Jan Sarvis

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Jan’s Methodjsarvis

“Art must remind us of human excellence and must have some healing properties.”
-Yehudi Menuhin
You are here because you, or someone you love, wants to play the piano.  For many, this is an intimidating prospect.  How do I go about this?  How do I choose the right teacher?  How long will it take?  The answers (and the questions) are different for everyone, but what unites you is the desire to express yourself through this medium, and enter the world of music.  Welcome!  You have taken the first step!

I am a lifelong musician, student, and teacher.  My musical journey began at the age of five with piano lessons. Later, I earned a Bachelor of Music from Peabody Conservatory and a Master of Music from Holy Names University.  I have taught for forty years, continuing my own study and practice along the way.

For the past fifteen years, I have been studying piano with Barbara Wilkens*, a unique and profoundly great teacher who lives and works in Palo Alto.  With Barbara, I have explored and learned two wonderful bodies of knowledge that have become integral and essential components of my teaching.

The first is called Balance**.  Used in this way, Balance describes a way of learning or re-learning sitting and moving from a natural, centered alignment of bones.  This allows your muscles to be in maximum relaxation.  This is of tremendous importance in playing the piano comfortably and well.

The second is the Taubman Approach, which through careful attention to arm, hand and finger movements provides one with all the tools necessary to interpret the musical score and play the piano with great ease.  Together these two techniques help you, the pianist, to achieve a beautiful tone, develop speed and expression, and allow for a lifetime of comfort in playing no matter when you choose to begin.

My varied education and experience teaching in many different settings enables me to work with a wide range of students.  I have taught both in the classroom and privately over the years.  As a consequence, I feel uniquely qualified to determine where students are in their learning and understanding. It is a joyous process for me to then help them gradually achieve their musical desires.

Also, I work with Barbara to re-train people who are injured, or simply want to learn to play without tension and with great freedom and joy.  All ages are welcome.  I especially enjoy working and playing with people who are returning to the piano and people for whom playing piano is a life long dream.

My goal for my students is to give them the highest quality and most complete musical education that I can in a warm, encouraging, and challenging environment.

A few comments from students:

“Through my daughter’s study of piano with Jan, I began studying myself at the age of forty-eight.  It has been an extraordinary journey.  Jan provides a thoughtful, stimulating and individualized course of study in a very nurturing learning environment.  Her depth of experience in specialized areas of technique and body posture offers a solid foundation for life-long learning.  I am continually amazed by my progress in learning how to read, play, and listen to music.  Jan is the most inspiring teacher I have ever had!”
-Donna Gorman

“Jan is the most wonderful person.  When you take piano lessons from her, you don’t just gain a great piano teacher, you gain a friend.”
-Julia Betchart, sixth grade

“Jan Sarvis is a superb piano teacher.  Not only is she adept at teaching piano skills and technique, but  perhaps more importantly, she has a special gift of being able to connect with her students to inspire them musically and beyond.  Her kind, respectful manner, sense of humor, patience, and interest in her students’ individual learning styles are greatly valued by both my daughter and myself.  We feel so lucky to have found Jan!” -Lori Barak

For more information about Balance and the Taubman Approach, see the following websites:


** http://www.sonomabodybalance.com/  (North Bay: Dana Davis)

** http://www.balancecenter.com/  (Palo Alto HQ: Jean Couch)

“Whether by voice or by instrument, musical performance requires physical control and precision of a high order…In no other subject is a person called upon to make four or five decisions per second and act on them continuously for such stretches of time.  This combination of constant, continuous vigilance and forethought with ever-changing physical responses constitutes an educational experience of unique value.”
Zoltan Kodaly (1882-1967)

Contact Info

(415) 457-7955