Bachelor of Music from University of Miami Frost School of Music
Senior Piano and Music Theory Instructor
Gene combines their unique talent as a performer with patient, intuitive instruction as a teacher to give students creative and personalized lessons. Gene comes from a family of educators and guides each student with genuine interest in their progress and self-confidence.
Check out The Gene Knific Trio
Why do you play music?
Music is everything. It’s a language, an expression of emotional and intellectual means, a cultural bond, a community organizer, a topic to spark chemistry on a first date, a medical tool, a core pillar of education, a source of love and energy… the list goes on. It has been an absolute joy to lead a musical life and explore so many aspects of what music is and forage for what it can be. I couldn’t imagine doing anything else!
Why do you teach other people to play?
For me, teaching is as simple as sharing something I’m passionate about with others. I enjoy engaging with students from a wide variety of backgrounds and age ranges, and I learn a great deal from my students as well. I am constantly amazed at how excited my students and I can get about just making sounds together!
How do you describe your lessons?
Flexible, fun, and focused: I cater to my students' needs, whether that means learning some songs for fun or starting the foundation for a career in music. Some teachers can be rigid, but I want to give students a comfortable and engaging atmosphere. I try to really listen when students are struggling and make sure we solve problems together with lots of encouragement from me.
What makes your teaching style unique?
I come from a very eclectic musical background, and that gives me a versatile pallete of styles and skills to impart to my students. With me, you could learn to read music like a classical player, improvise like a jazz artist, and write your own original songs all in one lesson!
What do you do with students at their first lesson?
At first lessons, I like to get to know my students, assess their abilities and musical goals, and then dive in and make some music. It's also a great time to learn about my student's learning style and how I can help keep the creativity flowing.
What are your favorite nerdy or weird teaching tools?
For very young beginning pianists I start with something small, like how to find middle C on the piano, then have the student do distracting tasks - jumping jacks, rearranging shelves, counting games, etc. Then we come back to the piano and the student explains to me what we were just learning. This is always a fun way to know that we’ve locked in a new piece of knowledge through visual memorization.
Who were your favorite teachers growing up?
I was lucky enough to grow up having two wonderful musicians and teachers as parents. They have always been an inspiration and I've learned so much from them. My mother always had very practical advice that was immediately useful - she helped me realize how much I could get done in a short amount of practice. My father helped develop my taste in jazz and improvisational music and I was thankful to begin listening to and dabbling in this kind of music at a young age.