I found Jana after sending out an APB for a piano instructor with experience teaching brain-damaged students.
Run-of-the-mill lessons just weren't cutting it for my daughter, who has mild cerebral palsy. I'd been heartbroken to see the spark go out of my kid, who has so much music in her heart but but was burning out on the old routine of drilling scales and following the dancing elves.
Though well intentioned, our previous teachers seemed to feel they weren't giving us our money's worth unless they nagged us to practice every day and perform in a recital every term. (Not that I have anything against daily practice and recitals, but they were just the wrong approach for this physically tentative child, who was already overloaded with special ed and physical therapy.)
Thankfully, things began to look up when I read Jana's proposal. Not only was it clear that Jana had a working knowledge of neuromuscular disorders, but more importantly she "got" that I was trying to enrich my kid's artistic soul without adding to her stress level.
I must confess that, even in spite of the wonderful written proposal, I was nervous leading up to the first lesson; and, given our previous experience, so was my daughter.
But within minutes of Jana's arrival the house was ringing with music and laughter. Of course, Jana's enthusiasm and easy nature won my daughter over instantly. But behind the fun it was clear to me that a great deal of preparation and thought had gone into the lesson. Jana had combed my daughter's Walkman playlist for a catchy song with a straight-forward chord progression that my daughter could play along with on an electronic keyboard that a musician friend has been storing in our basement. Jana brought a portable boom box and a list of program codes for our keyboard. Within minutes my child was producing genuine, "cool" music. No more dancing elves!
At the risk of sounding maudlin, my daughter and I actually wept for joy after her first lesson with Jana. It was such a relief, after a year of tedious school bureaucracy and occupational therapy, for this child to once again feel that she was creative, talented and in control.
We are now two months in, and my daughter still looks forward to every lesson. I've even begun to catch her practicing on her own, without prodding, just for the sheer pleasure of it.
When Jana submitted her original proposal to me, she had suggested that at some point my daughter might like to jam with school friends. As lovely as that sounded, I was skeptical at the time, because my daughter's friends are fairly experienced musicians, and when they had invited her to play in the past she'd expressed terror at the thought. So you can imagine my surprise and joy when, out of the blue, my giggling kid bragged to me the other day that she was working on a tune to play for her friends AND (the ultimate sign of kid confidence) mulling over potential band names!
I wish you and/or your child the same joy. Hire Jana--she is one in a million!
Piano Lessons with Jana
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