My first experiences with piano involved learning simple duets with my Mom. I loved playing “Chopsticks” and “Heart and Soul” with her – the sound was always so much bigger when we played together. I began formal piano lessons at age six, though my first piano teacher wasn't a great fit. Her lessons were quite rigid and I was disappointed that I didn't get to choose any of my pieces. I struggled to maintain my love of music until finding my second teacher, who opened up a new world of technique and fun for me. She was kind and funny and tailored my lessons to my individual needs.
As I grew older, my love of music extended into dance and musical theater, which led me to audition for my first musical, “Annie,” at age eight. I was cast in a lead role and loved everything about the experience. I continued to perform in musicals through college, earning a B.F.A. in Musical Theater from Sam Houston State University.
After graduation I moved to Austin and began performing in musicals professionally. At the same time, I began teaching voice lessons to kids - it was an instant fit. I loved working one-on-one to help another person discover their musical interests and skills. I was also excited to notice how much teaching allowed me to really dig into the details of music, exploring the nuts and bolts of everything from technique to music history.
I enjoyed teaching so much that I became a preschool teacher at Childswork Learning Center soon after moving to Portland in 2007. I was the lead music teacher for my class, and I noticed that my favorite part of every work day was the 15 minutes that I taught music to my students. I left Childswork in 2010 to teach piano full time and had the honor and great pleasure of teaching piano to 10 of my 12 preschool students (some of whom I'm lucky enough to still teach to this day).
I am truly grateful to have found work that I love and that feels so very meaningful. No two students are the same, which makes every teaching experience fresh and engaging. I look forward to building relationships and facing new challenges with students for many years to come.
My teaching philosophy is rooted in my extensive experience in both early childhood education and musical performance. I value skills like independence, communication, and problem-solving, and I believe in the importance of honoring and developing a player's individual music and style preferences. The overall intent of my teaching is to guide students toward music as a means of expression and to teach students fundamental learning strategies. And I find that when we keep things fun and expressive and equip people with effective strategies, students have the momentum and skills to learn everything they want to know. ...and of course, the more you learn, the more you love it. :)
I use Nancy and Randall Faber's Piano Adventures series with all my students. These books have been an ideal fit for my teaching priorities. The pieces selected for each level represent a variety of musical genres from all over the world and allow students to select additional pieces from genres that interest them most. After a relatively short time, students are often able to teach themselves new pieces, which gives them an increasing sense of empowerment. The books also offer consistent opportunities for composition, improvisation and ear-training, three skills which lay a terrific foundation for composition by developing the player's creativity and voice. The Faber series is also a favorite of mine because it entices students to practice with it's multitude of styles and song choices.
We'll also toss those excellent books aside from time to time to dive in to whatever music the student is most excited about. Projects outside the Faber books may include sheet music, YouTube tutorials and/or rote teaching.
As a reflection of my philosophy, my lessons are more student-directed than many other teachers. I find this to be a very important component in teaching young students in particular, but it is definitely not the traditional, classical approach.