Thursday, August 11, 2016

Music Workshop Summer 2016

Hello Everyone,

It really has been too long since I've posted last. I'm a little behind. I still have yet to post about the spring recital. It has been such a busy summer. For one, I hosted my first music workshop/camp ever. It was so much work and required so much preparation but it was so worth it. I had some wonderful students and we had a great time! 

I had initially wanted to do two separate classes but being the first year I had ever done this I had to combine all the students into one class. I really wanted to place the emphasis on "music fundamentals" and open it for students who had never had music lessons before. About half of the class were my own students and the other half student had little to no formal music education. This made it challenging to bridge the gap. Nonetheless it was such an awesome experience. 

Getting to know one another.....

The kids favorite part was learning to play the recorder! It was so neat for them to learn something new! They all did a great job on the last day we had a little "recorder concert" where the parents came to watch them play in front of the whole class. It was just so fun to watch them learn each day and improve on an instrument they had never tried to play before. 

I could not have done it without my amazing teacher assistants, Janele, Lili, Joel and Gabrielle. Wow! I was so fortunate to have their help during that week. No way I could have done it without them. 

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Video Lessons through Timeless Harmony Studio!

I am really excited about today's announcement! I have tossed this idea around a few times and even have done it a time or two but just have never really come to a conclusion as to whether I wanted to pursue it. Finally, the other day I decided "Why not?!". So today I'll be going through with my decision! I am going to be offering skype or facetime lessons!


I have done some research on the topic and know people that have gone this route. It's not my first choice but I also think it's a wonderful feature. Some people are against it (I was hesitant myself) and many teachers have found that it works just as well as private lessons! I wanted to sort of lay out some pros and cons and my own set of guidelines in this blog post. 

Pros: 1. Teaching from a remote location.

As some may know, I moved to Connecticut from Tennessee about 8 months ago and had to leave my students in TN. This was very hard! I really enjoyed my students there and felt terrible for "leaving them behind" so to speak. With this feature, I could have kept teaching those students. Now I know for the future it's possible to keep that history with those students and continue teaching them. Also, if a student needs to leave for any reason, for instance over the summer or an extended vacation, I can still continue lessons provided the right means of equipment are available. 

Con: Personal one-on-one lesson time is lost.

The only bad thing about teaching via skype or facetime is that the personal touch is lost. It's just not the same as having a real life student/teacher relationship. However, I do believe that it is possible to maintain a great working relationship online. In fact, my college teacher teaches through skype to one of my friends and having not known my old professor personally, he still enjoys his lessons just as much. 

Pro: Requires the teacher and students to be much more thorough and organized.

People don't realize it but a piano teacher does have to "practice" prior to teaching a student during a piano lesson. Especially with children, I almost always write out a lesson plan. I focus on a goal or concept I'll be going over that day. I integrate ear training or theory into the lesson and always try to have something creative and fun. It doesn't always go as planned of course. I improvise along the way but I try to be prepared for each student and cater to their specific needs. Without actually being physically with the student, knowing how to read them, listen and understand I believe as a teacher I will have to be even more organized with my lesson planning. It takes longer to explain things over video or audio therefore it will require more organization. This is not a downfall though as I think it is much more of a good thing! 

Con: It will take a special kind of student.

I think it will take a special kind of student to take video lessons. It will require them to always always always be on top of their game. If the material has not been reviewed or practiced then it really will set the lesson time back whereas in real time, certain things can be taught or used to provide the student with a well-rounded lesson. Maybe the student would normally skip over pieces he has a question about and ask at his next lesson but I think this will be more of an hinderance with a skype or facetime lesson. No more of "Well, I had a question on it so I didn't practice it". No, the student will have to take initiative and try to figure it out on their own. Thorough practice and strong motivation will have to be qualities of a video lesson student versus a private lesson student. These should be the qualities of any student but even more so with online learning. 

I am sure there are more pros and cons but those are some of the first ones I have mulled over myself! So here are some guidelines I am going to go by for my own studio. 
  1. must be at least 60 miles away to begin taking video lessons
  2. must have a device to use during lessons and a strong connection to internet (phone, ipad, computer)
  3. must pay online through paypal (check or cash cannot be accepted)

My reasons for these three guidelines are A) I cannot accept students to do video lessons unless there is a legitimate reason why. It's not my first choice for means of teaching. B) Without a strong connection to internet, lessons will become really frustrating so I would like to avoid that if I can. And C) I normally accept cash or check but with a greater distance, Paypal will be so much easier. I have set up a secure account and can even send out email reminders. I may end up going with this with all my students. 

I am so excited to be offering this feature in my studio. I hope I can help many people that live a little farther away! And from the research I have done, there seems to be a lot of success with video lessons. It's new but new isn't always bad. Please contact me if you are interested or have any other questions!


Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Christmas Recital 2015

The first recital for Timeless Harmony Studio was a success! Here is a video of the night. Sorry for the late start and I wish I had put the camera at a different spot but now I know better for next time. Did they not all do such a good job? I was truly amazed and so proud of them! Only wish I had taken more pictures ( I only got two students)....that was one thing that just totally slipped my mind. What do ya do!?

Looking forward to what's in store for these students next year!


Wednesday, November 18, 2015

How do I know my child is ready for piano lessons?

Many people wonder when to start their child in piano lessons. Should you start them when they first seem interested in a musical instrument? Should you wait until their in school? What about if they can't seem to sit still? Will my child learn anything at such a young age? I can answer these questions and maybe help parents understand when the best time is for their child to begin a formal musical education and why it is the best time. 

For most children, their interest with music begins early, probably between 4-6 years old. Whether it's singing in the car or having watched a family member play or use a musical instrument, they try to copy. I used to watch my mom play piano and then "pretend" I was playing something when I had no idea what I was doing. (My mother even took a picture of it!) This is when most parents start thinking about offering piano or another form of music lessons to their child. And let me just say, this is a fantastic idea. Investing in your child's musicality early is a very good thing. In fact, it's the best time to do it. Why? Because when they get older, they're more interested in sports, or friends, or something else, and it will be harder to dedicate the time. But first, do these things. 
1) Decide whether your child has a true interest in music.
Begin your child's musical development early. Whether it's through singing songs in the car, or letting them have a toy instrument, just see if they like music. Some would say "Oh little Johnny is going to be a prodigy and he needs music lessons!". You mean well but this is not always the case. Make sure this is not your dream, but truly an interest of your child. Some kids will take years of lessons but cannot play a lick of piano because they never really "loved" it. It's a balance of knowing whether your child "wants" it or would just rather play instead. This has to be the parents decision since they know their child the best. 

2)Decide whether your child is mature, despite their age.
Age is not always the answer. One 5 year old could be ready but a 7 year old may not be. Give your child time to develop social skills. If they are extremely shy and have a hard time being separated from you, they are probably not ready. Some children do better in group lessons rather than one on one. Some need the one on one attention. A lot of this depends on the teacher too. There are a few things a child needs to be able to do when they're young before he can begin any type of musical lessons. They are as follows:

-The child needs to know the difference between his left hand and right hand.
-The child must know his or her ABC's and count to 10.
-The child must understand basic commands and follow through them such as "Let's sing a song together" or "Show me the notes that repeat".

So no, five years old is not too young. Yet, knowing when your child is fully ready is dependent on their maturity and development. No child is the same. But any child can be made into a student if given a chance. 
3) Decide if you are ready
Contrary to popular belief, it requires just as much work from the parents is it does the student. It's take hard work. Once your child begins music lessons of any kind, it is now your responsibility to make sure that part of their life is facilitated. It cannot come and go. It's will now always be a part of them just as music is a part of everyone of us. If a parent is not ready for the commitment, and half-heartedly begins piano lessons and unfortunately has to stop, this is not good for the student. However, a parent that is fully committed to helping their child through many years of lessons, the student has much more potential. 

My suggestion as a piano teacher, if you're thinking of putting your child in piano lessons, is to think through these three things Then, find a good teacher and ask their opinion. Let them assess your child to see if they are ready. They're the professional. If you don't know, let them decide. If you find that their are not ready just yet, try to instill an appreciation for music, whether it's through singing songs in the car, or letting them have a toy instrument, allow them to experience it at a young age.  If they are ready, get a teacher who likes kids. Not someone who can't handle their wiggles or silliness. Someone who is patient enough to bypass those things and grasp those moments of learning. Basic principles and fundamentals of music will help your child in many other aspects of life such as discipline, responsibility and accomplishment. It's never too late to start your child in piano lessons. I hope this helps someone decide when is the best time for their child. 

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

First Recital

I'm excited to announce we will be having the first recital for Timeless Harmony's students on December 8th. I'm so excited that students will have an opportunity to perform and demonstrate what they have recently learned in the past few months! And to make it even better, they will be playing Christmas music! Parents, family and friends are all invited. Refreshments will be available at 6:00PM and we will begin the recital at 6:30PM. Can't wait to see you there!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Why I Decided to Become a Piano Teacher

Hello All!

It's a beautiful fall morning and I'm reflecting on some things and thought I'd share it on the blog. It's about my story as a piano teacher. Let me start off first by saying I never thought I would be doing what I'm doing even before I went to college to study music. I would have never dreamed I'd end up loving to teach others about how to play an instrument I've come to dearly love, the piano. The reason why it was such an "odd" occupation for me is because I never had a teacher until I went to college. My first piano lessons were at The Crown Conservatory in spring of 2010 yet I had been playing the piano for years. Still, the thought of teaching piano had never occurred to me until....

I was sitting in freshman orientation which is class every freshman has to take (silly, I know) and the topic of private music lessons came up. I was taking piano lessons and thought that it was really a bore and I knew everything already (which I certainly did not) and the music director said, "If you have a talent, gift or knowledge of anything musical and you're not teaching someone else or preparing to teach one day, you're basically throwing away what God gave you." That statement hit me hard. I had never thought about it that way. I never had a desire to teach until that moment when I realized I was not learning and growing for myself, but for others. To not pass that along would be a shame.

Since I was mostly self-taught, the idea of teaching someone else scared me. I had been told you can learn just as much on your own than from someone else. But I don't agree with that now. The reason why teachers are so important, I think, is because you will only go so far on your own. It is true there are many talented and gifted people that can play just as well as anyone who has taken lessons since they were young but there is still an element of "passing it down" and "coaching". They say you never know your subject well enough until you can teach it. Someone cannot teach unless 1) they try it and 2) they have been taught by someone else. Not just taught to do something but taught to teach. My teachers in college taught me many things such as musicality, scales, cadences, classical music and how to interpret it, sight reading, chord substitution, improvisation. And many other important things like discipline, hard work and dedication. But the most important thing my teachers taught me was how to teach and why it is so important.

I went to college thinking I was only gaining knowledge for myself and realized that I was learning for other people too. This is why I have a heart to teach. Some very dedicated and patient people invested in me as a student. I learned from them. Sometimes I learned what not to do but mostly what to do. I am very thankful for that. An opportunity to invest in somebody's musical education is an opportunity to invest in somebody's life. That's what "passing it down"means. Teach.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Lessons Have Begun!

Lessons have begun! I still have openings left. Have your child learn something they will be able to use for a lifetime!