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My name is Issei (pronounced E-Say) - I am a recent graduate of Juilliard and am based in Brooklyn, New York City. I have been teaching the cello since age 11, when my middle school orchestra teacher asked me to work with a younger student as a “practice helper”. Over the years, I have developed a strong passion for teaching - it gives me great joy to unlock an outlet of expression for students of all ages, through the timeless beauty of the cello. My teaching has taken me all over the world - to conservatories in China, universities across the USA, all over NYC, and online.
I balance my teaching work with an active solo cello career - I am interested in cross-genre collaboration, improvisation, and interdisciplinary experiences. You can learn more about my performing and artistic projects here (link to website).
My aim is to instill and impart a love for music that can last a lifetime - laid down by a solid technical foundation, and developed and nourished through constant musical inspiration and exploration. I do not follow a particular “method”, but rather tailor materials based on the needs and interests of each student. A few examples:
An adult student with a passion for composition; we learn the foundations of the cello through her own music, as well as arrangements of songs that she is passionate about.
A middle school student; we follow the Suzuki cello books, as he gets excited by completing pieces and looks forward to finishing each book.
A four-year old child; we improvise pieces each week together, based on the movies and TV shows that she enjoys. Her lessons combine composing, discovery of the sounds of the cello, as well as a technical foundation. We build her musical “toolkit” bit by bit, each week.
Credentials // Why Me?
I have many years of teaching experience, working with students of all ages (3-60+).
I am a graduate of The Juilliard School, where I received both Bachelor and Master of Music degrees.
I have given cello masterclasses at the Xinghai Conservatory of Music (Guangzhou, China); chamber music masterclasses and workshops at Cornell University, Manhattan School of Music, and Stony Brook University, amongst many others.
I have taught chamber music at Juilliard Pre-College, and group cello classes at St. Ann’s School in Brooklyn.
I am a former faculty member of the WHIN Music Project, a branch of El Sistema.
My younger students (elementary-high school) have received perfect scores in NYSSMA and comparable exams.
I am friendly! :) I prefer to think of myself as your cello-playing friend. I am never “professorial” or dogmatic - I am only strict when I need to be!
Private Lesson Rates (In-Person and Online)
My session rates are reflective of the years of study and dedication that I have put into my work, as well as my time. Teaching is an extension of my artistry - please do not contact me requesting different rates; my fees are non-negotiable.
I host lessons at my studio in Brooklyn, as well as online lessons. I often suggest online/in-person hybrids for those who live far away from me.
I also can give lessons in your home! I will charge a transportation fee of up to $25 based on travel time to a client. My travel quotes are non-negotiable, and are based on transportation fees and amount of travel time.
Students usually pay lesson-by-lesson, however monthly payments can also be accepted if convenient; unfortunately I do not offer package discounts. Cash is always preferred, however Venmo and QuickPay will also be accepted. Payments must be made PRIOR to any lessons.
Group lessons are great for students who wish to learn alongside their friends, and can also be more cost-efficient for the individual! I typically recommend group lessons for up to 3 students at a time, and within the same age range/playing level. My group lesson rates are case-by-case; please contact me via my booking form for inquiries.
I organize get-togethers/informal concerts for all of my students, hosted in my studio space in Brooklyn. These will happen 2-3 times throughout the year. I also often organize recording opportunities for online students - I will play along to a piece of your choice as your personal accompanist!
From Gates C, online/in-person adult cello student based in NYC:
Issei introduced me to the beautiful instrument of cello. We worked together for 5 months and finished Suzuki Book 1. Issei is patient, professional, responsive, and flexible. They always made sure that I practiced correctly and developed good habits that would pay dividends in the future. I also requested to learn pieces that I enjoy listening to outside of the book, and Issei was more than happy to help find the music and work thought them. I was always looking forward to our lessons every week. I’d highly recommend Issei if you’re interested in picking up the cello!
From Lia J, parent of a 12 year old online student based in PA:
So far, it has been amazing. Issei has a wealth of knowledge, teaching tools, and patience. My son couldn’t read music last week and Issei sent him a game - now he’s reading notes (slowly but he can read the notes)! Issei also has a calmness about them that is so valuable when your child is frustrated and disappointed in himself. They can definitely “read” the student and pivot to another task when needed and their attention to detail is fantastic. They always assign homework and send fun things to watch and listen. I can’t say enough nice things about Issei.
From Erin C, parent of a 4 year old in-person student based in NYC:
Issei is a wonderful cello teacher, especially with school ages children. They have been working with our daughter for almost a year and are always attentive, creative, and patient with her in teaching the cello. We are thrilled with their approach to music, and cannot recommend them enough!
From Caroline S, online adult student based in NYC:
I began taking beginner cello lessons with Issei about a year ago, and our lessons have quickly become one of my favorite times of the week. As a teacher, Issei is patient, thoughtful, and clear. They have an impressive intuition for how to pace lessons and student progress in general, and have a great sense for when it’s time to add a new skill or work on an older skill from a different angle.
Issei goes about of their way to tailor lesson material to their students’ interests and to help them keep track of their goals, and I always feel like I have something interesting to work on each week. Their own talent is also an inspiration. I highly recommend lessons with Issei!
From Barbara M, parent of 12 year old online/in-person student based in New Paltz, NY:
Issei taught my child (10-13 age group) for three years, helping her develop the technique required to transition from an early beginner to and early intermediate cellist. They also modeled a type of creative thinking and emotional depth as an artist that I’ve watched her carry into her cello playing and other pursuits like drawing and creative writing.
From Jiawen P, online adult cello student based in NYC:
I have been working with Issei for two years. They are the most talented and professional teacher I can think of. As an adult beginner, I started slow, but they are always patient and responsive with my questions, bad habits, little progress, etc. I’ll continue working with Issei, and highly recommend you try their class.
From Jackie P, parent of 11 year old online student based in NYC:
My daughter is in her third year of study with Issei. They are an exceptional teacher - patient and encouraging while also focusing on details, precision, and expression. She isn’t a “serious” student but Issei has found a way to excite her about playing cello and keep her motivated to continue studying and enjoy making music. Issei would be a wonderful instructor for all levels of musicianship and could certainly challenge experienced musicians to develop further.
From Yuan Y, online/in-person adult student based in NJ:
I am adult cello beginner and had a few teachers before Issei. I really enjoy working with Issei. They are passionate about teaching and communicating their understanding of music. They are very capable of noticing small and subtle details, and pointing out ways that I can improve my sound. They are also very focused on the fundamentals, such as posture, bow angles, contact point, etc, which I really appreciate. Overall - I am very very glad that Issei is my teacher, and I would strongly recommend Issei to any cello players.
Cancellations by students are acceptable, however only 24 hours in advance of a lesson. If you cancel within 24 hours of a lesson, it will be up to me to decide whether or not give a make-up. If I cancel a lesson, I will always offer a make-up time tailored to your schedule.
How do I acquire a cello?
There are budget-friendly and convenient rental services available, which I can recommend upon request. Be sure to consider size of the instrument before acquiring!
Sometimes purchasing a cello can be most financially feasible in the long-term; however, this should be a careful process. I am always happy to help you search for “your cello” - I can recommend luthiers/instrument shops in NYC, and accompany you in-person throughout the process for a flat fee of $100.
What age is appropriate for starting?
While there is no golden answer, it is important to note that private musical lessons take dedication and commitment. For children, a good age to start would be when they show excitement and interest towards music. For adults, it is never too late to start music lessons! I believe music and instrumental skills can be absorbed and enjoyed at any age.
What lesson length would be best?
The lesson length ultimately depends on your learning style - some might prefer to go more in depth and into greater detail during the course of a lesson. I usually will only travel to a student for a 45 minute lesson or longer.
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