Meet Laura, our newest piano instructor in Nashville TN!

Laura at the piano
Laura piano instructor in Nashville TN
Laura piano instructor in Nashville TN
Laura as a child
Laura as a child

Laura was born in a suburb of Chicago Illinois on December 23, 1976. This Christmas baby was the youngest of five children and named after the song “Laura.”  Before Laura was even born, music was destined to be in her life.  Her father bought a Baldwin console piano for her Mother when Laura was very young and Laura was instantly drawn to the piano.  Her Mother purposely waited until Laura could read at the age of six to pursue lessons and recalls never having to force her to practice.  She did it for the pure joy of it.  

Although Laura was Classically trained,  she wanted to play what she heard on the radio. She would set up her cassette player next to the piano and sound out the notes. Around the age of eight, she began composing original compositions.  Laura attended High School at Mother McAuley, a private college prep school.  She joined the choir and was the piano accompanist for three years. When she was fifteen, she released her first album with the little bit of money her Grandmother left her.  While in High School, Laura also pursued acting and modeling.  She was placed in multiple TV and print ads. 

Laura Left the security of her home and family in Chicago when she was eighteen to attend Arizona State University.  While at ASU she composed the music for two theatre productions.  She was also the keyboardist in the band Surrender Dorothy, which was chosen to open for the 1999 Phoenix Lilith Fair with Sarah McLaughlin, Sheryl Crow and Martina McBride.  She then composed the original score for the independent film, An Intimate Friendship, by Filling The Gap Productions which also featured music by Melissa Etheridge. 

Throughout Laura’s relationship with music, there was always one thing missing.  Since as far back as she could remember she had an inability to project her voice.  Beyond a normal speaking volume, a scream would turn into a whisper of sorts.  She always yearned to put vocals to her compositions but was physically unable to.  In college she met with Doctors that diagnosed her with right vocal cord paralysis.  She was happy to finally have an answer to her limitations, but was saddened by the prognosis. Surgery was an option where they could move the paralyzed vocal cord closer to the functioning one to create sound, but Doctors stressed that although she would be able to project her voice, she would never be able to sing.  Laura wasn’t discouraged and proceeded with the surgery.  With her new voice she began to teach herself to sing and play guitar based on her knowledge of the piano.  

Laura graduated with honors from ASU with a Degree in Broadcasting and a Minor in Music.  After graduating, Laura worked at Steinway Hall in Accounts Payable Receivable.  She took the job with the stipulation that she could play the Steinway pianos on her lunch break and they happily obliged.  Soon a friend asked her to teach her niece how to play piano which led to the start of her teaching career.  She loved teaching beginners where she had a clean slate to form good habits and assist in training their ear.  Teaching group lessons through a local company soon followed while she pursued her singer/songwriting career.  

The drive inside Laura to sing her own songs surpassed the limitations once set by Doctors.  She later went onto release four albums under her indie label Lolo Records in which she not only played the piano and guitar, but sang her original compositions.  As a member of Chicks With Picks she had the opportunity to open for Country artist Sarah Buxton.  She later had the privilege to open for another one of her mentors, Edwin McCain, on the Cayamo music cruise.  

You may have also seen Laura on NBC’s #1 rated show, Fear Factor. In a brave attempt to win $50,000 to assist her career, she had the rare opportunity to ride a bull and eat cow brains.  Although she did not win, it only proves how fearless Laura is in life and as an artist.

In 2010 Laura packed up her belongings and musical instruments into her car and drove from Arizona to Nashville TN.  She no longer wanted to get paid to perform cover songs at local venues where there was a glass ceiling to her songwriting career.  She quickly became affiliated with NSAI and ASCAP.  Songwriting venues enforced a quiet atmosphere and she knew she was in the right place to be heard.  She has performed at the famous Bluebird Cafe, The Listening Room, Douglas corner, Bobby’s Idle Hour and numerous other writers rounds.  Publishers and mentors have recognized Laura for her melodic storytelling with a poetic undertone.  

Laura is grateful for the gift of music and desires to give that gift to others through teaching and volunteer work.  She is currently a music volunteer at Alive Hospice where she plays piano and guitar for the residents.  She is also affiliated with Melody Music Studios which enables her to reach out to more students.  It is a company which shares her same joy of music and parallels her tenacity with similar values and unwavering excellence.  

At this point in her life and career Laura desires to get back to basics and simply enjoy music.  Beyond the limitations of the Nashville format based on financial gain, she believes the song itself exists in its’ purest form.  She is now in the studio working on songs for her fifth album. 

The best way to describe Laura’s musical journey is through the lyrics to her well received song, The Songwriters.  “When we stand in front of Jesus and he asks us what we did our pockets will be empty but we’ll say we used our gift.  And when we play for all the angels and they ask us who are we…… we’ll tell them we are the songwriters of Nashville Tennessee. I’m just one of the songwriters of Nashville Tennessee.”


Melody Music Studios-who are we anyway?

KathiKerrOwner

Hi, my name is Kathi Kerr, owner of Melody Music Studios.  I grew up in a musical family and started playing the piano before I can remember NOT playing the piano.  My dad plays the upright bass by ear, and my mom is a classically trained flutist, singer, and pianist.  Without realizing it, I had the best of both worlds, reading music and playing by ear!  I was self taught until 7th grade when a local piano teacher heard me play and offered to teach me…for free!  She heard my passion for playing the piano and wanted to guide me.  Of course my parents wouldn’t let her teach me for free, but through my years with her (through my senior year of high school) she helped guide my initial training, as there were gaps in my knowledge, of course.  My final training was at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, where Julliard graduate, Mac McCray, took me from a raw talent to a well oiled pianist.  To this day, I hear his voice in my head when I practice.

During my college years, I never thought I would teach, I just wanted to perform!  But as a broke college student, I decided to give teaching piano a try, I mean it’s better than flipping burgers, right?  Since I didn’t have my own studio, I taught the students right in their own home.  No one was doing that at the time, but it was great for me and great for the student to play on their own piano during the lesson.  Once I saw the growth and changes in my students as they learned piano, I fell in love with teaching and seeing them turn it into their passion as well!  Before I knew it, I was in it full board!  I remember in those days using a pay phone to get my messages and returning calls from students.  I connected with a local music store, put up flyers on telephone poles, and did whatever I could to get more students.  Then I decided to put an (expensive) ad in the phone book (remember those???).  However, by the time the phone book came out, (and I was contracted to pay it for a year), I was booked!  So I talked to the store owner asking her what I should do.  She replied with an “off the cuff” comment, “why not farm them out to another piano instructor?”.  It was like a spotlight that went off in my head and the angels all singing in unison!  It was a moment in time that changed my life (and she probably doesn’t even remember saying it to me!).  So, the journey began to start hiring professional instructors to send students to.  I started with an adult intermediate student I was teaching at the time, and he said “Sure, I’ll take on beginner students…”  So Melody Music Studios was formed in 1989 with my first instructor teaching the students I sent his way.  Later that year, I opened a studio in Castro Valley, CA and started teaching privately and group keyboard classes from a book I wrote.  In 1990, I thought, why not add other instruments? So I began hiring music teachers that offered other instruments, like voice, guitar, drums, violin, any and all instruments.  In 1992, I moved my headquarters from the SF Bay area to Nashville TN.  With the help of technology, I opened my first “branch” in 2001 in Atlanta GA.  Since then I’ve opened up over 50 cities across the country, hiring instructors for all instruments, voice, and singing.

I still remember being told at the start of my teaching, that I would get tired of offering in home lessons.  But here I am, over 30 years later, still in love with offering both in home and studio lessons for my own students.  While my performing career has taken a back seat to teaching, I have no regrets because the feeling of giving to someone else is far greater than the feeling of “receiving applause” from an audience.

What makes Melody Music Studios unique is our passion for teaching…the business is my second passion.  I make sure to only hire the VERY best instructors with the same passion and love for teaching that I do.  I have two main philosophies:  1) Offer a positive and fun environment, where students can learn without feeling pressure and that mistakes are a part of the learning progress, yet being challenged at the same time, and 2) tailoring lessons to the individual in terms of their pace, interests and goals.  Also, the student can choose a traditional lesson (reading music) or by ear, where my roots came in handy!  There are many studios that teach ONLY classical and traditional, and some studios only offer by ear.  I believe that BOTH are equally important in terms of the full musical education of the student.  However, for a beginner student, it’s best to focus on one path at a time.  For the older student, he or she may only be interested in one way, either reading music or playing by ear.  I think it’s perfectly fine for a beginner student to choose one over the other, at least to get started, as you never know where it may lead!  Goals and interests may change and evolve during the course of the lessons.  We teach in a structured yet flexible way, and are happy to adjust to the interests and goals of each student as the lessons progress.

Our hope is to offer music lessons in a way that all can learn and enjoy the wonderful gift of music for their life time, for whatever may be his or her longtime goals in life.