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Everything You Need to Know

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: You requested an interview before we begin. What’s that about?

A: I want to get to know you and/or your child and you to know me so we can see if this is going to be a good fit long-term. It will take about 30 min. If your child is an absolute beginner, I will play some music games to see if she has a sense of rhythm and pitch. If he has had lessons previously, I want to get a feel for what he already knows and where the gaps are. We can also go over the studio policy thoroughly and answer any questions. You are investing a great deal of time and money in your music lesson teacher (and vice versa) so the interview is a great tool to decide if my program/personality is right for your child (and vice versa). There is no charge for the interview. And no pressure to sign up right away.

Q: How young can my child begin lessons?

A: On piano, I’ve had success with children as young as 4 in private lessons. They need to be able to concentrate for at least 10 min. and be highly motivated at that age. Most kids do well beginning at age 7. For stand-alone voice lessons, the youngest is grade 4. Younger children would do well to start with a combination of singing and piano. And even from grade 4 and up, simultaneous piano lessons are highly recommended. I want all of my students to have solid musicianship skills!

Q: Do I have to have a piano?

A: Yes. It is essential that your child have an instrument to practice on at home (or at both homes in the case of shared custody). Even singers should have something to plunk on. On an acoustic piano, check that all the keys play and the right and left pedals work, that there are no cracks in the soundboard, and have it tuned annually. For a digital instrument, it is important that it have 88 full-sized, weighted keys and a plug-in pedal. Buy the best thing you can afford. Nothing is more discouraging than trying to practice on an instrument that doesn’t work right or sound good.

Q: What the heck is this MMTA I see all over the schedule?

A: MMTA stands for Minnesota Music Teachers Association. We are the state branch of Music Teachers National Association (MTNA: This is the largest professional association for private music lesson teachers and the majority are piano teachers. In addition to professional development opportunities for teacher members, we also have educational programs for our students. Piano Exams, Piano Contest, Theory Exams, Voice Exams, Voice Contest, and Music Bridges are just some of the programs available. Another acronym you will see are NATS (National Association of Teachers of Singing). We will discuss individually which events are right for your child.

Q: Do I have to practice 30 minutes every day?

A: No! You should take one day per week off. Most important is consistency and quality. Decide what your goals are and how much time you have. If you can do 10 minutes 6 days/week, then you’ll progress but more slowly than someone who commits to practicing 20 min. I judge by the progress week to week how much to assign. Remember how we worked in the lesson and also refer to your assignment notebook to make the best use of your time.

Q: What performance opportunities do you offer?

A: I have scheduled two formal studio recitals, one in December and one in May. I have recently added a Zoom recital opportunity. Students can either pre-record their performance and upload it to YouTube or they can perform live over Zoom. We have informal performance opportunities in the form of performance classes and recital prep classes. In addition, participation in contests and exams is encouraged as extra performance opportunities.

Q: Is performance in recital required?

A: No! I know well enough, I can’t force you to do anything. But I wouldn’t go to the trouble of offering it, if I didn’t think it’s important.

Q: How do I get music? Do you buy it for us?

A: With a few exceptions, parents/students are responsible for obtaining their own music. I will give you detailed information so you can’t go wrong! Here are some great resources:

Groth Music—494 & Nicollet Ave; (952) 884-4772;

Schmitt Music— ; Bonni in Print Music 763-566-4560

            Edina—Southdale Square (2906 W. 66th St.); 612-238-9930

            Warehouse—2400 Freeway Blvd., Brooklyn Center; 763-566-4560  (mostly pop music for digital download) (digital downloads of public domain classical music)

Classical Vocal Reprints  (479) 442-2595

Piano Pronto

I have found it easier to purchase most Christmas/Holiday and MMTA Piano Contest music for you. Also, I order MMTA Sightplaying and Theory Workbooks directly from the MMTA office. I then need to be reimbursed for these purchases.

Q: What does “comprehensive musicianship” mean?

A: Comprehensive Musicianship means that you will learn more than deciphering notes. You will learn about chords and keys, improvisation, composition, sightplaying, ear training, and sight-singing (if the student is willing). Singers can expect to have theory homework to do. All in small bites!

Q: What is "Pianimals"?

A: Pianimals is a method for teaching piano technique developed by Alan Fraser. It uses the skeleton to greatest advantage to create a healthy, beautiful, and powerful playing technique. For more information, visit:  I am in the process of getting certified in this method.

Anything else you’d like to know? Don’t hesitate to get in touch today.

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