Peter Dickson Lopez


  • Not only is he enormously talented and endlessly patient but also and above all contagiously enthusiastic when it comes to music.
  • Dr. Lopez is wonderfully friendly, witty, sincere and a caring human being. His personality is delightful. He is sensitive, flexible, respectful and admired by parents, students, and peers.
  • He developed a great rapport with the students and with the parents. The students showed excellent progress under his direction.
  • He is a very progressive, patient, and effective teacher that the kids enjoy.
  • [Peter] has been extremely patient with [our daughter]. She only has access to practice on a piano every other week and Peter has modified his teachings to accommodate her limitations.
  • My daughter has developed her skills both playing the piano and in terms of the theory side and thoroughly enjoys her lessons with Peter. He goes above and beyond.
  • Peter does not only have an extensive knowledge of music but he also knows how to integrate the theoretical aspect with the practical one.
  • [Peter] is enthusiastic and can pick out the needs of each child quickly. My husband was very impressed with how positive he is with the kids.
  • Mr. Lopez is ... a very accomplished pianist who knows how to translate talent into educating his students. He is also a very understanding and approachable person.
  • Peter really knows how to relate to children, recognize their individual strengths/weaknesses and motivate them in their piano study.
  • Peter is a GREAT TUTOR. He is very patient and knowledgeable.
  • He is a great mentor and really cares and thinks from my perspective.
  • Great Tutor for Finale Keyboard Interfacing and Recording ... (September, 2013)
  • Thank you for all your patience ...
  • We are truly fortunate to have met you ... You are the best!
  • Thank you for being such a supportive teacher ...


Thoughts about teaching, aesthetics, art and the responsible citizen which the composer has grown into over many years of composing, performing and teaching.
From the time I was very young, I somehow knew that my life's work was in music. I had envisioned myself ultimately as being a member of the teaching academy in some university or institution of "higher" learning. As much as I tried to pursue that path, the vicissitudes of life guided me along a different way. Being shut out of jobs, passed over by others, trivialized for not fitting into any "school of composition", disrespected because my foundational aesthetic challenged accepted dogma, or simply not taken seriously because of my gentle nature, has liberated me from the misguided notion that teaching in colleges, universities or any school of music for that matter, is the ultimate talisman of achievement. I share my thoughts on teaching here to describe the path not taken that I actually took!

Published on Sunday, August 31, 2014

How long should I practice?

Practice strategies

Parents and students often ask, "How many times do I repeat a section, phrase, group of measures, or other music element(s) when practicing?  How long should I (my son/daughter) practice?"

The Role Of Repetition In Practice

My standard reply is that It is not the quantity of repetition, but the quality of repetition that is important.  Students should strive to develop focused concentration during practice rather than on merely repeating something "X" number of times.

This is indeed a good and critical question as it relates to practice habits and how best to practice.  I spend much of lesson time focused on just this topic, even though it may not seem like it, and so as a practical matter the question answers itself by observing how I work with students during the lesson.

The short answer is, "It is not the quantity but the quality of repetition".  I actually prefer to use the phrase "focused concentration" rather than repetition, and the reason for this is that repetition in and of itself can become mindless and counterproductive.  What is really required is active listening while practicing, self-critique in real time, and immediate intervention when things don't go right or when things just aren't "good enough".  This is my approach to teaching and practicing and is almost an art in itself that I have developed for myself over many years and which a student can only develop over time.

Parents who sit in on my lessons will observe that I don't just "cover or explain" material that the student is required to learn and practice on his/her own for the next lesson, but that I actively engage in a real "practice" session with the student.  It is important for each student to take this process home so they can begin to follow the lesson example of how to practice.  In fact, this is a critical part of the lesson.

I can't stress the importance of good practice habits too much.  The greatest time killer and inefficiency in learning piano is developing bad habits such as ignoring "lessons learned" during the lesson.  Such bad habits will always result in learning a piece "the wrong way", whether it be rhythm, fingering, notes, or whatever.  When this happens, we need to take time to "unlearn" before we can get it right, hence the inefficiency.

For young learners, a certain amount of such required "unlearning" is inevitable, and this is why a two lesson per week schedule is always preferable.  More frequent and consistent reinforcement of the "lessons learned" provides a hedge of protection against the development of bad habits, helps to minimize the hidden cost of time needed to "unlearn", and actually speeds up the learning process.
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