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I use diagnostic teaching methods, which is a fancy way of saying that I observe the student and learn his or her learning style and use the appropriate teaching methods to help the student to learn. The teaching aids I use are multisensory, meaning that they are things you can touch, hear, see, etc… I do a lot with color, touch, motion, and mental imaging exercises. I originally developed the multisensory strategies to help teach students who have ADD and dyslexia, but found that the multisensory techniques worked with other young students as well.
Let me tell you three stories about students of mine:
I have one student with ADHD who studied with another piano teacher. The experience was so bad that he decided he did not want to play piano anymore. When his parents brought him to me, he wanted to learn guitar. He has been with me for about three years and will perform in his third recital this September. After his first year, he and his parents were so happy with the results that he started to study piano with me in addition to guitar. He will be performing on piano and guitar in the upcoming recital.
Another student with dyslexic tendencies came to me barely able to play. Her previous teacher is public school certified (although the piano lessons were private) and has experience teaching special needs students. The teacher’s solution was to teach the student by ear. While ear learning does have its place in lessons, there needs to be a balance. The student was unable to recognize the notes, use the correct fingers or hand positions. It was almost like she had not been taught at all. I will admit that the student was a challenge, but within two months of studying with me she was playing songs with hands combined, using the correct hand positions and fingering, and she had learned note, interval, and rhythm concepts.
I have another student who, before he studied with me, was with a piano teacher who was a very gifted pianist. The teacher had graduate degrees in piano performance and had taught at the collegiate level, which I am sure he did effectively. Unfortunately, he did not know how to teach children. My student was about eight years old at this point. Even though he had only had lessons for about nine months, he was thinking about quitting, but he changed teachers instead. He has been with me for over eight years, and he is playing early advanced material. (He followed me from my old job when I left to start Success Music Studio.)
I have a handful of similar student stories (teachers fresh out of college, teachers who are not college trained, teachers quitting because he/she got a gig on the road, etc.), but you get the idea. When you consider all of the factors that go into choosing a music teacher, do not forget to factor in effectiveness. You can waste a lot of money on an inexperienced or ineffective teacher. This is why I can afford to offer the Two-Free-Lessons promotional, because 90% of the people who have taken the trial lessons since the studio opened in 2005 have gone on to become formal Success Music Studio students.
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“You’ve taught me all I know about guitar, music, theory, the business, and songwriting… You’ve always believed in me, in every endeavor. Thank you, for everything. And I really mean everything. You’re awesome.”
-Rayanna Delisle (Music business major in college.)