Meet the Opus
Instructor of Piano, Guitar, Music Theory, Audio Engineering, and Music Production
How long have you been teaching?
Professionally I have been teaching music for 2 years of individual lessons, along with a handful of individual lessons to friends and family which spans of 15 years. I also have over 10 years of music training experience with musicians who were apart of church music groups.
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 virtually, at the Opus studios in Plymouth and St. Louis Park, and in home within 10 miles of Plymouth, MN.
What do you teach? Anything else you teach?
Professionally I teach acoustic and electric guitar and piano/keyboard. But I have taught Drums, Bass and Vocal lessons as well in the past. I have not taught Audio Production and Music Theory professionally, but I did assist a lot of students at college with music theory and audio production.
What is your studio story? How did you get to where you are now?
It all started in 6th grade when I received my first guitar. Over the years I had learned how to play guitar and I had joined my local youth group. In high school, 3 friends and I formed our first rock band. I had a dream of being in a rock band and travel the world. During my high school and early college years, I had guitar, piano and vocal lessons, along with music theory training, spanning 3 colleges. It wasn’t until I went to San Jacinto College where I received an Associates in Audio Engineering. I interned at a studio in Houston, Texas receiving experience in a professional recording studio. I eventually received a bachelor’s in modern music ministry with an emphasis in guitar at Visible Music College in Memphis, TN. Growing up in the church, I had the opportunity to work with music groups of different ages and help improve their musical skills to provide a professional service. With some personal experiences from the last 7 years, I realized I wanted to be more in the community I live in instead of traveling world wide. This made sense as I could enhance the music community. I got into music teaching because I had a handful of friends and family who saw a talent that I had and encouraged me to pursue it. I do enjoy being a mentor and teacher to people while being that influence in people’s lives. And what better way to do that with some music?
What is one thing you think you do really well as a teacher?
I am good at becoming personable with people. I have been told if I am not a musician/teacher, I could be a great counselor of some sort. I do love connecting with others, listening to them, understanding who they are. I think that helps when you understand your student as you learn the details of their personal lives. It opens you up to their world which gives you better success to figure out what makes them tick.
What is one thing you really struggle with as a teacher?
I struggle with saying no at times and I tend to take on more than I can handle. I have had to really challenge myself over the years to have the boundaries that I need to keep my self sane. This is not your typically 9-5 job so it’s easy when you have family with normal schedules like that, and yours isn’t. It can be easy to give up all your family time to customers. I will do anything I need to help my students, but part of that is setting boundaries and I could work on that a lot more.
What do you do to retain your students?
I think being there for the student, thick and thin. When I get down to their level about life, whether it being personal or professional, the more influence I have on them. The more that I put the effort to love on my students well, the more they connect with me. When they see me go above and beyond for them, I tend to have a better chance of keeping them.
Share a funny student story:
This isn’t really a funny story but a cute one. I had a little girl who was huge into Frozen, so my first thought was, “Let it Go!” So I had written out a very basic version of the chorus and when I shared it with her, her eyes lit up. “Who knew she could learn to play a song from her favorite movie?” Her mom sat in lessons so that she could keep up with what her daughter had to learn and the little girl kept smiling at her mom the rest of the lesson. She was so ecstatic, which made mom happy as well.
What is your niche? What sets you apart from other teachers?
Again, it’s that personal factor. I really try to find ways to connect with my students. I will do whatever it is to hep them improve on their skills, their time management, etc. I have had a couple of times where I have broken down homework into daily sections. “Monday, work on this section”. “Tuesday work on the next section”. Or maybe, “This week, only focus on this skill”. I really like to help the students in every way possible to make sure they succeed.
What is your favorite band, artist, or composer? Why?
One band that comes to mind is Muse as I am a huge fan of bands who can be very versatile in their skills. But overall, I tend to lean toward Youtube Covers as I love the creativity people come up with, and I love looking for new artists. I love find new sounds people come up with.
What is something people would be surprised to learn about you?
I grew up in a Christian home but my experiences I have had over the years have helped me understand that people who don’t believe what I believe does not make them a bad person. We are all on a journey and we are all looking to find acceptance and be loved. When I put down my pride and preconceived ideas to understand others, it allows me and the other party to have a conversation about our experiences within this world. Music is a way to express those journeys and it helps us connect with other people.
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.?
Don’t just teach music. Understand the student. Be there for the student. I have had teachers who were about teaching the music but didn’t really invest in their students (to some degree). I think when we invest in the students long term, we have a better success rate on continuing with 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?
Take a weekend to do whatever you need. This can be a crazy schedule even though it can be fun. I’d say, take a weekend to do whatever you want, breathe for a bit and then for a couple of hours remind yourself Why you are doing what you do. It’s easy to get burned out from the daily tasks that go on day after day. We are mentors to these students and they need us just as much as we need ourselves. Find some friends and go out for the night. Go to a movie you have been wanting to see. But the big key is that Why. When we remember Why we are doing what we do, then our passion tends to build again because our purpose is at the forefront of our minds again.
We’ve all had that one student or parent that drives us crazy. What do you do with that student or family?
I think its all about patience. I think it’s a long-run strategy, but I think it’s worth it. I think sitting down with students and parents and connecting with them on those situations. There is some type of reason on someone’s behavior, so when we take the time to understand what’s going on, it allows us to adjust. Sometimes you must lay down ground rules and boundaries with them, but when you are willing to hear their side of the story, and help them feel heard, they will break down that wall and will be willing to adjust if need be. And sometimes it takes multiple times to get to a good place and that’s where the patience strategy is a long-run strategy.
What is your craziest idea? What is something you would do if money, time, and space weren’t an issue?
Travel. I always love seeing new places, meeting new people, immersing myself in other cultures and seeing the world through so many lenses.
If you weren’t a music instructor, what else would you do with your life?
Doing some sort of community outreach. There is a lot of hurt in the world and a lot of mess and I hate talking ‘the talk’. I’d want to be in the mix of something that helps the less fortunate in a way that makes an impact on their lives.
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