With the recent "Snowpocalypse" in the Seattle area, there were quite a few days when there was no hope of getting out of my neighborhood. With so many students living in the hills surrounding Redmond, some families didn't leave home for over a week. Enter online music lessons!
Throughout the snowy week, I met with students virtually using their preference of FaceTime, Skype, Google Hangouts, or WhatsApp video calling.
What I found is that since all but the youngest students were comfortable with the medium of video calls it worked well. The only hangups were when the power went out for a couple of students. Thankfully, they got power back quickly so didn't get too cold.
It was really valuable for me to see students in their home practice environment, and see their setup. I found several people had less than ideal setups and was able to figure out more ergonomic and comfortable solutions for them.
With more snow icons appearing in my weather calendar, I am grateful for the technology that makes this possible. It's nice to have a snow day once in a while but I know parents were thankful to have the lessons so their kids could use some of their free time to learn new music.
I do love the snow- it's so beautiful!
This winter, the recital theme is Friends and Family.
I am looking forward to this one! Making music together is something you see portrayed in old paintings. In real like it doesn't seem like it happens enough, especially in informal settings.
As a young adult I made many friends who also enjoyed playing music, and we played together often. Sometimes it was getting together to play Classical duets or trios, and other times it was more of a jam setting, where if you didn't know the song you could make something up or pick it up as you went along. I encourage my own students in both kinds of playing music with others, and at least sometimes it sinks in.
Before the December holidays I worked with several students to prepare music they were going to share with family. I've had the chance to check back in and the response has been overwhelmingly positive.
For the January recitals, many students have chosen to prepare music with a family member or friend. This sometimes requires a bit of work to tweak parts to be at a good level for kids playing different instruments but it's all coming together! My sister and I didn't have a lot of patience growing up but we did manage to put together a couple of duets that I remember playing over and over.
If you have friends or family members who play an instrument (even just a few notes) we can probably work out something for you to play together. Just ask! And for the parents who insist they are not musical, I can hand you a small percussion instrument or some lyrics and you can join in the music-making. Because it's fun!
The studio is on Week 5 of a six week Practice Challenge.
Here are some of the benefits I've seen come out of students tracking practice:
“You practice and you get better. It’s very simple.”
It's raining outside after a gorgeous weekend. The leaves are beginning to turn beautiful colors and it feels like fall. This week we started back on the fall schedule and it's busy, but the good kind of busy. So far most everyone has been positive about going back to school and getting back into more of a predictable rhythm after another amazing summer in the Pacific Northwest.
Later we'll be talking about practice challenges and winter recital, but for now it's getting back into the rhythm of the school year and making sure you all have interesting and challenging music to play. It's going to be another great year!
The photo below sums up sending off my two graduating senior students this month; moving on to a bright future full of possibilities. I have worked with both of these young women since middle school and it's hard for me to believe they have already completed high school and are moving on to college studies. It's always rewarding for me to continue with students long term, because I get to see them grow in music and life. And then later cross paths around town or connect on LinkedIn as they start their careers.
My goal as a music instructor is to foster a lifelong appreciation of music as well as a love for learning and discovery. I have seen both of these graduating seniors develop their musical and performance abilities and grow their interpretation and depth of perception in music and beyond.
Congratulations to Renee and Carra- I wish them all the best, and can't wait to see what they will do next!!
I may be severely lacking in imagination this time around, but spring is what I am thinking about these days! It's so lovely to see and smell the flowering trees blooming in the parking lot and to get done teaching at 9pm and drive home with the last touches of the sunset painting the sky.
Because it seems like this spring is especially busy for so many, I decided on a simple theme. If you would like, please create a piece of artwork inspired by spring. It can be a painting, drawing, poem, or anything that isn't fragile. Perishable is fine- we welcome spring-inspired cookies! ;) Everyone has been working hard on perfecting their music even as the season gets busy with end of the year events and projects. The first art piece has come in and it is just as cheery as the spring weather makes me feel.
The spring recitals will be Sunday, June 10th at the Redmond Library. Times are 4:45pm and 6:00pm, and both are open to the public. Look forward to a great variety of solos and duets on both piano and flute, and of course some yummy refreshments!
Recently I met with a lovely family interested in private tutoring. The child had been in band all year and was interested and engaged in learning music but the parent referred to the sound coming out of the flute as "noise". Within half a minute I saw that I had my work cut out for me. For over six months the child had been holding the flute incorrectly, with fingers in the wrong places (but compensating in a very creative way!) and hands in a position that made it very difficult to switch from note to note. Thankfully the interest was still there and the child was blowing well.
There are simply too many kids in band, and too many instruments with one teacher to catch problems as they begin and turn into habits. Kids can learn a lot in band but some struggle, especially at the beginning (and the flute is one of the most difficult instruments at the start). These kids are some of the most rewarding to teach. But- most of them don't get that far. They get frustrated or give up and quit band after a year or less.
So please, as soon as you see your child struggling in band, set up a few months of private lessons! It doesn't have to be a long term commitment. Often a short period of instruction can transform a negative experience into a positive one and point a child back on the path of music learning with a solid basic technique.
Just a quick post to say that I am looking forward to our spring studio recital! It will be Sunday, June 10th at the Redmond Regional Library. There will be two separate recitals between the hours of 4:30 and 7:30. Look for more details as the date gets closer!
Spring has sprung! That means many parents are well on their way with summer plans. Last summer my family went on a big road trip so this summer I am looking forward to some time at home, as well as running two music summer camps in Bellevue.
If you are looking for a summer music camp for your young flutist, consider Flute Boot Camp (August 6-10). I am also very excited to announce a brand new camp this year, Junior Flute Camp (July 30-August 3)!
Registration is open for both camps, and while there are still spots open for both camps, they are going quickly. So if you're planning to register, get your form and deposit in today! I am happy to answer any questions about camp to help you figure out if it is a good fit for your child, or to decide which camp would be best.
More information and registration:
What tools or methods have you used successfully to help establish habits in other areas of your life? Have you used a paper calendar or log to write down successes? Enlisted the help of a friend as an accountability buddy? Put your intention out on social media to hold yourself accountable? The same tools that work to help establish other habits such as healthy eating or exercise can also be effective with music practice.
We live in an age of an app for everything, and most kids (and adults!) love to use technology as a tool when working toward a goal. There are all kinds of apps that can serve to help with practicing, including reminder timers, scheduling practice as a recurring calendar event, recording apps, apps that include the option to share your successes on social media, and apps specifically designed to establish habits and routines.
My studio will be doing a practice challenge this winter to help establish or reestablish those regular practice habits that make for steady progress. Stay tuned for details!
Hi! My name is Mariya, and I teach flute and piano lessons in Redmond, WA and am a performing musician. Here I share thoughts about learning music and helping others learn how to play an instrument.