We are so excited about our programs this summer! Now that we have our own studio space, we are thrilled to expand our summer programming (but still keeping our favorites from last year!) Here’s our full list of programs by age:
Mini Maestros and Treblemakers: Mondays (4:15-4:45), Fridays (10:15-10:45), and Saturdays (10:30-11:00) with Ms. Stathia
This parent/child music class is tons of fun! The class includes movement, playing simple percussion instruments, and lots of singing! We use music from all sources (MusicTogether, Kindermusik, and old favorites) and even explore music from around the world. Not only is your child beginning to learn about tonality and steady beat, but it’s also a great way to bond with them at such a young age!
Merry Musicians (weekly class): Tuesdays 3:30-4:15 with Ms. Meredith
This is our general music class for kids ages 3 ½ to 5 ½. Since our summer class is only 8 weeks, we are choosing our very favorite lesson plans from the school year, which are based on letters of the alphabet! We will be learning to sing a few songs, developing steady beat, and even learning note values and basic rhythm patterns. If your child is closer to 5 or 6 years old, this class will help prepare them for group piano or private lessons in the fall.
Group Piano (weekly class): Wednesdays 1:00-1:45 with Ms. Meredith
Group piano class is a great way to start your child’s piano journey! We will learn the basics of rhythm, how to read simple pieces, play listening games, and use our coloring book to help us learn more about the piano. Having a keyboard or piano at home is a requirement to enroll. This class is designed for 5-6 year olds who are entering Kindergarten or 1st grade in the fall.
June 3rd: Famous Composers (9:00-12:00) with Ms. Meredith and Presenting the Orchestra (1:00-4:00) with Ms. Logan
Sign up for just one or both to make a full day camp with lunch in between! We will meet some of the most famous composers, learn about the time periods in which they lived, and the music they wrote. In the afternoon, campers will learn about the instruments and their families, the conductor, and of course, famous symphonies!
July 15th: Musicals! (9:00-12:00) with Ms. Meredith
Movie musicals such as Mary Poppins, Annie, and the Sound of Music will be featured. Campers will love singing, dancing, crafts, and watching excerpts from the featured films!
July 29th: Music Around the World Pt. 1 (9:00-12:00) with Ms. Meredith and Pt. 2 (1:00-4:00) with Ms. Logan
This popular camp is back again this year, but expanded into an optional full day! Each half day camp will explore music, cultural traditions, and traditional dress from 4 different countries. We will even learn to speak a little of the language!
Each of our camps will include a snack and special craft daily!
Group Piano Performance (weekly class): Saturdays 2:00-4:00 with Ms. Chiara (June) and Ms. Ellie (July)
This class will explore pianists’ concepts of piano timbre in their expressive performance, identify the role of the body when performing, and different sense modalities such as touch. We will also work on performance anxiety and embracing the pressure that comes with it!
Broadway Kids Camp (Week of June 17th): 1:00-4:00 with Ms. Logan
Join us for a week of singing, acting and dancing along to Broadway’s biggest hits! Students will learn solos and group numbers from famous Broadway shows, write scenes to perform, and learn choreography. The week will culminate with a performance created by the class. Family and friends are encouraged to come watch the production on the last day!
Kids Guitar Camp (Week of July 8th): 1:00-4:00 with Mr. Brett
This course is a one week exploration of famous guitar heroes and songs that introduces young musicians to practicing and performing on the instrument. Students will learn how the guitar works and how to play songs from different styles of modern guitar. It’s a great kick start to a long term interest in music!
Group Guitar (weekly class): Tuesdays 5:45-6:45 with Brett
Regardless of what genre of music you’re interested in, this course will introduce you to playing the songs you like, and give you the tools to learn more music beyond class. We will cover how to read music for guitar, learn basic music theory, and apply this knowledge to songs individually and as a class. Each member of the class should come with their own guitar, acoustic or electric.
We can’t wait to see you all this summer at the studio!
For pricing, visit our website here: https://www.musicsosimple.com/summer-classes.html
To register, visit here: https://www.musicsosimple.com/register.html
It’s the end of January 2019, and I’m taking a little time to reflect on 2018. 2018 was a great year for MSS. We got a new studio, built up some classes, and added teachers to our MSS team! To date, we have 135 active students. At this time last year, we had 80. That’s unbelievable!! Last year we had 4 teachers and now we have 8. Those numbers are looking great, but since I am always trying to improve and be better, I’m setting up my goals for 2019.
Our Goals for 2019:
Bring on 2019! We are ready to continue working hard!! Thanks to our MSS families and student for helping us be so successful!
Q: Tell us about how you first became involved in music.
A: I started piano lessons as a young kid, probably at around 6 or 7. I picked up guitar and singing for my school/church worship team when I was 10 and have consistently been involved in worship music even into my career.
Q: Is anyone else in your family a musician?
A: No, actually! They’re all engineers. My brother-in-law plays French horn in the Amarillo symphony and is a co-owner of Houghton Horns in Coppell, but my immediate family is not particularly musical.
Q: Tell us more about your music education/background.
A: I was self taught on the guitar for 15 years. I had my first professional lesson when I was 25 and it completely impacted my feelings on the instrument and my capabilities. I studied under Noel Johnston, who is currently a professor of jazz guitar at UNT. Since then, I have chased every scrap of knowledge I can from successful online educators to local jam sessions and open mics, eventually to paid gigs that I learned from on the job.
Q: Did you have any influential teachers/professors who guided you towards becoming a professional musician?
A: When I was in high school, the Spanish teacher at Richardson HS was Mr. Wing, and I believe he still teaches there. His room on Tuesdays at lunch time was always a jam session, so I would bring my guitar and play. I was terrible, but he was always patient to play with us and let music be a part of our day. I never took a class in Spanish, but he gave me a taste for how impactful music is in community (and how important a patient teacher is). I have always grown as a musician primarily because friends and mentors share music with me.
Q: What is your personal teaching philosophy?
A: You can never do something fast that you can’t do slowly. Learning music develops daily over time, and practice should always focus on succeeding in small ways before moving on to bigger ones.
Q: What is your favorite part about being a teacher?
A: Cranking up the distortion on my amp so the piano teachers know guitar is vastly superior.
More seriously, I love that guitar is a versatile instrument adaptable to any style. My students are all individuals and each one of them develops an interest in completely different music, often teaching me something new. I have worked with some of the same students long term and seen them use music in their own lives as they are exposed to a variety of influences. I cannot overstate how valuable it is to watch them learn to love music outside of class, with their own families and friends involved.
Q: What are some of the skills that you hope our students will learn from you?
A: I prefer to learn music by ear, so that just by listening to a song I can jump in and play it. Reading sheet music is valuable, but the guitar is so portable sometimes it’s more convenient just to understand the mechanics of a song by hearing it. This takes practice and hard work, not just “natural talent”, but I certainly hope they learn that it’s entirely worth the effort.
I also want them to find and pick songs they want to learn for themselves, and develop a personal musical style, and even perform it! The best concert I could ever go to is one my students perform.
Q: What styles of music do you enjoy playing the most?
A: I have performed in several folk and jazz groups on acoustic guitar in the last few years, but Top 40s, funk, and rock tend to be what I play professionally. If I had to pick one I would say funk. The band Ripe or Cory Wong will likely be blasting in my room when I’m not teaching.
Q: When you are not teaching, what do you like to do in your spare time?
A: Honestly, more music! I love performing and rehearsing and practicing.
My son Oliver keeps me active and also encourages me to cook more to experiment on his weird taste buds.
My non-music hobbies include roasting/brewing coffee, playing tabletop games, and disc golf.
To see more about Brett, click here
We talk a lot about how many benefits there are for kids to study an instrument: enhancing language and math skills, developing “grit”, and learning to appreciate the arts, just to name a few. But did you know that there are several benefits for adults too? Many adults think they are too old to learn an instrument, but this is absolutely not true. If you are motivated to learn and have the time to practice, then it really is possible! Here are my top 5 reasons why adults should take up an instrument:
Whether you took lessons as a child and want to return, or you’ve never had a single lesson, we know how to get you started. Reach out to us if you have an interest in taking up lessons, and we will match you with a teacher that’s right for you and your musical goals. If you’ve always wanted to learn, you haven’t missed the boat on this rewarding hobby!
This was an incredibly busy week for me as a mom. My daughter, Juliette, was in the Nutcracker and we had rehearsals Wednesday and Thursday, and then performances Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. As I was trying to juggle my work and being with my daughter, I realized the things we do that really impact our children’s stress levels. So, this blog is going to be from both a mom and teacher perspective. Sometimes, it’s really hard to switch hats!
Rehearsals began in early October. Soon, those rehearsals became part of our routine- fix hair, put on head piece, drive there, rehearse for 2 hours, drive to the rest of our Saturday activities. It was a sacrifice- I had to reschedule most of my lessons the week of the performance to be with her (during what is our recital season). Many weekends, I was teaching in between family stuff and rehearsals, making sure my own students got in their lessons. Juliette sacrificed her “down-time” on the weekends as well as doing homework ahead of time so she didn’t get behind in her school work.
I was able to be backstage mom on Friday evening, and as I watched these kids go out on stage, worried about whether they would mess up, we gave them the confidence that they knew what they were doing! They had practice so hard, attended numerous rehearsals, and now it was time! They were going to be amazing! We had weeks to practice the curls and hairstyle. One of the performance nights, a girl’s curls were slightly out of place, and there was a panic to fix those curls! Get the bobby pins (that actually have a place on the emergency table backstage) and fix! You know what that dancer was then probably thinking? Are my curls ok? It made me wonder what was important in a performance.
On Sunday, I got to sit in the audience and just watch the ballet. It was absolutely beautiful. At some points, it brought tears to my eyes. Do you know which parts were so heart-warming? It was the dancers who were truly confident on stage. Their smiles that glowed were contagious. They were not worried about their steps or their curls. They knew they were as prepared as they could be. They put their hearts into it. Did the audience pay attention to the curls? Nope. Was I looking for curls out of place? Nope. And I feel pretty confident that I’m not the only one who “wasn’t paying attention” to that sort of thing. It was a truly professional performance. I could even bet that the directors backstage were watching for confident and poised dancers.
This is not a whole lot different than what we do to prepare our students for their music recital. We give recital music usually 8 weeks prior. We work with our students to get their rhythm correct, to get in dynamics, to perfect the notes, to work on our bows, and to get our piece by memory. It’s not just the student’s effort- it’s the entire family! You (parents) have to listen at home, you have to remind them to practice, you have to bring them to their lessons...the list goes on.
At the recital prep class I taught, a majority of the students were so nervous. Now, we were in the “comfort” of a living room with a beautiful piano. These kids were prepared. Most had their pieces memorized, but a lot lacked dynamics and personality. Why? Because when we are nervous, those are the first things to go. They didn’t want to mess up. They think, “if I mess up, then it’s not perfect, and my audience will only hear the mistakes”. Unfortunately I have the same thoughts as well when I have to perform. I can’t tell you how much I dislike performing, and it’s because of my experiences in college performances. All I would get was negative feedback- and it was crushing! This has affected my adult “performance” life.
In this crazy world that our children live in, we need to instill in them that we are not striving for perfection all of the time. Of course, there is a time and place for that. We want them to be the best they can be. We want them to be confident performers. We want them to enjoy what they are doing. So, does that mean we throw rhythm, correct notes, dynamics all out the window? NO!! But, we want them to work hard on that before and be super prepared before their actual performance. Which means, we practice. We learn and memorize a few weeks before so that then we can concentrate on enjoying the performance.
Parents, be supportive to your child. Encourage them to work hard now and that they will be so prepared that they will have fun. No one knows their piece like they do. They are the expert. We want them to show us what they love about their piece!
As teachers, we will encourage our students. We will ask them to prepare their best and then not remark only on the mistakes, but celebrate their victories.
Our recitals are a wonderful day for us as teachers, parents, and students. This is a family affair and a celebration of music. Our students are well prepared: and yes, we do make sure that their piece is memorized, but that’s so they really know their piece. I know recitals are not for everyone, but I absolutely love our beginners to be a part of our recitals. It gives them a look into their future as a musician, and it gives them a goal to work towards. Our more advanced students get to see how far they have come as they listen to the beginners. Let's share the love of music together!
We teachers will be reviewing these points during lessons prior to the recital. We would love for you to do some recital practice performances at home with your children. Watch for these bowing pointers described below, the DO’s & DON’TS. It will really dress up the recital nicely if all of our performers have nice finishes and lovely bowing for their performances. I always tell my students that when they bow, they are telling the audience, “Thank you for listening to my music!” Bowing is brief but important, and it brings performances to a lovely conclusion.
The Standing Final Chord
The student rotates away from keyboard, and stands up while playing the last note.
Hands are still on the keyboard, as the student is rising.
The Tin Soldier
The arms are clasped stiff and tight against the body while bowing.
The Rag Doll
The arms swing and flop with noticeable extra motion while bowing.
The Non-bow Nod
Student makes an almost-bow by merely nodding the head. No movement in the upper body.
The Assembly Line
Student bows, but does so, extremely fast, like an assembly line machine.
The Bobble-head Doll
Student bows, but the face remains vertical, looking at the audience.
Looks a bit like a bobble-head doll.
These are girls with long hair, usually in a ponytail.
They yank the body down so forcefully that the ponytail slings up and over their heads.
Then they yank the body back up again so that the ponytail slings backwards.
It’s like a wild horse, flinging its mane.
The Striding Head Yank
These are almost always boys.
The student stands up and immediately walks away, giving just a quick jerk of the head while walking.
This is almost always accompanied by an expression that says, “Acknowledging you in the audience is beneath me.”
To be honest, this last one comes off as downright impolite.
1) First, finish the last note properly, still facing the piano, and still seated! Then take hands away from the piano. It’s fine to actually put them in your lap, for just an instant, but at least, take them away from the keyboard. If the end of the music is slow and quiet, it’s good to do this slowly.
2) Stand up towards the audience, and away from the piano, then feet should be still. Look out at the audience. If the student is too shy to look directly at any of the people, then at least, the student should not look down at the floor – looking at the back wall is acceptable for a shy student. Expression should be a smile, or at the very least, neutral -- no grimaces, no frowns.
3) Then bow the entire upper body and look down at one’s shoes.
(Normally people bend from the waist, not from the hips.)
Upper body does not need to go completely horizontal – several inches downwards, is enough.
1-2 seconds going down, then 1-2 seconds rising back up – so it’s not slow, and not fast.
Students can think, “Thank you” (going down), and “very much” (going up), for good timing.
4) Arms will naturally move a little as the upper body goes down, but arms should not be stiff, nor swing or flop unnecessarily. Longer hair will also naturally move with the upper body motion, but hair movement should not be exaggerated by movement that’s clearly too sudden or forceful.
5) Then return to normal vertical, head up. Feet are still motionless. (Just for a half a second, or a second.)
6) NOW the feet can move! Walk straight back to the performer seating. Great job!
We left from our hotel at 8am on a shuttle to the New York Steinway Factory. On our way, owner of Steinway Hall-Dallas, Plano, and Houston, Danny Saliba made introductions and told us a little history of himself and his relationship with Steinway. Danny had worked in the New York Factory for 15 years before coming to Dallas to open Steinway Hall-Dallas.
Steinway & Sons was founded in 1853 by German immigrant Heinrich Engelhard Steinweg who later Americanized his name to Henry E. Steinway. Back in the 1850s, Steinway had bought lots of property around the Queens area and to build the factory and homes for it's factory workers so that they didn't have to travel from Manhattan to the factory. That's why there is a Steinway Street!!
Upon arriving to the Steinway & Sons building, we were greeted and given name tags and filled out a waiver for our tour.
We were given a nice history of Steinway and Henry Steinway.
Now, I'm not a huge history fan, but I was following right along!!
Then we got outfitted in the coolest glasses I would have worn- HA!
Apparently, we had to have eye protection.
I wasn't allowed to take pictures in most places, but what I did get, I want to share with you!
First stop on our tour as making of the rim. The building was 5 stories tall- probably not the most efficient building to be making pianos- but they made it work! It is the original building and factory! Below are pictures of the rim presses.
How wood is chosen- so many pieces don't make the cut!! There is a huge list of what is "Unacceptable" compared to those that are "Acceptable"
We were able to see and take photos of Steinway's “Pictures at an Exhibition”. This piano (below) was conceived and hand painted by Steinway Artist and world-renowned visual artist Paul Wyse.
Last, and certainly not least, was the viewing of the Steinway SPIRIO- which is a high-resolution player piano. This piano is both a Steinway AND a player piano equipped with the latest technology allowing listeners to hear Steinway artists playing on that piano!
In a nut shell- I was completely honored to be chosen to be on this VIP tour. It truly was magnificent and gave me a whole new appreciation to how pianos are hand-made in America.
special links you might find interesting:
For Tour Information: www.steinway.com/about/vip-factory-tour
Video Narrated by John Steinway: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jAInt7hIZlU
Have you ever wondered if your child should be involved in a choir? Maybe they are already taking voice lessons and love to sing and you want to give them another opportunity to sing each week, or maybe they are already in piano lessons and you are curious if another instrument could be helpful to them. Whatever the reason, there are many benefits to belonging to a part of a choir, including several tangible health benefits. Below, I have listed my top five reasons that your child should join a choir:
And why do I have five reasons listed for joining a choir? Because you need at least five members to form a choir. It’s not too late to sign up for Holiday Choir Classes at Music So Simple! We will rehearse once a week for 45 minutes, and have a final performance of service at a local nursing home.
Blog taken from Steinway in the news blog. Click here to see the original article.
FIND THE BEST INSTRUMENT FOR YOUR CHILD.
Performing artists and music teachers know that not all pianos are created equal. A high-quality instrument is a must-have for anyone passionate about piano study and performance. Parents researching options for young piano students will often struggle with an important question: should they opt for a digital keyboard or an acoustic piano?
Those who want to sufficiently support their child’s musical development and opportunity to properly learn must consider investing in not only the right instructor — but also the right instrument. This is why piano pedagogy experts recommend choosing a high-quality acoustic piano from the very start.
Acoustic Heightens Listening Ability
A digital keyboard produces notes when digital sound files, stored on a computer chip, are played in response to an electric switch. The result is a deficit in the intensity and beauty of the sound.
An acoustic piano produces sound when hammers physically strike strings. This means that the dynamics of the digital sound file will never differ, while the dynamics of the acoustic note will vary depending upon the player’s own touch and style at the keyboard. Students’ ability to develop musicality and artistic mastery is linked to their sensitivity to the unique sound they can produce at the keys.
In addition, the colorful timbre changes and complex sustain of an acoustic piano can never truly be produced by a digital keyboard.
Acoustic Is More Musically Satisfying
Given the increased capability of an acoustic piano to create an endless variance in touch and tone, it’s natural that playing on an acoustic piano is a more musically satisfying experience for students of all ages. With children and young adults, whose attention spans can be limited, a more rewarding experience at the keyboard leads to more time spent in practice and learning. Because it involves the command of dynamic changes and articulations, creating acoustic music is soulful, exciting, and fun.
Acoustic Builds Strength and Technique
One of the most important benefits of practicing on an acoustic piano is the physical strength it builds. The hammer rotates toward the string and strikes it with varying degrees of velocity to produce sound, offering greater dynamic capabilities and better control for the pianist.
In contrast, a digital piano simply lowers a weight — there is no greater or lesser force applied to the string depending on the pianist’s touch. Practice on a digital keyboard can weaken children’s hands and prevent them from developing accurate techniques — and this can lead to a serious deficit in ability and progress.
In addition, digital keyboards have a wide discrepancy in the amount of “play” between the front of the keys and the back. When a pianist plays a digital keyboard, the fingers depress the keys at the very front. Conversely, in a high-quality acoustic piano, a pianist can produce notes consistently whether pressing at the front or back of the key. When piano skills increase, players need to be able to use the entire key surface for best expression.
The bottom line? High-quality acoustic pianos are vastly superior to digital keyboards. Cost need not be a deterrent; the Steinway-designed Boston and Essex bring the opportunity to own a world-class acoustic piano within financial reach.
Blog taken from Steinway in the news blog. Click here to see the original article.
Q: Tell us about how you first became involved in music
A: I first started plunking on the piano “by ear”, at my grandfather’s home, when I was maybe four or five. (I remember, at the time, there was a spot in “Chopsticks” that I just couldn’t get to sound right!) Years later, the piano came to my parents’ home, and my two brothers and I played and had lessons. I was the only one of the three of us who continued, so when I grew up, the piano moved out with me.
Q: Is anyone else in your family a musician?
A: Both brothers and I played in band through middle school and high school. All three of us played saxophone, two of us also played clarinet, and I also played flute. My oldest brother also loves to sing and has a beautiful voice. He’s sung in choirs and in barbershop quartet groups. And my husband is a trumpet teacher who’s written a book on trumpet playing called The Balanced Embouchure. The book is well known in the trumpet world, and it’s also been adapted for French Horn. By the way, I always support my students who get involved in music at school -- band, choir, orchestra. It’s a great life experience, and typically, one makes great friends in school music! To this day, anytime I walk into a band room in a school, I still feel at home.
Q: Tell us more about your music education
A: I attended the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in Houston, Texas. Then also went to the university in Denton, which at that time was called North Texas State University. I actually dropped out after three years, and worked as a young adult for two different pipe organ builders. Finally I decided to return to music study, and attended the University of St. Thomas in Houston, where I received a degree in music, and the University of Houston, where I received a degree in German. Recently I bought a wonderful grand piano. It’s a joy to play, and I’m very inspired to practice hard with it, and have already set some goals to develop my own piano skills to new levels!
Q: Growing up, did you have any influential teachers/professors who guided you towards becoming a professional musician?
A: Yes, numerous teachers, all of whom were very encouraging. But my greatest gratitude is for my parents. They did not have musical training, themselves, but they loved music very much, and sacrificed much for years, in order to provide all three of us with private lessons. They supported our efforts and were so proud of us. My dad used come (out of town, sometimes) and record our school jazz band contests!
Q: What is your personal teaching philosophy?
A: Every student has a different personality, and unique tastes and goals. I work to be adaptable to the needs of students, while still setting certain standards as guidelines. That is one of the great benefits of private instruction -- the personalized attention.
Q: What is your favorite music genre?
A: One genre? No way! In classical music, some favorites are Bach, Telemann, Beethoven, Schubert, Debussy, Puccini, Wagner, as well as more modern composers such as Copland, Martinu, Bozza, and American musical theater. In jazz music, I love Dave Brubeck, Al Jarreau, Maynard Ferguson, Bobby McFerrin, McCoy Tyner, Chick Corea, Andreas Vollenweider. But I also especially love acoustic music that blends classical with folk and jazz, such as Claude Bolling, Jacques Loussier, banjoist Bela Fleck, bassist Edgar Meyer, and the fascinating projects of cellist YoYo Ma. In ethnic music, I’m crazy about the Irish group Lunasa, and deeply admire the lush Brazilian musical culture.
Q: What is your favorite part about being a piano teacher?
A: Watching students gain confidence and skill, seeing students take pride and pleasure in their progress and accomplishments -- not simply the finger skills, but also the listening discrimination and musical maturity. Musical instruments take a lot of time to become proficient at, so it’s gratifying to see students develop a solid work ethic by experiencing how their sustained and focused efforts -- namely, their patience and consistency -- do pay off for them, with musical rewards. In this age of quick fixes and instant gratification, that’s a life lesson of enormous value.
Q: When you are not teaching, what do you like to do in your spare time?
A: I love to write music, both arrangements of existing pieces, and original pieces. I love it when I get into a bind, in the middle of a creative project, and yet somehow find a way to solve the problem effectively. That creative success feels great!
To see more about Ms. Lynne, click here