How did you get started doing this type of work?
I started taking piano lessons when I was seven years old. I had no idea at the time that I would one day be teaching others how to play this amazing instrument, but what seven year old has such foresight?
My lessons continued through high school and it was at that time that my piano teacher suggested I start teaching my own students. I liked the idea of making a little money and so at fifteen years of age, I had some business cards made, put up a flyer at our local grocery store and within a short period of time had a handful of students.
The way I learned to teach was to begin students by learning to "decode" a page of music. Students needed to understand many bits of information in order to accomplish playing a single piece. Reading notes turned out to be quite challenging for most of my students and I was quickly disheartened.
I graduated from high school and attended college out of state. Happily, I gave my small student body to my sister who was also teaching piano at the time.
Playing the piano, in my personal experience, had two parts of enjoyment for me. One part was the bliss that came from playing a number of familiar songs, sight reading new music easily and composing my own songs. The other part was the satisfaction that came from being a student. Learning challenging classical pieces, playing with precision, emotion, passion, being told that I could go on and pursue music as a career, i.e. becoming a concert pianist.
The thing I missed out on as a student was understanding the gift of music and experiencing music as a collaboration. I was a "solo" pianist focused on being precise and making the music sound as close to what was suspected the composer wanted. There was little freedom. And absolutely no exploration.
When I stumbled onto Simply Music, I wasn't looking for something to change this "strict" perception of what piano music is and how it is to be played. I wasn't looking to be challenged in my musicianship. I wasn't looking for anything new or different. My Google search for "piano lessons in groups" put Simply Music at the top of the page and I looked at the website and then kept looking and reading and watching (testimonial videos). And what I found hit me somewhere deep in my core. It hit me in that place that just knows without knowing why. I had discovered something that I wasn't sure I was ready for. Did I want my life to be turned upside? Did I want to be challenged in ways I'd never been challenged before? Obviously, the answer was yes.
Since joining the Simply Music family of teachers, I am happy to say that it's been a road filled with exploration, discovery and, of course, great sounding music. This is one of the only organizations I've ever known that fully supports the teachers in developing their own musicality and thereby bringing that to their students for their own musical experience.
What types of customers have you worked with?
Students of all ages and backgrounds come to my studio wanting to be musically self-expressed. Part of their musical journey is learning lots of great sounding songs and part of it is learning to self-generate their own music. There is nothing quite like having a brand new student discover that he can compose music using some very basic tools.
Describe a recent project you are fond of. How long did it take?
One of our recent studio wide initiatives has been the 32 Day Challenge. With nearly 100% participation, students are committing to 32 days of practice. The genesis of this initiative is the result of a dad's struggle to get his son to practice. After reading an article about NASA's astronaut training and learning that it takes 32 days for the brain to form a new neurological pathway, he decided to introduce this challenge to his son. A transformation occurred in those 32 days. Though it wasn't easy and many tears were shed along the way, his son developed a new neurological pathway that later led him to do a 100 day challenge which he recently completed!
I introduced this to my student body and the response has been incredible! Students are transforming their relationship to the piano, their practice and music!
What advice would you give a customer looking to hire a provider in your area of work?
There are many piano teachers and programs out there to choose from, both traditional and non-traditional. Traditional programs typically focus on learning to read notes as a means of playing songs on the piano. This approach has been around for 300 years and students of this method who find reading to be easy (about 1%) can have a successful relationship with music and the piano. Those who struggle with reading notes, often decide that learning to play an instrument is simply not for them. And often they believe themselves to be unmusical.
Simply Music offers something that traditional methods can't. It's the experience of knowing you're musical, right from the start of lessons. Simply Music is a vehicle for students to immediately experience success with learning to play the piano.