Brunner Studios in Mint Hill, NC, will begin the fall semester on September 10. Hopefully everyone has had time to get those school schedules settled and is now ready to either resume or begin music lessons. Brunner Studios offers piano, voice, oboe, theory, and music history lessons. Tutoring for AP Music History is also available. We will be having recitals and performance opportunities throughout the year.
Please call or email and ask about scheduling a trial lesson to decide if Brunner Studios is the right musical home for you or your student.
As students are heading back to school here in Charlotte, NC, and all over the country, we should ask ourselves; are we teaching the way students learn in today’s environment. Honestly with the competition between extra curricular activities we as teachers need to be up to date on the latest methods and learning styles. Are we incorporating the newest technology in our lessons? Are we excited about teaching?
What are questions that we should ask ourselves as teachers and what same questions should parents be asking?
1. What curriculum do you use? And part two of this question. Why do you use this curriculum?
As as teacher, do you use the same material because it is always what you’ve used, or because you believe it is the most relevant to today’s students? Do you use the best correlation with local festivals? Do you try to expose students to a wide variety of music and print styles?
2. Are your students active in the community? Festivals, talent shows, recitals, playing at nursing homes.
3. Do the students use technology to help keep them interested during the challenging parts of the curriculum? Online apps or flashcards? Notation software? Youtube performances? Are you utilizing these resources?
4. Are you following a curriculum of any kind that can aid a parent in understanding the rate of progress for the student?
5. Are the students learning about areas outside of music that relate to music? Roman numerals, world history, different cultures that have influenced nationalistic music?
Many times I think as teachers we can get in a rut. Even with a tried and true curriculum, there are opportunities for evaluation and introspection. As parents are calling and emailing, do you seem excited about the coming year or are you feeling the grind of hearing those same pieces again? It is up to us as educators to try to instill excitement for music and knowledge in our new and returning students.
I’ve been either in school or teaching full time since the fall of 2000. That is a long time! The month of August is a notoriously slow month on the lesson front. This year, I decided to do something different. The studio is closed for the entire month of August and the first week of September. What about the students? Most were vacationing at least part of the month, and all were glad not to have to negotiate the first few weeks of school with an after school activity.
I’m using this time to think about my methodology and where I want the studio to go in the next year. What’s been working and what needs a revamp?
The most useful thing that I’ve done this year is to have started using either a candle or incense on lesson days in the room off the studio. This combined with a quite minute. The quality of lessons has improved dramatically. So many of my students come directly from school or other activities. The students just aren’t as focused on that 30 or 45 minutes as they should be. As the student enters the studio we talk briefly about how the day went and get the books arranged at the piano. Then I ask the student to close their eyes and think about “how you practiced, what did you improve upon, and what you want to show me in your lesson.” Just a minute of silence for most of the students allows them to reset and leave the rest of the day at the door. I feel as a teacher that I’m getting a more accurate read on what the students are accomplishing during the week.
As we come back in the fall, I hope to have more students signing up for The Music Development Program exams. Previously known as RACE and the Carnegie Hall Achievement Program. This is a program that I believe in strongly. Whether the student takes the exams or just uses the principles laid out in the curriculum, my students are on a stronger and more through track than ever. Having an internationally recognized standard makes it so easy to know how a student is truly progressing in the literature. If you would like to find out more about this program, please let me know.
As always, Brunner Studio is scheduling lessons. Just because the studio is on break doesn’t mean that my email and phone don’t work! Please call or email if you would like to know more about piano, voice or oboe lessons for this fall. I can’t wait to hear from you.
We all know that music has the power to transport and transform us. Where do certain songs take you? Here are a few of my favorites and what they bring back.
1. Truly, Madly, Deeply by Savage Garden takes me back to my Sophomore year in high school and getting to drive myself to church and school as I had just gotten my license.
2. Whiskey Girl by Toby Keith takes me back to the summer of 2006. My husband and I were waiting to hear if he was getting a job here in Charlotte. It was so hot that July.
3. Stays in Mexico by Toby Keith was our road anthem for a trip out west in August of 2006.
4. Beam Me Up by Pink makes me remember September 2012. Wayne was out of town for the whole month and I was getting ready for my first fiber festival. The weather was warm and humid.
5. And just because I probably need a classical piece on this list. JS Bach’s Prelude in Bb minor. This piece reminds me of October of 1999. Leaving senior activities to go home and practice to get ready for college auditions.
These are just a few that came to me off the top of my head. What songs take you back?
Brunner Studios will be participating in the 2013 NMFC Piano Festival and Piano Scholarship Festival. As of now it looks like there will be 100% participation. Festivals are such a great opportunity for students to gain confidence in their playing and to get feedback from someone other than their teacher.
If you are interested in participating please contact a local teacher for more information.
I’ve been bragging on my students significantly the past few weeks. It pretty much came back to haunt me last week. Holiday weeks are always hard for most of my students. They get so hyped up about whatever exciting is going on that they just can’t/don’t focus like they need to. I’m pretty sure they all put in their practice time, but the lack of focus during that time and during their lessons was obvious. With the recital so close this was a bad time to lose a week. It’s rare that I end up saying that lesson was bad to the student or parent but it ended up repeated endlessly last week.
So as we head into the holiday seasons of Thanksgiving and Christmas how do other teachers keep the disruptions to a minimum? Festival season is just around the corner and we don’t want to lose too much preparation time.
I’ve found the most effective check point is to have the parents listen to the students practice more often during times of distraction. Even if you don’t read music or play an instrument you can hear if progress is being made or if it sounds sloppy or even if there are wrong notes. You don’t need to listen to the entire practice session but a quick drop in will keep them honest. If you aren’t home when a student practices have them record their final run through of each piece at the end of their daily practice and then compare it to the previous day. Does it sound better?
Everyone has an unfocused lesson once in a while, but if that lesson is preceded by a week of unfocused practice then it goes from unfocused to ill-prepared. Let’s try to keep ourselves in check during the upcoming mayhem of the holiday season and to continue to progress in our musical education.
Just a food for thought post on Halloween. Does your piano teacher offer lessons on Halloween? Are the lessons interrupted by trick-or-treaters? Do you wear a costume to your lesson?
Hopefully there are no scary lessons today!
Brunner Studios will have our piano, voice, or oboe lessons at the regularly schedule times today. Students were offered the opportunity to choose a different time slot for this week if there was a conflicting event for this evening. Hopefully everyone will stay safe and have fun this evening.
This is just a reminder that Brunner Studios will be participating in NFMC Festival and Scholarship Festival in February of 2013. Piano, voice, and oboe students are welcome. This is a great festival to learn the ropes or to participate in a competition. Students will begin receiving music next week to reduce the stress of learning music over the winter holidays.
If you are interested in participating in this event or beginning music lessons please contact Brunner Studios. It is not unreasonable to think that a student could begin lessons now and participate in this event in February. National Federation of Music Clubs is a nationally recognized music organization.
For more information regarding piano, voice, or oboe lessons please contact Brunner Studios.
As a piano teacher, I spend a lot of time playing music that isn’t mine. It’s rare that I get to play the piano for pure enjoyment of the music and it not be a project of some variety. Well, it’s that time of year again. It’s time for Christmas music! I love piano Christmas music. If you saw my music library you would probably think I’m a little crazy. So when I was at Music and Arts 2 weeks ago and saw new Christmas piano books, that was it. I had to have some new books.
First up is Simply Christmas by Jerry Ray. Now you have to understand. Christmas with Style by Jerry Ray is just about my favorite Christmas book to play from. The arrangements are great and not overly difficult. So when I was Simply Christmas it was meant to be. I was not disappointed. This is a great book.
The second book I picked up was O Come, Let Us Adore Him by the publisher Lillenas. Lillenas published my favorite hymn arrange book so I thought this was a pretty sure bet. This book was obviously made for church pianists. It includes transitions between every song. The arrangements are pretty and very playable.
So there you go, I am already playing and teaching Christmas piano music. The recital is only a month away. I should go practice.