Wow, what a year we've just had! 2020 brought endless challenges for everyone. Although my teaching studio took a hit, I'm grateful to say it survived! I'm so proud of the students who persevered through remote lessons when we couldn't meet in person! Although I still offer remote lessons, I'm happy to currently have all in-person students. Facemasks are worn and the piano is cleaned. And we're so fortunate to be making music, especially when so many other activities have been put on hold! So, I thank all my students, current and past, and I welcome new budding musicians !
This new school year brings a new normal in light of the pandemic. Whether attending school or work in person or remotely, everything is a little more challenging these days, isn't it?
At the moment, I have mostly in-person students, with a couple taking remotely. I am open to any method that helps the students have a better experience! Now, more than ever, music is a necessity. My goal in lessons is always to bring more fun - with interactive games that teach music theory, engaging worksheets, music listening sessions, and of course by playing and singing a variety of styles and genres.
I'm looking forward to a great 2020-2021 season!
Now Enrolling for Summer!
As our community begins to reopen following the Coronavirus pandemic, I'm now offering both in-person AND remote lessons. Having taught remotely since early March, I'd like to offer students the choice to come back to my home studio or continue learning remotely.
Safety precautions will be followed for in-person lessons.
Summer is a great time for beginners to start lessons!
It's also a beneficial time for current students to improve their skills, try new styles of music,
and devote a little more time to practicing.
Students who drop their music study during summer tend to regress, and spend weeks of review and catch-up in the Fall. Summer lessons with me can be scheduled on a flexible basis, working around your vacation.
From New York Times article, "Early Music Lessons Have Longtime Benefits", published September 2012:
When children learn to play a musical instrument, they strengthen a range of auditory skills. Recent studies suggest that these benefits extend all through life, at least for those who continue to be engaged with music.But a study published last month is the first to show that music lessons in childhood may lead to changes in the brain that persist years after the lessons stop.
Researchers at Northwestern University recorded the auditory brainstem responses of college students — that is to say, their electrical brain waves — in response to complex sounds. The group of students who reported musical training in childhood had more robust responses — their brains were better able to pick out essential elements, like pitch, in the complex sounds when they were tested. And this was true even if the lessons had ended years ago.
Indeed, scientists are puzzling out the connections between musical training in childhood and language-based learning — for instance, reading. Learning to play an instrument may confer some unexpected benefits, recent studies suggest.
We aren’t talking here about the “Mozart effect,” the claim that listening to classical music can improve people’s performance on tests. Instead, these are studies of the effects of active engagement and discipline. This kind of musical training improves the brain’s ability to discern the components of sound — the pitch, the timing and the timbre.
“To learn to read, you need to have good working memory, the ability to disambiguate speech sounds, make sound-to-meaning connections,” said Professor Nina Kraus, director of the Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory at Northwestern University. “Each one of these things really seems to be strengthened with active engagement in playing a musical instrument.”
Skill in appreciating the subtle qualities of sound, even against a complicated and noisy background, turns out to be important not just for a child learning to understand speech and written language, but also for an elderly person struggling with hearing loss.
In a study of those who do keep playing, published this summer, researchers found that as musicians age, they experience the same decline in peripheral hearing, the functioning of the nerves in their ears, as nonmusicians. But older musicians preserve the brain functions, the central auditory processing skills that can help you understand speech against the background of a noisy environment.
“We often refer to the ‘cocktail party’ problem — or imagine going to a restaurant where a lot of people are talking,” said Dr. Claude Alain, assistant director of the Rotman Research Institute in Toronto and one of the authors of the study. “The older adults who are musically trained perform better on speech in noise tests — it involves the brain rather than the peripheral hearing system.”
Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, are approaching the soundscape from a different point of view, studying the genetics of absolute, or perfect, pitch, that ability to identify any tone. Dr. Jane Gitschier, a professor of medicine and pediatrics who directs the study there, and her colleagues are trying to tease out both the genetics and the effects of early training.
“The immediate question we’ve been trying to get to is what are the variants in people’s genomes that could predispose an individual to have absolute pitch,” she said. “The hypothesis, further, is that those variants will then manifest as absolute pitch with the input of early musical training.”
Indeed, almost everyone who qualifies as having truly absolute pitch turns out to have had musical training in childhood (you can take the test and volunteer for the study at//perfectpitch.ucsf.edu/study/).
Alexandra Parbery-Clark, a doctoral candidate in Dr. Kraus’s lab and one of the authors of a paper published this year on auditory working memory and music, was originally trained as a concert pianist. Her desire to go back to graduate school and study the brain, she told me, grew out of teaching at a French school for musically talented children, and observing the ways that musical training affected other kinds of learning.
“If you get a kid who is maybe 3 or 4 years old and you’re teaching them to attend, they’re not only working on their auditory skills but also working on their attention skills and their memory skills — which can translate into scholastic learning,” she said.
Now Ms. Parbery-Clark and her colleagues can look at recordings of the brain’s electrical detection of sounds, and they can see the musically trained brains producing different — and stronger — responses. “Now I have more proof, tangible proof, music is really doing something,” she told me. “One of my lab mates can look at the computer and say, ‘Oh, you’re recording from a musician!’ ”
Many of the researchers in this area are themselves musicians interested in the plasticity of the brain and the effects of musical education on brain waves, which mirror the stimulus sounds. “This is a response that actually reflects the acoustic elements of sound that we know carry meaning,” Professor Kraus said.
There’s a fascination — and even a certain heady delight — in learning what the brain can do, and in drawing out the many effects of the combination of stimulation, application, practice and auditory exercise that musical education provides. But the researchers all caution that there is no one best way to apply these findings.
Different instruments, different teaching methods, different regimens — families need to find what appeals to the individual child and what works for the family, since a big piece of this should be about pleasure and mastery. Children should enjoy themselves, and their lessons. Parents need to care about music, not slot it in as a therapeutic tool.
“We want music to be recognized for what it can be in a person’s life, not necessarily, ‘Oh, we want you to have better cognitive skills, so we’re going to put you in music,’ ” Ms. Parbery-Clark said. “Music is great, music is fantastic, music is social — let them enjoy it for what it really is.”
2017-2018 was a great season for our studio! Back in December, several students put on a wonderful Christmas/Holiday recital for the residents at The Greens at Cannondale assisted living in Wilton. The children's festive performances brought a lot of joy to the audience, and it was also a great community service experience for the students. Then, our most recent recital was held in June at the Wilton Congregational Church. From classical to pop, the students wowed their families and friends! This summer, I continue to teach. Students are exploring how to compose, playing some new music theory games, and diving into new material - again, playing and singing a wide variety of genres! I am honored to have the privilege of working with these bright and talented students, and look forward to an exciting new season, beginning September 5!
One of the things I love about teaching voice and piano is the wide variety of music I get to enjoy with the students! From musicals like Hamilton and Dear Evan Hansen, to movie music from The Greatest Showman or Disney's Descendants, to pop music from Imagine Dragons or Taylor Swift, and of course, Beethoven, Mozart and Bach! Each student is unique, and together we explore what works best for them.
I know, I know....it's not even Thanksgiving yet! But with a special December 23rd show to prepare for, many of my students have begun practicing their holiday music. About 9 of my students will be headed to The Greens at Cannondale on Sat, Dec. 23 for a special program to celebrate Christmas and the holidays. It's not only a great opportunity for the students to perform in public, but it will bring much joy to the elderly residents who live at The Greens. We'll also be handing out cookies and other special treats, and may even throw in a raffle for this fun holiday party. Family and friends of students are invited to join us.
We are a few weeks into the 2017-2018 season, and I'm very excited about the possibilities! With a full roster of talented and eager-to-learn musicians, I know it will be a great year of making music.
I plan to offer more performance opportunities, including some that may double as community service, as well! The more students perform in front of others, the more confident they become. This confidence will serve them well in many aspects of life, not just when they're performing music! I'm also incorporating the use of more technology during lessons: interactive music apps which teach theory and improve skills, as well as utilizing the endless supply of music available online, allowing vocalists to expand their repertoire beyond their books. A few students are interested in composing their own music, which I heavily encourage!
I strive to customize each lesson to the needs and interests of the student; therefore, I encourage all students to share their likes, dislikes, and desires with me. I believe in the importance of students setting goals for themselves - whether it's to perform their favorite song at the next recital, try out for a musical, perform in the school talent show, or be able to perform an original song of their very own. Working towards a goal gives purpose and meaning to the hard work of practicing, and achieving that goal brings endless rewards!
I'm a couple of weeks late in saying this, but Recital Day was awesome! I am SO very proud of all those who performed! I applaud their hours of practicing, memorizing, and overcoming fears and nerves in order to share their music with family and friends. They showed commitment, perseverance and bravery. Most of all, they brought smiles to our faces with their musical talents! With a variety of Classical, Pop, Broadway and American Folk music, the kids really entertained. Congrats to you all! ❤️
Happy 2017! I'm so excited to begin fresh new music and activities with the students in January. After all the excitement of the holiday season, it's more important than ever to keep up the energy and enthusiasm for learning music during the winter months. All students will begin the new year with brand new pieces, and I'll be introducing some new winter-themed theory games and activities to enhance the students' learning experience and keep them engaged. I'm planning for a spring recital this year (date TBD), so we'll begin working towards that performance goal. Best wishes for a healthy, happy and prosperous new year!