Learning to play the piano is a journey.  It is a journey full of adventure with hills, valleys, and lots of plateaus
interspersed along the way…rather like life!
This is a very interesting year in the IMS studio, in part because a large majority of the high school pianists this year
are either beginners or they have restarted lessons after many years of not playing the piano.
I have NEVER had this particular situation before and I must say, it is totally different…and at times, even exhilarating!
These students who are beginning instruction are doing it because they want to.  They are not being coerced to take lessons.
Most of them are very busy. Some of them do not even own a piano but they are using practice rooms at school
or a keyboard or whatever they can get their hands on…literally!
Forty years of teaching and I am still learning from my greatest teachers…my students!  Their actions demonstrate that
it is never too late to try something new, something daunting, but at the same time, something that is an investment
in who they are as a person with the hope this musical endeavor will enrich their lives.
Ava is one such student!  She is shown here shouting, “YEAH!” as she completes a specific musical task that
at first seemed impossible.  Joy!  Let us never take it for granted.




Preparing to Succeed!

Has this ever happened to you?  You have great expectations and goals for the new year regarding studying, practicing piano, eating healthy, exercising, getting to bed on time, etc.   But then, life gets crazy and all those hopes and dreams…well, you know…

Yesterday morning, I attended an early meeting (6:30 a.m. to be exact) of the Optimist Club.  My daughter, Rachel was presenting a program on her passion and her job, music therapy.  The room was filled with, dare I say it… people who seemed very optimistic!  At the end of the meeting, they presented water bottles to Rachel and to me.   Their mission statement was on the back of the bottle and even though the print was teeny-tiny-teeny for a person in my age group to read, I was able to hold that bottle at the right distance to glean some important reminders about life.  I thank this group of people for sharing their creed with me and now I am going to share a few lines with you.  Perhaps as we prepare for a new year of discovering the possibilities together during lesson time, we can take this advice to help us succeed in our quest, not only to learn to play the piano better than before, but to derive joy from it as well!

(taken from The Optimist Creed)

by Christian Larson

Promise Yourself-

To make all your friends feel that there is something in them

To think only of the best, to work only for the best, and to expect only the best

To be just as enthusiastic about the success of others as you are about your own

To forget the mistakes of the past and press on to the greater achievements of the future

To give so much time to the improvement of yourself that you have no time to criticize others

To be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear, and too happy to permit the presence of trouble

As both you and I prepare for the coming year of learning, let us never lose sight of what is really important.  I look forward to reconnecting with current students and getting to know new students this year.  My mother used to say this about my childhood piano teacher: “Mrs. Atkins loves children and music, and in that order.”   She truly did!  That is one of the best life lessons any future teacher can have.   I find that I do love people, especially working with them in this studio setting, on a one on one basis.  Together we can experience the struggle, the humor, the discipline and the joy that comes from learning to play an instrument.

As the year unfolds, there will be many opportunities for you to share your music with others.  The best way to prepare for success is to find that sweet spot in the day when you will allow the piano to bring you to the bench.  It can become a time when you forget all the stress and problems of the day.  Music is not a luxury.  We need it as a part of our day.  I would urge both parents and students to discuss when this practice time can be integrated into your schedule.  I advise six days of practice each week.  A routine is easier to follow than hit and miss practice.  The most successful pianists are those who have the gentle encouragement and guidance from parents.  Ouch!  I know you didn’t want to hear that, but that has been my experience over these many years.  The triangle of success is: STUDENT-PARENTS-INSTRUCTOR all journeying together.

So, go ahead!  Be an optimist and then prepare for success!  We will help each other.  I can’t wait!