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  • When You Fall In Love (With Making Music)

    There is an evolution to falling in love with music that occurs over time. The young child is excited about pressing keys and making sounds. There is more excitement when the young student plays their first recognizable song. "Baby Shark" can be learned in the first 3 lessons. Then comes "Mary Had a Little Lamb" and "Old McDonald." There comes a long period for beginning students, adult or child, where they are in "learning basics" mode. Basic note reading, basic good technique, beginning to understand scales and chords. I help them work through this, by making sure I include some "fun" or familiar tunes either by rote teaching, or arranged for their current level. Excitement can wain for awhile, but for those students (and their parents who can foresee the future) the student who continues to take lessons and practice as guided by their teacher will reach the next intermediate level. Here they are playing their first "Classical" pieces, or "Jazzy" pieces. When they work to prepare for a performance, the student learns their piece at a higher level, and it becomes more satisfying to play. It is when students reach a late intermediate/early advanced level that all their training comes together: technique, phrasing, style, the history of the music they are playing. Recently, I had two teenage siblings playing their first Chopin pieces. Even while they were learning the notes they were phrasing beautifully, with little guidance from me. After a few lessons, I could sit back and listen to them, and just say "lovely' when they were done. They were in love with the music, and it could be heard in their playing. For those in their teen years, music can be an important emotional outlet for all the many feelings they experience. Even now that I am in my 60's, I see music as my therapy. Like my students, I sometimes have trouble getting to the piano, but every time I do, I again realize that I truly do love music. Once you fall in love with making music, it is for a lifetime.

  • Read The Policy, PLEEEASE!

    All professional music teachers (and dance teachers, and art schools) have a policy in place that is required reading before students begin lessons. During the last year, more than ever before, I have had to put students "on probation" or dismiss them because they were ignoring my studio policies. This is hard on everyone involved, especially the student and teacher who otherwise may have a good relationship. Some of these polices are for the protection of everyone. I have an In Person Lesson Policy that states the precautions I take to keep myself and all my students safe during this Coronavirus Pandemic. Mask wearing, sanitizing, keeping distance as much as possible during lessons, only the student in the room with me. For some students, I have had to gently remind them when they started to get sloppy about following the rules. Others, I had to insist they either go online or discontinue for a time (and lose their place) or really change their ways by the next lesson. At the top of my policies page is my Practice Suggestions. It boggles my mind that students would sign up for music lessons and not be prepared to practice at least 3 days a week! Private music lessons are expensive, especially with an experienced teacher. Do you want to learn? Want to get the most out of your monetary investment? Make sure practicing is done 4, 5, maybe 6 days a week. The length of time is dependent on level, and your teacher will make individual recommendations about time. The thorn in the side of every piano teacher is the Make Up Policy. I clearly state in mine that make up lessons are not guaranteed! If I miss a lesson due to illness or a conflict, yes, that is my responsibility and I will either make it up or refund for that lesson. I intentionally create my studio calendar to include breaks when people would normally take them, July 4th, Memorial Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas/Winter Break, a Spring Break that coincides with the local public schools. Summer can be scheduled with some flexibility, depending on how many camps students take. I have had parents pull their students out of elementary or middle school to go off on a big vacation, miss their lesson of course, then demand a make up lesson from me. Some parents have literally said "I paid for that lesson" or "You owe me." As I recently explained to one insistent parent, "You are paying for me to reserve a day and time weekly specifically and only for you. I cannot schedule new people in that lesson time. You are asking me to keep that time reserved just for you, and work another time, for which I will not receive payment. I lose money every time I make up a lesson." If someone has a gym membership and does not go to the gym for a month, they cannot go back to the gym and demand a credit because they did not show up to work out. I do try to make up lessons as a courtesy when an opening is available, but that is a courtesy, not my contractual obligation. After working with people from a variety of fields: professors, scientists, lawyers/judges, and business people, I have discovered that of all professions, doctors understand my policy the best. As one ob/gyn told me after I offered to make up a lesson with her "Please don't worry about it. I make my living by appointments. I know how missed appointments affect your time and income." If you want to have successful music lessons and good relationship with your teacher, READ the policies, ASK questions, and decide BEFORE you start lessons whether or not you can follow the policies. The policies are there to help you, and to avoid unnecessary conflict.

  • Playing Gracefully (In an Ungraceful Time)

    Most students can successfully learn to play notes, rhythms and basic dynamics reasonably well with a teacher, and sometimes even through videos. But can they learn to play gracefully? I have used the word several times in the last few weeks with students of various ages, and there is usually a "What?" response. They do not know the word. It is not part of our culture. One 10 year old is a ballet student and I asked her when she finished her fast and note precise Minuet : "How do you usually move in ballet? She extended, her arms, and lifted slowly in a relaxed, arcing motion. "We need to play a Minuet like that! " I said. How DO you play gracefully? Good tone, legato, sticky staccatos, paying attention to phrases, lifting gently off phrases, especially 2 note slurs.. Usually dynamics change mildly, not dramatically. Have control of all fingers, so none are "whacking" the keys in the wrong place. The tempo is rarely fast when you are playing gracefully. I love playing blues, rock and roll, dramatic Romantic period pieces. They are "let-it-all-hang- out in-your-face" pieces that can be good for the soul. But it is also good for the soul, to relax, be gentle, to let the music flow without strain. That seems very important to me when so many today seems to want to compete with or constantly challenge others with ferocity and even downright cruelty. That type of emotion is unsustainable, and IS wearing us all out. So let's use our musical studies to take a breath, relax, be grateful and learn to play gracefully.

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  • Original Compositions | pianoplus

    Original Pieces for My Very Special Graduates As I work with my students over the years, I get to know their individual personalities as well as their musical strengths. My gift to each senior, as they prepare to go off into their future lives, is to compose a piece that they can enjoy. Here are a few of these pieces. These and more can be purchased at In the Wildflower Garden Heading 5 Run For Your Life For Aubrey, a very sweet and gentle young lady. For Patrick, a runner, who loved to play fast! Remembering Chopin For Jonah, who enjoyed learning Chopin's Prelude in E minor. March For the Mischievous For Sarah, who had fun playing duets!

  • Philosophy, Marsha Medley, Piano Plus

    Where Learning and Laughter Live! "You're funny!" a beginning 5 year old student recently told me. I am funny, but I am also serious about teaching every student to play well and to understand music. From the first lessons, every student whether 5 or 75, starts learning good technique and practical theory through 5-finger scales and major chords. As students progress, they learn how to "swing those blues," gracefully play Minuets, and "rock" those popular songs they like. Over time, rudimentary reading skills progress to advanced reading skills so that all students can become independent and confident musicians! But just because I am serious about teaching does not mean we cannot have fun during lessons! Beauty Versus Competition As a member of the St. Louis Chapter of the National Music Teachers Association, I can offer motivated students the opportunity to participate in area Music Festivals and Auditions. However, I encourage students to study music for the beauty and emotional/intellectual satisfaction of it, rather than for the sake of competing. Engaging in music lessons can affect brain development like no other activity! Low Pressure, When You Are Ready Performances For interested students, opportunities to perform for family and friends are offered twice a year, usually in the Fall and Spring at local venues. Students learn to perfect and memorize their pieces (duets are played with music books) and master their "nervousness" in front of a friendly audience. All performances are optional.

  • Piano Lessons St. Louis | Marsha Medley, Piano Plus | United States

    Where Learning and Laughter Live! Experience/Education Teaching Style Suggestions, Policies and Rates More than just piano, lessons include music history, and depending on your interest, ear training, composition, improvisation, music theory, and casual singing. I teach organ as well!

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