Meet the Opus
Piano, Guitar, Ukulele
How long have you been teaching?
I’ve been teaching music as my primary source of income since the Fall of 2016.
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 Plymouth, St. Louis Park, and Robbinsdale Opus locations. I also teach at FAIR School Pilgrim Lane in Plymouth through Opus’ partnership with Robbinsdale Community Education. I have a studio at home, but it’s just for me. I do, however, have a number of in-home lesson students (at their homes). I also teach at a couple of other music schools… but of all my pockets, I really dig Opus best. There’s a vibe that I’m very compatible with.
What is your studio story? How did you get to where you are now?
I had been the Sound Engineer/Mixer for a television production company cranking out shows for HGTV and the like for sixteen years, when suddenly the well ran dry and like many small production houses in the face of internet programming, we had to fold. I asked myself what I want to do now with a blank slate, and the answer was my true love…music.
What is one thing you think you do really well as a teacher?
I tend to criticize by giving positive feedback. Every now and then there’s a “don’t do,” but mostly I happily lead them towards their goals.
What is one thing you really struggle with as a teacher?
I get impatient with the new piano students and try to fly through the Primer book.
What do you do to retain your students?
I reckon I’m a friendly beast. I laugh with delight when they do something well. I’m very encouraging.
Share a funny music story:
One time I was tuning my guitar with a student present and I said “Okay that’s D,” and this six year old says “no it’s D sharp.” I argued, made my case, then I understood. This little girl has perfect pitch. I tested her with notes on the piano and sure enough…perfect pitch. Blew my mind.
What is your niche? What sets you apart from other teachers?
With guitar I jump from step one to step twenty. Why teach one string at a time? They can see quite clearly there are six strings. So, chords Em and A7 plus the Em pentatonic scale on day one. Let ‘em play the thing. They like it when they hear that they are playing a song.
What is your favorite band, artist, or composer? Why?
Hmmm, the Beatles?…, no…Jerry Garcia?…no… Bob Dylan. Definitely Bob Dylan. Highway 61 Revisited is the coolest set of tunes ever recorded. Check it out for yourself. He created the 60’s.
What is something people would be surprised to learn about you?
I used to say my age, but my daughter says I don’t look as young as I think I do. So I guess it’s not that anymore. But geez — give or take ten years?
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?
Make sure they understand that the bulk of the work is practicing at home and that a half hour a week with you ain’t gonna do it.
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?
Sense memory. Remember your early days – what it felt like to teach people music. Whatever led them down this path, start again back from the beginning.
We’ve all had that one student or parent that especially “challenges” us. What do you do with that student or family?
I have a disruptor. I know he will disrupt and do it so that I will react. So, I find some of the things he is doing that are at least somewhat funny and have a hearty laugh with him. That satisfies his urges.
What is your craziest idea? What is something you would do if money, time, and space weren’t an issue?
I have a play I’m writing that will have a very distinctive performance style. I’d write the music, build the set, and program the lights all for fun and to unify a very specific result.
If you weren’t a music instructor, what else would you do with your life?
Oh, I’d get back into the theater. I used to be an Equity Stage Manager and also I run a small theater in St. Louis Park. Stay tuned for showtimes.
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