With summer right around the corner, we all think of summer activities that have nothing to do with education…right? Understandably, kids are ready to take a break from thinking, and parents are ready to not have to fight their kids to do their homework! We all need breaks, but is that really good for kids? Schools have (finally) realized a full 3 months of no school is not always a good thing for young children, and are adapting a year round schedule with more (and more often) breaks throughout the year. This is, in my opinion, the best way to learn. This applies to adults as well as children. The old saying “The hardest part to (fill in the blank) is getting started” or “restarted”. So why do we think it’s ok to take a long break from music lessons?
For families that have summer activities that take them out of town, it may be impossible to continue their music lessons. So why not take your music teacher with you? Taking on line lessons using skype, facetime, google hangouts, etc, is fast becoming an alternative way of taking lessons, and a great option to continue music lessons while traveling. And certainly better than no lessons at all! At Melody Music Studios, most of our staff offer on line lessons, so check with them about this option. If you’re taking lessons outside of Melody Music Studios and your current music instructor doesn’t offer that, please feel free to contact us at 800-Melody 1 (800-635-6391) or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also go to our website for information, then click your instrument for our staff. Click or tap any instructor for their complete bio page, including their picture, training, performance recordings and a “meet the instructor” video. Our bio pages make you feel like you already know the music instructor before even meeting him or her!
Make this the best summer yet and have fun, but don’t forget to continue learning to keep your brain active as well as your body! Both are important in the learning and growing stages. I wish everyone a fun and safe summer!
“Music can open up opportunities and experience other cultures and make connections with like minded people in a way that almost no other discipline can”.
Hello! My name is Anna, and I have been playing music since I was four years old. I am 23 now, so that makes about 19 years! I have always enjoyed listening for harmonies and the chord progression behind the pieces and songs I would play. From an early age, I would learn my Suzuki Method pieces by singing them and humming them throughout the day. After awhile I would have them memorized because I was constantly going over them in my head. This is also something that caused me to fall in love with music. I would prepare for recitals by playing the notes on the page, but I really liked to improvise my own tunes too. This was an activity that made me realize how infinite and inspiring music can be.
When I was in the third grade, I tried out for an orchestra for elementary schoolers, in Northern Kentucky. I made the orchestra and this was the first time other than my mother’s chamber music groups where I got to listen to all the parts together. I now had access not only to the violin part, but also to the cello, viola and bass parts, as well. I loved preparing pieces for our concerts, where we would play in the Northern Kentucky University auditorium and I actually had the experience of playing on stage in front of an audience. This made violin playing feel very serious and real to me, and it made me want to get even better. Around that time I also played at numerous recitals, which my mom, a violin teacher herself, put on at nursing homes and our elementary school for Christmas. I think that playing the duets and solos at those shows in front of other people gave me a boost in confidence and also provided the training I would need for auditions, because it was one thing to play a piece in front of your family member or even to have a piece down pat on your own, but to play it in front of people you don’t know can be a bit more nerve-racking. The next year I auditioned for Cincinnati Junior Strings, a kids’ orchestra in Cincinnati that was a little more competitive because its goal was to prepare kids to play in the CSYO, or Cincinnati Symphony Youth Orchestra. I got into the orchestra and made amazing friends, because every Sunday, we had rehearsal and during the break times I got to talk to the other students who were learning the violin just like I was. This orchestra gave me the opportunity of a lifetime when in the summer of 2008 I was able to go on a trip with the ensemble to New Zealand and Australia in the CJS “Down Under” Tour! My conductor, Dr. Gerald Doan, had many friends and connections in that part of the world and took his students there every four years to play at schools and churches and sight see the beautiful landscape. It was the first time I got to really experience another culture, and I thought it was marvelous. I still look up articles from Wellington New Zealand, Sydney Australia, and Christchurch, New Zealand every once in awhile because it brings back memories of that extraordinary experience for me! All this to say, music can open up opportunities for you to experience other cultures and make connections with like minded people in a way that almost no other discipline can. I had a blast staying with host families there and playing the songs we had practiced so hard in the local schools. I feel like we also brought a treat to the schools that we played at.
In high school, I played in two orchestras in different years: Blue Ash Youth Symphony Orchestra and Cincinnati Symphony Youth Orchestra. Both were a wonderful experience. I auditioned my freshman year for the more competitive city-wide orchestra, Cincinnati Symphony Youth, and didn’t make it my first year, but that just became part of my story because the next year I practiced seven to eight hours a day in the summer before my audition because I was determined to make it! Where there’s a will, there’s a way. I made it, and in Cincinnati Symphony Youth I got to play not only with other string players but with brass, woodwinds and percussion as well. Some pieces even called for elaborate piano parts! We played fun pieces like Pirates of the Caribbean as well as Classical masterpieces like those by Franck and Debussy. I loved playing in a high school orchestra because everyone behaved themselves so professionally and played with mastery and poise. It also helped to grow my spirit of adventure and passion for creating music because I was constantly listening to all the parts and trying to add my own riffs and harmonies and melodies (not in rehearsal or concerts, just in my head and numerous journal entries!). I write songs in my spare time and I see my experience in orchestra as where that all began. I think what can set a skilled musician’s songs apart is how elaborate their pieces become because they have been listening for all the layers of the music for so long. I hope to instill these same values of creativity and wonder in my students. One of the things I want to do when I teach is to play the chord progressions that you may not be hearing so that you can train your ear to listen for all the beautiful treasures hidden beneath just the notes on the page. For instance, even just the simple beginning tune Twinkle Twinkle Little Star has a variation part that goes along with it that I will play for my beginning students on the violin while they are learning it. I used to teach free lessons in a church ministry in high school and when I played these variations and harmonies with the students, they became noticeably more engaged with the material. It helped them to want to practice so that the could keep up and play in time with the beautiful variation, and in turn it causes them to strive for a beautiful sound when they were playing, too.
I also love to improvise and I hope to be able to work on that with all of my students as well. I believe improv is a valuable skill because it has allowed me to just pick my instrument up and play something that can touch other people’s hearts with ease instead of having to rifle through a book to find what I’m going to play. Both sight-reading and playing by ear are important in my opinion, but I would love to teach a mix of both so that my students can do either if they want to.
Thank you for checking out my page, and I hope to hear your story with music when we meet in a lesson!
And the answer is…..(wait for it…) YES! As parents (myself included), don’t we “force” our child(ren) to go to school, brush their teeth, and go to bed at a certain time? If our child said “I don’t want to go to school”, do we say, “OK, sure you can stay home…no problem!”….NO! We say, “Sorry honey, school is good for you and you’ll thank me one day”. I know what you’re saying, music lessons are not part of the core subjects needed for a child to earn a living…or is it? With all the studies that have been done on the effects of music lessons on the brain (which I could discuss in a 10 page post) , you would think schools would put more importance on music education. But wait, schools are CANCELLING music education for lack of funds (or they say). So that leaves parents with the task of taking music lessons into their own hands and signing up for private music lessons. I know there are families that are unable to afford music lessons, which greatly saddens me, because I think every child should have the opportunity to learn and study an instrument. And sadly, a lot of parents that CAN afford music lessons, allow their child to quit after just a few lessons. And many blogs I’ve read tell parents not to “force” their child to take (or continue) lessons if they’re not interested. In my opinion, that’s bad advise because most children are going to say no to studying anything if given the chance. But are we doing our child a favor by allowing them to quit after a few lessons, or not start at all? Are we teaching them it’s ok to quit when something is difficult? Are we taking away the chance to teach the child how to stick with something that takes longer than 30 seconds to acquire a skill for? Are we taking away an opportunity that could be great for them as adults?
In my over 30 years of offering music lessons and speaking with thousands of adults, I hear two stories: “I wish I could have taken music lessons as a child”, or “I wish my parents wouldn’t have let me quit!”. Now the first story is sad when a child that WANTS to have the opportunity to learn to sing or play an instrument and can’t, but even sadder is when an adult regrets having quit lessons, and wishes he or she could enjoy the gift of music now in his or her life. I believe it’s never too late to learn an instrument, but there are advantages to learning music as a child while they’re in the early development. And you never know what a child could have done with the gift of music in their life as they turn into an adult. But without the opportunity, we will never know!
Now I understand that music is not going to be every child’s “thing”. In teaching hundreds of students, 99% of them will never use music as a career in his or her life. Is it still a great thing to offer them lessons? Of course! Even though it may not be a chosen career, it could have a great impact in whatever career they DO choose. Music lessons have so many pieces of the pie that are great tools for most occupations; from mathematical skills, discipline, creativity, social skills, and most importantly, confidence. When a student learns to master singing or playing an instrument, which takes a lot of time to acquire, it gives the child confidence and takes away the fear of learning other new things. Since most of the population never learn to master music, it gives a student a special pride knowing he or she has accomplished something that most people never achieve. That can make the difference in a child’s choice of occupation and determination to go far in life.
When my two oldest sons were in middle school, I “forced” them to be in my keyboard class I was teaching at the time. It was a year long (the longest class I EVER taught…), and they begged me to quit almost the entire time. Of course I said “not on your life will you quit my class!”. It paid off! Years later my oldest son thanked me for NOT letting him quit, and he now uses what he learned for a career in music and recording. Remember when I said they’ll thank you one day? It really does happen, you just have to be patient.
I know what you’re saying, how do you get your child to stick with it? One thing I suggest is giving a time frame for completing the lessons if he or she is wanting to quit. If your child has only just started the lessons (and usually that’s when they want to quit because it’s difficult at first), you can tell them they’ll be taking lessons for an X amount of time. I suggest a year for a beginner before letting them quit, because it normally takes from 9 months to a year to get beyond what I call the “beginner’s hump”. After about a year, the student will develop a skill that makes it more fun to sing or play an instrument. At that point, you won’t have to try so hard to make them continue if it’s something they enjoy learning. If it’s not their cup of tea, then stopping the lessons is appropriate at this time. At least your child will know what they DON’T want to do in life.
Another complaint I hear (and hear often) is their child won’t practice. I think this is the worst reason for parents to cancel their child’s music lessons. Do you take a child out of school because they won’t do their homework? Practicing is actually the part of music lessons that I believe helps build the discipline a child will need in life. I have written a Practicing Tips article that give ideas on how to practice that is helpful to parents. The main suggestion I have is scheduling practice times, the same as the lessons are scheduled to become a part of the child’s routine. It could be before or after homework, dinner, first thing in the morning or when coming home from school; whatever works best in his or her schedule. Once it’s a routine in your child’s life, it won’t be forgotten or become a shouting match to practice.
So the bottom line is, parents, don’t be afraid to be the parent! Your child(ren) will thank you as an adult when they realize you did what was best for them, and not what made you parent of the year! After all, that’s what your job is, to offer the most opportunities for your child(ren) and create a human being that will be the best he or she can be!
Hi! My name is Jaella and I’m Kathi’s assistant here at Melody Music Studios. I didn’t start out that way, though. My journey has been a long and fruitful one, and I’m so blessed to be where I am now in my career and personal life. Let’s start at the beginning, shall we?
I always grew up surrounded by music, even if I was the only one in my immediate family who decided to pursue it was a career. My grandfather had instilled a love of music in my mother, and as such, she always had some sort of musical on while I was growing up. Whether it was Shirley Temple movies, West Side Story, The King and I, or Fiddler on the Roof, there was always something on either the cassette player or popped into our VHS player (Kids, ask your parents what those are!)
Speaking of my grandfather, that’s really where my musical journey began. He had an old organ in his house and as a special treat, he’d ask me to play back a song that he’d just finished playing within 30 minutes. If I played it well, I’d get ice cream or candy or some other sort of treat. It was our fun little game that we played, and eventually I got really good at it. That was where my love of playing started, and it was only enforced at home through the constant stream of music playing through my house.
At the age of 10 my parents bought my first instrument: an old Casio keyboard. At that point, I was listening to film scores regularly and as soon as I had my hands on that instrument I began replicating the music I’d heard. My favorites were scores by Hans Zimmer (The Lion King, The Prince of Egypt, Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron, etc.) and my goal was to become a composer. I remember a chorus teacher of mine nicknamed me “Composer Girl” and it just stuck. It was through teachers like him that my love of music grew.
In 8th grade, I was selected to be in the more exclusive of the chorus programs in my school, and it was one of the best moments of my young career. It validated not only my love for music, but also my love of singing especially. I’d always sung in church, but never really branched out very much from that setting. I still dreamed of being a composer, but there were no music theory courses available to me at the time, so I refocused my efforts on vocal performance.
Throughout high school I was in every choir and ensemble I could get into, even auditioning for All-State Chorus. Although I didn’t make it in, that didn’t deter me from continuing to audition. During the school year I performed in local community choirs, as well as taking on music symposiums at Harding University during the summer. I absolutely loved performing and challenging myself to learn new, harder pieces. The music professionals in my life encouraged me to continue pursing my passion and I am so grateful for that encouragement.
During my Senior Year of high school I was able to take a music theory course. Well, actually, I fought to take a music theory course. Something in my schedule had gone awry and I appealed to the board of education to allow me to substitute a study hall with independent study Music Theory and won! I was fully committed to this career path and I was determined to excel at it. Having that one on one tuition with a teacher really helped me to not only grasp the concepts of music theory, but also understand how impactful a private teacher could be on a person’s life.
I attended my first semester of college at Harding University where I was able to perform in both large ensembles and as a soloist. I truly enjoyed every aspect of my time there, although health issues brought me back home shortly before the Spring semester began. Given those health issues, I took some time off to recover, then decided to go back to school at Georgian Court University.
The friendships that were made throughout my college career at both universities are lifelong friendships, truly. I didn’t just become friends with my fellow students, but also with the faculty. The music program at Georgian Court was small, so every class was practically a private lesson. I was so inspired by the professors that I decided to switch paths and pursue private teaching.
Enter: Melody Music Studios! In searching for a private teaching job, I came across Melody Music Studios. I really liked the atmosphere it provided, as well as the freedom it offered for me to truly work on my craft. Once I was hired, I was able to teach right away, and some of those students are still with me 5 years later! I taught Voice, Piano, Music Theory, and Saxophone, although with the birth of my first son I admittedly didn’t have time to practice that last instrument as much as I would have liked. Melody Music Studios provided me with the ability to inspire students, doing what I loved, all while going through the various stages of life. Whether I was a college student, preparing for my wedding, or raising my little boy, Melody Music Studios has helped me keep that spark alive and has only fostered my love for music even further.
When Kathi asked me to not only teach, but also be her assistant, I was honored to be asked and accepted. Although it was a slightly different line of work than I was used to, I quickly caught on and have been enjoying it ever since. It’s allowed me to work from home and watch my son grow up without sacrificing time freedom. Now, as I’m currently pregnant with my second son, I look forward to sharing my love of music with my boys as well as providing you or your loved one with music lessons that will inspire and excite your love for music.
Jaella/Administrative Assistant at Melody Music Studios
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.