My expertise in teaching piano draws from a careful study of the historical piano schools, particularly the postwar Moscow school and Claudio Arrau's teachings; an interest in the psychology of learning, improvement, and creativity, with references to Eastern thought and Western humanistic psychology; a life-long study of the physiology of piano playing; an intent to work on the personality of the student towards the full expression of his/her artistic potential. My profile as a composer offers further insights on musicianship, theory, creativity, and the "inner mechanics" of music.
What my students say
"Mr. Schwan is one of the best teachers I have ever had the pleasure of being taught by. He is understanding but not a pushover, demanding but not harsh, and his line of thinking, teaching, and playing focuses on improvement and the process you take to get there."
"Schwan really encouraged me to do my best to achieve a high level of awareness. Overall, he is one of if not my favorite teachers. His details are rich and effective. I challenged myself with difficult repertoire this semester and Schwan always provided me with the skill set to accomplish it."
"Mr. Schwan taught me some very difficult pieces; but even more importantly, he taught me an entirely different way of playing. [...] He opened my eyes to a whole new world of sound quality and interpretation."
"I found [Thomas Schwan's teaching] to make an astronomical difference in my playing abilities. His teaching philosophy is one I would agree with and I see its critical importance."
"Thomas Schwan extended and deepened my understanding of classical piano music. […] He taught me the real importance of grouping notes into phrases, and playing melodies rather than plain sequences of notes. […] I feel like I am ten times the pianist I was at the start of the semester."
"Piano lessons with Schwan are always engaging. […] Never have I gone into a lesson and wasn't challenged in some way. His abundance of knowledge and technique really translated with me."
"Anyone can tell the class that they need to practice more but he was very good about telling us how to practice. He would break down the steps to go through to learn a piece of music or to practice scales. He really is a very excellent teacher and he's changed the way I think about music."
"Mr. Schwan has made me evaluate my practice methods and how productive my practice really is. He has also given me a kind of new found interest in piano."
"Schwan is a fantastic piano teacher who does not simply teach us how to play the notes. He went deep into pedagogy and musical practicing techniques that can be used across the board; a truly superb teacher."
"Thomas is very encouraging, and balances constructive criticism and praise very well."
"I appreciated Schwan's style of teaching. He was very dedicated to making sure that I understood the principles of technique. I feel as though I can approach the piano in an entirely new way."
Official student evaluations, UNT College of Music, 2015-2017