References


Read on for an extensive list of references and testimonials for Evan Mook and the Suzuki Piano School.

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July, 2012

To whom it may concern,

If you are reading this, I assume you are considering having your child work with Evan Mook. ����As parents of three children with more than ten years experience with Evan, we strongly support him; my wife and I would like to share some of our experience with you.

Our general experience is:

1. Evan has been tremendously effective in improving our children’s skills, their theoretical knowledge of music, and their love of music and desire to practice. As an example, within four years Evan had brought our eldest son to where he plays jazz piano professionally, and wants to make music part of his life’s work.

2. We have three very different children (two boys and a girl), with differing ages, skill levels, personalities, and needs – and Evan has been able to “reach” all three of them. As an example, our daughter (the middle child), who had been the most reluctant of the three to practice, has progressed to being lead pianist in her high school jazz band.

3. Evan’s overall influence on our children has been very positive in a number of areas. They, and we, trust him as both a person and a mentor. As an example, we are very cautious to whom we entrust our children in every areas of their lives; we have become completely comfortable leaving our children alone with Evan for lessons, as well as with the conversations/interactions they will have with him.

To summarize, we consider Evan a positive role model. A brief history of our experience with Evan: in 2006, after four+ years of lessons both in Canada and the U.S., we brought our eldest (then twelve-year-old) son to Evan to learn jazz in a last-ditch attempt to keep our son interested in continuing with the piano. After checking out what he had been playing, i.e. not “authentic” classical music, Evan told our son that he would work with him on jazz, but that he was not ready to abandon his classical studies.

To lay the foundation for jazz, Evan introduced our son to authentic classical music; this remained the focus of lessons for the next two years. When our son had progressed sufficiently from a technical standpoint, Evan started him on jazz, including technique, theory, and history. Within a year and a half, our son was a pianist for his high school jazz band; midway through his senior year of high school, our son played his first professional jazz gig at Fellini’s. He will continue his musical studies at UVa this fall, and hopes/plans to make a living in the music industry.

Very soon after our eldest son started, we started our younger children (then ten and eight) with Evan. They had taken several years of lessons from different teachers over the years.

Our daughter stated that four years of lessons with other teachers prepared her to be a beginner with Evan, and questioned why she simply hadn’t begun with him. As noted above, by her sophomore year of high school she was one of two pianists for her high school jazz band; she will be lead pianist this coming year.

In closing, my wife and I are not prone to “gush”. Our experience with Evan, however, has been positive enough, has brought enough to our lives (it is a pleasure to hear all three of our children practice – it is literally like having a jazz concert every day), and he has had a positive enough influence as a person on our children, that we are moved to publicly support him.

If you have questions, or would like to talk further, you can reach us through Evan. In the meantime, warmest wishes for your child(ren)’s success in music.

Sincerely,

Jane and Rick Kulow

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January 17, 2007

To whom it may concern:

Five months ago I contacted Evan to inquire about piano lessons. I explained to him what I perceived as setbacks: I had never played the piano or another instrument, had zero musical theory or reading knowledge, and my age—twenty-four. In fact, I continued, I knew nothing at all about the piano. And furthermore, I did not think I had any sort of natural capacity for the piano. My only strength, I concluded, was my desire to learn it. Instead of the condescending pause or polite refusal I expected, Evan responded, “Great! I love adult beginners! What day’s good for you?”

A month ago I graduated from Volume One of the Suzuki Method and played in my first recital.

People find a way to pay for what they desire. The fee for one lesson approximately parallels one night in town. Learning the piano is the gift I give myself weekly.

Evan’s teaching style is a rare combination of knowledge, passion, patience and humor. From Twinkle Twinkle on forward, I notice that Evan meets me where I am at with thoughtful energy. He tailors each lesson according to his uncanny ability to sense the pace I need to work at that week. Encouraging and challenging, Evan is an irreplaceable asset to any aspiring pianist.

Regards,
Nikki T.

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October 17, 2006

I’m a piano teacher with a Masters in Music from UVA and have been trying to learn jazz piano for about thirty years. I have taken lessons from all the great local jazz teachers – Art Wheeler, John D’Earth, Bob Benetta, Bob Hallahan, Butch Davis – and gotten a lot of great information and feedback from all of them.

Still, I couldn’t seem to break through from having all the theoretical knowledge in my head to having the ability to improvise over chord changes in my hands. I had been stuck at that point for years. I just couldn’t seem to make it sound like jazz.

Evan has really turned that around for me, and I’m starting to produce things that actually sound like solos. He has straightened me out on some harmonic errors that I didn’t know I was making, given me some great help on making my improvisations sound like jazz, and just encouraged me greatly and made me feel like it was possible for me to succeed at this after all these years.

I couldn’t recommend him more highly.

Kathleen M.

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September 6, 2006

To all potential students and/or parents:

In December, 2005, Evan played the piano for our annual corporate Christmas party. All were enthralled by the beautiful classical, jazz, and seasonal melodies.

Months later, Evan began giving piano instructions to our 7 year old daughter. Elle is gifted musically, but is challenging to teach. Evan has helped her to focus, concentrate on details and learn the merits of hard work. In lieu of simply playing notes, he has taught Elle to use various musical dynamics to play each song beautifully.

Learning to read music is very difficult for certain children and Evan has patiently and consistently helped Elle to work through this confusing dilemma. Elle enjoys working with Evan even though he constantly challenges her to extend and improve herself.

Always very professional, Evan draws from a wealth of musical education and performance experiences. He is creative in his teaching approaches while working within the basic Suzuki method. Working within individual strengths and weaknesses allows students to progress more rapidly and enhances self-esteem. Recitals and performances provide opportunities for students to grow and shine. And a planned website with live performances will allow yet another method to share music.

We believe in our daughter’s musical talent and feel that music will play an important role in her future. We also believe that Evan is the teacher who will unlock the mysteries of music and expand her melodic horizons.

Chris and Connie Z.

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7/31/2011

To Whom It May Concern –

I am writing this letter to share my experience with Evan Mook, both as an accompanist and a piano teacher.

My first experience working with Evan was in high school, and he was already a virtuoso then. I was heavily into acting and musicals, and he led the band for three different, large, shows where I had a lead role in each. During the run of each of these shows, we spent several hours together each day rehearsing. While some other kids goofed around a lot, I was pretty serious about Musical Theatre, and so was Evan. If you are going to do it, do it well.

Evan’s professionalism was obvious even then, and his skill and natural talent was also evident in his ability to listen to the needs of the actor, make necessary adaptations, and communicate those adaptations clearly to his band. In these situations, the band is the actors’ net, and Evan was a fantastic support to have in the pit. Confidence that I didn’t have to concern myself with that aspect of the show enabled me to truly commit to what I was doing onstage. For a Musical Theatre performer, this is priceless.

Upon graduation, I went on to Richmond to earn a BFA in Acting and Directing at Virginia Commonwealth University. I stayed there for many years. When I decided that it was time to take some piano lessons, I did not seek a local teacher because I wanted the best. This is why I traveled from Richmond to Charlottesville on a weekly basis to study with Evan. These lessons were to the point, well-explained, and most definitely worth the trip. His teaching style combines an acute understanding of the science of music, those succinct communication skills, and a sense of humor that makes a teacher great. I will never be a fantastic piano player, but the investment was just what I needed at that time in my life.

Last year I moved back to Charlottesville with my 16 year old son, Dolan. Dolan was just inducted into the Tri-M Society, an honorary group designed for Modern Music Masters. He is proficient in guitar and bass already, and has a great handle on the basics for piano as his dad is classically trained. When Dolan expressed an interest in classical and formal training in piano for himself, we went directly to Evan.

Evan and Dolan have been in communication over the past couple weeks, and are on their way to setting up a schedule so that Dolan can learn from the best, too. I would not send my talented young son to anyone��else, and feel fortunate that seeking training with Evan will not require a commute this time – just a quick drive down to the Mall.

I would, without reservation, enthusiastically recommend Evan to anyone wanting to have a fun and challenging musical experience.

Should you like any clarification, or want to speak further about this, please feel free to call me directly at 804 484 0367 or email me at shannon@shannonharrington.com.

Sincerely,

Shannon Harrington

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8/6/11

In 1967, I first heard John Coltrane’s My Favorite Things; I marveled at how he played the tune, took me on a wonderful musical journey and still wound up back on the original melody. How did he know what to play? How did it all sound so good? How did the group stay together musically?

So I began a very long and winding road to answer these questions. I could make pretty good sounds on my instrument (clarinet), but I had no idea what to play. What notes work in what contexts? Why does one phrase sound right and another not? I purchased many books on jazz improvisation and theory. Over the next few decades, I progressed very slowly. Based on results, I probably should have been very discouraged. I spent many hours with my classical etudes and drills. Mistakenly, I thought if I learned to play these drills better then I would be able to solve the riddle of improvisation. Of course, I became better at doing my drills, but still had a very fuzzy idea about what and how to practice in order to improvise.

Several years ago, I began taking lessons in jazz improvisation from Evan Mook. Finally, I learned what and how to practice. A student cannot progress without this knowledge. I made more progress in two years with Evan than in decades muddling around on my own. I learned a ton about harmony. Each chord implies various scales and tones from which the improviser may choose to build his/her solo. Gradually, I learned to hear these chord changes and to construct my solos over them. Of course, at first I often got lost – sometimes after only one or two measures.

It is quite challenging to play something and to simultaneously hear where the music is going. Evan would keep me on the straight and narrow. When I strayed, he brought me back. With his help, I made steady improvement. This is an invaluable gift.

So how do the great ones go on their masterful journeys and still wind up in the right place? They don’t get lost; but stay together rhythmically and harmonically. A dedicated student with excellent instruction can learn to do the same thing. Evan provided that excellent instruction for me. He can do the same for you. I highly recommend his service. You’ll be glad you did.

Tom

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January 14, 2005
434.977.2629
lois@vytc.com

To Whom It May Concern:

We are writing to recommend Evan Mook as a piano teacher. Our daughter has been taking lessons from Evan since last March and we are extremely pleased with her progress and Evan’s performance as a teacher. Geneva began lessons with a good ear for music, but no practical experience with any instrument, including the piano. In less than one year she is almost through the Suzuki Volume One book, beginning to learn music theory and playing amazing music. We feel strongly that Evan’s teaching is a critical part of her success.

Evan has made a substantial effort to understand how our daughter learns and has tailored his instruction accordingly. He has been patient and works slowly when new music or ideas are challenging and has good instincts about when to push forward for improvement and progress. This is with a 7-year-old who thinks the world of Evan but has a definite tendency to be easily overwhelmed and frustrated by challenge. It is not always an easy job.

Lastly, Evan demonstrates and communicates a love for music and the piano that is important to us, but even more important as an example for his students. Learning from Evan has helped to shape our daughter’s appreciation of music in a fundamental way – something she’ll have and use always.

We would be happy to answer any additional questions about our experience with Evan’s teaching and can be reached at the telephone and email address above.

Lois W.

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The previous references are from adult students or parents. The following is an excerpt from a paper a 12-year-old wrote in the spring of 2012 for school. The assignment was to write about five people who have made a difference in his life. The other four were his mom, his dad, his church leaders, and his best friend.

My piano teacher, Evan Mook, has pushed me to do things I never thought I would be able to do. I have been with him since second grade. He has been hard on me and at one point I stopped taking lessons from him and switched to another teacher that was easier on me. But she did not push me. She just gave me music. I realized that I needed that toughness on me if I wanted to improve, so I switched back over to Mr. Mook. Now I appreciate his hardness because I now see that it can help me become a better piano player. Even when I think I can’t learn a song or section, he pushes me, harder and harder until I get it right. In other words, he’s persistent and it has rubbed off on me. At the end of a couple of lessons I have learned and mastered a great piece and am happy to perform it. For example, this year I was learning the song “Drops of Jupiter” by Train. When I first looked at the music I immediately said, “This looks way too hard.” He looked at me incredulously and said, “Out of all the hard classical pieces you’ve done, you look at a popular piece, which is much easier than the classical you have been learning, and without even trying to play it, you say I can’t do it? I bet in four lessons you will have it down pat.” I hate to say it, but he was right. After just a few lessons, I could play it with my eyes closed and backwards. Though sometimes we poke and prod at each other and I get frustrated, my piano teacher has taught me the perseverance needed to reach the top of my skill level.

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