Teaching Testimonials

Here’s what others have to say about Donna’s teaching abilities:

(Note: If you would like to submit your own testimonial, you can do so here)

Testimonials for Donna Schwartz Music Lessons

Incredibly patient and knowledgeable...

I have taken many saxophone lessons from Donna Schwartz and couldn’t be happier. She is incredibly patient and knowledgeable, and helps in every aspect that she can, from fine points about technique to equipment choices. Having played for several years, I was becoming aware of the limits my bad habits were causing, and after explaining my situation to her and demonstrating my issues, she’s put me on a course that’s showing real results–my only regret is that she was not my first teacher!

Better late than never, as they say, and I am just glad I found her now, without struggling even further.

Highly recommend!

Leo Gilbert


Set a great foundation for my learning...

From the start of my lesson, Donna was able to quickly assess my needs and pitch the lesson perfectly to my level of skill. Being a beginner saxophone player I was at a critical stage for learning the correct techniques and I found Donna's teaching easy to understand and simple to put into practice. The fundamental principles have set a great foundation for my learning and I am already beginning to notice a difference in my playing.

Thanks, Donna! I'll be back for more!

Paul Redpath


She is a very talented performer...

We had the pleasure of having Donna at our company event, she was very professional and accommodating from the beginning till end. She is a very talented performer, our guests loved and expressed enjoying her music. She exceeded our expectation, I would highly recommend her to my friends and colleagues for future events.

Anahid Anbarsoun, LAFH


Clear, straight to the point explanations...

After having watched the video recording of the lesson we had yesterday I just confirmed I'm on the correct path in my learning curve, thanks to your clear, straight-to-the point explanations.
 
You have those natural teaching abilities and talent that make your message reach the student in a straightforward manner, easy to understand and put in practice. Frequent use of analogies and everyday life examples help a lot in transmitting your ideas. 
 
Really appreciate your help. 
 
Marcelo Soto-Quiroga

Impressed with her enthusiasm...

I had a Skype lesson with Donna Schwartz.
I struggle with feeling the pulse in a backing track and fitting rhythms accurately into a piece of music.
She showed me ways to physically feel the pulse and sub-divisions in different genres of music. These are core skills that are so often neglected and it was so refreshing to be enlightened in such an imaginative way.
Donna was able to pinpoint strategies  which would enable me to listen more deeply to music and consolidate the learning points of the lesson.
I was impressed by her enthusiasm and ability to guide me in a short space of time.

Kim Keates    ( England )

Kim Keates

Donna is an extremely skilled instrumentalist...

Ms. Schwartz arrived on time, prepared, and with zeal. She honored each request that was made of her and the birthday girl was so pleased by the entire set; especially her rendition of "You & I" by Stevie Wonder. Many of our guests raved about her virtuosity. Donna is an extremely skilled instrumentalist and she plays with love and passion. Thank you so much, Donna!

Rick Tate

EXCELLENT

Ms. Donna Schwartz is a great instructor and motivator. She is friendly and accommodating. She gave me useful advice, exercises, techniques and even sent me tutorial videos.What I can't forget about her, is her willingness to help with an open heart.
Thank you very much for your time and effort. May God Bless you always.

Ramil Ranera

 

Eager to help and discusses options in easy to understand ways

Donna spent well over our half hour going through my stated issue, going well beyond the obvious to discover some of the underlying things that might be adding to my altissimo worries.

Donna was friendly, easy to talk to and have a discussion with and gave easy to understand, practical ideas for me to work on.

Two weeks on and I can feel the improvement there even though I haven't quite achieved Nirvana yet. I would recommend Donna and her techniques to players of all ranges and experience levels. I have been playing for over 8 years and consider myself at the intermediate level and I benefited from just one session with Donna.

Thanks Donna, I will be in touch again shortly to continue my journey of improvement

Bernie Rossi

Knows how to correct right away...

Donna is an excellent instructor who knows what's wrong with students and knows how to correct it right away. Thanks for the instruction through Skype.                    
                                    Paul Chung

Ability to analyze what was needed...

The 45 minute session I had with Donna was focussed but flexible.  Having answered a survey on an area I wanted to work on, Donna had obviously thought about how best she could help me.  The first part of the session was confirming that she had understood exactly what I was asking of her.  This actually changed the session to a more overview review of my musical goals.  I was impressed with Donnas flexibility and being able to think through what I was actually asking of her.  I understand that often a student will describe a symptom as a problem rather than pin-pointing the actual issue.  This was true in my case.  I had focussed on a difficulty in counting whilst trying to improvise.

Donna not only gave be a variety of strategies to help improve my counting whilst improvising, whilst not stifling my artistic imagination.  We discussed using a metronome set on beats 2 and 4.  Although I have tried this before I had not seen how to apply it effectively.  Donna was able to suggest how to fit it into my routine to help move me to knowing where I am in the song.

However, Donna did not stop there, she looked at my current goal and discussed how I had been very ambitious.  My goal had been to learn a 100 Jazz standards.  However, as Donna immediately pointed out learning the melodies alone is only half the job.  I have now adjusted my goal to re-learn the chord changes to two Jazz standards per week.  I currently have 77 melodies learned, but I can see the sense in not learning anymore until I have also mastered the chord changes.

We covered different approaches to studying the jazz standards, including starting off with a metronome session before adding backing tracks.

I have now completed three new style sessions each an hour and a half long, since Donna's coaching session.  What I have found so far:

I decided to take the Jazz standard "Autumn Leaves"

I wrote out the chord changes and learned them before even getting to my music room.  Then I confirmed them by playing the arpeggios through for twenty times.  I then set the metronome and repeated the process with the added pressure of keeping strict time.  I finished the session by doing the same against backing tracks.

Session two:  I repeated the metronome and then the backing tracks sessions from day one.  I found I had to break down the C section line  one and add repetition to bring that up to strength.

I finished with improvising, but concentrating on what chords I was playing against.  Amazing....I was no longer getting lost during soloing.... But did not feel stifled, in fact Better improvisation seemed to flow.

Third session was a repeat of the second.  I now feel ready to tackle the next standard (and I am on target).  I will continue to revise "Autumn leaves" whilst working on the next standard.

In summary.

Donna was able to focus my goals and discuss with me a methodology that could help me get there.  Already I have seen that this new regime is going to pay in spades.  Donna has the ability to analyse what was needed and then discuss it in a way that made it not only palatable but has been the biggest positive change in my personal musical development this year.

I look forward to being able to report back to her when I have conquered my first 10 standards.  She wasn't just going through the motions but made me feel she really cared about my development.

                           Gavin Morgan


Very knowledgeable about the saxophone...

I have been an Alto player all my life and played Tenor as needed. Lately I have really enjoyed playing the Tenor. While playing in the Altissimo has been a little easier on Alto, I have never been able to access the upper register on Tenor.

I finally broke down and started working on this and like everyone have found myself having trouble playing the Altissimo G!

Donna in her lesson helped with an exercise of singing through the mouthpiece then playing the note. As I am still having trouble with the note I know that with the technique she taught me, I will be able to get it soon.

The main thing I was looking for was being able to attain the high G. I feel I am on my way to achieving that goal.

Donna is very upbeat and passionate about music, not to mention very knowledgeable about the saxophone. I felt very comfortable bringing this issue up to her. She is very positive in her comments and makes you feel at ease as you are struggling to get the concept.

If you are looking for a private teacher to take lessons with online, Donna is your person. She is very methodical in her approach and does not waste time in the process.

 

Roman Chip, Retired Band director

Las Cruces NM


Knowledgable musician and teacher...

Donna Schwartz is a very knowledgeable musician and teacher.  She is very helpful and encouraging.  She is able to innovate techniques for every concern.  When I took a lesson with her she analyzed my challenges and showed me some corrective measures to take.  She gave me the lesson over Skype. Even though we were miles apart it was as if she was right in my living room. She was very helpful...

                                                                                                                                                                                 Monica Slone


Helps to understand jazz...

I play only since 2013, tenor sax, after three years of lessons I would learn to play jazz.
I just started improvising, the video on Jazz Articulation helps to understand jazz.

René Dijkstra


Genuine desire to assist and support her students...

"As a long time jazz sax player I am constantly checking out online resources. I discovered this website some months ago and have found a number of useful resources, as well as interesting and enjoyable blogs. Donna has a genuine desire to assist and support her students with their music education and instrumental techniques. In my Skype lessons with her she has given me strategies that helped me deal with some tense embouchure issues that have plagued me for many years. I can recommend Donna's site for topics of interest to music students and teachers. If you decide to take lessons with Donna you can be assured that she will take the time to determine what you are hoping to achieve and to assist you in meeting your goals.."

Glen Kerridge


Professional, friendly and helpful...

"I was originally concerned about being an older player in a community band that I wouldn't be the kind of client she would be interested in. I'm glad I was wrong! I found Donna to be professional, friendly, helpful and genuinely interested in helping me to improve. I was playing Alto in a community concert band and had recently switched back to tenor for a jazz ensemble. I wasn't pleased with my tone and I needed to play a lot louder. A fellow saxophone player sent me a link to Donna's site. I tried some of the tips mentioned about lip position & practicing exercises. I did noticed a difference. I had a video session with Donna and I was surprised to find out the impact of reeds & mouthpieces could have on my tone. I have since changed my reed choice and tried different mouthpieces. My volume and tone has noticeably improved in just 2 weeks! I am now working on my improvisation so I will be consulting with Donna in the near future to get some more tips. I really liked that she sent me a link for our session and summary so I could review some of the suggestions she made. I have since recommended her to several people in my band and in our local high school.I'm very glad that I contacted her."

Debbie Lindahl


Creative and Effective

Donna has an extraordinary ability to not only diagnose sax playing issues quickly, but also to provide creative approaches to solving them with a great sense of humor. Her experience in teaching and playing multiple instruments leads to valuable insights that are accelerating my progress. Highly Recommended!!

Mitch Halpern

A lesson with Donna is well worth it...

I subscribed to Donna’s newsletter last fall and every week I find something interesting or inspiring that I can use. The other day I had a 30 minute Skype lesson, with not a wasted moment. I wanted guidance on improving my saxophone tone and intonation, and Donna was able to evaluate what I’m doing and give clear suggestions on changes to make as well as exercises to practice and links to related resources. A lesson with Donna is well worth it!

Laura Maynard

Breaks down the learning process into a manageable plan of action...

As the music education field has grown in scope, young music students' proverbial cups now overflow with an endless stream of information and resources. It is easy for young students to become overwhelmed in such settings. Thank goodness for Donna Schwartz! A consummate musician and teacher, herself, she breaks down the music learning process into a manageable plan of action that is flexible enough to fit any student! Thank you for your wonderful resources and expertise Donna!

Daniel Healy
Northwestern University

She knows exactly what I need

Donna is a very enthusiastic teacher. Even before she scheduled the 1st lesson, she asked about my background in playing sax and what my goals are (which is sight reading and improvisation). She immediately recommended a couple of books. The next day she came for the 1st lesson, I was prepared and she came prepared. I am self-taught in playing sax. She is my first private tutor. She gave me tips on warming up, improving my tone, pitch exercises and getting the right rhythm on a jazz song. She brought her sax also and played side by side as she tutored me. She gave me homework for my next weeks lesson. She knows exactly what I need. I am so motivated to play more. She even stayed longer than one hour just to make sure I get my questions answered. I'm telling you she's the best. School starts next week, I can't wait to tell my classmates about her. I'll be in 10th grade. You have nothing to lose. In fact, I've already learned more in 1 hour than what I learned in 1 month at school.

Lorenzo B., 10th grade student at Los Angeles High School for the Performing Arts

Lorenzo B.

A mentor and a friend

Donna, at an uncertain time in Jake's life, moving to a new home and school, he met you his first music teacher. You provided him with many tools but mostly you became a mentor and friend. You believed in him but more importantly he began to believe in himself. With your guidance he began to flourish. As you know his most recent accomplishment was number one trumpet player at All State. He has received many accolades through the years and of course a lot of it was hard work and determination but it was you who helped him begin his musical journey. All State, All County, Nassau Suffolk, Honor Band at Hofstra, Pit Orchestra, Marching Band, Manhattan School of Music Pre-College Jazz, Usdan Senior Jazz Ensemble, playing with Sugartone Brass ensemble, and most recently playing with select students for the Maestro of the Met. He is sixteen and hopefully will have many more years of enjoying and playing music. You will always hold a special place in my heart. You expected much but gave more. Thank you is not enough.                                   Your friend, Robin

Robin Finkelstein

3 kids, 3 different instruments, 1 amazingly dedicated teacher

All three of my children had the distinct privilege to have had Donna Schwartz help shape and support the base of their music education . From alto sax, to flute, to bass, her enthusiasm, encouragement and wealth of knowledge has remained a constant from their elementary school beginnings onwards through high school. She's serious and passionate about both music and teaching and has a special gift for engaging the children with kindness, patience and great humor. She expects greatness and her students succeed tremendously. Priceless.

Elissa Smithwick

French Horn Teacher Extraordinaire

"My son had the very good fortune of having a Donna Schwartz as his instructor for the French Horn. She quickly realized his natural gifts and helped him develop his skills in multiple dimensions. As a direct result of her attentiveness, he is a much better overall musician. We can not thank her enough."

Victoria Nerone

Instilled confidence and true love of music...

During his elementary school years, our son, Ethan, studied under the direction of Ms. Donna Schwartz. Ms. Schwartz instilled in Ethan a sense of confidence and a true love of music. Her patience, dedication and genuine interest in the welfare and learning of her students is rare. Aside from her teaching gifts, Ms. Schwartz is a wealth of knowledge regarding the music industry, as well as music-based educational opportunities outside of school; these include the Nassau Suffolk Youth Band, which has been instrumental in Ethan's music education advancement. We are grateful that Ms. Schwartz has impacted our son in such a positive way, one that will without a doubt remain with him for years to come.

Nicole Lubell

Jazz Band Genius

Donna Schwartz sees beyond children's disabilities and only sees their abilities. She has encourage both my children to be the best musicians they can be. She has introduced them to playing as a group and produced top notch Band and Jazz Band school performances. I will forever be grateful to her for her patience an persistence.

 

Paula Sayage

Trumpet teacher and performer

I just wanted to thank you for all your support. Your kids are always a pleasure to work with. You really have them energized and going in a great direction. Kudos!

Barry Schwalb
Barry Schwalb

Makes Lessons Fun

Donna is a strong music teacher who always takes the whole child into consideration! She believes that ALL children should have music in their lives, despite any special physical or educational needs. She makes lessons fun and always reinforces the importance of practicing!

Alyse S.

Plays With Passion

To engage an audience a musician must play from the heart. When Donna Schwartz takes the stage and picks up her saxophone she moves past her heart and reaches into her soul. Donna plays with passion and her dedication to her craft is apparent not only by the comfort with her instrument but through her stage presence and awareness of her audience. The result is a very entertaining and memorable performance. So sit back, relax and enjoy the music of Donna Schwartz.

Marie Fristachi

Gifted Musician

As an artist, you strive to translate the ideas inside your head into an emotive work- which conveys your message. In many cases, the most perfect pathway is a collaborative effort with a gifted musician. Donna S represents a wonderful channel of tone and expression and I am thankful to have her talent as an ongoing feature on my releases.

 

Domino Grey

Love Her Energy

I have had the pleasure of seeing Donna Schwartz play live several times, and just love her energy and presence on the stage!!! She can rock the sax like a lead guitar and then take you to the smooth soft places in a ballad…I strongly suggest you check this lovely lady out at any of her upcoming shows and gigs…she will not disappoint you! On top of that she is one of the nicest entertainers I have had the pleasure of personally meeting !! Rock on Donna !!!! We love you!!

Janine Zarrilli

Amazing Musician

Donna is more than just an Amazing Musician. Number One, She is a Beautiful and Caring Human Being that happens to be one of the Most Heartfelt and Soulful Sax Players you will ever find. All that get the Pleasure to see and hear her play Live are left with such a Beautiful Feeling within their Souls…

Tommy Maher

Enjoyable to Learn From

Ms. Schwartz gave me my foundation in music and for that I will always be grateful. She worked to improve my tone, technique, and articulation when I first learned to play the alto saxophone at age 10, and went above and beyond in helping me practice outside of class and realize my potential as a musician. I have never had a music teacher as dedicated or as enjoyable to learn from and highly recommend her for private lessons.

Laura Sanicola

Incredibly Patient

Ms. Schwartz helped me become the musician I am today. I started from the very beginning, playing the bass clarinet under her guidance and she pushed me to do my very best all the time. She helped me qualify for All County Band after less than a year of playing, something I could not have done without her! She is incredibly patient and a fantastic teacher. I highly recommend Ms. Schwartz to any musician.

Arundhati Paul

Made a Difference

There are a few teachers in your life, or your child’s life that you can honestly say made a difference. Donna Schwartz is one such teacher. She was my child’s music teacher for 6 years in elementary school. With her extra attention to detail as both a musician and teacher, she helped develop my sons skills in drumming that by 5th grade – he had won the only drum seat in the All Nassau County Jazz Band that Berry Hill Elementary has had the honor of holding. She is an exceptional person and teacher. Anyone associated with her would be lucky to have her on their side.

Randi Quadrino

Patient Guidance and Constant Encouragement

You worked with Tom right from the beginning: 4th grade! In addition to teaching him the basic skills of alto sax, you also focused on the subtleties of the instrument that helped him feel comfortable to explore the instrument on his own. It was through your patient guidance and constant encouragement that he would discover his ability to improvise. I can still hear you say, “Try again.” You were never judgmental or harsh or negative.

Furthermore, your knowledge of NYSSMA and All County Jazz Festivals helped motivate Tom to hone a piece of music to near perfection. He became part of something that was bigger than himself (no small feat for a teenager!!).

Did you know that music became his niche in high school? It was through Symphonic Band/Wind Ensemble/Jazz Ensemble/Marching Band that he found his circle of friends and won the favor of his classmates because of his ability to improvise and perform. I credit YOU with laying the strong foundation from which he was able to build upon.

Maria Cordell

One of Those Rare Teachers

Donna is one of those rare teachers that operates professionally and also sees “eye to eye” with her students. Students feel comfortable and engaged throughout the lesson and leave each session with a feeling of accomplishment.

Learning an instrument when you’re young is never easy – Donna broke it all down into manageable pieces and then led by example, playing things slowly and allowing the process to really sink in. Being a polished player herself made it easy for me to pick up on proper technique/tone and then develop my own style.

She is dynamic, knowledgeable, and above all, patient – a fine musician in her own right and a dedicated instructor overall.

Tom Cordell
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