-Meredith Manley, Director of Music SO Simple
I wanted to blog about our SummerSOSimple challenge this week- we have to credit Kara Villines for this idea, who is a fellow piano teacher and Music SO Simple parent! She shared her summer challenge for her own students with us, and we thought it was a great way to keep kids motivated and inspired (not to mention an opportunity to earn an extra 75 Music Bucks!!)
In the summer, I like to explore concepts that we usually don’t make a priority during the school year. Lessons during the school year can be really busy for some students as they prepare for recitals, festivals, and the state theory exam, so we just don’t have time to explore other concepts such as composition or music history. Summer is the perfect time to let students think and play outside the box. Here are all of the projects from the challenge:
So far the response from our students has been very positive! Most of my students have been very excited about these fun, “extra credit” opportunities. Whenever a student completes a challenge, a parent must sign off on their sheet that it was in fact accomplished. We can’t wait to share pictures and videos on our facebook page of the SummerSOSimple challenge!
We have loved getting to know Ms. Ellie and know that you will too! She took time to give us some insight into her past and what she's working on now! Check it out!
Q: Tell us about how you first became involved in music
I was enrolled into an early-age development music class when I was 3. At 5, I started piano lessons. Music has always been a part of my life as far as I can remember. I think I knew how to read music before I could read words!
Q: Is anyone else in your family a musician?
In my family, we have a poet, ballerina, actor, painter, woodworker, photographer, and fashion designer. The only professional category we have not filled is music, so maybe that’s what I’m here for.
Q: Growing up, did you have any influential teachers/professors who guided you towards becoming a professional musician?
I had one piano teacher for 8 years. She took me all the way to a collegiate performance level. I owe a lot to her. She not only taught me lessons (at a discounted price), but cooked dinner for my sister and I as well.
At the moment, I am studying with Carol Leone (D.M.A.) at SMU. She is very involved in my musical growth and through her I am mastering techniques and refining my musicality at a professional level.
Q: What is your personal teaching philosophy?
Music is a river with many streams. Piano lessons will always be piano lessons but each child will use piano lessons to shape their own life in a unique way. My job is not to make an army of performing classical musicians. My job is to help create the future generation’s music consumers. This means that my teaching style varies widely and caters to each student. I have several that are following the traditional, classical route, some that will become jazz musicians, some that are interested in broadway and even kids with attention disorders that just want to use music like therapy.
I am also a believer that the more I push--the more my students accomplish. But high demand calls for high respect and I always keep my students’ workloads in mind.
Q: You are currently working towards your bachelor’s degree at SMU. What has been the best thing you’ve learned during your studies there?
I do not like business (my current minor). I do like music theory (potential major).
Q: You have done several performances around the world and the U.S.- what is your favorite style of performance and why?
I get the most enjoyment from performing in chamber groups--this means playing with a small group of people. Playing with other people makes me feel almost telepathic and magical.
Q: What is your favorite music genre?
I love to listen to medieval chant.
I love to study French music such as Ravel, Debussy, Messaien. My favorite music to play on the piano would be Rachmaninoff because of the intensity of his emotion. My best playing style would be the bright and fast compositions of Scarlatti (I have tiny, quick fingers).
I fangirl about jazz. I’ve learned about the theory and dabble in improvisation.
Q: What is your favorite part about being a piano teacher?
A few times, I’ve had a parent pull me aside and tell me how they have observed a building sense of confidence in the their children. It’s obviously not all attributed to piano lessons, but I agree that when children (and adults), learn something that only a few people can do, they develop a sense of identity. They feel more connected to the world and more needed by it. Kids need to feel this way as they get older--that they are unique and the world needs their special skills. This is how they will have motivation to be successful.
Q: What is it like to play a secondary instrument? How has it affected your musical career?
I picked up cello before I began middle school. To be honest, playing two instruments means twice the amount of work of most other music majors. But with cello I’ve been able to play in SMU’s Symphony Orchestra, travel to Germany to study at Zwickau conservatory, and perform Brahms’ Piano Quintet in f minor for competitions. Cello has provided me with wonderful opportunities--albeit my schedule is tight and confusing.
Q: When you are not teaching, what do you like to do in your spare time?
I practice. I also read, draw comics, and write terrible fantasy novels.
We are so excited to have her teaching with us at Music SO Simple! What a gem! To see even more about Eliana Yi, check out her bio.