Billy Test has a lot of experience working with beginner students with little to no piano experience from all ages (Kindergarden, elementary school aged and beyond), and has had extensive classical piano pedagogy training for all levels and age groups.
Basic Jazz Theory/Improvisation; Harmony/Voicing Techniques; Rhythmic Development/Feel; Left-Hand Development; Jazz Piano History; Transcription/Analysis; Tone Production and Development; Classical/Jazz Training; etc.
My teaching philosophy relies largely on breaking large concepts into small, easily achievable goals. Through focusing on the basic concepts that lie at the foundation of all music, students will acquire the skills needed to head in any direction they desire. For all students, a heavy emphasis is placed on learning how to make a regular, intelligent, routine practice regimen become a steady foundation for improvement. During our studies, there will be a heavy emphasis on healthy technique (injury prevention) and sound production at the piano. At the core, the main goal is to find a clear and simple way to get to playing music with a solid, honest core as efficiently and effectively as possible.
Pennsylvania native Billy Test began playing piano when he was seven years old. His piano playing draws on a wide variety of styles and influences. “I started studying classical piano, but always loved improvising. After a while I got into playing through anything anyone would put in front of me… I was hungry for different styles and different ideas. Once I discovered jazz through pianists like Erroll Garner and Bill Evans, there was no turning back.” Test devoured tons of music, looking to enrich his playing. “I’m fascinated with classical and jazz music, yet performing both genres provides endless challenges… I’m interested in finding out how the two can coexist.” Following in the footsteps of other pianists like Bill Evans, Fred Hersch, and Richie Beirach, Test’s music shows strong influences of classical music while displaying roots in the history of jazz.
However, Test always looks for new ground. Through composition and arranging, he searches to find a fresh approach to jazz. “This music has rich history, and that makes it difficult to find your own thing. Perhaps that’s most important: making your own mark on a tune, while tipping your hat to where it came from.” Test is a summa cum laude graduate of William Paterson University, where he graduated with dual degrees in Jazz Piano Performance and Classical Piano Performance. While at William Paterson, he studied with Mulgrew Miller, Harold Mabern, Armen Donelian, James Weidman, and Gary Kirkpatrick. Test toured China with the William Paterson music program in the fall of 2009, performing and teaching throughout the country with fellow students and professors. In the fall of 2010 Test won the first concerto competition in the university’s history, in turn performing Rachmaninoff’s 2nd Piano Concerto with the William Paterson Orchestra in the spring of 2011. He received numerous awards for his scholarship and musicianship, as well as special recognition for his thesis work on the evolution of modern jazz piano. Test’s other teachers have included Fred Hersch, Marc Mommaas, and classical piano legend Sophia Rosoff.