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Mary Delaney Letter of Recommendation

October 1, 2004

To whom it may concern,

It is with great pleasure that I write this letter of recommendation on behalf of Dave Ratcliffe. I have known Dave for just about one year. My daughter took piano lessons with Dave beginning last September as part of an after school program at her elementary school. Before beginning lessons with Dave, my daughter had taken lessons with another piano teacher for almost two years beginning in second grade. The progress that she made during her nine months with Dave as a teacher far exceeded any expectations I had and demonstrated to me what a wonderful teacher he is. Not only did my daughter grow as a piano player she gained more confidence in herself. Playing and practicing the piano was not a chore but rather an activity she performed happily and voluntarily.

Dave was able to impart his enthusiasm and love of playing the piano onto my daughter. Rather than work directly from a piano lesson book, he would play different pieces of music and allow her to choose what she wanted to learn. He customized the music and lessons to her current skill level while at the same time providing challenges to keep the learning process going. By allowing her to choose the piano piece that she wanted to learn, she became part of the teaching process. She had more incentive and motivation to practice and play. She would eagerly practice at home or anywhere else that happen to have a piano or keyboard, even in department stores! Once a piano piece was mastered, she was very enthusiastic about beginning her next new piece.

I was able to observe the last few minutes of most of my daughter's lessons. This is where I witnessed the wonderful connection that developed between teacher and student. Dave would relish in my daughter's accomplishments and acknowledge each newly learned measure of music. He was very proud of each and every student as was evident during recitals. Each student, regardless of their level of knowledge, performed their piano piece with excitement and enthusiasm. It was evident that Dave encouraged each student to bring part of his or her own character into the music. Although the music may have been the same, you could hear the child's own character coming through. Dave made learning the piano a magical thing.

Dave is not only friendly and patient, but also is good at gauging his students's level of knowledge and ability. His commitment to his students is evident. Dave sees each student as an individual and draws upon their strengths to teach them in ways that work best for them. He provided my daughter with a recorded tape of the piano piece that they were working on. This allowed her to hear how the music should be played and reinforced the lesson material. Dave customized my daughter's lessons to her ability and particular learning characteristics. There was a particular song that she wanted to learn, however, Dave knew that the sheet music would be too intimidating for her to read. Rather than dissuade her from learning this song, Dave taught her the song without sheet music, played sections of it for her at her lessons and provided the taped music. Much to my surprise, she learned the song and enjoyed this alternative way of being taught.

I respect Dave for many of his qualities but most of all because he is able to connect with his students and customize their piano lessons according to their strengths. Dave is a very positive and encouraging teacher who is able to make confident self-motivated piano players out his students. I highly recommend Dave as a piano teacher and am envious of his future students who can experience his contagious passion and love of music first hand.


Mary Delaney

The following is a few sentences that Mary's daughter wrote down.

I would say that working with Dave was fun and I learned a lot. I was able to play songs that I never thought that I could. I was happy not to have to play from the book. Dave made me feel more comfortable about playing the piano. I wanted to learn more and more.

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