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Both of my degrees were in music education, although I did start a second masters degree in jazz studies. Since 1981, I've been teaching in several settings. I was a full time public school band director for four years, and have taught all the way to the college level and adults, teaching classes in jazz studies and private lessons on saxophone. I've done woodwind coaching as well as private teaching since 1985. I enjoy passing on what I have learned as, from experience, I know the pubic school directors do not have the time to give as much individual attention to the student musicians as they would like.
My passion for teaching is nearly as old as my love of playing music, which began the moment I bought my first album: John Coltrane's Blue Train. Every morning for four years, I caught a 6 a.m. bus to a liberal arts high school on the opposite side of Austin. Coltrane kept me company, and he still does today. I went on to study jazz and classical music at the University of North Texas, graduating in 2010 with a Bachelor of Arts degree. I've performed in Austin, Dallas, New Orleans and beyond, playing jazz and popular music on saxophone and piano. I've also been teaching professionally since 2006. I've tried to preserve the sense of wonder I first felt on those bus rides, and I bring it with me to every lesson I teach.
I tailor my instruction to the needs and wants of the student because I am a strong believer that if the student is interested, they will stay excited about their instrument and be motivated to develop their skill. Goals are set for each student. It is a positive learning environment. I am a good motivator and the techniques used depend on the age of the student as different things motivate the various age levels. I want the student to be happy with and like playing their instrument.
For beginning students who have no experience on their instrument, I usually spend a fair chunk of time working on basic technique using books like the Essential Elements series or Greg Horne's similar books for folk instruments. I usually combine the book material with other songs/pieces relevant to each student's interests. For more advanced students, I usually find a mix of repetoire relevant to their interests and technical exercises for them to refine and develop technique.
It is my philosphopy that all people have the capacity to learn -- although not everyone learns at the same rate or in the same way. I believe in student-centric teaching meaning I try to find out what the student's goals are and then modify my curriculum to their unique learning style. No two lessons are the same!
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Musika recommends renting a saxophone. The student will also need to regularly purchase reeds. The thickness of reed is measure of a scale of 1-4, 1 being with the thinnest, 4 being the thickest. We recommend starting with a softer reed, a Rico 1.5 or 2.
Our recommended starting age for saxophone lessons is age 8 or 9. Most school music programs have students start playing saxophone with the band when they are in 4th or 5th grade. The student needs to be big enough to be able to appropriately hold the instrument with the aid of a neck strap, and have the lung capacity to blow properly.
Musika offers in-home lessons for the same price as in-studio lessons! Lessons in your home are a convenient means for you to develop as a musician. This option saves you time, money, stress, and hassle of traveling!
It is never too late to begin sax! We have many students who begin as adults. Our teachers have experience working with all ages and can work with you whether you are a beginner just looking to gain exposure or advanced player looking to improve.
Each lesson is personalized to the student. The teacher will concentrate on the needs and goals of the individual. However, some topics will always be covered such as: how to clean, put together the instrument, hold the saxophone, develop embouchure, hand placement, and musical comprehension!
Review by Wilma
Gina is very supportive and encouraging. Even though I get frustrated with my progress, she can tell that I've been practicing and reminds me of how far I've come. She challenges me to learn new skills without giving me a piece that I cannot master (with practice). I'm happy that she is my music teacher and look forward to many more lessons in the future.
Review by Scott
David is not only a great musician and educator but also a delightful human. We began using David six years ago as a piano teacher for my two boys. Since then my eldest moved on to acoustic and electric guitar and my youngest electric and stand up bass. Somewhere along the way I began to take guitar lessons also (I was David's most bearded student at age 48). David always came prepared to lead but also to follow, he often asked what we were listening to and taught us how to play it. His ability to listen to a piece of music and transcribe it always left me amazed, we have several notebooks full of songs we learned individually or played as a group. After a shoulder injury David continued to impress by teaching me music theory instead of our usual lesson. I could go on forever, David made a positive impact on my family and feel fortunate to have met him.
Review by Svea Bryan
Brett is an accomplished musician, who shared his knowledge at a level that my five year old understands. He is polite and relaxed in his mannerisms but take a serious approach to focusing on the lesson. He is very patient and engaging with the attention span you'd expect from a kindergartener. His motto ever is "sometime you learn faster by going slow"
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 Lauren Segal
Ed is THE best instructor I've ever had and I've had many instructors over the years in various fields of study. Ed met us at a music store to help choose a guitar, this is after he first called and asked all the right questions. He's supplied my daughter with just the right amount of paper work and just the right amount of new techniques. By this I mean to say that Ed connects with the pace my daughter learns at. I highly recommend Ed AND Musika.
Review by Roberta
My 4 year old son is quite energetic. Another piano teacher tried to teach him before Peter and could not get my son to listen to him at all. That teacher told me that my son had no interest and that we needed to wait before having my son take lessons. Peter started teaching my son a few weeks later. He quickly developed a great rapport with my son. I was astounded when my son sat down and listened to Peter during the first lesson. Peter has remarkable patience and is a natural working with children. He knows when to follow the child's lead. My son is very interested in how the piano works, so Peter takes the time to teach him about this. He is able to use my son's interests (superheroes, Lego, Star Wars, etc.) to refocus him back to playing the piano. Between lessons, he brainstorms on how he can teach my son better. For example, my son was playing the notes, but not understanding rhythm, so Peter looked into it and came back the next week with a new plan which helped. My son looks forward to his lesson every week. When he hears the doorbell ring on lesson day, he exclaims, "Yay! Peter's here!"
Review by Marcia Hecht
Karleen has really turned it around for me. My previous teacher (not from Musika) had me feeling anxious, upset, and incapable...NOT the desired result! Karleen's method is clear, appropriate for my beginning level, and (best of all) actually lets me achieve some progress! I'm actually looking forward to my lessons now!
Review by Ericcharlton
Rahsaan is an extremely talented player who relates really well with my teenagers. He has them both interested in learning. Given Rahsaan's expertise, it's clear that even though they are beginners now, they can learn from him for a long time to come. He's a real nice laid-back guy and both the boys really enjoy their time with him. I've been very impressed and pleased with the experience.
Review by Brooklyn
Laura is a fabulous teacher. She explains concepts to me using concrete examples so that I can understand changes that I need to make to my posture, breathing, phrasing, etc. She makes warm-up exercises fun, and she's got a great sense of humor over all. Her teaching style is collaborative, more egalitarian (she respects what I already know and meets me at my level), tailored to my particular interests and strengths, and I always look forward to our lessons!
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