Music Lessons with Jonn Savannah at Music NJ

For music lessons, please click here to be directed to MUSIC NJ.

Music education has always been a thorny issue, dividing opinion and polarizing arguments as to the benefits of learning to read sheet music, versus learning to play by ear, or a combination of both. Over the past ten years I have seen the virtues and pitfalls of both methods and I am constantly trying to find the optimum balance.

Most people can learn to sight-read sheet music if they have the patience and are willing to put in the time, but not everyone can play by ear. In the initial stages of teaching someone to play an instrument I try to avoid anything which could potentially derail the whole experience. Placing too much emphasis on theory can lead to boredom and the student will give up. The sooner one can play something that sparks an interest in the instrument and the possibilities of what one may be able to play in the future, the more likely the student will continue to learn.

My goal is to connect the student to the chosen instrument as quickly as possible by playing, rather than getting bogged down in sight-reading or theory. Once the interest is there it is much easier to add more complex tuition.

Having quizzed so many people about their musical education experiences I have built up a simple picture of why the standard approach may be flawed. Generally if you look for a piano teacher you are unlikely to be asked what kind of music you would ultimately like to play. Unless you have a teacher who advertises jazz, rock or blues tuition, you will more than likely be taught classical piano. Not that there is anything wrong with this - all playing will benefit from a solid grounding in the correct technique, and sight-reading is a valuable skill. However the percentage of people who will eventually become concert pianists is small. Most students want to play current music, pop, rock, soul, country etc. A lot of this music is not that complicated and can be achieved far easier than learning a Bach Two Part Invention!

My focus is on chords, improvisation, soloing, groove and feel, and the ability to play by ear. 40 years of playing with some of the best musicians in the world has afforded me an extraordinary, real world education, which I use in every aspect of teaching. The lessons take place in the Music NJ Music Studio, which has been outfitted to a top class professional standard. If you are learning piano I can improve your timing by accompanying you on the drums - I might play bass guitar to add some low end to your guitar playing. Due to a convenient cosmic force called 'entrainment' there really is no substitute for playing with another musician to understand and appropriate their style and finesse. Once you can play you can start recording what you do - the studio offers a wonderful opportunity to step back and hear what others hear when you play or sing.

If you like to sing and want to improve I take a similar view: there are not that many people who want to sing classical music or opera. Most singers are enamored with the current pop, rock and R&B artists they see on TV or at local gigs, and want to emulate their style, rather than try and scale the dizzy heights achieved by Pavarotti or Maria Callas.

The main aspect of todays music scene that seems to be sorely lacking, is being able to play and sing with others. Some music schools have this facility, but it appears the desire to hook up with other musicians has diminished. MUSIC NJ hosts supervised Jam Lessons and Acoustic Jams on a regular basis to allow students to interact and learn to listen while playing. The experience of being in a band setting comes alive when there is a seasoned musician at the helm.


Jonn is quite knowledgable about all facets of music. He is quickly able to understand what someone wants to learn and guide that person through it in a style that is customized to each student.
 - Michael Kelly

After approximately two years of knowing Jonn Savannah as a teacher, three words come to mind: engaging, knowledgeable, and transformative. He has parlayed his musical talent and understanding into a rich instructional experience. Our children have been so lucky to have the opportunity to study guitar, piano, and voice under his guidance!
 - Elizabeth Palmese

Jonn has taught music instruction to my young son Riley for the past three years (first piano, then enthusiastically pursuing guitar). He has even revitalized my own long-abandoned interest in piano (and I did not think that was possible). There truly is not a more inspiring and engaging music teacher. The goal was to find a teacher with non-conventional instruction methods, and we have found that diversity in Jonn, who has tailored his instruction to my son's goals and needs. Adding to his individualized instruction, the real-world musical interaction provided through his jam sessions is invaluable and unique to his instruction. He has always been open-minded to our requests, even giving us recording demonstrations on Pro Tools and Garage Band. My son idolizes him - music has become a main interest in his life, and we are thankful for that!
 - Sheryl Charzewski

For the past several years I have taken guitar lessons with Jonn Savannah. He is without question the most skilled teacher I could have ever imagined. His style is a wonderful combination of professionalism and comfort. While he knows his craft and has years of his own professional success he was quickly able to gauge my skill level and teach me accordingly. The lesson time is fun, educational and based upon my needs. Additionally, he is able to conduct his lessons in a beautiful state of the art music studio. Anytime I hear of someone looking to take music lessons I immediately steer them to Jonn and he never disappoints.
 - Mike Plumeri

I would recommend Jonn Savannah to anyone who wants to learn how to play music. My daughter sings and also is learning how to play the drums, piano, keyboard and guitar!
 - Tiff Byrne

John's tremendous background and knowledge in the music industry has given Amanda such confidence to progress with her vocals, in her ability to perform and become a talented young musician.
 - Stacey Frank

I started working with Jonn a few years ago. I always wanted to play guitar, so finally when I was over 50 years old, I took the plunge. I had no background in music and, more importantly, no innate talent. However, with Jonn's direction, guidance and support, I am able to play songs, do some soloing, feel comfortable playing in front of others and continue to progress. Some of the songs I play are 'Wonderful Tonight', 'Sunshine of your Love', 'Best of my Love', 'The Thrill is Gone' and several others. I come in and say, "I would like to learn . . ." and Jonn says "OK" and we start. He has been patient and helpful. It is such a positive feeling to have a "real" person to work with and who provides immediate feedback and correction. Another advantage of working with Jonn is his openness to the student's needs and learning style. He is not tied to one way of doing things and works well on all levels of a student's cognitive abilities. I would advise anyone looking to start, or just raise their level of playing, to seek out some time with Jonn Savannah - you will not regret it.
 - Tim Marchio