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.