Nationally Certified Teacher of Music

(originally posted 8/3/15)

This past year I have been working on an intensive project in order to become a Nationally Certified Teacher of Music (NCTM). The project includes analyzing intermediate pieces from four eras of music history, answering ethical questions about piano teaching, videoing and analyzing my own teaching, and more. I finally compiled all of this and sent it to MTNA headquarters this last April. And at the end of July I received the notification that they have approved my certification. I am now officially a Nationally Certified Teacher of Music!

I am so excited to be continuing this new year of teaching with this stamp of approval on my teaching. I am glad I have the opportunity not only to do what I love as my job, but also to do it well. I want to always continue to grow and hold myself to a high standard. It is a great encouragement to students to see their teacher willing to learn just like they do! 

I thought you might enjoy listening to the piece I recorded as a part of this certification. It is Debussy's Sunken Cathedral Prelude, which is one of my favorite pieces by Debussy. I also recorded it for my CD, but this recording allows you to get a glimpse of my studio. I hope you enjoy! 

Seven Reasons to Take Piano Lessons in the Summer

(this post originally posted 6/22/15)

Summer is here! Sunshine, beach time, family vacations, and oh yeah... piano lessons?

Yes, summer is a great time to take piano lessons! Here are seven reasons why:

1. During the summer, kids don't have the full load of school like the rest of the year. Even if they are taking a summer class or such, they still have the potential for more available time to practice than during the school year. This extra preparation helps a student and teacher get more things done and move at a faster pace than during the school year. 

2. Summer is also short (only about three months until school starts up again), which is a great amount of time to try this new instrument and see if you like it. Two to three months is enough time to give piano a good trial, but not a huge commitment to make if you aren't sure.

3. Especially for beginners, or students looking to get back into piano after a long absence, summer is a perfect time because it is easier to add in a new activity at the beginning of a new season. And summer is a season that (usually) has less deadlines and demands on a student's time. 

4. Also, teachers are more flexible in the summer. Many piano teachers (myself included) would prefer to teach earlier in the day to avoid teaching over the dinner hour. And many students would like an earlier time over the summer - and if they decide to continue in the fall, their teacher should ensure that they can switch into a later time slot. Teachers also usually are much more lenient about missed weeks for summer vacations.

Now for the students who are already taking lessons, many of you may feel like you need a break over the summer. But summer lessons are good for you also! (Of course if a student is feeling burned out, they should take some time off to reevaluate and slow their pace, but most students should continue in the summer at least on a a bi-weekly basis.) Here are two more excellent reasons to continue piano lessons over the summer: 

5. If a student takes too much time off over the summer, their fingers will forget much of what they've learned. This is surprisingly true both for beginners (who are just learning the basics and need a lot of reinforcement to get them solid), and more advanced students (who are learning more complicated concepts and may lose some of the nuances without reminder). Because of this, they will have to spend some of their precious time at the beginning of the fall getting back to where they were before. Which ends up being a waste of money, time, and energy for all involved. Taking lessons over the summer ensures that a student continues their forward momentum and head into the fall with three months' head start on the next school year!

6. Even if a student is motivated enough to practice on their own during the summer, they may have difficulty moving forward. Some bright students (or adult students) may be able to teach themselves with a method book, but this is often the harder way to learn. Lesson books will explain new concepts, but a teacher can demonstrate, guide, and correct a student so they have a more complete understanding and are able to assimilate the new concept into their playing.

7. Summertime is a great time for current students to switch things up and try new things. New ways to practice, motivational tools, or even exploring other avenues of music such as composing their own piece or learning a pop song by ear.  Oftentimes, my students and I enjoy our summer lessons even more than the ones during the school year, because we are able to try some more fun things that we never have time for during the school year. 

Summertime is a perfect time to try out piano lessons. If you are a beginner, coming back to piano lessons from a long break, or just trying to keep your momentum going, summertime is the ideal time to take piano lessons. So what are you waiting for? Sign up for lessons today!