BA, University of Nebraska, Music Performance, English minor BS, Youngstown State University, Education/English
2004 - Adjudicated for Omaha Music District Festival 2006 - Received Honorable Mention for Original Composition Contest for Teachers 2008 - Adjudicated for World Piano Pedagogy Conference
I began formal study of piano at age seven, learned to sing by participating choir from seventh through ninth grades, and developed general music skills by being a percussionist in Symphonic Band where I attended high school. From that time, I continued playing repertoire until entering college to earn a Bachelor of Arts in Piano Performance with an emphasis on research. I took a variety of electives including a course on the life and works of Johann Sebastian Bach, a course in Art Song, a seminar in piano Concerto, and a course in Symphonic literature. I took courses in conducting. My college education has enabled me to perform gigs in small venues including studio work for a local singer/songwriter's demo recording and providing background music for social or fundraising events. Additionally, I have participated in special vocal projects as a composer/reviewer and as a vocal coach to children ages eight through eighteen. I am happy with my choices to accept long term substitute teaching assignments for choir and band as well as engagements in the private sector because I believe I am a more informed instructor and can provide much knowledge for my students.
I instruct students by drawing upon practical teaching experience in both the public education and private settings. These experiences total fifteen plus years and enable me to draw students out and adapt to their learning styles quickly. Some things I love most about teaching are helping students develop their voice, their confidence, and seeing them experience personal growth. I make time to play briefly during students' lessons as an example of my own practicing. I also make sure I perform at recitals in order to motivate them to continue learning piano and/or vocal repertoire. I think sharing my own experiences during my childhood and college instruction is an important part of letting students know I have been where they are in their own studies. I love sharing the finest points of music compositions and helping students develop tools that will enable them to learn to become strong pianists or vocalists. Generally, I teach only one area, however, I have learned to develop an approach for teaching piano and voice concurrently for both children and adults who have goals of learning both instruments. I have recently begun to develop singing materials for very young students aged five through ten so they can enjoy choir and/or transition to actual vocal technique beginning at age eleven. I strive to balance between nurturing and holding students to a standard of excellence. I make sure to provide a focused lesson in a friendly and supportive manner.
Students who are beginning with me are presented with two methods and may choose based upon the Theory book. Generally, I present Faber's Piano Adventures, Hal Leonard, and at times, Succeeding at Piano by Helen Marlais. I use Frances Clark's Music Tree for students younger than five years of age. I follow the Lessons and Theory pairing from a student's method of choice. Once students can read the grand staff, I use A Dozen A Day by Edna Mae Burnam to teach keyboard geography and help lay the foundation for developing technique. For voice, I use simple vocal exercises that I have written. For adults who wish to learn to sing, I begin with basics of technique and introduce them to various styles unless they have expressed specific interest, ie, popular, musical theater, or classical. I encourage summer study and use that time to teach out of an anthology in order to allow students to apply their skills with expressive or character pieces. I teach duets in order to help students become comfortable with jazz and blues. I have held service recitals at local retirement homes in order to foster a love of sharing music with others.
I make every effort to help students gain confidence from the very beginning. I often find a way to talk about why I love piano and playing piano music. Then, I help students take on their own expression at the instrument. I often use their leisure and sports activities in order to help them tap into their life experiences and use their imagination in order to develop a musical voice at the piano. Another approach I use is to play simple Baroque, Classical, or Romantic era pieces and have students draw a picture or make up a story. This helps them relate music to expression as well as lay a foundation for artistic expression and interpretation. I teach focused lessons in a relaxed and supportive manner to help making learning fun!
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