Lessons, Consultations and Presentations

Please contact me (Leila Viss) at lviss@me.com if you are interested in a personal consultation, a presentation or piano lessons.  

Remarks from Marie in Nevada after her consultation:

This is so exciting! I can’t stop thinking about all the ideas you shared and probably won’t be able to fall asleep tonight 🙂 I appreciate you taking the time to make notes for me to refer to, and your connections to other teachers will be invaluable.

Remarks from Becky in Illinois after her consultation:

The time spent with you was priceless and so very helpful. You’ve pointed me in the right direction and  have given me new insight into how to make things happen at Songbird Studio. I will most definitely stay in touch and keep you up to date.

I appreciate your time and your willingness to share your knowledge and expertise.

Remarks from Debbie, taking ongoing piano lessons via FaceTime

I first met Leila Viss at the MTNA convention. I was impressed with her energetic and creative teaching style. I decided to attend the 88 creative keys camp that she teaches along with Bradley Sowash. It was a great camp. I got several new ideas. I did not want my learning to stop with the camp week. I decided to continue with Leila. Because we live far apart we discussed my talking lessons with FaceTime. It has worked great. I was a little unsure because I am not very comfortable with computers, but it is very EASY.

I look forward to my lessons with Leila! She is very encouraging, a great motivator and I have learned a lot from her.

Online Piano Lessons

I didn’t believe online piano lessons could work successfully, but they can (see above.) If you are interested in brushing up your technique, need a jump start with improvisation, hoping to compose but need some guidance, looking to update your pedagogical approach or want feedback on your favorite repertoire, let’s meet at the keys. (60 min for $60)

Personal Online Consultation

Are you looking to expand your studio, make more income, find more time for theory, music history, composition, etc? Then consider adding Off-Bench time with your On-Bench instruction (see below to learn more about this format.)

Or, perhaps you know you need to reset your present teaching style and need a boost. Let me help you design a plan and brainstorm fresh ideas to suit your needs.

What does a consultation include?

1) I help you make a plan to reach your ambitions for your studio with innovative, creative and pedagogically sound ideas. In addition, I’ve got some great connections in the world of piano teaching…I could help you with your networking, too.

2) You receive comprehensive notes after the consultation including highlights and links to resources mentioned in our conversation.

3) Included in the notes, you receive a link to a one-hour video in which I provide in-depth instructions on how to begin Off Bench time in your studio.

Individual coaching sessions are $90 for a 60-minutes session held via Skype or Facetime or in my studio.

  • Contact me at lviss@me.com
  • You and I agree on a time for us to meet using Facetime or Skype.
  • You send me a list of questions, concerns–whatever you want to discuss–during our 60-minute session.
  • I prepare answers prior to our meeting.
  • An invoice of $90 is emailed to you prior to the meeting. Credit cards and PayPal payments are accepted.
  • Full payment is due prior to the meeting.
  • We meet at our designated time and I take ample notes.
  • These notes are emailed to you after our meeting.


What is Off-Bench Instruction?

Off Bench Time formerly known as “Music Tech Time” or “lab time” in my studio, is a 15-30 minute sessionIMG_2719 added to a private lesson.

Two students arrive together and while one works with me at the piano for 30 minutes, the other completes assignments on the iPad, worksheets or computer. Then the two students switch.

Advancing high school students spend 45 minutes with me and 15 minutes reviewing concepts with iPad app drills, listening to repertoire or completing theory worksheets.


It would be an honor to present for your group, association or conference. Click here to see my schedule of workshops and clinics. (Fee: Negotiable)

“Viss’ lecture was informative, dynamic, and fun. Participants were engaged from the start. Even though the atmosphere was casual, it was clear that she knew exactly where she wanted to go and how to get there. I was especially interested in how she integrated iPad apps into an active, group learning environment.”

-Dr. Samuel Holland, Dean of Music at the Meadows School of the Arts, Southern Methodist University, where he also has served as Head of the Keyboard Studies and Pedagogy Department.

Session Title #1

Group Improvisation On and Off the Bench

Teaching the blues

Teaching the blues


Learning to improvise can begin in a social setting away from the piano bench. Discover how to engage pianists of any age in dynamic group activities off the bench and how to transfer them to creativity at the keyboard.


Various manipulatives and repurposed items are used to create action-packed fun to spur creativity.

The interactive approach will require audience participation.

At least one (or more) digital keyboard would be preferred.

Tech-savvy tools are used to enhance many activities.

Activities may include one or more of the following:

  • One Note Improv
  • Pachelbel Paint Strips
  • 12-bar Blues
  • Happy Birthday
  • Lead Sheets
  • Cup Dance
  • Paper Plate Dance
  • Baroque Ornaments
  • Body Beat Cards
  • Heart and Soul


  • Appreciation for the importance of integrating creativity into every lesson.
  • Off the bench activities that will develop and enhance student creativity at the keys.
  • Tips for successful keyboard improvisation within a group setting.

Session Title #2

Increase Summer Fun and Income: Let the Games Begin!


Income can dip during the summer months even if your policy requires lessons. A break from the routine can be just the ticket to reinvigorate student learning and teacher earnings. Discover how to customize a Piano Olympic Camp with activities that engage, motivate and meet the needs of your students. 


Every aspect of customizing a Piano Olympics camp is provided:

Finances: how to boost income during summer months and what to charge.

Logistics: how to successfully schedule camps to suit students’ busy summer schedules.

Curriculum: how to develop and modify a curriculum that combines learning and fun for groups of mixed skill levels and ages.

Activities: how to find and implement on-and-off-the-bench activities that engage and reinforce learning.


Resources and inspiration that will equip attendees with tools to invent a camp to suit their studio.

The promise of increased studio income as Piano Olympics leads to higher student retention and may attract new students.

Session Title #3

Teaching the Mobile Generation with Today’s Hottest Apps12227641_1520085918305009_7946332132038695363_n


Learn how the iPad can be an essential tool to bridge the gap between you and the students warming your bench. .


After a humorous look at the unprecedented changes in technology, attendees will discover how to:

Make time to use the iPad in lessons

Secure the top apps for use in and out of lessons

Develop lesson plans and activities using apps to reinforce studio curriculums


Accumulate a list of go-to apps to build a tech-savvy studio.

Discover how to construct time for using the iPad in and outside of lessons.

Secure specific lesson plans designed around apps to enhance your teaching.

Obtain resources for ongoing support.

Session Title #4

Sparking Creativity with Today’s Hottest Apps


Well-balanced musicians are capable of not only reading and playing music but creating it as well. Sparking the musical imaginations of budding composers requires multiple resources, a willingness to explore and a good dose of patience from both the student and teacher. Learn how 21st-century tools can trigger creativity and generate enthusiasm to complete ear-pleasing projects.


The session will cover:

  • Why creativity is important to music instruction.
  • When to include creativity in lessons.
  • How to spur creativity even with the most apprehensive student.
  • The best tech-savvy notation tools for young composers.
  • The dynamic approach to this session will require audience participation.


  • Learn simple ideas for inspiring musical imaginations.
  • See how the latest apps can spark creative juices. 
  • Collect specific lesson plans that transform original student ideas into professional-looking notated master pieces.
  • Discover how to add videos to finished manuscripts with the help of dynamic QR codes.

Session Title #5

Give your Students a Gift that Will Make them the Life of the PartyIMG_2304


Encourage pianists to create their own arrangement of “Happy Birthday to You.” Acquire plans for private and group lessons that equip pianists of all levels to play the traditional tune with style. This process can be easily applied to any other tune.


Specific steps will be discussed on how to teach this tune by ear, guide students through the process of harmonizing the melody and ultimately creating a “keepsake” arrangement that can be pulled out at every birthday. Tips on how to modify this process for every level of student are included.

Audience participation is required and will be rewarded with cake.


  • A sequential series of tactics to teach “Happy Birthday to You” that are appropriate for beginners to advanced players.
  • Lesson plans that offer bite-sized portions to serve and build upon from week to week.
  • Tips on how to teach the tune by ear.
  • A unique method for adding chords to the melody.
  • Strategies for creating a more elaborate arrangement.
  • Activities for group lessons that include ensemble opportunities and improvisation.
  • Tech-savvy tools to enhance the learning process.
  • Knowledge that can be transferred to unlocking any lead sheet

Session Title #6

Finding time to Be Creative


It’s hard to imagine squeezing one more element into a 30-minute lesson. By

Use lids and straws to notate rhythm. Silly puddy makes great ties!

Use lids and straws to notate rhythm. Silly puddy makes great ties!

uncovering the  components of creativity, learn how creativity simply begins with teaching creatively. Accumulate tips on how to infuse creativity into every lesson, examples of creative-based activities for private and group instruction and gather a list of savvy resources to trigger musical imaginations. 


With hand-picked, bite-sized nuggets you can trigger creativity in the already jam-packed traditional lesson.  Learn ways to ignite imaginations while teaching

  • Theory concepts
  • Repertoire
  • Music History
  • Practice strategies
  • Sight reading
  • Ensembles
  • Rhythm
  • Performance Skills
  • Memorization

Experience four creative-based activities for use in private and group lessons

  • Pentatonic Scale
  • 12 Bar Blues
  • Pachelbel Canon
  • Lead Sheets


  • Discover your own latent creativity waiting to be tapped or expand your already creative palette.
  • Obtain specific creative-boosting activities for private and group lessons on and off the bench.
  • Learn specific tips for building creative pianists.

Session Title #7

Set Your Studio Apart On and Off the Bench


Want twice the time with students without adding more teaching hours and earn extra income? Discover the magic of including off-bench time with every lesson. Students arrive two at a time–one working with you at the bench, while another works independently, off the bench, using various resources and the latest IMG_3153technology.


The session provides extensive information regarding this innovative lesson format with reasonable and affordable solutions. Detailed tips and guidance for implementing the off-bench time will be part of the slide presentation. Attendees will discover clever and inexpensive ideas for what to do during the extra time that require NO technology or the latest technology. A list of top apps and how to implement them into the on-and-off bench curriculum will be included.


Attendees will feel fully equipped to talk current and potential parents into this format. In addition, tips on how to raise tuition without losing students will be offered.

Audience participation is encouraged throughout. Attendees will receive encouragement, inspiration and a fresh lesson format that they can implement in their studio.

Session Title #8

Use Pop Music to Inspire Composing


Have you ever asked your students what’s on their mobile device playlist? Do students return from the latest blockbuster movie passionate about the sound track? Exploring these personal preferences can serve as a gold mine of inspiration for either you and/or your potential composers. Learn how to use those nuggets to spur ideas for student improvisation, arrangements and original compositions.


Using my students’ original compositions and improvisations as examples, I’ll walk through the process used to guide and motivate these young composers.

The steps will help you help your students:

  • Unlock their own musical imaginations by borrowing from their favorite tunes.
  • Learn how to get under the hood of a tune and observe the simplicity behind creativity.
  • Set up required boundaries and limitations that enhance sound and symmetry.
  • Morph “stolen” clips into fresh, original and appealing ideas.

Tech-savvy, mobile-friendly tools and resources for igniting imaginations and notating compositions will be shared.


With practical steps and tech-savvy tools you can assist your students in creating original and ear-pleasing compositions. Maybe even the next top hit!

Session Title #9

Preparing Pianists for the Church Worship Team


Learn the basics about preparing yourself and your students for playing in a praise band from chord voicing to tech-savvy tips for building ear skills and more.


Content will help you:

  • Brush up on chord symbols.
  • Learn new ways to voice the same old chords.
  • Discover how to blend with the other band members.
  • Get your groove on.
  • Develop ear skills to match reading skills.
  • Collect tech savvy tools to boost your worship team experience.


  • Feel challenged and and excited to be a first-time or better worship pianist.
  • Be less intimidated about improvisation.
  • Understand how important it is to be a team player and listen to the rest of the band.
  • Know how to access resources to improve skills.
  • Learn tips for how to listen to a song’s instrumentation, map, dynamics, and more.
  • Gain a reinforced commitment to practicing in the piano.
  • Gather simple tips for understanding when the piano is the primary, support, or accent instrument in a song
  • Discover tools and apps for voicing chords and be more comfortable reading chord charts.
  • Learn about how to utilize the latest tech tools in the business.

Session Title #10

Is it Time for Your Studio to Go Baroque?


Transport your students back to the17th century. Discover steps to develop a studio-wide theme based on Baroque repertoire and composers that will create a memorable and engaging immersion into the style period.


It’s safe to say that most students learning to play an instrument usually don’t ask to learn a pieceRelating Baroque Art toBaroque Music from the 17th century. Although they may request to play Pachelbel’s Canon or Bach’s Minuet in G they usually have little idea that both Pachelbel and Bach were legendary composers of the Baroque period.

Realizing that it’s hard for anyone to appreciate what they don’t know and knowing that I could do better with educating my students about music from the Baroque, it became my challenge to immerse students into all things Baroque and have fun doing so.

The combination of a studio-wide theme and incentive program based on Baroque repertoire and composers called for a suitable name: Baroque Bash.


The session will highlight the curriculum for my Baroque Bash including:

  • A vast selection of Baroque-related resources.
  • A list of suggested repertoire for multiple levels.
  • A unique approach to adding and executing ornaments.
  • Strategies to assist practice and success in polyphonic passages.
  • Tips on how to improvise 21st-century arrangements with the help of the Clavinova and apps.
  • Engaging apps that explore the style period.
  • Explanation on how the visual art of the time relates to the music.
  • Instructions on dancing the minuet.
  • Action-packed group activities.
  • Instructions for creating Baroque-inspired wigs.
  • And more.

Following the Baroque tradition, the slide presentation will be rich in content and details. Audience participation will be encouraged. Attendees will receive encouragement, inspiration and plans so they can implement their own Baroque Bash.

Coming Soon…

Make Rhythm Count

Motivation: Nurturing Potential into Passion

All sessions include:

  1. Innovative teaching ideas to inspire musical imaginations on and off the page.
  2. The top tech-savvy tools and how to integrate them into lesson plans.
  3. Off-the-bench activities to enhance student engagement and learning.
  4. A handout available at leilaviss.com with extensive information and hyperlinks.

Audio/Visual Requirements

  1. At least one piano is required and a digital piano—preferably a Clavinova—is greatly appreciated!
  2. A projector or HDTV.


Under 50 words

Leila Viss owns a tech-savvy, creative-based piano studio, blogs at 88pianokeys.me and authored The iPad Piano Studio. Viss is an organist, a nationally-recognized clinician, co-founder of 88 Creative Keys with Bradley Sowash and coordinator of the Piano Preparatory Program at the University of Denver.

52 words

Leila Viss owns a tech-savvy, creative-based piano studio. She’s an organist, pianist and accompanist, blogs at 88pianokeys.me, has featured publications in several national magazines and authored The iPad Piano Studio. With Bradley Sowash, Viss co-founded 88 Creative Keys–a keyboard improvisation workshop. Viss is the head of the Piano Preparatory Program at the University of Denver.

104 words

Leila Viss uses an innovative, tech-savvy approach to develop lifetime pianists at her independent, creative-based piano studio. She holds a church organist position, blogs at 88pianokeys.me, had a regular column for Clavier Companion called “Teaching With Apps” and authored The iPad Piano Studio, now distributed by Alfred Music. With Bradley Sowash, she is co-founder of 88 Creative Keys, a tech-savvy workshop promoting creativity at the keys for students and teachers. She has helped with planning the 2013, 2014 MTNA Jazz/Pop Tracks and served as chair of the 2015 Creative Pianist Track for the National Conference on Keyboard Pedagogy. Viss recently accepted the position as head of the Piano Preparatory Program at the University of Denver.