Interviews

My Visit to The Piano Cottage

Last weekend, my hubby and I took a little trip to my hometown in Michigan to visit family. I also had the opportunity to meet up with a fellow piano teacher in Grand Rapids — Jody Deems-McCarger. I connected with Jody last fall through my blog, and then soon after had the opportunity to meet her in person when I gave a presentation to the local MTNA chapter in Grand Rapids last October.

Jody invited me over to chat and see her studio, so I took her up on her offer. I thought you might be as inspired as I was after seeing her charming studio, so I have some photos to share!

When Jody and her husband bought their home, behind their home was a stained-glass artist’s studio. After renovations, it became “The Piano Cottage:”

TPC 2013

Continue reading “My Visit to The Piano Cottage”

Interviews

Teacher Feature: Jeff Wille

We are long overdue for another Teacher Feature!  (Learn more about Teacher Feature posts here).

A big thank you to Jeff Willes for being willing to share with us today.  Meet Jeff Wille from the JW Music Studio in Texas!

Please tell us about your piano and/or teaching background:

I started playing piano when I was 9 and took lessons for about 5 years which were primarily classically based.  After that I developed an interest in rock music and started to learn the guitar from a teacher that was classically trained but was in a rock band.  I took lessons from him for about 2 years or so and then after that I just spent hours and hours listening and learning on my own.  I then became involved in 2 bands, one as a keyboard player in an oldies band and then one as a lead guitar player in a classic rock band.  I’ve been teaching now for about 2 and a half years.  Continue reading “Teacher Feature: Jeff Wille”

Announcements, Interviews

Joy Gets Interviewed… :)

A few weeks ago, I received an email from a 16-year-old homeschooler, asking if I’d answer some interview questions for a research project about piano teaching.  I was happy to oblige, and she was willing to let me post my answers here too.  It was kind of fun!

How old were you when you first began learning/playing piano? Around 6 or 7.

Why did you start playing the piano? My mother got me started with her old piano book when I began showing interest by messing around on the piano.  (The book was John Thompson’s “Teaching Little Fingers To Play,” for those of you interested!  It starts right at the beginning with staff notation. :)

What music schools or institutions did you learn music at? I took private lessons with 3 different private teachers during my childhood and high school years. I attended Grand Rapids Community College for my first two years of college, transferred to Hope College to finished my Bachelor of Music degree in Piano Performance, and then afterwards completed a Master of Music degree in Piano Pedagogy. The college-level pedagogy courses I took were the most valuable — and second were the private lessons. I think every piano teacher should take or audit piano pedagogy courses at their local college if they ever have the opportunity. I am a much better teacher because of those classes than I could ever be otherwise!

Who have your teachers been? Various piano teachers in my town, and then college professors at whatever college I was attending at the time. Continue reading “Joy Gets Interviewed… :)”

Interviews, Performances

Teacher Feature | Shauna Leavitt

October is here, and so is another Teacher Feature!  Meet Shauna from the Leavitt Piano Studio in Viginia!

Please tell us about your piano and/or teaching background:

Background:  I started teaching when I was 16 with the assistance of my mother who runs a successful piano studio in Utah.  I taught upstairs while she taught downstairs and whenever I needed help, she was always there to mentor me along.  I was fortunate to grow up near Brigham Young University where I studied with wonderful Professors there (Dr. Douglas Humpherys and Dr. Robert Smith).  When I started attending Dr. Humpherys’ weekly college master-classes, I knew that I wanted to be a piano major when I went to college.  Continue reading “Teacher Feature | Shauna Leavitt”

Interviews, Rhythm

Teacher Feature | Mariel Mohns

It’s halfway through the month already, which means it’s time for a…

Teacher Feature!  :)  Meet Mariel from Mississippi!

Please tell us about your piano and/or teaching background!

I started taking piano lessons when I was 4 years old and loved piano, but when I was in the 5th or 6th grade, I quit lessons for various reasons.  I continued to play through middle school and high school, and started working on more advanced repertoire on my own.  Since I didn’t have a teacher, however, my technique was very limited.  I was accepted into the Lawrence Conservatory of Music for college, and with the help of my very understanding studio professor, learned proper technique skills I needed to really develop as a pianist.  During my freshman year of college, I taught a few students and HATED it. I never wanted to teach again (I didn’t have the patience for it), but after taking the piano pedagogy courses in college and learning how to formulate lesson plans and a bit more about childhood education, I absolutely fell in love with teaching and knew I wanted to start a private studio!!  Continue reading “Teacher Feature | Mariel Mohns”

Games, Interviews, Performances

Teacher Feature | Diane Heath

The new month brings us a new teacher feature!  Say hello to Diane, everyone!

Please tell us about your piano and/or teaching background.

I teach part-time, with a studio of 20 – 25 students, and am also a church musician in Washington, DC.  For over twenty years I’ve taught piano and organ, as well as K – 12 class-room music, and worked extensively with children and adults in church choirs.   Additionally, there was a stretch as a creative home-schooling mom, but now I’m the parent of a college student.   My education was at  Hartt School of Music,  Indiana University, and The Levine School where I earned a certificate in Piano Pedagogy.  I’ve been privileged to study with wonderful piano teachers, including Jeffrey Chappell and Alexander Farkas. Continue reading “Teacher Feature | Diane Heath”

Interviews

Teacher Feature | Irina Gorin of Gorin’s Piano Studio

Hello friends,

Now that the NCKP Conference posts are all up, it’s time to return to regular posts!  Today, we have a new Teacher Feature.  Say hello to Irina!

Please tell us about your piano and/or teaching background!

I started piano lessons at the age of 5 at the Children Music School in Kiev, Ukraine. For 9 years I had 2 individual piano lessons a week (45 min. long), and once a week 45 min.classes: music theory/solfeggio, music literature, choir, piano duet, and accompaniment (in senior classes).

At the age of 15 -19 I was studying in Kiev’s music college where I got my Bachelor degree, and the next 5 years at Kharkov Conservatory, where I got my Masters Degree in piano performance, piano pedagogy, accompaniment and Chamber Orchestra.

I started teaching piano students at Music College as a part of the pedagogy course at the age of 16. Since then, teaching is my main job, even though I enjoy accompaniment.

What is your favorite thing about teaching piano?

Seeing the results of teaching, and communicating with students and their families.  Continue reading “Teacher Feature | Irina Gorin of Gorin’s Piano Studio”

Interviews

Teacher Feature | Sara’s Music Studio

As announced last Friday, today marks the beginning of the brand new “Teacher Feature” series, featuring interviews with ordinary teachers like you and I.  I’m so excited to be sharing with you today an interview with piano and voice teacher Sara Kimbell from Pennsylvania.  Read on!

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J.M.: Please tell us about your piano and/or teaching background! S.K.: My first piano lesson was from my mother when I was 5 years old. I moved around quite a bit as a child, so I had the opportunity to study with many talented piano teachers. In high school I started taking voice lessons, and made the decision to follow music as a college career. Fast forward eleven years (wow!), and I have a BM in vocal performance, a MM in musicology, an new adjunct position at a local university, and my very own music studio just three minutes from my house. This is my sixth year as a full-time piano/voice teacher, and I absolutely love my job!

What is the most unique thing about your studio? In a way, I think it’s the variety that you’ll find in my studio. My students vary widely in age and level, and every one of them has a unique reason for being there. Whether they are a young elementary piano student, intensely focused on learning music from “Harry Potter,” or an adult voice student with the goal of singing in their church choir, my students are wonderfully interesting and they always keep me very engaged! Continue reading “Teacher Feature | Sara’s Music Studio”

Interviews

Announcing a New Series: Teacher Feature!

I love reading interviews.  It’s great to hear the perspectives of different musicians on playing, teaching, and other topics.  After the great success of a few interview posts in the past (remember Andrea Dow, and the cousins Keri & Carolyn?), I began to realize that great interviews aren’t just for the big magazines and the great musicians.  Why not interview ordinary piano teachers like you and I?  We have so much to learn from each other, and we have valuable perspectives to share!

And thus, an idea for a new series was born: Teacher Features!  As needed, random Color In My Piano readers will be asked if they would be willing to be interviewed for this series.  The questions are non-intensive and (hopefully) fun to answer.  :)  I hope to post around 2 Teacher Features each month.

If you are dying to be interviewed so you can share your thoughts to the world, please send me an email!  Otherwise, stay tuned to read our first Teacher Feature interview coming on MONDAY!  :)

Happy weekend!

Interviews, repertoire / methods

Interview: Andrea & Trevor Dow and their Piano Music For Boys

Today I have a fabulous interview for you, from a husband & wife team who runs a 350-student music school in Canada!  Meet Andrea & Trevor Dow.

  • Andrea & Trevor run a blog at teachpianotoday.com
  • The website for their music school, Wildflower Music Studio, can be viewed here.
  • Their latest project has been to write a series of piano music intended for boys.  The series of “episodes” is accompanied by comic book illustrations that tell the adventures of Fearless Fortissimo.

And now for the interview!

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Joy: Please tell us about your piano and/or teaching background!

Andrea: I was heavily involved in piano and singing lessons from the age of 4. I started teaching piano lessons when I was 18.  I had a rusty old Toyota Corolla packed with supplies and I drove to my students’ homes in between my university classes and on weekends.  This quickly morphed into a full-time job when I graduated with my B.Mus and within three years I had a studio of 350 students and a teaching staff of 14.  My husband, Trevor, and I created the Piano Pals Early Learning Program (a preschool piano program for students ages 3-5 that teaches both beginning piano skills as well as kindergarten math concepts), which has been extremely successful at our own studio and is currently in development to be available to other teachers online.  Right now I teach upper-level piano and singing lessons while managing our studio, and together with my husband we create online materials for piano teachers with the goal of bringing them the same amount of success we have created with our own studio.  We co-authored the teaching e-book “Piano Hands Shouldn’t Flip Burgers” last year, are active bloggers, and most recently launched our newest venture with www.pianomusicforboys.com.

What is the most unique thing about your studio/music school?  Continue reading “Interview: Andrea & Trevor Dow and their Piano Music For Boys”

Games, Interviews, Music Camps, Studio Business

Interview: Keri & Carolyn from Piano Stars

Meet Keri and Carolyn.  They are two cousins and piano teachers out of Canada who teamed up to establish their successful piano studio, Piano Stars.  They also sell some unique and original piano teaching materials on their website (click here) and on Etsy.  When I stumbled across their Etsy shop one day, I just had to order a couple of their wonderful music spinners (pictured below)!  Once I contacted Keri and Carolyn, they kindly agreed to be interviewed and featured here at Color In My Piano.  Read on!

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Joy: Please tell us about your piano backgrounds!

Keri & Carolyn: We both started piano lessons when we were 7, but due to our age difference Carolyn was actually my (Keri’s) piano teacher growing up! Carolyn has her ARCT in Piano Performance from the Royal Conservatory of Music and I am working on my Grade 10 with the Royal Conservatory of Music.

How long have you been running your piano studio together?

We have been working together since 2003 for our summer camps, composing and creating games & teacher resources. However, we both have our own home studios for private lessons and teach about 60 students each.

Even though we teach out of our own homes we plan all of our piano events together. We have the same incentive programs and we combine our students together for recitals, halloween parties, pizza parties, pool parties, etc… Continue reading “Interview: Keri & Carolyn from Piano Stars”