Meet our Featured Teacher of the Month!
Instructor of Clarinet, Piano, and Saxophone
How long have you been teaching?
I have been teaching since 2017.
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 currently work at the New Hope studio, virtually, and I offer in-home lessons and lessons at the Robbinsdale location, as well.
What do you teach? Anything else you teach?
I currently teach clarinet, saxophone, and piano.
What is your studio story? How did you get to where you are now?
I started teaching in 2017 , and by the time I completed my undergraduate degree instantly fell in love with teaching. When I entered my master’s degree in saxophone, I knew that I wanted to continue to teach in any way I could. I started working for two studios in the Minneapolis/St. Paul areas and loved seeing the growth of my students. I will be starting a doctoral degree in saxophone this Fall and will continue to teach at Opus Music Academy!
What is one thing you think you do really well as a teacher?
I think that I do well with creating an individualized approach for each and every student. Everyone learns at a different pace and in their own unique way and I want to express that in each lesson I teach.
What is one thing you really struggle with as a teacher?
One of the things I struggle with is picking/finding repertoire for students outside of the lesson book. I generally have my students choose what they want to play, but I also want them to learn something out of what they are playing. It is difficult finding things that they enjoy, but also have learning goals.
A funny student story:
A little while ago I was teaching a student online. I greeted him on the video screen and he said that he would be back in a moment. The student left the video screen and comes back with a giant snake about six feet long over his head. He came back to start the lesson and I asked him about the snake. He said, “Oh, George just got out of his cage again,” very nonchalantly. I remember that I couldn’t stop laughing after that!
What do you do to retain your students?
I always want them to be engaged and interested in what they are doing in lessons! There should always be a next step forward that keeps them going in their musical journey.
What is your niche? What sets you apart from other teachers?
I believe that all students have the capability to learn and create something amazing. This might take months, or even years, but I want to give everyone a chance to shine and express their feelings through music.
What is your favorite band, artist, or composer? Why?
I am a big fan of classical music, but if I am leaving that realm, I love listening to Lake Street Dive. They are a soul/rock group based out of Massachusetts. All of their songs are pretty easy listening and I can listen to them to decompress after a long day.
What is something people would be surprised to learn about you?
I have a mild form of synesthesia, which means that sometimes I can associate colors with music. This actually helps me to dive more in depth with the music that I learn and understand it more.
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.
Have patience and don’t try to overwhelm a new student with a lot of information at once. This was a mistake I made when I first started teaching piano. Younger students can only grasp so much information at a time, so having patience and taking lessons at a slower pace is necessary for success.
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?
Take a deep breath and try to find an outlet aside from music. For me, this is hiking. If I am feeling stressed or overwhelmed, I take a short break and breathe. This always helps me get back into teaching with a fresh mindset.
We’ve all had that one student or parent that drives us crazy. What do you do with that student or family?
With a family, remind them that the teacher has a handle on teaching music to their child. A parent knows their child better than anyone, but remind them that lessons are a time for a student to explore something new. A music teacher knows what they are doing and has the capabilities to make a student feel safe and grow through music. With a student, patience is key. Never act up in front of a student, no matter how frustrated you might be. Remain calm, go through one thing at a time with the student.
What is your craziest idea? What is something you would do if money, time, and space weren’t an issue?
I would love to go to Austria someday to explore all the musical history that lies there!
If you weren’t a music instructor, what else would you do with your life?
I am a full time student studying saxophone, but if I didn’t do music all together, I would do something science related. I have always been fascinated in environmental science and discovering more about our planet and the species that occupy it.