March / April 2022
NOTES FROM MELIA & JUSTIN
Spring is here! (Hoping temperatures follow soon!) There are only two months remaining in the spring semester, and we know it will fly by after spring break! In this newsletter, you’ll find important announcements about April group classes, the advanced track collaboration workshop, our spring recital, and our summer calendar. We also explore the life and work of African American pianist, composer, and educator Florence Price in “Women of the Keys” and offer some ideas for breaking the cycle of not practicing.
Melia & Justin
In this newsletter, we continue our 2021-22 studio year theme “Women of the Keys: Piano Music by Female Composers” with a look at 20th-century African-American composer, pianist, and music educator, Florence Price. We highlighted Price last year in our Music of COLOR series, and we return to her again because she is one of the few female composers of music for the concert hall who also left behind pedagogical (teaching) works that serve the youngest of students. You’ll hear a few of her pieces in our upcoming spring recital!
Check out four activities to watch, read, listen, and do to learn more about Florence Price and her work!
Get up close and personal as jazz pianist Aaron Diehl prepares to perform Price’s Piano Concerto in One Movement with the Pacific Symphony!
With your parent’s permission, search for "Florence Price" on your favorite music streaming service (YouTube, Spotify, Apple Music, etc.). What types of pieces do you find? What genres did she work in?.
PIANO IN THE NEWS
Music can bring hope in life’s darkest moments. Read about German pianist Davide Martello's recent performances for Ukrainian refugees crossing into Poland.
Four of our students recently participated in Student Achievement Testing! SAT is a program that tests students in all areas of musicianship and is administered by our local chapter of Music Teachers National Association. Students performed in person at GRCC’s Albert P. Smith Music Center. Way to go, Music Makers!
Just Do It!
Too often, we see students begin lessons with energy and motivation to learn the instrument and quickly find themselves in a routine of practicing only one or two days a week (or never!). This results in weekly lessons that can feel like drudgery for both teacher and student.
So in this month’s practice tip, we focus on two ways to break this cycle:
Build practice into the rhythms of family life! When families prioritize piano practice in the same way they do homework, chores, and family meals, practicing will occupy its own slot in the family week. Work with your child to find a good time of day to practice and help them stick to it. Before school? After school? After dinner? In general, we love to see our students practicing five or more days per week; consistency creates growth.
“Just do it!” It’s so obvious it maybe doesn’t need saying. But even when we have a routine and strong family support, getting started can be really difficult. (This is true for pros like us too!) So when motivation is running low, just get started: Sit down, grab your piano books and assignment notebook, warm up with a scale or five-finger pattern. Many times, our motivation actually follows our actions. Pick a small goal from your assignment notebook and work toward it. Even if you don’t finish it, you can pick back up where you left off tomorrow. (Learn more in this “Bulletproof Musician” article.)
In an ideal world, practicing creates progress which motivates more practicing in a virtuous cycle. But getting started is the first, most important, and hardest step!
What questions do you have about practice? Send me an email at <firstname.lastname@example.org>, and I’ll try to answer them in upcoming newsletters.
Per the studio calendar, our Spring Break will take place April 4-8. We’ll resume our normal teaching schedule the week of April 11.
Spring Studio Event:
"How Pianos Work"
Thanks to all who attended our Spring Studio Event “How Pianos Work” last Saturday! If you missed it, you can watch our virtual event from Spring 2021 here.
April Group Class
Our second group class week of the spring semester is April 18-22. Per the studio calendar, classes will take place at the following times:
Monday, April 18 @ 6 PM
Tuesday, April 19 @ 4 PM and 5:30 PM
All classes will take place in person. Please register for the session your student will be attending in the studio portal by Monday, April 11.
Advanced Track Collaboration Workshop
We are excited to host our first ever Collaboration Workshop for Advanced Track (45- and 60-minute students) on Saturday, April 16! Our master collaborator for the day is Dr. Letitia Jap, affiliate professor of violin at Grand Valley State University. With degrees from the University of Texas at Austin, New England Conservatory, and the Eastman School of Music, and Dr. Jap's violin playing has taken her around the world!
During the workshop, students will rehearse pieces they have been preparing to play with Dr. Jap. In addition, they’ll observe Justin and Dr. Jap collaborate and share about what they’ve learned by making music with others.
Our Spring Recital, “Women of the Keys,” will take place on Saturday, May 14 at Bethlehem Church (250 Commerce Ave SW #100, Grand Rapids, MI 49503). We have grown since our last in-person studio recital in Fall 2019, and as a result, we’ve decided to move to a new venue and hold two recitals, one at 10 AM and the other at 11:30 AM. After spring break, we will send out a survey about families’ preference for recital time. This will allow us to create two, well-balanced recitals with a variety of ages and abilities.
In addition to asking about Spring Recital times, our post-spring break survey will inquire about families’ plans for the summer semester. New for 2021-22, we are offering weekly (8 lessons) and biweekly (4 lessons) summer options spanning mid-June through mid-August. Families who do not wish to participate in the summer semester may pay a reservation fee to reserve their spot in the studio for Fall 2022. Based on your survey feedback, we will begin scheduling summer lessons in May. Find our summer semester calendar below and on our "calendar" page.