From pursuing a college degree in music, to starting a band, playing gigs, accompanying others, playing with or for friends in a social setting, or just establishing a lifelong appreciation, there are so many benefits of sticking with music lessons.
Even if your child has no interest in becoming a professional musician, music lessons give them a creative outlet and teaches many valuable life skills.
February Teacher Spotlights
Atlanta – Elideusa Aimedia – Guitar, Piano, Violin, & Voice
Elideusa started playing piano at age 5, encouraged by her father, a guitarist, to play the family’s keyboard. Around age 10 she started playing the acoustic guitar and then joined her school’s orchestra at age 11 and learned the violin.
She studied music at Boston Arts Academy and Berklee College of Music, studying abroad at the Valencia Spain campus and earning a degree in Songwriting and Music Production.
Her best teaching experience was when she the music director at Hyde Square Task Force in Boston, MA. “My ability to oversee and steer the music program while teaching simultaneously was truly wonderful. I had the opportunity to teach songwriting and music production classes to very talented youth in an under served portion of Boston,” she said.
Elideusa tries hard to personalize the experience for each of her students and celebrate their accomplishments along the way. She’s done things like left the room and watched/listened from outside to help a student overcome stage fright, demonstrated yoga poses to help students with breathing and made silly faces during tongue stretches to make the process less awkward.
Her best advice for students is, “Always approach your instrument from a calm, centered place. If you lose that balance, take a moment to step back and refocus before attempting again.”
Her biggest supporter is her friend Teresa. “I have friends I speak to on a more consistent basis, but every time I release a new song, she has it memorized by the next day. She is a fan of my lyrics, melodies and voice/performing abilities. She’s always encouraging me to reach for the stars.
”Elideusa still plays the first guitar she bought herself, a $300 Epiphone and her violin is the one her dad bought her when she was 13.Nominated by Atlanta Director, Burdett Rice, he said Elideusa has shown a lot of organization and consistence in her lessons and families seem to be pleased with her work!
Houston – David Camarena – Piano
David Camarena started piano lessons at age 6 when his grandparents bought him a keyboard. A curious child, he tried to imitate familiar songs. He went on to study piano performance at DePaul University in Chicago and begin teaching.After teaching for several years in Chicago and Houston, David taught elementary music at Stamford American International School in Singapore from 2014-2016.
One of his proudest teaching experiences came in Singapore when he inspired one of his student to continue lessons rather than quit. She’s now auditioning to study music in college.In addition to teaching, David has also performed with members of the Houston Symphony, Houston Grand Opera and Houston Ballet and serving as music director at Ravenswood Fellowship Methodist Church. He also play accompaniments for instrumentalists of all levels.
David’s current instrument is a full-sized electronic keyboard he keeps in his bedroom. He loves it for two reasons, he said. “Firstly, it affords me the first opportunity I’ve ever had in life to practice in my pajamas. Secondly, it gives me the perfect retort for the student who doesn’t want to practice or take lessons because they don’t think their piano is ‘good enough’”.
He encourages his stu ents to just practice – “It is infinitely better to practice too little than to not practice at all,” he said.David was nominated for Teacher of the Month by Houston Director, Jay Maurice who said, “Thanks for doing a great job and going out of your way to treat our students right!”
Washington D.C. – Nicole Morris – Guitar, Bass Guitar, Piano & Ukuele
Nicole Morris started playing piano at age 8 when she and her brother were signed up for lessons. She didn’t enjoy it and never practiced. When she was 13, she got a guitar and taught herself a few songs, but didn’t start lessons until a few years later. Nicole took that guitar with her to college where she continued to learn on her own.
Nicole’s favorite teacher is Mark Alert, her guitar teacher when she was a teenager. “He basically taught me how to play through the classic rock and punk rock songs that I liked. He made the lessons really fun and he was an excellent mentor. He was someone who I trusted and considered a friend; someone I could confide in. I try to be that to my students as well,” she said.
Her primary goal as a teacher is for her students to share their music with others. She likes to customize lessons to specifically meet the needs and interests of students no matter what kind of music they are interested in. Nicole’s best advice for students is, “(t)here is no such thing as too much practice”
Her favorite guitar is a Gibson SG Faded Series. “I fell in love with this guitar because of how lightweight it is,” she said, “I have other electrics and have played ‘better guitars’, but nothing compares to how comfortable I feel with ‘my son’, as I refer to it”.
Nicole was nominated for Teacher of the Month by LIYH Washington DC/Northern Virginia Director, Heather Johnston. Heather says, “ She is a consistent, strong teacher with us and does an amazing job with her students; she’s also an active performer and very popular in the local music scene.”
Miami / South Florida – Eduardo Balerdi – Guitar
From Buenos Aires, Argentina, Eduardo Balerdi started playing music at age 3 on a mini harp citara and then began guitar at age 5 or 6.
He studied classical guitar, rock guitar, and composition as a teenager with Eduardo Criscuolo, his favorite teacher and mentor. “He introduced me by his own example to the multiple aspects and possibilities of this profession: being a musician,” Eduardo said.
Eduardo then studied jazz guitar, ensemble and jazz composition with Alejandro Moro and Marta Bellomo, followed by contemporary composition and strict counterpoint with Daniel Montes.
Eduardo’s main guitar is a 1980 Gibson 335 that he purchased in 1987. “It is as comfortable and reliable and magic as it can get,” he said.
Eduardo values every moment with each of his students His best advice for students is, “repetition, self-discipline and joy through difficulties are the key to success,” he says. Once, when directing a high school ensemble, with many accomplished singers who had studied since childhood. However, one member was not at the same level. Some of the more accomplished students asked Eduardo to take the weaker student out of the concert because she was too out of tune. Eduardo refused and instead made the ensemble rehearse only the weaker student’s part over and over for an hour.
“The concert was fantastic, she was fantastic, the kids came to tell me they had been wrong of thinking of taking her out. Everything flow,” he said.
Denver – David Rynhart – Piano
Because he wanted to play piano like Paul McCartney, David Rynhart started playing by ear at age 7 and continued until he was 12 and then again at age 14 when a friend wanted to play Metallica.
He didn’t have formal piano lessons until he got to college at Ashland University in Ohio. David’s favorite music teacher is Liz Pastor, was his piano teacher at Ashland University, an eccentric lady who really inspired individually. “She took a chance on me and taught unconventionally,” he said, since he was self-taught and couldn’t read music well.
David has traveled all over the US and Europe learning, teaching and performing music on a Roland 300x digital piano. At home, he also has a haunted magic upright piano that he found in the corner of a thrift store for $50
His best teaching experience has been teaching songwriting and rhythm workshops to communities around Colorado, part of Denver’s ‘DeTour’ program (Colorado Creative Industries). He has also taught in Vermont and Galway, Ireland.
His best tip for students is, “Make good practicing habits, make a game of it. Don’t think too hard,” he said.
Orlando – Sandy Lybe – Piano & Voice
Sandy Lybe grew up in a family of professional musicians. Her father was a church organist/pianist and her mother was a pianist and vocalist as well as a teacher. She began lessons with her mother around age 4. “I couldn’t have had better training than I had being surrounded by music my whole life,” Sandy said.
And, by far, she said, he mother was her favorite teacher. “They say never try to teach your own family members, but (my mother) was able to teach me in a loving and professional way. Every day was a lesson. Sometimes I wished I was like every other kid, with a lesson once a week, but even then, I knew I was very luck,” Sandy said. Sandy went on to study piano performance with Rita Fuzek at California State University at Fullerton.
She has continued to keep music in the family; her husband and daughter are her biggest supporters. “When I am directing a choir, they always sing. When I perform, they are always in the audience. When I need a page turner, my daughter is always there,” she said.
She was quite sad to have to sell her family piano she learned to play on and all of her family had played. It had been moved several times, and because it was old, she knew it would not make another cross-country move.
Sandy’s dedication and experience as a music teacher has spanned more than 30 years. “Every student is a blessing and a challenge,” she said, “I love to teach a student who starts out challenged and find the key to turning the experience into a success.”
She recalled one of her young students who had a lot of difficulty with eighth note rhythms to the point of almost quitting. Sandy & the student perservered and the student is now living in NYC composing and performing her own music. Sandy enjoys keeping up with the student on social media and hearing about all of her experiences.
Seattle – Cole Holland -Piano
Cole Holland started piano lessons at age 3 to develop skills outside of sports and continued his music education throughout his childhood, including age 13 to 18 with Mariya Koshkina, whom he calls his favorite teacher.
“Prior to studying with her, I had very little experience with technique, scales and overall discipline of learning repertoire. She was extremely demanding, but I knew she just wanted to see me be the best I could be on piano,” he said.
Cole recently earned his Bachelor’s in music composition from Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle.
His best teaching experience came about a year ago while working with a shy 8 year old girl. Her progress had been very slow and every skill seemed difficult. Cole had been in constant communication with the student’s parents to keep them involved in her practicing between lessons. And then one day, everything clicked – she could read notes, play accurate rhythms and was confident in sight reading.
“It was a major breakthrough. It was a great feeling knowing that all the hard work that myself and her parents put in paid off,” he said. “More importantly, the student was enjoying the instrument so much more and was having a lot more fun.”
Cole is always there to help a student who is struggling with a particular piece of skill. “I always try different techniques that might make the repertoire easier for them,” he said, “For example, it can be creating a new exercise targeting a difficulty the student has, and incorporating that exercise into the student’s regular practices.”
His best advice to students is to stay consistent with practcing. “It is better to have 6 days with 5 minutes of practice a day, than to have only one day with 2 hours of practice,” he said.
He suggests planning practice time around an everyday activity, like a few minutes before you sit down to dinner, or after you get back from another activity. “Developing a habit of practicing is key to staying on top of your lessons,” he said.
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