Meet the Opus
Instructor of Guitar
How long have you been teaching?
I have been teaching since 2018.
Which Opus Music Academy locations do you work? Do you have your own studio? If so, where is it located? Do you offer in-home lessons?
I teach at the New Hope, Robbinsdale, St. Louis Park locations, as well as online and in-home in the general Minneapolis area.
What do you teach? Anything else you teach?
I teach guitar. I also specialize in songwriting and theory.
What is your studio story? How did you get to where you are now?
I began teaching in April of 2018, and since then have slowly built up a foundation of longtime students, many of which I have taught from the very beginning! Along the way I’ve learned a lot about how to best work with students of a variety of different ages, skill levels, and learning styles. Through all these experiences I’ve developed a flexible curriculum that yields great results.
What is one thing you think you do really well as a teacher?
I do well at catering to students’ interests while exposing them to new musical ideas.
What is one thing you really struggle with as a teacher?
I struggle with pushing students who don’t practice enough as hard as I should.
What do you do to retain your students?
I try to keep my teaching focused on the individual student and their personal goals. There are so many ways to get involved in vocal music – choir, musicals, opera, pop and rock music, their religion, and even traditions from their cultural background. It helps to tailor their experience so students can apply fundamentals to the areas they are most interested in and hopefully develop a life-long love of music.
Share a funny student story:
I had a student who requested that we work on a Minecraft parody of 500 Miles by The Proclaimers for our recital song. After hearing the first 30 seconds or so, I steered him towards learning the original. We all have our limits.
What do you do to retain your students?
I cater to their individual needs! There is no boilerplate curriculum for all guitarists; whether it be someone looking to master their technique and theory chops, a hobbyist just looking to learn their favorite songs, or anywhere in between.
What is your niche? What sets you apart from other teachers?
I think I strike a good balance between a focus on the music itself, and using technique and theory to help students realize their potential. My diversity of musical taste and knowledge, along with this song-first approach is what sets me apart.
What is your favorite band, artist, or composer? Why?
While it’s really hard to pick just one, I find myself coming back to Queens of the Stone Age the most. They’ve managed to dip their toes in so many sounds, while still sounding super distinct. I don’t think they’ve put out a single album without at least a few great songs on it.
What is something people would be surprised to learn about you?
I love electronic music! These days I’m just as focused on making that as I am guitar-based music, often working somewhere in between those worlds. I also am super into cooking, and worked in restaurants before teaching music.
Let’s say you’re having coffee with a brand-new teacher. What’s one piece of advice you wish you would have known when you started.?
Keep a big back catalogue of a wide variety of songs that you can teach on a moment’s notice, and build a foundational curriculum of scales, chords, exercises, etc. The less you have to rewrite the same materials, the more time you have to teach them!
Let’s say you’re visiting with a teacher who is feeling burned out. What advice would you give to them to give life to their studio?
I’ve always benefited from getting my lesson materials super organized, and thinking of the ways I can improve or add to them, so that I feel like I’m giving my students the best I can. Dig into your own formative musical experiences; what are concepts that were undervalued in your learning but are super important to you now? Also, push your students to ask questions, participate in a dialogue!
We’ve all had that one student or parent that drives us crazy. What do you do with that student or family?
I try my best to explain to them my expectations and intentions in my teaching, and try to level with them to figure out what they want out of our lessons that they aren’t getting. I find that being very forthcoming can solve a lot of these issues, and making sure they feel heard. On the rare occasion that it becomes clear guitar lessons aren’t for them, especially with younger kids, I have recommended discontinuing, or returning to lessons when they are ready.
What is your craziest idea? What is something you would do if money, time, and space weren’t an issue?
Nothing really insane, but I’d love to be able to perform my music with a 10-piece (or more) band, massive arrangements, and live visuals. That’s the dream!
If you weren’t a music instructor, what else would you do with your life?
To be honest, I’d probably spend all my time making music with my friends and traveling with my dog!
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