back to piano for all

Recommendations for Dave Ratcliffe

sharing the joy of playing and learning

Towards the interest of web safety, I have removed the names of my younger students.




Dave is patient and encouraging — and an expert at tailoring lessons to the specific interests and skill level of each student. He encourages our older (and more practiced) son to attempt new challenges, but presents them in manageable steps that keep our son eager to keep moving forward. Our younger son just started lessons, and even in teaching the basics Dave keeps the lessons easy-going but entertaining. Dave is an accomplished pianist — it is a tremendous pleasure to hear him at the keys — and he imparts his enthusiasm and skill for the instrument to students at all levels.

- Linda Watts, mother of 2nd grader and to-be 1st grader, Chestnut Hill



David has a wonderful rapport with people of all ages, especially children. His ability to connect with his students and his talent at teaching simple concepts, as well as more advanced music selections, are both truly superior. He has a very gentle yet effective way of bringing out the natural talents in his students. We feel blessed to have found such a caring and gifted teacher!

- Glynis Ilyas, parent of 8-year old, Roslindale



A teacher said once: "you are never done investing in yourself." I had always wanted to play the piano well. So here I am in my thirties, trying to learn to do just that. It seemed almost impossible; learning to play the piano while trying to hold a day job and caring for a family. "Where would you find the time and energy?" most people asked. Well, I never had to worry about finding the time or energy because Dave has made the experience so enjoyable, his lessons are one of the highlights of my week. His vast knowledge of music, his well crafted learning progression, and his enviable patience and flexibility have turned what seemed to be a daunting task into a positive and enriching experience.

Through my lessons with Dave, I am learning the various dimensions of the language of music. Through music, he is helping me discover the threads that connect logic with emotion. The piano keys are no longer an intimidating set of black and white keys organized in a rigid sequence. Rather, they have become the medium through which I express a lot more than notes on a piece of paper. Dave has truly helped me open a new window in my life, and the fresh air that comes through it is having a nurturing effect on my family as well. My two babies can sense the deep calm and joy that our piano brings me, and they themselves have started their own discovery of this magical device. Without my lessons with Dave, I would not have had the chance to sit on the piano bench, with both babies on my lap, me playing my notes, and they playing whatever keys delight their ears. No symphony can match the beauty of that moment.

- Amine Benali, adult student, Roslindale



I decided to wait until my son requested piano lessons instead of forcing them upon him. We were already struggling to get him to do his homework and didn't want to add practice, practice, practice to the daily mantra. My son asked when he was in 4th grade so I went to the internet to find a male teacher near by who I thought would suit my son's personality. Since he had so many female teachers in his life, I thought a positive male teacher would be just the thing. Due to the wonderful things other parents said about Dave, I decided to give it a try. He is wonderful, kind, patient and gives my son just the right amount of encouragement and instruction, to give him the confidence he needs. We haven't looked back. My son is doing well and loves learning new pieces. The concerts Dave and Nina arrange are the highpoint.... Relaxing, warm and thoroughly entertaining. Thank you both.

- Chris Lyons, mother of 5th grader, West Roxbury



Dave is patient and kind. He gives kids exciting things to play and makes customized arrangements to meet their level.
- Gary Fredrick, Music Director, 1997-2005
   Shoreline Middle School, Santa Cruz, CA
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. . . 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. . . .

- Mary Delaney, mother of 4th grader, Belmont, MA
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Many people enter our lives, but it is a special person whom fate sends to serve a most valuable purpose.

My daughter expressed an interest in learning piano and I just happened to spot a flyer on the bulletin board at her school with Dave's number on it. I believe calling him was one of the smartest things I have ever done. In the span of just one year, the progress she has made under Dave's instruction has been phenomenal. He nurtured an interest into a passion, always being considerate of the goals she had in mind for herself.

My daughter is aspiring to pursue an education in the performing arts and currently participates in musical theater. Dave embraced her choices of songs to learn instead of forcing a `curriculum' upon her. When attending one of his student recitals, the wide range of selections performed shows the individual attention each student receives.

As a teacher of visual arts, I know it is often hard to find an artist who has the capability to teach that form of art to others. An extremely talented musician, Dave also excels as a teacher. I greatly admired and appreciated his use of positive reinforcement, his patience, his flexibility, his professionalism, and his wonderful communication skills with both the student and parent.

We were so saddened to hear the news of Dave's departure. My daughter said, "I will never find another teacher who allows me such freedom to learn." We are very happy for the future students of Dave Ratcliffe as our loss is certainly their gain.

- Kathy Martinelli, mother of 7th grader, Santa Cruz CA



Dave has been a wonderful teacher for our son. He didn't like to practice very much and always felt he didn't have a lot of choice in what he was learning. From the beginning Dave asked my son what he was interested in learning and geared the lessons to that. Consequently, he began practicing a whole lot more than ever before and his skill and technique has grown tremendously. All the feedback I hear from other parents with students at varying levels has been very positive.

- Ellie Rolnick, mother of 9th grader, Biddeford ME



Dave is sensitive to the needs of his students and encourages them to play music they enjoy. He makes lessons fun yet challenging. My son has taken ownership of his music and is motivated to keep music as an important aspect of his life.

- Dedra Husser, mother of 8th grader, Saco ME



My daughter studied piano from kindergarten through 5th grade. She gave it up for many reasons, mostly out of boredom. Two years later she has begun piano lessons with Dave and she is inspired anew! She plays her piano more than she ever has. She enjoys the empowerment over the direction of her studies, flexibility, and encouragement that Dave offers her. This has allowed her creativity and enthusiasm for the piano to flourish.

- Vickie Charity-McGuirk, mother of 8th grader, Biddeford ME



Dave has a talent for piano that is indescribable. He has amazing skill at playing and teaching. Dave is very insightful and asks his students what they'd like to learn and play. Dave makes piano fun! Thanks for coming to Maine.

- Kelly Reuillard, mother of 10th grader, Biddeford ME



Dave Ratcliffe has truly inspired my son to love piano. His encouraging, unimposing manner has made my son feel comfortable in his learning. He is always so positive and kind-hearted. It is apparent in the way that he interracts with his students that he has a true love of both music and teaching. Dave has made it so that my son feels comfortable to make mistakes and challenge himself. He chooses music that kids enjoy playing while giving them a broad base of styles. I am so sad to see Dave leave our area, as I know that he is irreplaceable.

- Jessica Donovan, mother of 3rd grader, Santa Cruz CA



We just wanted you to know how much we appreciated your piano lessons. I couldn't imagine our daughter would be playing at this level in just over a year. The technique you employ is different than when I took lessons and works wonders. She enjoys this new challenge so much, I have to ask her to stop just to go to sleep and it's the last thing I hear before she heads out the door for school. To have such beautiful music in our home is a joy for all of us. You have taught her to make "scales" even sound good. Your positive encouragement has made her self confidence improve beyond our skills. Thank you again.

She was invited by Mr. Murray to be in Piano 3 for the entire year this September. She is very excited. She has also been teaching herself Take Five. Amazing!!

- Echo Moss, mother of 7th grader, Santa Cruz CA



My son took piano classes with David for over one year. Sometimes God sends to us some people that really make a difference in our lives. I don't even know if David has realized this but he helped my son to have more self confidence, to be proud of himself just by motivating and conducting him with his patience, care, dedication and his love for teaching his music. I just can say that was a blessing to have a professional like him in my son's life. Please feel free to call me at any time on my cell, 831-419-1392.

- Roberta Monteiro, mother of fifth grader, Santa Cruz CA



Dave was a good, nice and helpful piano teacher. He never gave up on me. I liked having Dave as my teacher.

- 3rd grader student, Belmont MA



I worked for six months with Dave after my father died, until Dave moved to California. I studied classical piano for six years in high school and then stopped. Jazz wasn't as good as `serious music' when I was growing up. I told Dave all this and that I wanted to learn how to play the blues and play by ear. He listened carefully and developed exercises and music that suited my skills and needs, and gave me lots of great music to play. He also provided structure and routine. I only wish he were still here in Massachusetts.

- Jane Sherwin, adult student, Belmont MA



I credit David with single handedly turning my 2nd grade son from someone who had no interest in anything musical to someone who voluntarily woke up early to get to play the piano for ten minutes before going to school. Though I never directly observed the classes to know how David worked his magic, the final result was a piano student who played for the pleasure of the music, was relaxed but motivated, and really learned to play beautifully. David exceeded all my expectations and I am grateful to him for creating such a positive and successful early musical experience for our son.

- Anne Hansen, mother of 2nd grader, Belmont MA



Dave Ratcliffe is an example of a teacher that goes perfectly well with you. He has high expectations but doesn't expect an immediately highly talented pianist. He encouraged me, but didn't criticize. He wasn't too strict, he understood if you missed a day or two of practice here and there. He wants to know about you and ask you what you'd like to do. He'll make music for you. He'll work with you. He wants to be your friend. He wants to be your piano teacher.

- 3rd grader, Cambridge MA



My son worked with Dave during his 3rd grade year at school. Though he was essentially a beginner, my son really blossomed working with Dave. Dave was very patient with my son's ideosyncracies, and more than once went out of his way to find or arrange a piece of music that he thought my son would enjoy. My wife and I both feel that he did a phenomenal job of finding our son's talents and stimulating his enthusiasm.

- Wilson Lowry, father of 3rd grader, Cambridge MA



I am writing to thank you for your piano instruction last year with my daughter. This was her first experience with piano instruction and your efforts exceeded all of our expectations! She was always excited to attend her weekly lesson. She appreciated your teaching style, as she so enjoyed her class time. She also was comfortably motivated to practice her piano throughout the week. Her efforts at the year end recital was a tribute to your teaching skills, as she exuded confidence, even though she had only been with you for such a short period of time. David, you are a gifted teacher and I thank you for sharing this gift with my daughter. I wish you much happiness and success in your new endeavors in California.

- Lisa D Castagno, mother of 1st grader, Belmont MA



Dave Ratcliffe glided into our life like a piano god. He re-infused my two young piano-playing daughters with confidence, skills, and especially PASSION. My daughters were nine and eleven when we met Dave, and while they were interested in piano, they had had some humdrum experiences with prior piano teachers. Enter Dave, and within the very first week: where they had been resistant, my daughters were now receptive; and where they had been insecure about their ability, they were suddenly inspired. How did Dave do this, my husband and I wondered. It was as if his twinkle and love of music were contagious. They caught his joy immediately! He let them choose their own music. He crafted his teaching to each of them, to their personal styles. My two daughters whom Dave taught (he moved from the east coast, unfortunately, before he could teach my third daughter and son, our twins--and how they missed out!) are markedly different human beings, decisively different pianists, and Dave knew that instinctively, and taught them individually in a custom-made way that worked brilliantly for each daughter! If you have the chance to offer your child or children Dave Ratcliffe as a piano teacher, treat yourself and your child to this remarkable maestro! For further comment, please email Hilary--hbug@verizon.net

- Hilary Illick, 4th and 6th graders, Belmont MA



Lessons with Dave are led by my daughter's interest in music. Dave is most encouraging and positive. I highly recommend this teacher.

- Sue Farrens, mother of 6th grader, Santa Cruz CA



The added components of taped piano music for my daughter to practice with, the customized arrangements that meet her ability level and Dave's gift to adapt to her learning style have all enhanced and excelled Jerusha's progress. His state-of-the-art grand piano is an incredible instrument to learn on.

- Sara Jensen, mother of 7th grader, Santa Cruz CA