Leila J Viss MA
Teacher Pianist Organist Author Presenter
Hi, I’m Leila Viss and enjoy teaching piano to around 25 students ranging in age from 6 to 89. I am drawn to discovering innovative teaching tools and successful practice strategies to encourage the average player to stick to the bench for a lifetime. Customizing lessons to suit each student is a priority and therefore I offer blended instruction in classical, jazz, pop, improvisation and composition. The ever-changing tools of technology assist me in my daily teaching. Every student not only has a private lesson but a lab session as well. Lab assignments include activities using the latest music software, MIDI, iPad apps, a Clavinova and more.
After receiving a BA degree in Piano and Organ from Dordt College in Sioux Center, Iowa, I married my husband (of 26 years), moved to Denver and received a masters in Piano Performance and Pedagogy from the University of Denver.
While maintaining a studio, I ventured into teaching keyboard classes in a nearby school district for 2nd-8th grade students for four years. Although those were the most challenging years of teaching I ever experienced, it was pleasing to know that the federally funded program brought the piano (keyboard) to many kiddos who would have never even met Middle C without this opportunity.
I’ve settled back into building a larger studio and continue to diligently plan effective ways to make piano playing and creative music making a reality for any student. In 2012, I decided to try my hand at blogging and have found a new “love” at 88pianokeys.me.
My fascination with the iPad and apps resulted in the book The iPad Piano Studio: Keys to Unlocking the Power of Apps. What began as an idea, a nudge and then a reality is now serving as required reading for SMU graduate pedagogy students.
Invited by Pete Jutras, the editor of Clavier Companion, I now pen a column for the piano magazine called “Apps for Teaching.”
I’ve served on planning committees for the MNTA (Music Teachers National Association) 2013 Jazz/Pop Track, the MNTA 2014 Improvisation Track. I was recently appointed chair of the NCKP (National Conference on Keyboard Pedagogy) Creative Pianist Track by Dr. Samuel Holland, Dean, Meadows School of the Arts, Southern Methodist University.
Much of the above activities in the previous paragraph has to do with my good friend and colleague Bradley Sowash–a dynamic jazz pianist, author and educator. He contacted me in 2012 to help him plan the 2013 Jazz/Pop track. Things haven’t stopped since then as we have co-founded 88 Creative Keys. This joint venture features a camp for students and teachers to promote creativity. Our efforts have been coined “The Eye/Ear Revolution.”
In 2017, I accepted the position as the coordinator of the Piano Preparatory Program at the University of Denver. I arrange and teach class and private piano instruction for the Lamont School of Music which serves as a training ground for graduate pedagogy students.
When not teaching, blogging, planning…I am usually practicing the organ and piano for my church position, adjudicating piano and composition competitions, presenting at conferences, exercising, and if there’s any time left, reading a good book (on my iPad, of course). While one son is earning his Ph.D in Math, another is a marine biologist and the youngest son is a business major at Chapman University.
Visit LeilaViss.com to check out my presentation schedule and more. I’d love to meet you in your area!
South Suburban Christian Church
See LeilaViss.com for session descriptions, schedule and availability
Local and state piano festivals for Colorado Federation of Music Clubs
United States International Piano Duo Competition
State, Regional and National composition competition for Federation of Music Clubs
Composition competition for Texas Music Teachers Association
Colorado Music Teachers Association
South Suburban Music Teachers Association
American Guild of Organists
Colorado Federation of Music Clubs
88 Creative Keys Workshops balance eye skills with ear skills so you can enjoy making music in a variety of styles without limitation.