About Me

Having fun with my trusty Yamaha P80. My favorite is the last clip. How about you?

My name is James Dering. I’m a professional jazz and contemporary pianist, a composer, a former college music professor, and a private piano teacher. As a performer, I’ve played in concert halls, restaurants, clubs, churches, and many other places. As a composer, I’ve written for nearly every medium (orchestra, choir, jazz ensemble, solo piano, etc.) and in nearly every genre. As a professor, I’ve taught courses like music theory, eartraining, jazz piano, composition, songwriting, music appreciation, music literature, and more. As a private teacher I’ve worked with people of all ages and musical backgrounds, teaching using both “traditional” and “nontraditional” methods. I’ve got a bachelor’s degree in Music Media, a master’s in Jazz Studies (it’s also a piano performance degree) and I have finished most of the coursework toward a doctorate in Music Theory and Composition. I studied piano with Ellis Marsalis (father of Wynton Marsalis), Peter Martin, Victor Atkins, Garth Alper, and others. I’ve had the honor of performing with an eclectic variety of musicians, including Lee Konitz, Randy Sabien, Doug Kershaw, Teddy Geiger, Carman, and Jimmy Needham. My beautiful wife, Anne, and I have five kids. We live in Texas.


Why did I do this?

I’ve finally created this site after years of being encouraged by my students to find some way to “package” what I do. I did this for several reasons:

  • I sincerely love teaching, and for years I have wanted to bring what I do to a larger audience.
  • It’s going to be different: I’ve been pretty disappointed by the piano instruction that is available online. If I bring anything unique to the table, it would be the fact that I seem to have a knack for taking complex aspects of piano playing and putting them into easily digestible bites. At the beginning level, I think you’ll find new ways of looking at things that finally make sense. And all the way at the advanced level, you’ll find refreshingly different tips and ideas that will hopefully leave you saying “so THAT’S how the pros do that!”
  • I’m working on some more specific, more in-depth projects that will eventually be for sale online. Through this site I want to establish a relationship with YOU. I want to show you, through giving away loads of great free content, that I’m serious about what I do and that my methods really work. I’d also like to get to know you, and learn what it is YOU want to see. Feel free to fill out the form at “What Should I Do Next?” in the sidebar on the right.

If you like what you see, please drop me a line! You can email me at james@betterpiano.com or send me a note on my contact page. You can also sign up for more tips through email AND get my free book, by joining the BetterPiano.com mailing list.

Thanks for stopping by!

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