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Melissa began singing in a church choir at the age of four and has been "hooked" ever since. After years of performing in various choirs and taking lessons herself, she went on to earn her Bachelor's degree in vocal performance at Illinois Wesleyan University and her Master's at Illinois State University. Meanwhile, Melissa was also studying piano from childhood through college. Now in her 21st year of playing, Melissa loves to teach beginner and intermediate pianists in addition to young singers. She is a newcomer to the DC area, and has previously lived, sung, and taught in Illinois, Indiana, and Vienna, Austria. Melissa has performed on both the undergraduate and graduate level (and beyond). Her experience includes operas, operettas, recitals, musicals, and choirs. She has performed in venues ranging from the Indianapolis Opera to the Notre Dame cathedral in Paris. Over the years she has performed in the United States, Canada, England, France, Italy, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Russia, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, and Finland. She also studied piano for many years, and has experience as an accompanist and vocal coach. Other than her pedagogy training and the typical university diction and literature curriculum, she also took 14 years of French, and lived in a German-speaking country for the better part of a year studying the language. Her knowledge of diction and language issues is extensive. This, combined with her comprehensive training in music theory, history, and repertoire, gives her a vast reserve of knowledge and resources for her teaching.
For beginning students I try to start with the essentials. It is important for young children to become familiar with the instrument, the proper way to hold an instrument. The proper way to sit when playing or stand while singing. Fundamentals at the earliest ages are essential. Practicing the fundamentals leads to success which leads to a desire to learn more about the instrument.
I teach music at extracurricular programs in many elementary and pre schools across the Northern Virginia and Maryland area. I also teach private piano, guitar, and violin lessons at my home studio in Fairfax. I feel qualified to teach children, age 5-18, and to do so in a way that each child feels happy, special, and encouraged.
Originally being a self-taught musician, I began with piano and harmonica, then eventually branched out to guitar, bass, banjo, among several others. I have ran sound equipment from an early age as well, learning how to set rigs for full bands and how to mix and master tracks for recording purposes. I have met and played with many famous and unfamous musicians, and find that the highest amount of talent is undiscovered and uncultivated. That's where I can come in to help you hone your craft!
GROUNDED ON A SOUND, MULTI-FACETED, ALL-AROUND FOUNDATION. Like any subject of learning, music study should be rooted in a solid foundation. I strive to address all areas of piano techniques and major stylistic periods as well as various aspects of the basic musicianship. ADAPTABLE TO INDIVIDUAL TALENTS AND NEEDS. As students become more established and self-assured in their skills and knowledge, I guide them through an ongoing process of searching for their unique “piano voice” and finding their own particular interests and strengths. I passionately believe that everyone is naturally and profoundly musical in her own right, and yearns, in his own way, for a life enriched with the beauty of music. My deepest reward comes from unlocking that special gift and nurturing it to grow, blossom and thrive. ABUNDANTLY PLEASURABLE AND FULFILLING. I believe that learning should be intrinsically rewarding, productive, and immensely enjoyable. Sensitivity to my students’ contentment and comfort remains the top of my priority as their teacher. FULL OF SUPPORT AND ENGAGEMENT. I maintain a studio that is dynamic and engaging, thoughtful and caring. As I tailor my teaching style to each student’s unique personality and strengths, he/she can learn with natural ease and confidence. I strive to create for every lesson a lively and nurturing environment where my students can enjoy a positive learning experience. We play, sing, and laugh! ATTENTIVE TO THE ARTISTRY OF PERFORMANCE. Music is, inherently, a performing art, a poetic mode of expression and communication. Thus I firmly believe that all pianists, including professionals, enthusiasts, and novices, not only benefit and grow from the experience of public performances but also deserve such opportunities to play for others and be listened to. I challenge and encourage all my students to participate in semi-annual studio recitals and make the preparation an integral part of my teaching. I am enormously gratified to see my students, having overcome their shyness and reserve, invariably come to enjoy and appreciate the deep sense of fulfillment and satisfaction they are rewarded with following each single performance.
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Musika's piano lessons take place in a one-on-one setting and are customized to the requirements of each individual student. Students vary in ability from beginner to advanced, and naturally have different lesson requirements for each stage of their development. Put broadly, beginners will cover aspects of piano playing such as posture, hand positions, fingering technique, scales, chords, and applying these things to simple songs. They will also start to develop their knowledge of music theory, reading chord charts, and sheet music. Intermediate players will start to take these concepts further, by learning different chord variations, such as diminished, augments, slash, and 7th chords, as well as improving their speed and playing more complex compositions. Advanced students can develop playing skills such as glissando, improvisation, and virtuosic playing. They may also like to study a specific genre like Jazz or Blues piano.
If purchasing an acoustic piano is not an option, we recommend that students look to buy a keyboard or digital piano for their lessons and practice. When buying a keyboard or digital piano, look to purchase one with 61 or more keys, as well as one with weighted hammer action. Having more keys, as well as weighted keys, will most resemble the responsiveness and feel of an acoustic piano. Typically, keyboards are a cheaper option, they take up less space, are portable and can be played with headphones. Some of the most popular brands of keyboard or digital piano are Yamaha, Roland, and Casio.
Musika deals primarily with home lessons for students. The location is the only difference between our in-home lessons and our studio lessons. As they do not have to travel to their lessons, home piano lessons can be highly convenient for those parents and students with a busy schedule. Students will need a keyboard to practice on, however. For younger students in particular, having piano lessons in the comfort of their own home can be of great benefit. They will feel more safe and relaxed in familiar surroundings, allowing them to focus on learning and enjoying playing the piano.
Many older students are fulfilling a life-long dream by taking piano lessons. Some students may have had lessons when they were younger and want to re-learn and others are simply looking for a new hobby. Whatever the aim or reason, there are many benefits to piano lessons for older students. Learning the piano can keep you mentally active, help maintain dexterity, improve your hearing, and stimulate the brain in a creative way. Older students can develop basic technique and music theory quite quickly, as their concentration, thinking skills, and self-discipline are more advanced than that of children.
Learning to play the piano as a child is fun, rewarding, and vastly beneficial to their overall development. Children can develop their motor-skills, dexterity, and coordination through technical piano playing such as learning scales, chords, and correct fingering. Young students can also develop their concentration, listening skills, and ability to master complex thought processes through theory, repertoire, and student-teacher feedback. Learning to play the piano can also be character building by instilling a hard-working attitude, developing self-discipline and confidence through practice, taking exams, entering competitions or performing recitals.
Review by Jonathan
Angela is a phenomenal teacher. She is full of charisma and is a joy to work with. Most of my experience with her has been focused on working in the Alexander Technique and she seems very knowledgeable in this study. I would highly recommend her to any prospective student. I have seen myself improve dramatically in a few short weeks with her guidance (and much practice of course!)
Review by Al
Pavel is doing a great job with my 6 year old son. Pavel is doing a great job helping my son focus on technique and rhythm, which is something previous instructors weren't so successful with. Pavel is organized / structured / systematic, which is what my son needs now, but I hope he relaxes a bit as the lessons continue so that more "joy" comes through.
Review by Brenda Duffey-jepsen
Omar is a great teacher as he provides expert instruction AND the right amount of encouragement. He is a professional musician on several instruments, yet he is patient with beginners! He also has gone out of his way to purchase an appropriate book for me, strings to re-string the cello, and extra attention to tuning. I appreciate how he explains and demonstrates exactly what a beginning cello student needs to know.
Review by Kaleen Todoroff
Noel is amazing. She is helping me to work toward my vocal goals for auditions to several musical theaters. She has helped me choose strong audition pieces and is teaching excellent ways to get the sound I need in a safe and healthy way. She works outside our lessons on new warm ups and new music pieces. She is the best.
Review by Emily
Steve gets you started right away with songs but also goes into music theory and reading music which adds to understanding and appreciation of the music. He is very approachable and you can tell that he absolutely loves music and teaching. It is hard not to be excited about the process of learning with Steve. If you are considering lessons I highly recommend Steve for any level of student.
Review by Mythili Lahiri
My son is truly enjoying his lessons with Chris. He looks forward to them and is motivated to practice. Chris is conscientious and shows up on time and whenever he is supposed to. He communicates clearly if rescheduling is ever required and is accommodating when we need to change the day. I would recommend Chris to anyone.
Review by Nancy Fritsch
I honestly cannot say enough positive things about Rachel. We met her through CYT where my daughter took theater classes from Rachel and was directed by Rachel in several musicals. Because Rachel was so wonderful to work with and so clearly talented at teaching and directing, several years ago, my daughter started private vocal lesson with her and I have seen my daughter's vocal abilities grow in leaps and bounds. Rachel is an ace at picking music to work on that stretches abilities while at the same time, keeps vocal lessons fun. I highly recommend her as a voice and theater coach.
Review by Nancy
Darrell is A-Maz-Ing! He demands results from his students and therefore results come quickly. The time he spends teaching is intense and packed with great instruction. He is a tough teacher but offers lots of valuable instruction that is applicable for music as well as life in general. I highly recommend Darrell if you are ready for results!
Review by Paula Chacon
I've always said, "It's all about the teacher." That skillful, effective teacher who can reach that child and ignite her passion, is truly a gift. Ric does that for my daughter. As a former music teacher myself, the most challenging thing in working with children is how to build their fundamental musical skills while letting them have fun and be expressive. The teacher must create a safe, supportive environment, and Ric does that. Ric immediately focuses on fundamentals of tone and technique, giving my daughter succinct instruction on how to improve, thus she can sense the improvement immediately. Ric seems extremely easy going; even when lighting a fire under her sometimes under-achieving butt, Ric never criticizes, judges or blames. He works with my child, understanding her, helping her problem solve, and even giving her the quick answer sometimes so she can move quickly and stay motivated. Ric balances fundamentals with fun and expressiveness, so my child feels as though she can 'play' and they truly make music in every lesson. I am thankful we found a good match with Ric.
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