Meet the Opus

Featured Teacher!

Megan Natoli

Instructor of Flute

Check out Megan’s Profile!

How long have you been teaching?

I have been teaching students of all ages and levels since 2008 in a variety of educational settings, including private lessons, studio classes, musicianship classes, music theory/ear training classes, and classroom teaching as an arts integration specialist. In my years of teaching, I have had the distinct privilege of helping grade school students achieve top scores at the regional and all state levels, preparing students for competitions and auditions, educating students on career options, helping students get into the college music programs of their dreams, and instilling a work ethic and love of music in my students. I have had students go on to study music at the collegiate level at New England Conservatory/Tufts University Double-Degree Program, University of Massachusetts, and The Hartt School. I am a Wolf Trap trained Arts Integration Specialist and prior to moving to Minnesota, taught for The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra’s OrchKids program, Young Audiences/Arts for Learning Maryland, The Baltimore School for the Arts TWIGS program, and Bel Air Arts Academy. Additionally, I have been a guest flutist and educator for The Annapolis Symphony’s Music Van in collaboration with Annapolis Symphony musicians as well as The Baltimore Symphony’s OrchLab series in collaboration with Baltimore Symphony musicians. I am thrilled to bring my experience as a flutist and educator to Opus Music Academy!


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 teach in person and virtual flute lessons and am available for lessons at the Plymouth, Robbinsdale, and St. Louis Park locations. I am also available for in-home lessons within 15 mile of my home in Minneapolis. In addition to my work at Opus Music Academy, I have a flute studio of my own with students I teach in person and virtually. My current studio consists of students from Minnesota, Maryland, New York, and Connecticut!


What do you teach? Anything else you teach?

I primarily teach flute, piccolo, and recorder but have been known to teach beginner-intermediate piano lessons from time to time!


What is your studio story? How did you get to where you are now?

I began my flute studies at the age of 9 through my elementary school band program. Before I became very serious about the flute, I was a competitive gymnast. When I was 15, I unfortunately sustained an injury that led me to end my gymnastics career. That was a heartbreaking time for me, but the flute very quickly became just what I needed. I began filling the hours I spent at the gym with practicing flute and never looked back. I fell totally in love with the flute, movie soundtracks, and orchestral music and began to dream big. From there, I went on to study flute with Janet Arms of the New York City Opera Orchestra at The Hartt School in Connecticut, where I earned a Bachelor of Music in Flute Performance & Music Management and a Graduate Professional Diploma in Flute Performance. After finishing my studies in Connecticut, I moved to New York City to study with Robert Langevin, Principal Flutist of the New York Philharmonic, at Manhattan School of Music. There, I earned a Master of Music in Flute Performance. Upon completing my studies, I moved to Baltimore, Maryland to be with my boyfriend at the time who was the Second Bassoonist in the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. In my time in Baltimore, I worked as a freelance flutist and educator, explored lots of great coffee shops and restaurants, eventually got married, and created lots of friendships and memories. We relocated to Minnesota in September when my husband was offered a position in the Minnesota Orchestra bassoon section. Minnesota has been very welcoming to us already and we are very excited to be here!


What is one thing you think you do really well as a teacher?

One thing I think I do really well as a teacher is connect with my students. I am always willing to unleash my inner child to better understand and communicate with my students because I believe that building trust in the teacher-student relationship is the key to helping each student find their own unique path to success.


What is one thing you really struggle with as a teacher?

One thing I really struggle with as a teacher and musician is saying no to new commitments. The artist mindset of always aspiring for more and more is one that has taken me many years to get better with. It is so easy to forget that your own wellbeing is vital in creating a happy, healthy, life balance and sometimes, life balance requires turning down new opportunities.


What do you do to retain your students?

To retain my students, I approach every lesson like it is my job to inspire my students to WANT to learn about and play music. I teach the music beyond the notes on the page and always seize any opportunity for a teachable moment. I have taught my students the value of teamwork by incorporating a Spongebob Krabby Patty building chart, have used transition times in school settings as an opportunity to walk with my students in a line while teaching the rules of the road, and taught them about managing finances by awarding my silly design of flute dollars, allowing them to choose to save or spend them by purchasing new, fun music skills. As a music teacher, I have the great honor of teaching my students so much more beyond the notes on the page. I believe that if you reach for the sky while teaching, your students will always land amongst the stars!


Share a funny student story:

I once had a student with the most brilliant, wildest of the wild imaginations. In talking about the difference between staccato and legato articulation, she came to the conclusion that legato needs to be smooth like a ripe avocado but also smooth like spreading frosting on a cake. I will forever use those incredible metaphors when teaching students to play with legato articulation!


What is your niche? What sets you apart from other teachers?

Something that I believe sets me apart from other teachers is the fact that I approach every lesson and class with the goal of inspiring students to WANT to learn about and play music. Rather than requiring my students to practice for set durations of time throughout each week, I approach lessons from the point of view that it is my job to make my students want to pick up their instrument outside of lessons. If I can instill a love of music in my students, everything else will fall into place for them to achieve whatever it is they want to achieve!


What is your favorite band, artist, or composer? Why?

My favorite band is Lúnasa, a traditional Irish music group, named after Lughnasadh, an ancient harvest festival. They tour and perform internationally, and have recorded a number of albums of both traditional and contemporary Irish instrumental music. I have always loved Irish and Scottish traditional music – it is the music that makes me want to get up and move my feet but also the music that makes me want to play my flute in different settings than I normally do! Other favorites are The Chieftains, Dervish, Flook, The Chair, The TinWhistler, Saltfishforty, and the Martin Hayes Quartet. I could go on and on!


What is something people would be surprised to learn about you?

I am tiny but I have a third-degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do…SURPRISE!


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.?

One piece of advice I wish I would have known when I started teaching is that there is value in running lessons on time. When I first started teaching, I would allow lessons to run beyond their end time if the lesson was going really well. While this was great for my students, it ultimately was not best for respecting my own time and self worth and it changed the flow of lessons for my students. Students thrive with routines and it is important for their development to keep the structure of lessons as consistent as possible, including respecting the start and end times of lessons!


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?

The life of a freelance musician and teacher is an incredible one full of variety and amazing experiences, but it can be difficult to remember to care for yourself while spending all your energy helping others to achieve their goals. I would tell a teacher who is feeling burnt out that we have to create opportunities to take time off as freelancers because creating time to replenish your capacity is the key to being there for your students and yourself.


We’ve all had that one student or parent that drives us crazy.  What do you do with that student or family?

For me, building relationships with my students is the key. If I can connect with that student and learn more about them, I can understand where they are coming from and begin to work on skills through music one step at a time. I think it is important to celebrate successes, no matter how big or small and whether they are related to music or not. I have also found that connecting with my students’ families can have a huge impact on my students’ growth, particularly when I reach out to families to share something amazing their child accomplished in a lesson!


What is your craziest idea? What is something you would do if money, time, and space weren’t an issue?

When I was growing up, I used to have recurring dreams about swimming in a pool full of pasta and hanging out in a jacuzzi full of simmering pasta sauce. I guess you could say I really liked pasta. Maybe it was my Italian roots. As an adult, I still wonder how my brain came up with that one – it sounds fascinating and gross all at the same time! It will come as no surprise to know that THAT has always been my craziest idea, but if money, time, and space weren’t an issue, I would absolutely travel the world, explore all the greatest food and coffee in every city, and I would NOT choose to swim in a pool full of pasta or hang out in a jacuzzi full of simmering pasta sauce!


If you weren’t a music instructor, what else would you do with your life?

This is a question I only ever recently seriously considered because up until my 30s, I never thought I would ever consider doing anything else with my life. As I have gotten a little older and gained some more life experience, I have begun to wonder why I never considered working in the medical field. Because I have experienced quite a lot with my own health, I have the utmost respect and admiration for people who work in the medical field – particularly Nurses and Physical Therapists. Having gone through several major surgeries, the Nurses who took care of me when I couldn’t care for myself and the Physical Therapists who worked with me to help me return to normalcy have so greatly impacted my life that I have found myself wishing I considered the career, myself. To be honest, though, I still wouldn’t ever change a thing about my path and know that I will always choose music because at the end of the day, it is the thing that makes me feel at truly home with myself.


Want to learn more about Megan? Email us to find out more and to set up a free trial lesson!

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