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!
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