Getting to know Ms. Stathia
Q: Tell us about how you first became involved in music.
I think I have been musical my entire life. My mother says that she always remembers me singing! I first started taking piano lessons in 2nd grade from Jerry Stephens. I don’t remember ever not loving playing the piano! My two sisters and brother took lessons as well, and we were at my teacher’s home twice a week- one time for private lessons, and the other time for group class. We were there for hours both times! I loved playing in festivals, contests, and recitals! Piano even got me my scholarship to Austin College!
Q: Is anyone else in your family a musician?
My mom plays piano and all of my siblings played. Only one of my sister’s took piano through her senior year. We had a lot of fun playing together. Since we were only a year a part, we played in the Dallas Music Teachers High School Ensemble together 3 years! We played some tough pieces together!
Q: Growing up, did you have any influential teachers/professors who guided you towards becoming a professional musician?
Yes and no. I never thought I would really become a musician or even a teacher till it happened! Ha! I feel like I knew more of what I didn’t want to be as a teacher. I knew I didn’t want to be super strict or super hard on my students. I want them to feel comfortable with me and want to work hard.
Q: What is your personal teaching philosophy?
I like a well-rounded student. I want my students to be involved in a variety of afterschool activities because I know that realistically piano is not their only talent. I like to give them a great fundamental musical base full of great technique. Then add to that with classics, jazz, and pop if they want.
The most important tool that I feel they should learn from studying music is time management- and I love helping them learn how to learn a piece, memorize it, and be ready to perform it. It’s a skill that is learned in studying music, but is applied in life.
Q: You are the owner of Music SO SImple- what is your business philosophy?
Oh my- I can’t be more excited about Music SO Simple! Quite honestly, I love being my own boss! I have worked for only a handful of people in my past, one of which was my father, who is a restaurant owner. I have much of his personality- I LOVE people and getting to meet new people. In high school and college, I worked at a bridal boutique which I loved, but retail just wasn’t really for me long-term. Then, I worked at Dallas/Music, which then became DAMPA. Slowly, I inched my way up the line from just teaching piano to really doing a lot of the administrative work in the 16 years I was there. I discovered that I really liked the admin work- almost as much as the teaching.
Since then, I’ve learned tons- what I would want to be as an owner, what kind of students I would want to have in a studio, and the kinds of teachers I would want by my side- and...I’m picky!! I want students to feel important and learn as much as they can. I want parents to trust me and my teachers. The way to build that trust is through great teachers, personal relationships. and lots of communication. I can honestly say that I have built a solid and honest business with our students at the center. That is what I’ve always dreamed of. I know it sounds kinda corny- but well, if you know me, you know that’s how I am!
Q: What is your favorite music genre?
Of course, I listen to all kinds of music- I’ve gotta keep up with my kids and students, but
I’m a total country fan at heart. I love the old country and new country. Dixie Chicks, Alan Jackson, Billy Currington, along with some Michael Buble and Josh Groban- that’s the perfect combination!
Q: What is your favorite part about being a piano teacher?
The kids! I love getting to be with them and see their confidence as they finally master a piece and perform it! Recitals are pretty awesome as well, because all of their hard work pays off and they have a sense of accomplishment as they achieve their goal. I love being a part of their weekly lives and seeing them grow up. Being a piano teacher, we don’t just have these kids for year, we get them for years. My job is so rewarding.
Q: When you are not teaching, what do you like to do in your spare time?
Spend time with my kids, amazing husband and family, go to yoga, and...clean! I’ve built yoga classes into my teaching schedule this year- it’s that important to me! My kids think I clean too much, but it keeps me sane. I love date nights with my husband whenever those get to happen. Family is super important to me and we have a large, crazy Greek/American family that tries to get together as often as possible. We all live in the Dallas area, so the kids have great relationships with their 8 cousins and 4 grandparents!
For more on Stathia Orwig, click here
Our Christmas Holiday recital is just 2 short weeks away! All of our students have been working hard on learning and memorizing their piece(s), and soon we will start incorporating elements of stage presence in their preparation. As parents, you can actually help us make sure they are prepared for their upcoming performance: here are a few things that you can do with your child in between lessons to make playing on recital day a breeze!
By practicing these steps at home, teachers can then focus more on the final polishes for the piece. We will be going over these stage presence steps in the lessons, but the more practice your child has with this, the more natural everything will feel on recital day. Your teacher is always available to consult with you if you have questions or concerns about recital. We can’t wait for recital day and we look forward to our students performing!
Teaming Up for the Win!
Once upon a time, a long time ago before I had kids, I was talking with my husband, Brian, about an incentive to get my students to practice more during the fall. In the Spring, we had Honor Roll, but I wanted something kind of fun to help get the ball rolling, to help us get through the fall (ie Sonatina Festival and December Recital) AND so that Honor Roll wasn’t such a huge leap. Brian is a ginormous Cowboys fan, and as we were brainstorming ideas, he thought it would be cool to put the kids on teams and have them “play” against each other. I was skeptical. How would that work with kids in private lessons? So the wheels began turning, and together, we came up with “PianoBall”. It was a huge success!! The kids loved it! It got them practicing and aided in them getting to know the other students. Some years, I did girls versus boys, sometimes the team names were musical themes, or composers, and sometimes I let them pick their teammates or team name.
Well, it’s been since 2011 that I did my last PianoBall. I was thinking of a way to get my students to really get practicing again, and other teachers were having the same issue. So, I dug up all of my old PianoBall binders and rules, and I really think this is the perfect time to get it going again!!
So, how does PianoBall work? Students are given points on practice, posture in their lesson, attitude, and finishing their theory homework. Then, their points are added to the team and averaged. This year, there are 5-6 students on a team. Students were divided randomly into teams. Whichever team has the most points each week, wins! There are a few weeks of games, then the 8 teams who have the most wins go to the finals. The teams who win there go onto the next round of finals and they then play for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place. Prizes are awarded- which the students love. But best of all? The kids are ready for recital and sonatina festival. They have committed to practicing for weeks. And to top it all off, they are also eager to meet their teammates at the recital!! It’s a win-win!!