my approach as hands-on, but I am willing to give students as much freedom as they choose. I often ask my students to send me a video recording of their performance so that we can track progress and discuss our goals and objectives together. I send a detailed lesson summary and practice instructions at the end of every lesson. I try to be polite but straightforward.

My job is to encourage you but also be clear about what is getting in your way. I am a perfectionist and encourage my students to push the bar as high as is possible at the moment.

Although I have experience as a jazz pianist, my formal training is as a classical pianist and I prefer to offer only classical music lessons, yet the repertoire can range from early baroque to the most recent contemporary.


Wishing you my musical best,