Hello! I am Russian Piano Professor Elza Ritter, the founder and owner of the Russian Music Academy of America (RMAOA) in Centreville, VA. I have answered here some of most frequently asked questions (FAQ) about my instruction,  the studio, and other items.

If you do not see your question here that you would like answered, feel free to contact us or post a question on our Yelp page.

Where is our studio located?

The RMAOA studio is located in Northern Virginia at 14768 Basingstoke Loop, Centreville VA 20120.

How do I apply for lessons at the Russian Music Academy of America (RMAOA)?

If the student is under 18, the responsible adult should fill out a Young Student Application. If the student is 18 or older, please fill out an Adult Student Application. We will contact you with the time for an interview/audition. Students with previous experience will be asked to play two different character pieces and two (major and minor) scales. The beginners will have a simple evaluation placement test that Professor Ritter will administer personally.

What is your program?

The RMAOA program includes piano lessons, of course, but there is much more. Professor Ritter also teaches music theory, music history, sight-reading, solfegio, rhythm, and ear and voice training. She arranges ensembles and provides ensemble coaching for students for playing duets, concertos, and chamber music with other instrumentalists.

In addition to weekly private lessons, piano students will participate in a group performance class with their peers. The students will learn performing skills, build up their repertoire, and compete and interact in a friendly atmosphere. These classes provide motivation for practicing and playing perfectly, as well as help students develop appreciation for piano skills, music, and art. Attendance to the group performance classes is highly encouraged for all students.

Russian Piano Professor Ritter and her students perform in two recitals per year. Performance is obligatory if student prepared … and, yes, the teacher performs, too! These recitals are open to parents, guests, and friends. Visit our Facebook page for pictures of our most recent concert.

The Russian Music Academy of America studio maintains a large library of music scores, music books, CDs, and DVDs, which are freely available to students. Russian Piano Professor Ritter encourages students and parents to attend classical concerts to get an understanding and appreciation of classical music.

What is your method of teaching beginners and students with ingrained bad habits?

Russian Piano Professor Ritter has been teaching for the past thirty-six years (and counting). During this time she has created her own method. It is an integration of Russian and American piano teaching techniques and is individually customized to fit each student.

In Russian music schools, beginners have two to three lessons per week to establish and maintain proper habits for correct hand position and posture. The RMAOA method is based on weekly lessons, and it has proven in providing great results time after time. This method has been praised by great Russian teachers like Vera Nosina, Ludmila Starkova, and Alisher Latif Zade. Russian Piano Professor Ritter instruction method is challenging, but it allows new students to establish correct technique and fundamentals right from the start, and of course, correcting students with bad habits in a step-by-step process.

Do you send students to festivals and competitions?

Russian Piano Professor Ritter does send students to Northern Virginia Music Teachers Association (NVMTA) and Virginia Music Teachers Association (VMTA) competitions. It all depends on the student’s level of preparation and if they are ready to compete.

One of Russian Piano Professor Ritter’s students took first place in the March 2017 NVMTA Piano Concerto Festival, and another took third. More information on the competition is provided in the post titled Competition Winners – NVMTA 2017. See the Piano Competitions page for a list of my students’ competition wins.

Do any of your students continue musical education after high school?

Yes, numerous RMAOA students are accepted to and study in colleges around the states and some even in different countries. RMAOA alumni have attended Gnessin Russian Academy of Music in Moscow, James Madison University, Shenandoah Conservatory, Virginia Commonwealth University, Benedictine College, and George Mason University.

Many of my students have opened up their own studios and become successful teachers themselves.

What are your expectations of your students in their weekly practice?

It is expected that students practice consistently on daily basis. Without commitment to practicing at home, there will be little to no progress. Practice time might vary from 45 minutes to 2 hours daily, depending on the level of the student.

From Russian Piano Professor Ritter’s experience, students who have many activities will face difficulties with piano practice despite their love and desire for playing the piano. But the Professor Ritter’s instruction program allows students to get the most out of a weekly 60 minute or 90 minute lesson, even if they have other activities outside of piano.

The RMAOA studio has also found that adults are motivated and always find time for dedicated practice. Read Russian Piano Professor Ritter’s blog about this topic and come join our Meetup group!

Do you use different teaching methods for adults, teenagers, and young children?

Russian Piano Professor Ritter looks at every student as an intellectual person first and foremost. She believes that every one has different personalities and characteristics. The more she can learn about the piano student the more she can tailor the method and lessons to fit every student perfectly.

What are your credentials and influences?

Russian Piano Professor Ritter has Master’s in Piano Pedagogy (the art and science of teaching) and Performance from Gnessin Russian Academy of Music in Moscow. Gnessin is one of the premier music institutions in the world, equivalent to the Juilliard School of Music in America. Professor Ritter was influenced by the great curriculum at Gnessin and the professors she studied with:  Vera Nosina, Igor Nikonovich, and Leonid Block. Professor Ritter has taken that knowledge and created an outstanding program of her own.

George Mason University pedagogy faculty regularly send their students to attend lessons at the RMAOA studio to gain experience on pedagogy skills.

How much do lessons cost?

The tuition rates vary for adults and young students but start at $100 per hour. Russian Piano Professor Ritter and the RMAOA studio offer limited scholarships to students on a need basis only.

Professor Ritter offers special rates for senior citizens, veterans, homeschoolers, and adults who are able to take lessons during the daytime.

What do you look for in a student?

Russian Piano Professor Ritter:  “Love for music and capability for hard work. It is a great pleasure to see my students progress both musically and technically. I take great pride in the personal progress of each of my students, whether it is a perfect recital performance or their incremental development to the next level.”

What do you do if the student comes unprepared to the lesson?

The student should be committed to practicing regularly and coming to piano lessons on time. On occasion, there may be a reason to not be prepared, i.e. vacation, sickness, etc. However, these are rare exceptions and not the norm. If the student comes unprepared regularly, they will be involuntarily withdrawn from my instruction program.

Do you offer accompaniment for singers or other instrumentalists?

Yes, Russian Piano Professor Ritter provides accompaniments for competitions, including the Northern Virginia Music Teachers Association (NVMTA) and Virginia Music Teacher Association (VMTA) competitions and the Northern Virginia area Solo and Ensemble Festival. Professor Ritter also provides accompaniments for auditions and concerts for students and professional musicians. You can read about the full range of her musical activities in the resume.

Do you have any children?

I have one son, Tim Ritter.  He is an ODU alumni, and a retired golf professional. Tim is now the Director of Operations at the RMAOA studio. He is a great son who loves music and plays the piano recreationally.

Who created this website?

Susan Berkery worked on creating this website and was responsible for the initial content in May 2016. She also managed the transition from our old domain (RMAOA.com) to this new domain. If you would like to contact Susan for anything please reach her through the Contact Us page.

Russian Music Academy of America (RMAOA) in Northern Virginia