Piano Lessons

My teaching philosophy

The first question is, what are the student’s goals? My primary role as a teacher is to help students reach their musical goals quickly and effectively.

I employ a patient and kind teaching style, and recognize that everyone learns differently.

I believe that classical training serves as a solid foundation for all musical endeavors, and I’m happy to teach popular styles in addition to classical.

What to expect

In each lesson we will cover technique, musicianship, music theory, sight reading and repertoire. Based on the student’s interests (and if lesson time allows) we may also cover improvisation, composition and/or popular styles.

As far as lesson length, I recommend 25 minutes for new beginners, 40 minutes for advanced beginners to intermediates, and 55 minutes for advanced students.

Piano study requires a commitment to weekly lessons for at least 10 months out of the year, from mid-August through mid-June.

Studio Recitals

Piano study would not be complete without participation in Studio Recitals, which are held twice-yearly (typically in December and May).

Recitals give the student the opportunity to prepare their music with a specific goal in mind — namely performing in front of their peers in a supportive setting.

Studio Class

Studio class will be offered once per month, giving students the opportunity to perform for their peers in a low-stress and supportive environment. Additionally, studio class will feature interactive presentations on topics of music history, theory and music appreciation.

Certificate of Merit

Certificate of Merit provides a standard of curriculum that requires students to strive for focused musical excellence in performance, technique, ear training, sight reading/singing, and music theory.

It’s a great way to progress quickly, while making sure that all areas of musical training are in balance.

The program is open to children and adults; enrollment takes place October 1 – 31. Please contact me for more information.


Please contact me regarding studio openings.


Lessons take place on Zoom or at my teaching space in midtown Santa Cruz.


Please contact me for complete lesson policy. I am an approved Ocean Grove Charter School vendor.


Ben is an excellent piano teacher. In just a few months my piano playing has improved more than I could have imagined. Highly recommended!

— Abby H.

Ben is the most knowledgeable and innovative music teacher I have ever had. Every lesson is filled with new insights that improve my playing. He is a wonderful performing pianist too who inspires his students to find their best musical talents. Ben is great with all ages of students.

— Jerome T.

Our 13-year old was transferred to Ben when her previous teacher, who had been highly esteemed for classical piano training, decided to retire. So far her progress with Ben has been great. He’s got her playing some very advanced pieces with good rhythm and clean fingering.

— Elise F.

After many years of playing without instruction I decided it was time to take piano lessons again. Ben provided me with the guidance to rebuild a solid foundation for playing again, including theory, technique, rhythm, and expression. He encouraged me to record my playing and gave me constructive feedback which enormously improved my confidence. Ben combines a great balance of discipline with patience and positive encouragement. I would not hesitate to recommend him to beginners, advanced, or those like myself who want to remaster their playing skills.

— Al B.

My ten year old son has been learning piano with Ben for a year. Dylan is a beginner in piano. Ben has taught Dylan from learning to read music, to performing in studio concerts and even earning his first Certificate of Merit in half a year. I attribute all of this to Ben’s teaching style, which is patient, rigorous, and personalized.

Ben has been very thoughtful about assigning the appropriate exercises for Dylan to work on each week to help him understand music theory and developing a good piano technique.

Ben is a professional and dedicated teacher. He is not only the piano teacher for my son, but also a role model. Dylan looks forward to his piano lesson every week. I highly recommend teacher Ben, especially to young learners.

— Miao S.

I cannot speak more highly of Ben Dorfan.  He has patiently taught two of my children beginner piano and it has been so delightful to see them progress, especially my 6 year old who is just now starting to be able to read music and has become so motivated to learn more.  His calm teaching skills have really opened up her senses to music around her and it has inadvertently been developing her singing ability and musical ear as well.  If you are seeking piano lessons for your child and you are interested in them learning quickly and efficiently then I highly recommend Ben as the right teacher for the job!

— Jessica W.

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