Clavier Werke is dedicated to a complete music education

Piano teacher Jim James (left) gives a lesson to student Sid Chaterjee in his lesson room at the West Lake Hills location.

Piano teacher Jim James (left) gives a lesson to student Sid Chaterjee in his lesson room at the West Lake Hills location.

Image description
Clavier Werke founder Susan Allen (left), her son, Nathan Allen (center), her daughter, Maggie Allen (right), and the school mascot Miles, who is partially named for jazz icon Miles Davis, stand in front of the West Lake Hills location.
Susan Allen opened her music school in its West Lake Hills location in 1999, but she has been teaching music since 1963.

“People would just come to me and say, ‘Can you teach my kid piano?’” Allen said. “And I think I had no idea what I was doing originally. So, it’s just been an evolution for me that I have considered a privilege.”

Clavier Werke means “keyboard works” in German, but the school Allen founded, which she said to date has just under 500 students and 29 teachers, also has classes for guitar, cello, violin, viola, voice and composition.

Allen describes Clavier Werke as a family business, which is evidenced by the fact her daughter, Maggie Allen, is the assistant director of the West Lake Hills location that opened at its current address in 1999 and her son, Nathan Allen, is the assistant director of the Austin location that opened in 2009.

Teachers at Clavier Werke must have at least a bachelor’s degree in music, but most have post-graduate degrees from distinguished schools.

“We have a violin teacher from Juilliard, and we have teachers from Berkeley,” she said. “I can’t quite say how it happened, but that level [of teacher] just comes to me and wants to work here. I feel very fortunate about that.”

Allen said she cannot lay claim to any famous clients, but did reveal University of Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger was a student at Clavier Werke when he was a kid.

“Of course, when he was here he was Sam Ehlinger the little kid,” she said. “We didn’t know who he was.”

But Allen said fame is not her primary focus.

“It’s a joy for me to get a young student—basically a 6-year-old or maybe a 5-year-old, and basically what I’m doing is helping to shape their lives through the discipline of an art,” she said. “It’s about intention, and it’s about commitment.”
By Brian Rash
Brian has been a reporter and editor since 2012. He wrote about the music scene in Dallas-Fort Worth before becoming managing editor for the Graham Leader in Graham, Texas, in 2013. He relocated to Austin, Texas, in 2015 to work for Gatehouse Media's large design hub. He became the editor for the Lake Travis-Westlake publication of Community Impact in August 2018.


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