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Bachelor Degree, Bachelor Degree: Thomas Edison State University, Professional Certificate: The American College
We always had a piano in the house when I was little. I started showing interest in the piano when I was about 3. At 6, my parents enrolled me at the St. Louis Institute of Music, the premier school for being a music student. The school taught students K-12, and had an accredited 4 year college. Most of the teachers in the preparatory school had graduated from the college, and were well respected musicians in the city. I attended full time from age 6 until I went to college at 18. I attended Texas Christian University. At that time, the piano faculty was one of the finest in the country. As a student, I began offering piano lessons to elementary aged students, and that got me hooked of teaching. I was fortunate that many of my first students were bright, motivated, and learned very quickly. I taught for 8 years, and then was offered a position with an investment firm. I took that, stayed there over 25 years, but continued to teach part time all those years. I was able to retire, and go back to teaching piano full time, which brings joy to my heart every day. I am married with 2 children and 2 grandsons, and devote as much of my life as I can to teaching.
I started performing in my high school orchestra as the pianist, and had friends that wanted to learn to play. That was my first experience at teaching. I taught for the next eight years part time in Texas while I was majoring in Piano Performance and Theory. For the next 25 years, while I was working at my professional job, I kept teaching piano part time just because I loved the joy it brought to me and my students. I also worked with advanced students, helping them prepare for their juries, recitals and competitions. My knowledge of musicology is well known here, and many students need the ,musical insight to make their performances stand out from others.
I teaching methods vary, depending on the age and experience of the student. With elementary, novice students, I use some of the progressive series of lessons, such as Hal Leonard and Bastien. As every lesson changes from what I had planned, using my own teaching methods seem to work the best. In the first 2-3 years, I combine playing songs with learning theory. It is all combined into one teaching method which assures the student is up to speed on both.
From upper elementary on, musicology is added. For a student that plans to keep learning, musicology is the history and the composer's impetus for composing the way he does. Why did Chopin compose so differently from Schumann, and what does the student need to learn to play each composer as he intended? It's very interesting, and separates my students from others that are playing just notes. They may be playing with feeling, but whose feeling? It should be the composers.
I believe that private, individual lessons are the only way for a music student to become good pianists, learn at their own speed, and learn all the different parts of music that need to be learned. Students that take class lessons have to go along with the speed of the class, and does not get challenged. MY teaching style is to push the motivated student to want to learn more. Some students want to be excellent musicians, some are just interested in learning at a pace that is comfortable for them. My style is to find which students are which and move them the right direction. There are students that can't wait to give a recital or perform in a competition, and some that never do, but enjoy playing. So I learn early in their lesson career where they want to go. Sometimes I know by the 3rd or 4th lesson. Sometimes they tell me what they want to accomplish. So it is my job to keep them on track for the musician they want to be.
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