Piano Lessons at Thor’s Studio
Thor Polson has performed at dozens of Twin Cities venues, and his recordings have been aired on four radio stations there and more recently on other stations such as Jefferson Public Radio, KSKQ, KRUU, Pandora, and Jango. His last album Northern Lights received high praise from Jazz Police critic Andrea Canter, and his new album The Portal will be finished by the end of the year. Thor gigs regularly in southern Oregon, performing on occasion with such notable West Coast jazzers as saxophonist Adam Harris, guitarist Ed Dunsavage, and vibraphonist Ian Harland, among many others; he has also filmed two television spots on RVTV with Hawaii vibraphonist Thomas Mackay and appeared with him at the Medford Jazz Festival and the Dunsmuir Jazz-in-the-Canyon Jazz Festival. More recent projects have included tributes to Thelonious Monk, Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, and Wes Montgomery, with tributes to Bud Powell and to the Bill Evans/Jim Hall recording collaborations as current works in progress. Though a jazzer at heart, Thor originally moved to southern Oregon for a three-year course of study in classical piano with Dr. Alexander Tutunov at SOU and continues to take lessons from him occasionally. He also gigs regularly and is available to play jazz solo or in combos for practically any occasion.
- Private one-on-one piano instruction and individualized lesson plans
- The benefits of extensive teaching and performance experience from an improvising pianist with a lengthy background in classical music as well
- Access to various piano styles, both written AND improvised (classical, ragtime, jazz, blues, pop, rock, etc.)
- Music theory (including the ability to read both notes AND chord symbols) as well as other skills such as ear-training, sight-playing, analysis, memorization, technique, rhythm, and improvising
- Affordable prices
- Locations in Medford and at his home studio in Ashland
BEGINNERS: The beginning student should be at least seven years old, though exceptions are occasionally made. Please inquire.
SCHEDULING: To schedule a free trial lesson now, please call 541-482-2304.
TUITION & FEES: For the current rates, please go to the home page by clicking the tab labeled “Music” above, or contact Thor directly by phone or e-mail (see contact information below). The average lesson is 30 minutes long, and 45- and 60-minute lessons are also available (and recommended for older students). Lessons are paid for in one- month increments, and payment is due by the first lesson of each month. Students starting after the first week of the month will have their costs prorated accordingly.
Note finally that approximately 25% of tuition goes towards the studio rental and the cost of transportation to and from Ashland.
Additional costs will apply to books and other materials, all of which can be purchased at or ordered from Piano Studios & Showcase. A recital fee may also apply.
FREE TRIAL LESSONS & OTHER DISCOUNTS: All new students receive free trial lessons, and siblings and other family members interested in lessons are eligible for ongoing tuition discounts. Discounts are also given for referrals, and as the situation warrants, scholarships are available on the basis of need and effort.
CANCELLATION POLICY: The studio uses a reciprocal 24-hour cancellation policy: payment for any lesson canceled by the student with less than twenty-four hours’ notice will be forfeited, and if the instructor cancels a lesson with less than twenty-four hours’ notice, the student will receive a free lesson. One make-up lesson will be offered per month for a proper cancellation. If a second lesson is canceled during the same month, payment for that lesson is forfeited, and no make- up lesson will be given unless there is a gap in the instructor’s schedule. Exceptions will be made for prolonged illnesses and family crises. Finally, students will be notified of any schedule changes made due to holidays.
If a student decides to discontinue lessons for any reason, two weeks’ notice is required two weeks prior to his or her last lesson.
A DIFFERENT APPROACH: Thor teaches classical music through the intermediate level before referring students to local teachers who specialize in that area, and he also teaches jazz and other forms of improvising to students as soon as they have the necessary technical facility. He introduces all potential improvisers to the blues as soon as possible, and ear-training and the ability to read chord symbols and lead sheets are integral parts of his approach. With his background in jazz, Thor can provide the theoretical tools necessary to understand the underlying structure of any piece of music as a basis for creative and effective improvising.
“I found Thor to be one of the most successful and engaging instructors at the studio, and his connection with each of his students was remarkable. Thor thoughtfully and intelligently exposes his students to a wide variety of music avenues that are available to them, and he has had numerous students excel in school and community musical organizations. He is highly respected by students and colleagues alike.”
– Bob Munson, former manager of the Music Studios of Jan Erickson in Eden Prairie, Minnesota
“I’ve benefited greatly from Thor’s great instruction, from his incredible dedication and patience, and from the unique mentoring relationship we have built, and lessons with him have provided much-needed stability for me during high school. I’ve certainly learned from his knowledge, passion, and character and have developed a true love of music of all kinds. Thor’s influence has been far- reaching, and he has instilled in me a desire to continue playing music for the rest of my life. He has been an incredible mentor, motivator, and friend, and anyone that has the opportunity to learn from him is truly lucky.”
– Elise Garton, a former student from Eden Prairie, Minnesota
“Thor has an imperceptible, gentle, motivating force that helped my daughter to excel in her piano-playing. He is an excellent, versatile teacher I can recommend to everybody, beginners and advanced students alike.”
– Irene Augsburger from Ashland, Oregon
“I can quite honestly claim without reservation that Thor remains the most talented student I had the privilege of knowing and working with in college. His ideals are high, and he expects a lot from his students.”
– John Jensen, a former music professor at Grinnell College
“It has been an absolute pleasure working with Thor. He has many strong characteristics that I believe make him a fine teacher: he is extremely well spoken, he conscientious, he is thorough, he is creative, and above all he is a very versatile and talented musician.”
– Laura Caviani, teacher and fellow jazz musician in Minneapolis
COMMITMENT: What follows are Thor’s thoughts on the importance of practicing:
“Experts connect every human’s inborn love of melody, harmony, and rhythm with the part of the human brain that processes language and speech patterns. In other words, our need to express ourselves musically comes to us just as naturally as our ability to express ourselves verbally, and developing both skills is a lifelong endeavor that requires a regimen of practice and perseverance fueled by the reward gained from every single accomplishment, no matter whether it’s distinguishing a half note from a quarter note, playing ‘Twinkle, Twinkle’ for the first time, or performing a Beethoven sonata. In short, if a person has the privilege of learning how to play a musical instrument, that opportunity needs to be combined with structured, daily practice at home so that the information conveyed at the music lesson can take root. It should be borne in mind that it takes time to develop the ability to play proficiently on any given instrument, something that is easily forgotten in an age of immediate gratification in which many things can be acquired with the click of a mouse. Musicians at all levels face frustration, if only because they are constantly trying to improve their playing. In this sense, there is no peak, but only the mountainside, and no goal, but only the process. We all continue climbing.
“The rewards are enormous. Being involved with music has enriched my life beyond measure, and I can’t imagine a life without it.”