Mrs. Whelan took me under her wing when I was in 6th grade, and ever since, she has been my teacher, mentor, friend and inspiration.
Over the years, Mrs. Whelan has redefined my perspective of and purpose for playing the piano. The first question she ever asked me was: "Why do you play piano?" I remember this moment so well because I was unable to answer, in part because I was shy but more so because I had previously only known practicing piano for auditions and competitions and not for the sake of playing an instrument I enjoy. Mrs. Whelan changed this for me. She taught me to view practice and lessons as an "investment", not as a means to reach a short term goal; and since, I have come to love playing the piano more and more.
She is unlike any other piano instructor and has her own special teaching style. She doesn't simply sit, listen to us play and then offer her advice afterward; she is completely engaged in the music. And, she always engages us too! She will enthusiastically conducts us through the piece or sings the notes to make us focus on melody and harmony or even impersonate people and act out her interpretations of the music, all too help us understand what we play and why we play it a certain way.
There is hardly a dull moment during our lessons together and as a senior, I know for certain that I will miss my weekly hour piano lesson. However, thanks to Mrs. Whelan, I will definitely continue to practice and play the piano whenever I can...to fulfill the investment I have made with her.
~Karen Chi (18)
Thank you for everything you've done for me these past 7 years. You've taught me so much, not only about piano, but about having a greater appreciation for music and little lessons of life. I'll treasure you as a teacher and a friend!
~Jennifer Zhang (17)
I am thankful for every day that I have spent as your student. I can't believe that it has been 11 years! Not only have you been an amazing piano teacher, but you have also taught me valuable life lessons and have made me a more confident person. I will always remember what I have learned from you throughout me life.
~Kathie Guo (18)
Thank you for a wonderful year of piano lessons for Valerie. Your teaching is effective and fun. We enjoy your warmth and sense of humor!
~Elaine (mother of Valerie (14)
Thank you so much for an awesome four years! You have helped me expand my musical horizons and pick up new talents that I never thought I had. I could not be the piano player I am today without your help!
~Matt Barickman (18)
These past 10 years have flown by way, way, way too fast and looking back, I am amazed by all that you have helped me accomplish at the piano: from starting with theory to the endless "Kohler" warm-ups, to playing your beautiful, magical and unforgettable piece, "The Gift". All I can say is that by ending my piano chapter with that piece, it emphasizes over and over how much of a gift it was to have you as a teacher through all these years.
Personally, you have not only been a teacher in music, but also an amazing mentor in life. You have shown me, taught me and proven to me, time and time again, that in life, you have to do what makes you happy and chase what you love. You have also taught me that everyone is different, so I always try to do the very best that I can do and finding something that makes me happy always leads me to my little sanctuary... the piano.
~Leah Levy (18)
How can I describe your teaching style !!!!
Through all these years ( almost 10 ) you have taught Leah the skills in order for her to discover MUSIC.., you have given her the tools to be able to master piano pieces but also, and what is the most important for me, she has learned how to listen to herself, to be able to appreciate her own interpretation on a piece after being guided by you. For us your relationship with Leah wasn't just a piano teacher and her student, you have given her self confidence about what she could accomplish ( from winning a piano competition and being scared to perform) to enjoying playing in front of total strangers and you have given her the gift of enjoying music and using it in her own emotional development.
You also have guided Leah to all different forms of music from classical to more contemporary and even introduced her to composition which allowed her to win this past year at Carnegie Hall.
~Anne Levy (mother of Leah)
Thank you for all of your teaching and guidance this year. I really enjoyed learning improvisation and performing the duet. I am looking forward to composing with you next year!
~Sonia P. (15)
Thank you so much for helping me get into Carnegie Hall. I've enjoyed every lesson and I will always love piano. You taught me so much, from the basics of how to practice to the best ways to incorporate emotion into my playing. Thank you again for being such a wonderful teacher!
~Cherlin Z. (16)
The years we've spent together have been completely worthwhile. Thank you for putting passion, humor and kindness into each lesson. You are truly amazing!
~Maylin Z. (14)
Mrs. Danette, I still can't believe that I got Distinction, ( for ABRSM) but more that that, being your student has really helped me discover music. Every time that I thought a piece was perfect, you took it to a whole new level. For the first time, my pieces never got boring. I now see how music can mean so much, and have so many layers to it that one can never know enough. The fugue was just a bunch of notes that sounded good together until you helped me transform it into something truly magical. I've grown so much over the past six months, learning from you.
Thank you for redefining music for me.
~Arshia A. (13)
Thank you for another successful year of piano and for teaching me how to be creative and writing my own pieces. Playing at Carnegie Hall is a privilege and I will always be grateful to you for helping me get there. You have taught me so much and I look forward to playing even better next year!
~Nicole C. (14)
Thank you, Danette, for all that you did for Catherine to be successful at the piano. We are so pleased with her progress in her playing. You gave her such great guidance, encouragement and inspiration! You have a gift in both teaching and composing!
~Linda Metcalfe (mother of Catherine (18)
Thank you for believing in me. Thank you for showing me that it's okay to make mistakes and we all learn from them. Thank you for teaching me to think more creatively and outside the box. Thank you for each and every lesson we had together and teaching me more than music - but how to mature and survive in the real world, as well as find peace. Thanks for everything! It's been an honor being your student.
~Edward Cai (18)
Thank you for all you have done for Mary in the past few years. Because of your vision and passion for music and your ability to communicate this to your students, Mary is playing at Carnegie Hall tomorrow! Of course, we are very proud of Mary’s diligence and hard work. Under your tutelage, she has really made the most of her talents. You have helped her to develop her interpretative and expressive gifts and this has helped her to mature not only as a musician, but also as a person.
We congratulate you on the beautiful arrangement of, “Be Thou My Vision”. It has alway been one of my favorite hymns and I know we will enjoy hearing it through the years to come. It will have a special place in our family traditions!
~Arlene and Peter Peregrin (parents of Mary) 2002
Thank you so much for your piece, “Cool Gus”, and your kindness in dedicating it to Gus. It was beautifully written and the audience (and we) loved it!
~Carol and Gus Ferri (co-founders of the Piano Teachers Society of America) 2014