Ralph J. Greenspan

I have been studying piano with the IntelMusic Studio.  As a stroke survivor and a neuroscientist, I was intrigued by the neuroscientific orientation of their teaching approach.  I have not been disappointed.  I feel that their approach is effective, very compatible with my understanding of the brain and of neural plasticity, and that it has been very helpful to my stroke recovery.  There is a difference in a teaching method that complements and builds on the brain’s own strategies for acquiring new capabilities.  A key aspect of this approach is the integration of musical training and neuroscience.  In this respect, I find the IntelMusic approach to be innovative, exciting, and therapeutic.  I have found it to be complementary to the stroke rehabilitation therapy I have doing, and feel that it has accelerated and enhanced that therapy.  I recommend it to anyone who loves music and who is interested in the brain.

Most importantly, they accomplish this without sacrificing musicality or competence in playing.  Instead, it enhances the student’s musicality and musical understanding, integrating music theory and interpretation into the teaching program.

Altogether, studying at the IntelMusic Studio has been an enriching experience for me.  It has expanded my horizons and my understanding of music and of the brain.

Ralph J. Greenspan, Ph.D.
Director, Center for Brain Activity Mapping, Kavli Institute for Brain and Mind Professor, Neurobiology Section/Division of Biology, and Dept. of Cognitive Sciences University of California, San Diego
9500 Gilman Drive, Dept 0126
La Jolla, CA 92093-0126
Phone: 858-822-7657
Fax: 858-534-3596



I have watched Maia carefully build the foundation of music in my young son over the past 18 months. This is not a foundation for just an ordinary house of piano playing, but she has laid a vast foundation, strong and wide, intended for a lifetime of music, a spectacular palace of music. I can see the rooms beginning to take shape on this foundation as Maia artfully builds a little in each room at each lesson. I can see the rooms for rhythm, chord structure, performance, and music theory. There are rooms for sight reading and accompaniment. And great halls for improvisation and composition. She works to awaken the music that is already within and give it a place to develop and grow. She then shows the student how to use the piano as an instrument of musical expression to reveal what has been built in their palace. Already I see the expression of emotion and color and the telling of stories in my own son’s playing.

To bring forth music that is alive, Maia’s method of teaching is likewise lively. She draws on a hundred different techniques to coax and mold, prod and coach, until she hears from the student exactly what she was intending to teach. She will have them sing the notes, play with their eyes closed, sing melody against left-hand chords, play duets, switch from hand to hand, drum on the piano bench, play in the air, improvise variations, interpret her playing, and sometimes just simply walk in a figure-eight. All of this is done with precise classical technique (finger position, hand position, arm position, shoulder position, body position, feet position, breathing) to give the fingers the ability, fluidity, speed, and strength to express the music that is within.


To start piano lessons at 63 is kind of challenging some may call it crazy. But not if your teacher is Maia.She discovers the mystery of music for you and you begin to love and enjoy every minute of it and by the time you notice you are actually playing real music. It is a miracle happening in broad daylight.


We found Ms. Amberstone and her unique and innovative piano teaching techniques by chance but we are so happy we did. Our son, Joseph (age 10) has been a student of Intelmusic for 2 years. Prior to that he studied for one year in a traditional piano teaching environment with less enjoyment and less progress.

Thanks to Ms. Amberstone, Joseph loves making music. We never have to push him to practice. He loves all the different sensory approaches to each piece (shadowing, writing, listening, singing, naming and making associated drawings).

As a former student of classical piano and a former foreign language instructor, I have been familiar with both traditional American piano teaching techniques as well as the innovative approaches to learning developed in Bulgaria, Ms. Amberstone’s home country. As a parent, I am so pleased to see such effective innovation employed in piano instruction. Our son has made such remarkable progress with Ms. Amberstone that I would recommend her and her methods to everyone seeking piano training for their child or family member. I wish I had the time to take lessons too!”


In June 2006, my 11-year-old, a high functioning autistic son, started to take piano lessons. We felt that the experience we had with his one-of-a-kind teacher must to be shared.

Mrs. Maia Amberstone had developed a very unique program for teaching music INTELMUSIC. A program that is sensory integrated. It is one that is able to bring the child’s mind into an understanding of their body and emotions in the presence of music. Moreover, this methodology can be easily applied to other areas in our child’s life, education, arts and sports.

The INTELMUSIC system covers vital issues often missed by Music Therapy sessions we had tried before. We have found from experience that Music Therapy was triggered either to a social intervention group or as a substitute for mainstream music education. Music Therapy had been a way of teaching the basics of rhythms, Nursery tunes and instruments.

However, I could never find an individualized program that could develop my child by his needs. It was either too generalized or very often minimized the challenges. The worst was that it was taking for granted that there is a disability. There was no effort made in being more intuitively creative or finding other ways to get through difficulties with my child.

The impact INTELMUSIC system lies within the fact that it is asking for your brain to work, calling for your thinking ability to comprehend. It is very analytical and carries a lot of logic. It is an essential format that works well for most of our children who are missing the intuition to read facial expression or understand typical social gestures. The physical work like sitting position and arm or fingers movement covers typical O.T. Therapy instruction. Teaching your body to adjust to the right posture and breathing enhances oxygen going to the brain. This work is contributing to improve my child’s posture in school activities as well.

The lessons are not based on early Nursery rhymes, which many of our children either resist or are unable to follow. Maia’s music, mostly her own original compositions, makes a lot of sense. The combination of notes is almost mathematical.

During a lesson a child will listen to a new piece of music, read the notes then tap the rhythm on his/her body or another adequate surface. The child will then work their notes with his/her own fingers in the air, until they get the right fingering and the best structure of the hand and body. This will follow by the child performing it with their eyes closed – an elementary sensory developmental issue so often missed, and so important. It is followed by the child singing out loud using the Do-Re-Mi notes, a system you can make perfect sense for singing. This allows the child to associate the note with the sound and develops hearing ability for a perfect pitch. After a while some of the children are able to tell what notes are used in different songs. Observing it brings you a feeling that you have just discovered a new child protégée!

Now, after going through the learning process comes the playing part. It is amazing how well my son can perform at this point. In addition, because the learning process is so comprehensive and logical, my son, soon afterward was ready to write his own piece of music. Such creativity happens frequent to many of Maia’s students.

It is hard to even imagine the full process of: self-help, finding yourself in space, learning to listen to music with your whole body and soul and simultaneously to another person, is involved in this system. Not forgetting other things like following routines, learning sequencing and most of all learning about yourself your likes and dislikes. From my point of view, the most important thing for my son is the chance he gets in developing his intuitions and his instincts.

We all know the advantages of learning music. It is elevating for our soul, it teaches us self-discipline, it builds attention and it develops our brain. I think that INTELMUSIC’s teaching program structure, is an amazing tool for our children on the Autistic spectrum.