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Bachelor of Science in Music Performance, Southeastern Lousiana University
Certificate in Music Performance, Ohio University
Post Baccalaureate in Education, K-9, Music Specialist, English Language Arts, History and General Elementary Education
I feel like I've been a musician my whole life, starting when I was about 8 or 9 years old and singing in my first Barbershop Quartet and later joining the Chorus. My voice has been my main instrument and I have had the pleasure and challenge of singing in choruses and lead roles in musicals and operas, as well as many solos in major choral works, like the Bach Mass and Mozart's Requiem as well as works by Benjamin Britten. I started playing the piano in college and have learned to play many instruments in my career. I was an Elementary school teacher for 20 years teaching music, band, English Language Arts, Science, and History. I guess you could say I've had a great deal of experience with children as well as adults and still enjoy working with kids in my studio. I have a tattoo on my arm that says, "Music is my Nature" and I guess that says it all for me.
I have been a music teacher since my college days working with kids in a university program, as well as being a TA and teaching adults. I have had students in my own studio off and on when I haven't been performing or being a music director and elementary school teacher. I try to meet students where they are whether it's a beginner or even someone who considers themselves tone deaf and to encourage them to honestly try, give it a real go. Practice is without a doubt the pathway to success, but not just any practice because that can lead to the development of bad habits that are hard to break. I give my students a variety of ways to approach their music studies, because, if they are taking lessons then they are more serious about learning to become musicians than your general music class students. That makes them special in my eyes because they are taking a risk. I like to equate learning any musical instrument to being a batter in baseball. The best batters still strike out, but when they hit that sweet spot, boom! Learning music isn't just about learning to play an instrument, but to develop yourself and your brain. I used to tell the kids in my music theater program, that they are the cream of the crop in school for taking a risk and showing themselves to the world. I encourage my students to get out there and perform, whether it's in our studio or at school or the band or the local music theater group. To that end it's also the motivation to learn more.
For beginning students depending on the instrument of choice, I use: (In no particular order) Standard of Excellence for Band Instruments, consistent with school best practice methods
Piano Adventures by Nancy and Randall Faber, for consistency and technique development as well as decent solo repertoire for recitals
Hal Leonard's Complete Guitar Course or Alfred, both are good sources.
Rainbow Ukulele for younger students in elementary school plus a combination of supplemental materials I've gathered over the years.
I use a variety of vocal resources garnered from years of professional experience and performance.
Being welcoming and helping my students to be comfortable is important. As a public school educator, I have witnessed the difficulty some students have in trying to be creative and to 'perform' in front of their peers. It's more difficult I find in one on one situations or when their parents are present. It's vital to make connections with the students and the parents in order to set up realistic expectations. A child will not learn to play an instrument overnight or in one week, the commitment to practice and keeping track of that practice is essential. Nothing helps us learn better than encouragement, even when it sounds bad. Any teacher can tell if a student hasn't practiced or put forth a good effort. Sometimes, you do have to let them know you know, but you try to do so gently. Noone is perfect, not even the teacher. The connections I make with my students also helps me guide them during instruction, and to think about and choose material they also might like. All of my students choose personal musical projects to work on and when they are ready to present I give them the opportunity to do so. One aspect of private lessons that is frequently missed is the importance of things ear training and music theory. To that end, though in the student's eyes it is not the most exciting part, we do learn those things. For students studying other instruments I frequently refer to the piano as it is the key to understanding music theory. Without that knowledge a student won't realize their potential, so we do indeed spend some time on it. All in all, my approach is akin to trying to learn about all that music can give us.
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