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!
- Name: Sara Kimbell
- Location: Pennsylvania
- Studio website: www.sarasmusicstudio.com
- Studio facebook page: Sara’s Music Studio
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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!
What is your favorite thing about teaching piano? I love witnessing those special moments when a student start making connections and learning new things on their own. For example, I recently had a young student who, after returning from vacation, surprised me by playing a popular song that he learned all by himself. Through some online research, he was able to figure out the melody and a single note bass line. I was so proud to see such initiative! After he showed me his findings, we used our lesson time to learn the actual chord progression. It was a great learning moment for both of us!
How do you stay inspired as a piano teacher? It’s easy to stay inspired when you’re doing a job that you love! I try to keep myself “engaged” as a teacher by reading awesome piano blogs (such as this one!) and by being on the look out for new teaching techniques and games.
What are your goals for improving as a piano teacher in the future? One of my biggest goals this year is to start holding group lessons in my studio. My students and parents all seem really interested in the idea, so now it’s just a matter of figuring out the logistics! I’d also love to find a fellow piano teacher who would be interested in doing music camps next summer. (If you’re near the Sharon/New Wilmington, PA area, please feel free to contact me!)
What is your favorite music book to use with your students? I’m actually torn between two series! My late intermediate students and enamored with Martha Sherrill Kelsey’s “Smokey Mountain Suite” and “Rocky Mountain Suite.” The pieces in these two collections are absolutely beautiful; they provide rhythmic and melodic challenges for students, yet the patterning make them very accessible. My other favorite series is Jazz, Rags, & Blues by Martha Mier. This series is especially valuable for keeping younger male students engaged in piano lessons! In my studio, we refer to these two favorite composers as “The Marthas.”
Tell us about a rewarding or humorous moment in your piano teaching career. There are two that I have to share! The rewarding moment: When one of my young students told me that “Music is very important, because it’s everywhere! It’s in the leaves on the trees. It’s in the bees buzzing around. It’s even in someone knocking on the door!” This statement left me speechless! What an amazing insight for someone so young! The funny moment: While listening to one of my advanced students play a Beethoven sonata, he commented after making a tiny mistake, “Sorry.. my finger fell off.” Of course, he meant, “off the key,” but we both had a real good laugh about his choice of words!
Thanks, Sara, for taking the time out of your busy teaching schedule to share a little about yourself with us! You shared some wonderful stories and resources!
Comments? Leave them below! Or if anyone has questions for Sara, feel free to email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.