Do you know someone who is interested in starting piano lessons? Send them to Grace Piano Studio!
I am offering a month of FREE piano lessons to anyone who refers a new student to me! That's a $350 value! Make sure the referral mentions your name when they contact Grace Piano Studio for a trial lesson, so you can get the credit!*
Aren't enrolled in lessons yourself, but you've referred someone to me?* I will still give you a free month of piano lessons - which includes all books and materials, FREE!
*Note: The month of free lessons will only be available to you if the person you refer to Grace Piano Studio is accepted as a new student and also enrolls in lessons. One month of free lessons for one student for each accepted referral.
Coming to the end of 2016 it is natural for all of us to dwell on the past year. We think of the good, the bad, the highs and lows, and we try to find ways we can learn from the past to help us in the future.
Right now I'm thinking back on my years of piano teaching. I'm not sure why. Perhaps it's because I am watching Grace Piano Studio finally become the piano teaching studio I've only dreamed of for many years. The process has been very slow, and I've made lots of mistakes (and will make plenty more!), but I realize I've had some truly wonderful experiences and teachers. These are some of my favorite memories.
I started teaching piano at a very young age. I think I was probably twelve years old when I taught my first lesson. And I was horrible. Truly terrible. I remember hearing or reading somewhere that "you ruin the first 50 or so students that you have". So I'm glad I started young and got it over with.
My mother understood the value of good piano lessons. We were not wealthy, by any means, so I'm sure this meant that she had to skimp on the grocery budget more than once. She knew that good piano lessons were worth paying for. And I'm forever grateful for her sacrifice for me.
I had piano teachers who believed in me. Christine Kissack, Annie Antonacos, and Laura Kargul went above and beyond what they were required to help make me into the pianist and teacher I am today. If my piano students are blessed to enjoy good teaching at Grace Piano Studio, it truly is because of these teachers who blessed me with their knowledge, patience, resources, and friendship. Many a time they even refused to be paid for their teaching. They taught me to think, problem solve, and be kind and patient towards those who are trying to think and problem solve. I could not play or teach the way I do today without them.
I stopped thinking "Classical Music" was the "Only Music". Music school does a number on you. It can't help but turn you into a Classical Music snob. And though I still think that Schubert is The Absolute Boss, I know my students learn so much about playing piano from "Hedwig's Theme" or "Speed of Sound".
I started requiring my students to practice a minimum of 5 days per week. This is one of the best decisions I've ever made as a teacher. Because my students are required to practice this much each week in order to stay enrolled in lessons at Grace Piano Studio, they come to piano lessons ready to learn and ask questions, they become more excited about piano, and their skills develop faster. And I don't get frustrated by going over the same material week after week. And parents don't waste their money. :) Win, win, all around.
And I let my cat help me teach. Jeffrey has been the perfect TA. I use her name to help in counting ("Je-FREE") and she's there to provide a moment of comic relief after my student and I have worked hard on a particularly challenging piece of music.
I'm sure there are more, but these are some of the things I'm most thankful for in my years of piano teaching.
I am always astounded by the very simple solutions to complex musical problems.
This week, I was working through a simplified version of Beethoven's "Fur Elise" with a new piano student. She has been practicing this piece for a few weeks, and I was proud of her for learning most of it all on her own while I was overseas.
But there was a problem: as she played, her rhythm was all over the place - even though the metronome was on.
This is very common in beginning students. Often when this happens, I'll first check whether they can tell if they were not with the metronome, or ask them to play faster or slower, or assign more metronome practice...
But today I was curious to try a different approach. Could an attention to the beauty of this piece "cure" the rhythm problem?
So instead of talking about the metronome at all, we started talking about the character of this piece.
What was going on in Beethoven's life when we wrote this piece?
Who is "Elise"?
What kind of character was Beethoven?
What do you think he is trying to express through this piece of piano music?
We talked about Beethoven's moodiness, his loneliness, the women he loved who didn't love him back. "Fur Elise", when taken in context, is very personal look into the lonely thoughts of a great composer.
With all that in mind, my student began playing again.
And was completely, wonderfully, beautifully rhythmic.
My young piano student was making art.
Michal Grace Harris
Piano Teacher & Accompanist