We always begin each new year with new goals or resolutions. The past couple of years, we really have just been trying to survive and "keep normal" as much as possible. And, have you counted how many times you have said, "I'm over it!" in a week? We all are. This pandemic just keeps throwing us curve balls- once we feel like we are reaching some sort of "normal", another wave comes through. It's nice to be making history, but I think I've had enough. So, I'm going to make some goals that force me to think further than just a few weeks out. Are you ready? Ha, me too.
Here's my crazy story on my blue piano.
One night, I was scrolling through Instagram and came across a Steinway & Sons post about a special Boston upright that was designed my Alicia Keys. I was stunned and all googlie eyes at this piano!! It was simply stunning. Well, it was simply stunning. I found myself thinking about it for a while- like a year. When you think about things for that long...well, maybe you need to do something about it?
So, keep in mind, we are in the 2020 COVID-19 Pandemic. But, things are going really well at the studio. By February, a lot of our students are moving away from virtual lessons and starting to come back into the studio. But we were starting to be out of room. The smartest thing for me to do is to add another piano room. The only place we really had room to use was my office, and I was not really excited about that. In the past, I had taught where I worked and I would look over at my pile on my desk and think about the work I needed to do while I was teaching. I liked the separation of leaving my office to go into another space to teach. I wasn't sure how I was going to make this work, but knew I would be willing to if it was a cool piano.
So, I thought, maybe a Steinway upright? This would be all mine. How cool would that be? But, as beautiful as those were, I couldn't get the Alicia Keys piano out of my mind. I think I wanted something with a little more pop!
After talking with the guys at Steinway Hall- Dallas, they had a guy who painted pianos for them. He's not just a normal painter, like he really knew what he was doing to paint a piano. So, I got to work on picking out colors and putting things in motion.
Once I got swatches, I took them to my office to check out the color scheme:
So, I anticipated having this piano by the beginning of April. We began moving things around at the studio. Ms. Gayle needed to have a space to work at in the front of the studio rather than in my office where I would be teaching.
The feeling of seeing the Steinway delivery truck in the parking lot was so amazing!!
It seems absolutely crazy that I am this excited about a blue piano. But, we have learned a lot from this pandemic. We appreciate the little things. This piano is so fun to play and it puts off such a fun energy with my students. They absolutely LOVE playing it!! Their faces light up! I'm so thrilled with this new addition and very grateful for being able to buy a blue piano. I'm in love and I'm beyond blessed!
for a little more on the colors and the "pop", check out the video below. I didn't have much of a voice when I filmed this, but I was so excited!!
So, if you follow us on social media, you've probably already seen this. For those of you who have not- you're in for a real surprise! Music SO Simple was in the Richardson Community Impact!!!
Basically, out of the blue, a reporter emailed the studio asking to set up an interview with me. After the interview was a hit, he came in to take pictures of the studio and me teaching, Little Miss Sophia, my student who I was teaching the evening he came in felt like a star!!
The article was about MSS, how we started, and how we were adapting to the coronavirus pandemic:
Music SO Simple was named after a philosophy that owner Stathia Orwig uses when teaching music gets overwhelming.
Click here for the web story.
Sophia signed a copy of the article that is now hanging in our studio. Please feel free to share the article with family and friends!! Thank you all for sharing your love of learning music and MSS!! We couldn't do this without you!!
Well, I know I'm not alone when I say I'm a little hesitant in making big plans for 2021! Ha! But after the year, 2020, how can anyone blame us? Normally, I make my yearly goals and do what I can to make them happen. However, this year, I'm just going to be content with seeing how things go and using what I learned in 2020 to help me stay focused on the positives.
In 2020, I had big plans! MSS was going very strong and I wanted to keep that going! However, our plans for the spring went splat. We had a full studio with full teacher schedules. Then, everything shut down. We had to go completely virtual. It was only going to be for a week or two, then a month, then 6 more weeks...looking around, small business were suffering and closing! I went in to overdrive last spring. There was not a chance that this virus was going to take out what I had spent years building. I know every small business was thinking the very same thing. We had some student who just completely stopped lessons because they wouldn't even try virtual. I'm not gonna lie, this made me very sad, and even angry. But, there was not a whole lot I could do about that, so I just kept moving forward. We did our first ever virtual recital and I think it was good and bad. It pushed our students on a very different level and some students recorded hundreds of times! The video thing was stressful! The good thing is that it taught them "how" to practice and all of those times of recording were "thoughtful" practicing. And I think it's great that these students wanted a great finished product! Also on the plus side is that we have a souvenir from COVID lessons.
The same thing happened through the summer, and yet it was different. Music lessons actually became more of a priority. We were not competing with camps, sports, or vacations. Because so many people were not traveling, they chose to do something they could do at home. Some signed up for the minimum number of summer lessons, but when this virus just kept spreading it's love, those people decided to stay home and take more lessons! How great is that? We may not have added as many students as we normally do during the summer, but we taught 200 more lessons than we did the summer before! I'm serious! Some started to come back in person, though many stayed virtual cause it was convenient AND it does work!
Fall 2020 had me a little worried as well. Many families decided that with their kids being virtual for school that music was just too much to add. That's a lot of screen time. I get it. However, others felt it was a good break from school. So, we added more students in October and November. Our holiday recital was a little different than the spring recital. We made it less stressful by adding holiday cheer and a "fun" contest. We wanted PJs and holiday decorations, and you could feel the positively-fun energy from so many of the videos. What a wonderful way of spreading musical cheer!
So, what have we learned? No matter how overwhelmed I get with work and the business, I always come back to Music SO Simple. Simple. We've gotta keep things simple. We learned that music making IS a priority! And where in years past, private lessons are not as fun because it's not a "social" thing. Well, now, we have learned that this is a good thing (I mean, duh!)! It's something we can do on our own! As teachers, we have learned soooo much about how we communicate. No longer can we just pick up our students hands and put them in the correct place. Nope. We've got to talk through it. We are making our students work just a little harder. They have had to listen as well! But all in all, we have learned that music is just so important.
So, for 2021, as we cannot "plan" like we have in the past, I want to keep it simple. I want to be grateful for these simple things we have learned in this past year. I want to spread as much musical joy as possible. I want to be inspired every day to keep going, and music helps me do that. My relationships with my students inspire me. If you ask any teacher what they missed while things were shut down, you will hear that they missed their students. We love what we give to them and what they give to us. If we have learned anything this past year, it's that we can't control. We have learned about the simple things in life and we have adjusted. Cheers to our 2021. May it be everything you need it to be!
This is a new sort of blog for us, but I thought it would be fun to look back at all of the good things we saw through 2020! Through the year, we probably post around 500 different posts on our social media. So, I sorted through them and have listed our Top 10 posts of 2020! Enjoy!
The title of this post sounds rather negative, almost repentant, but I ask that it not be viewed so. The problem with many people’s attitudes about learning is that it is based on the fundamental principle of improvement—which is accompanied, for some reason, by the shaming of “unimprovement”, when that is the most natural component of learning anything. It is “unimprovement” that shows just how much one knows, and “unimprovement” that teachers should care about the most. Most teachers are reluctant to address weaknesses as they are. They are afraid of hurting their student’s feelings (such a well-intentioned act of love!)
I, too, am afraid of hurting my student’s feelings. I’m afraid to address my student’s weaknesses: to tell them that they are sliding backward from their goal, or that they must turn back to the fundamentals…I’m afraid because I have the same attitude as them. Mistakes are shameful. They must be eradicated or buried as soon as possible. If they are not, social consequences occur, and along with them the feelings of guilt, exclusion, even abandonment.
I need to shake off this fear of being wrong. I will be wrong. I will always be wrong about something. I need to learn that mistakes are a good thing. In fact, they are the most helpful tool to learn. The more I understand my mistakes, what I’m doing wrong and why, the less I fear them. They will become friendly to me, and I will care about them and will want to change them because I love them.
I’d like to practice embracing my mistakes by listing them here, for all to see. My goal this year is to become comfortable with them, then to understand why they are my mistakes. What fundamental source do they come from? What basic truth do I need to re-address? How can I keep myself from committing these bad habits?
Some of my “wrongs” are listed out in the chart below, as well as my procedure for how I will work on them:
There are many other things I must improve. If anyone wants the rest of my list, I’m more than happy to share. The more I expose my weaknesses, the less I have to hide, and the more I will trust myself in my ability to improve.
For my own students (and my student’s parents), keep me accountable and tell me when I make these mistakes. Help me become a more useful teacher to you all.
When it comes to ordering music, we only shop local, and by local, we buy all of our music at Nadine's Music Manor.
Nadine's Music Manor has been around since 1972. I was first introduced to her in my first days at Dallas/Music. At one point, it was my job to order music and I would call her once or twice a week to order what we needed. Sometimes, I would go get it from her store, and other times, she had it delivered to us. I developed a personal relationship with her.
In the very early days of Music SO Simple, we decided to continue that tradition and order our music from her. We think it's much easier to buy our student's music and give it to them, rather than tell parents what to get. As a busy parent myself, I definitely don't want something else added to my plate!
Fast forward to today: Nadine's has been a life line for us! We have had to get extra music from her because we are teaching so many lessons virtually so that we can see what our students are practicing. She almost always has exactly what we need and we are so grateful.
When things clear up in our city, it would be fun for our parents to take our students on a field trip to a "real life" music store! Remember when we used to go and pick out records/cassettes/CDs? Do you remember that surge of excitement you would get just being there? Yeah, that's what it feels like! Something that Amazon simply cannot replicate!
Needless to say, that even though this may not be the best time to browse, knowing that we support our local music store means so much to me, and to her. Knowing that I can pick up the phone and ask her if she has a certain edition in stock, or where can I find a specific piece....well, that's worth so much to me.
This weird time of COVID has made me think about supporting the small businesses, like us. Know that when you see a music charge on your bill, it is the cost we pay to Nadine's Music Manor. We take no profit; everything goes straight to her. So, you too, are supporting her.
For those of you who know me well know I love my yoga! For the past 4 years, I have practiced a very regular schedule at Reef Point Yoga. They had a location at CityLine.. It was super convenient with my studio and teaching. I always joke, that if you need to find me, I either driving up and down Plano road going to Yoga or MSS! Ha! Before Reef Point Yoga, I did Bikram yoga, and well, as much as I loved the heat, I didn't like other aspects. The first time I went into Reef Point which was right when they opened, I was immediately hooked to their mirrorless studio, simple lines, and immediate calm. As of right now, I can see that I've attended over 520 classes with Reef Point. I became friends with the owner, Kathi. We had similar values in how we managed out businesses. We collaborated a few times with music classes and yoga classes.
Anyways, flash forward to this past December. My husband, Brian, bought me the 200-hour yoga teacher certification with Kathi for Christmas. I was shocked and so excited! I remember at the first training session introducing myself and saying I had NO idea how I was going to do all of what I was doing, but it was going to work!
A month into the training, the world shut down because of COVID-19. Our training paused for maybe a week or so, and then we started meeting via Zoom. We read a ton on our own, learned about the 7 Chakras, the Yoga Sutras, Swara Yoga, the 8 Limbs of Yoga, Sanskrit names of asanas, Mantras, Mudras, anatomy, and so much more. All via Zoom. We had to continue our own practices. Originally, we were supposed to take a certain number of classes per week. Some weeks during the pandemic, I did the minimum, and other weeks, I couldn't get enough. I NEVER had an at home practice before, but suddenly I was trying to figure out how to make my yoga practice at home work. I missed the "get away" to the yoga studio- it brought me calm, a release from the world as soon as I entered the studio, and just a general "safe" space to let all of the stress life go. That's really hard to recreate at home!
Before the pandemic, I had no desire to teach yoga. I went in thinking, cool, I'll just learn more about this thing that I love so much. But something changed. I don't remember when. I think once I "had" to start teaching a class or two, it just really made me happy- or happ-ier. I think the best part of this whole thing, is that YTT has complimented my piano teaching and made me an even better teacher! Who would've thought??
Fun fact: there are quite a few music teachers out there who discovered the amazingness of this combination already. :)
So, here I am. RYT200 certified...and now teaching a few classes each week! For now, classes will be donation-based. All proceeds from classes go to help many of our students stay in music lessons that were financially impacted from COVID-19. I know so many families, including my own, that have either lost part of their income or all of it. Any little bit helps! Plus, in taking a yoga class, you get a little self love back.
For more on our class schedule or how to donate, click here. I hope to see you in a class in the near future! Namaste
This month, we are 4 years old!! I seriously can't believe it! I think it's been 4 of the best years ever!
Recently, I have friended another music teacher who is going through the same thing I did four years ago. It has brought up many memories of what happened with me and how I started Music SO Simple, but honestly it's made me more thankful! Even in a strange and life-changing time like COVID-19, I am beyond grateful for having started Music SO Simple with a great friend, Meredith Manley.
Ending the spring semester with 165 students was truly incredible, especially during COVID! We've had to change our business model a bit and continue lessons via technology. Thank goodness for technology- it has truly been a huge gift. I think our virtual recitals were absolutely amazing- and if you haven't watched them yet, please do now!! It was super cool to see each student perform in his/her home setting and everyone worked so hard to make these virtual recitals extra special. They truly are a souvenir from our "shelter in place" time and will be cherished for a very long time.
Over this past year, we have welcomed a few more teachers and a few more students. I take pride in that we only hire teachers that are the best of the best. It has taken time to get to where we are! We have also been in our amazing studio space now for almost two years. I sometimes laugh, that 2 years ago, it looked like a completely different space! We now have so much art/student pictures filling the walls and furniture to host our waiting parents. During this time of COVID-19, it is so hard to see the waiting areas empty, but I know one day, we will be able to go back to where we were. Our entire mission was built on relationships, music, and families and our studio space was created to reflect this.
Thank you for being a part of our MSS family. Even those who no longer take lessons are still part of our musical family. The silver lining in our time is that we have really learned what matters to so many of us, and not surprisingly, music has continued to keep us going and brings us together like nothing else. This time will pass, but we will cherish everything we have learned and will continue to grow! Happy 4th birthday, MSS!!
We love celebrating the things we do right, but sometimes you need to hear about what people think! Starting this past February through March, we did our first-ever parent survey! The results were great! I think we got some REALLY good and honest feedback from our parents at Music SO Simple and we would love to share our results with you.
Here are the averages on our teachers (scale of 1 to 5, 5 being the highest)
Here are the averages on the studio as a whole (scale of 1 to 5, 5 being the highest)
Comments that really stood out are:
And, to address the concerns:
And to end with a few random comments: We definitely have some cheerleaders out there!!