"I am a creative and patient teacher. I work hard with my students to help them reach their potential."
Pianist Amy E. Gustafson grew up "all over the South. I moved every two or three years and lived in places including Atlanta, Baton Rouge, Dallas, and Jackson, Mississippi." Amy's family relocated to Stony Brook, New York when she was a teenager, and she now calls New York City her home. Amy started playing the piano at the young age of three and a half "but I didn't actually get formal lessons until I was eight. My family was given an Acrosonic upright when I was really young. I would go to the instrument, climb up on the bench, and touch the keys. I was fascinated by the beautiful sounds that would come out. I begged and begged for lessons. I kept insisting and finally when I was about eight, I started piano lessons."
Amy describes herself as a "creative and patient teacher. I work hard with my students to help them reach their potential." Believing that every student is different Amy feels "it is important to be sensitive to their individual personalities. Certain students respond better to encouragement while others need more structure." Amy includes a full program of study for her students focusing not only on piano playing, but also theory, ear-training, rhythm exercises, and sight-reading.
Open to teaching children as young as four, Amy works to ensure that "they form good physical habits from the first lesson. I also like to maintain a close professional relationship with their parents as I find a well-informed parent can greatly contribute to a student's success." Amy also enjoys teaching older kids and adults. With older students she focuses on "providing them with a solid musical and technical foundation and offering clear and attainable practice instructions." With adults she stresses repertoire choice, aiming to pick music that the student will take pleasure in playing and practicing.
As a performer, Amy enjoys playing a wide variety of composers, but counts Bach, Schumann, Beethoven, Brahms and Prokofiev among her favorites. She enjoys both chamber music and solo recitals. "The solo repertoire is so large and so incredibly rich that there is always something new to explore. With the excitement of exploration usually comes the desire to share one's discoveries with the public." Two of Amy's biggest influences include two of her teachers, Miyoko Nakaya Lotto and Julian Martin, "both of whom taught me invaluable lessons in piano and life. My husband, Jose Ramon Mendez, also a pianist, is another huge influence in my life." In her free time Amy practices Ying Jow Pai (Eagle Claw) Kung Fu and Tai Chi. She also enjoys reading "mostly biographies, literature, or poetry" and watching movies.