Teacher Spotlight: Joseph – Viola and Violin Teacher in Dallas, TX

Meet Joseph – Starlight’s fabulous viola and violin teacher in Dallas, TX.

Educational Background:
Joseph has been studying music since he was 8 years old, and violin since he was 10. He began studying violin on a full scholarship to the Barthelmes Conservatory Pre-College program where he also studied music theory, music history, and chamber music.

At the age of 15 Joseph formed a string quartet with his peers at the Barthelmes Conservatory, which played together for 3 years and performed across the state of Oklahoma, winning several competitions and performing a sold out concert at the Tulsa Performing Arts Center.

While in high school, Joseph performed with the Oklahoma Summer Arts Institute Orchestra as Concertmaster and with the National Youth Orchestra of the USA with whom he toured the Northeast US and Europe. He is currently a student of Dallas Symphony Co-Concertmaster Nathan Olson and Principal Viola Barbara Sudweeks at Southern Methodist University, earning his Bachelors in Violin Performance on a full scholarship.

Teaching Background:
Joseph began teaching in 2014 as an assistant and substitute at the Bart School of Music in Tulsa, OK. He taught violin and viola to students of all ages and abilities. Joseph has led string and music theory seminars at Augustine Christian Academy in Tulsa Oklahoma and continued to teach at The Bart until he moved to Dallas. Coming from a family of teachers, Joseph has seen firsthand the invaluable effect of education on students, no matter their age, and is passionate about helping every student reach their potential.

Personality/Teaching Style:
Engaging every student and their unique abilities and interests is of vital importance to Joseph. His teaching approach is focused on building a strong technical foundation and giving all of his students, no matter their age or skill level, the tools to guide their own learning for the rest of their lives. His lessons are upbeat, and he believes that being relentlessly encouraging is the key to helping students excel. Any student, whatever age, works best when they believe that they are capable of doing amazing things, and Joseph sees it as his prerogative to make sure every student knows they are capable of succeeding.

Special Skills:
While Joseph primarily studies classical music, he was raised learning folk, bluegrass, and swing music by ear, and values ear training and improvisation as much as music reading in his educational approach. He also has experience overcoming overuse injury and will work closely with every student to make sure that their individual instrument setup is as comfortable and easy to play as possible. As a passionate educator, Joseph believes that all education should center on teaching students to learn and ask questions on their own, and that everything learned in a music lesson should be applicable to other aspects of a student’s life and education.

If you would like to have a trial lesson with Joseph, fill out our quick enrollment form. You will be glad you did!

If you are interested in learning another instrument, contact Starlight Music Lessons today! We would be happy to match you with your perfect teacher.

Teacher Spotlight: Zach – Guitar, Tuba, and Piano Teacher in Fort Worth, TX

We are thrilled to introduce Zachary, a teacher with many skills in Fort Worth, TX.

Education Background

Zachary holds a Bachelor of Music in Music Composition from Baylor University where he graduated Magna Cum Laude. While at Baylor he studied composition with Dr. Ben Johansen and Dr. Scott McAllister, and he studied piano with Dr. Brian Marks. At Baylor he also took Theory and Ear-Training courses, as well as courses in Counterpoint and Music Composition. During his senior year Zach was a tutor for freshmen and sophomore Theory and Ear-Training students.

Zach is proficient in Metal, Prog Rock, Classical, House Music, Jazz, and Pop. He began learning the guitar at age 8 and the piano at age 10. Zachary played the Tuba all throughout high school, where he made TMEA All-State three times and was Principal Tubist in the Houston Youth Symphony.

Zachary has played in an extremely diverse range of ensembles. On piano he has played for the Friendswood Community Church, the Perry United Methodist Church, the Aggie Orchestra, in the rock band Joél, and has performed in the premiers for a number of new compositions by both himself and his colleagues at Baylor and San Jacinto College. During his senior year at Baylor, Zach put on a Piano Recital which included works by Aaron Copland, Olivier Messiaen, and Franz Joseph Haydn. He also performed in the Men’s Choir during his time at Baylor.

On Tuba, Zachary performed with the TMEA All-State Band, the Fightin’ Texas Aggie Band, the Santa Clara Vanguard, the Texas A&M Wind Ensemble, the Christ United Methodist Church, and the Houston Youth Symphony.

Teaching Background

Zachary has worked with students from the ages of 6 to 65, and has deeply enjoyed working with a broad range of students from very different backgrounds. He was a marching tech for the Pearland High School marching band in their 2016 season, where he taught students to perfect their musical and physical skills. He then taught piano, guitar, and ukulele at the Piano Studio, where he taught classical, popular, rock, jazz, and blues repertoire. While at Baylor, Zachary taught theory and ear-training to freshmen and sophomores. He is excited to continue his teaching career and to see what new musical insights that his students will bring to him.

Personality/Teaching Style

Zachary loves when his students love their lessons. He always does his best to allow his students to have input when deciding their repertoire, because he believes that when a student is passionate about what they are playing then it motivates them to practice and, more importantly, they learn to love the instrument that they play.

As a composer, Zachary also takes a more free-from approach to lessons, and is always open to receiving calls or texts during the week if the student has a question about a difficult passage in between lessons. Zachary also likes to give concrete assignments and goals to achieve at each lesson, because the use of concrete goals gives the student more structure when they practice, leads to faster results, and allows for the student to experience accomplishment at all the little points between when they have just started the piece and when they have mastered it.

Special Skills

Zachary has played rock, metal, blues, classical, hymnals, and pop music. He has trained for auditions for everything from churches to rock bands to universities. He has worked with students from different backgrounds and prides himself on his ability to cater his methods to each individual student. He also loves reading literature and music criticism, and watching film. In addition to Piano, Guitar, and Tuba, he can also teach Theory, Ear-Training, Composition, and Counterpoint to any interested students. He would love to grow as a musician with you.

What others are saying about Zachary:

Zachary was always punctual, polite, and made me feel comfortable yet challenged in each of my lessons.

– League City, TX

Zachary is clearly very passionate about both music and teaching, and I felt that shine through in each lesson.

– Houston, TX

(Zachary) is very bright, responsible, dependable, and creative. He was a leader in class discussions and well-liked and respected by his peers. He is respectful to a degree not often seen in students of his generation. He also has a pleasant personality, a quick wit, and a good sense of humor. I commend him to you highly.

– Professor/Associate Dean at Baylor University

If you live in the Fort Worth area and you choose to invite Zachary into your home for lessons, you will not be disappointed! Zachary also has an upright piano at his home in Fort Worth if you would prefer to take lessons at his house. If you are ready to enroll, click here to fill out our quick enrollment form.

Click here if you have questions and would like to talk to us about scheduling a trial lesson with Zachary. If you live in another city in DFW or would like to inquire about our other teachers, let us know! We will do everything we can to match you with your ideal teacher!

It’s Your Turn to Shine! Music Lessons for Adults

You know, we don’t only offer music lessons for kids; we also offer music lessons for adults. Many adults take music lessons, and so can you! If you have children taking music lessons, you already have a teacher coming to your home, so why not go ahead and take lessons yourself?

Music teachers repeatedly hear people reminiscing about their musical experiences:

    “I always wanted to play an instrument when I was a child, and I never got to.”

    “My parents made me take piano lessons when I was a kid, but I never practiced so they let me quit. Now I really regret that.”

    “I’d love to have a grand piano in my house, but I don’t know how to play.”

    “I used to play the clarinet in high school and I really loved it.”


Do you find yourself wishing you could express yourself through music? Maybe you would like to be able to enjoy playing music as a family. How about giving back to the community musically? Playing at nursing homes, joining the church worship team… Or maybe you would simply love to be able to sit down and play something beautiful for yourself. Did you once know how to play but have let your skills fall by the wayside in the busyness of life? You don’t have to let musical skill simply be a dream or a thing of the past! You can learn as an adult!


As a matter of fact, learning music might even be easier for you now that you are older!


If you would like to learn more about some of the benefits of learning an instrument as an adult, as well as some of the pitfalls to avoid, you can read more here. If you would simply like to talk to someone about possibly starting music lessons for adults, click here to contact Starlight Music Lessons.


We would be so thrilled to help you do something for yourself. Maybe it’s time for you to take a risk! If you’ve been toying with the idea of learning an instrument, give it a shot! We would love to work with you to help your dream become a reality! Give music lessons for adults a shot!

The Importance of Effective Piano Practice

Is practicing a chore at your home? Developing consistent and effective piano practice habits is often the biggest struggle for those learning the instrument. Sometimes you just need a little help. If practicing is a struggle in your home, you could definitely benefit from our Practice Pals program. This program allows you or your child to have a Practice Leader actually practice with you three times each week! This is a great opportunity for beginning students as well as for those who have been playing for years.

Practice Pals can help teach a student how to practice the piano by walking with the student through his/her piano practice assignments throughout the week in a fun, engaging way. This will help lay a solid foundation for long-term musical success. It is crucial for a student to not only practice, but practice in such a way to make that time effective. If a student doesn’t know how to practice, much time will be wasted. Many students get discouraged due to ineffective practicing habits, leading to quitting private lessons. We have spoken with many adults who have had that experience themselves, only to regret their decision to quit music lessons.


We want to help! Practicing doesn’t have to be a chore! Give Practice Pals a try and see the amazing difference in your child’s progress! Don’t let your kid be the one who grows weary of the process and quits, only to regret that decision for the rest of their lives. Contact us today to get started with Practice Pals!

Benefits of Having a Music Tutor

We live in an age where unlimited information is at our fingertips. With YouTube videos, articles, and blogs galore, has the need for a music tutor disappeared? If you are considering learning an instrument, read on to discover why having a music tutor is still important.

We all know that a music tutor is a person who teaches others how to play a musical instrument. What we all may not recognize is that music tutors serve other important purposes besides simply relaying musical information.

Music tutors help the learner follow an instructional path that is known to be efficient and produce the desired results. A person can search the internet all day long for instructions and learn different tidbits here and there, but if the music education comes out of order, much confusion and educational gaps are to be expected. The trained music tutor knows how to provide important information in a structured, easy-to-understand way that involves presenting concepts in meaningful order. Think of it like this: A fence-builder can’t go out and simply begin hammering boards together. The professional fence-builder knows to first dig the post-holes, then set the posts, and then attach the cross-bars, and so on. An amateur may go out there into the backyard and put a fence together, but it will not be as stable or beautiful as if it had been created by a professional. It is likewise with music education. One can piece a music education together, but it will take much more time, there will be gaps in the “musical fence,” and the final product won’t be as stable or beautiful as if the education had been achieved through a trained professional.

The trained music tutor knows how to ensure the student’s education does not have any gaps. Music tutors know how to ongoingly assess a student’s progress and teach on subjects that are needed to progress. Many self-taught musicians figure out how to get it done, but the final product is often not as pleasurable or effective due to the fact that many steps have been unknowingly missed in the learning process. Here are some examples of how a person can learn to play on their own, contrasted with what music tutors are able to bring:


A self-taught musician might learn individual chords to play a song or songs.


The music tutor will teach his students how chords are structured so the student is not limited by memorizing specific chords.

A self-taught musician will learn how to play a song by ear.


The music tutor will teach her student theory so playing by ear becomes an easier and quicker (therefore more enjoyable) process.

A self-taught music student will hammer out a song, without giving thought to proper or most-efficient fingering. This may lead to awkward hand positions and in worst cases long-term damage such as carpal tunnel or tendinitis.


Music tutors teach students how to achieve best fingering practices when playing their instruments. This will result smoother music, improved speed or skill, and injury-prevention.

And we could list many more examples…

Music tutors become accountability partners. It is always encouraged for people seeking to succeed at challenging endeavors to have accountability partners. The music tutor will be this to his students from the start, encouraging them to achieve their best and reach their goals. We all set goals of accomplishing things, but when life gets busy, often we fall off the horse or give up altogether. When you know you have that music lesson coming up and your teacher will know whether you practiced, that provides often much-needed motivation for you to get on your instrument and practice!

Your music tutor provides a friend/cheerleader during your musical journey. Learning an instrument is tough work! It is possible to learn an instrument on your own, but the journey is so much more enjoyable when you have a caring partner working with you to achieve your goals!

Starlight Music Lessons offers many music tutors throughout the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex. If you have been considering learning an instrument, contact us today! Our music tutors come to you so you can still learn in the comfort of your own home. Contact us today to set up a trial lesson with one of our many excellent music tutors.


Tips for Starting Beginner Piano Lessons

Have you finally decided to start beginner piano lessons or enroll your child in beginner piano lessons? Good for you! It is important to understand that not all piano teachers are created equal, so take care to find a teacher that is well-suited to your family. While teachers and curriculum used vary, a few things remain important, no matter the teacher or location of the lessons. As you are considering where to go for beginner piano lessons, keep the following in mind:

1.  Beginner piano lessons will typically be held once per week.

Some may wonder if this is enough time for a student to properly learn an instrument. A lesson once a week is a fantastic spacing for beginner piano lessons, as the student will need the time between the lessons in order to practice and master the skills introduced at the weekly lesson.

2.  Typically how long are weekly lessons?

You can expect your beginner piano lessons to last anywhere from 30-60 minutes each week depending on the student’s age as well as the teacher’s preference. 30 minutes per week is usually the perfect lesson time for a young beginner piano student. As the student gets older and more skilled, it is often a good idea to increase the weekly lesson length to 45-60 minutes. When considering teachers for beginner piano lessons, keep in mind that longer lesson times does not necessarily equal higher-quality teaching, and vice versa. Some teachers are able to teach more in 30 minutes than another teacher can in 60 minutes.

3. Keep in mind that the teacher is a professional.

Piano teachers are skilled professionals who have often spent a lifetime honing their skills. The majority of piano teachers started taking music lessons around the same time they started elementary school. Did you know that most piano teachers have more education on their craft than lawyers and doctors? Music is one of the few fields in higher education in which its pursuers are required to already possess extensive knowledge and skills before even stepping foot onto a college campus for that music degree. Please offer your music teachers due respect for their background and experience, understanding that they have almost a lifetime of knowledge to share.

4. Professional music teachers will have policies and procedures clearly outlined.

These policies will include what to expect regarding lesson cancellations, make-up lessons, tuition payment, etc. Beware of working with teachers or studios who do not have clearly outlined policies. If policies are not clearly stated, you may find yourself violating a policy you didn’t even know existed, only to lose money or lesson time. Starlight Music Lessons shares our policies when you enroll, and our policies are clearly explained on our website.

5. Your teacher will assign practicing to be done throughout the week.

This is the only way to make consistent progress musically, especially when the student begins working on more difficult pieces. Practicing assignments may range between 10-60 minutes per day, depending on the student’s age and skill level. If you or your child is struggling with practicing, you should seriously consider trying out our Practice Pals program! This can be a major game-changer for those with practice woes. Practice Pals is also a fantastic way for beginner piano students to develop a good foundation for learning to practicing well throughout his/her musical journey. Practice Pals actually makes practicing a fun experience!

6. No matter where you decide to take lessons (at home or in a studio) you will need a piano or keyboard in order to practice in between lessons.


Testimonial Tuesday: Tessie

“Hi! This is Tessie…  I am still here loving my lessons.  In fact, I was kind of sad for about one minute the other day thinking, “Gee, I wish I would have done this 10 years ago.”  But then I cheered up when I realized that 10 years ago I probably wouldn’t have been able to have Martha for a teacher, so then I was happy again.  It’s great when it hits you that most things work out for the best! 10 years from now I will be AMAZING!! Thanks to Martha, I am definitely on my way to amazing.
My husband is so impressed with my progress that he bought me an awesome antique grand piano for Christmas (and plus, he’s a really nice husband who always gets me the BEST Christmas presents, boy was I surprised! It’s not easy hiding a grand piano, either).  I am a lucky girl. It is so beautiful, let me tell you.”
Wow! What a testimony! This is why we do what we do! Learning to play an instrument is truly a gift! If you would like to sign your child up for piano lessons or would like to learn an instrument yourself, click here to contact us today to get started! We have amazing teachers all over the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex just waiting to introduce you to the amazing gift of music!

Why Participate in a Music Competition?

Competitions aren’t for everyone, but for those who are interested, participating in musical competitions can be a wonderfully exciting experience!

Here are some of the benefits of participating in a music competition:

1. The ability to see tangible results of hard work. 

     Music students put a lot of effort into improving on their instrument. Most of the time this effort remains in the practice room or at the piano. A music competition provides an opportunity for the student to take this hard work and translate it into a knockout performance. The satisfaction that comes from seeing their hard work pay off teaches the student to value hard work.

2. Improved skills in setting goals and meeting deadlines
Clearly, these skills are necessary to all parts of life. Participating in a music competition can provide a more enjoyable means to learning these skills.

3. Learning to handle pressure. 
The ability to handle pressure is a crucial life skill. Everyone must eventually learn how operate under pressure: racing heart, sweaty palms, and the nerves that come from all eyes being on me. The best way to improve this skill is to practice in a safe environment. Starlight competitions provide a safe, gentle environment to help students learn this important skill. Judges will provide constructive feedback, including praises as well as things that can be improved. And those who make mistakes will not be shamed.

4. Learning to accept criticism. 
As previously mentioned, Starlight’s judges will provide constructive feedback. This will include commendations for well-executed techniques. However, our judges will also provide input regarding areas that can use improvement. Being teachable and receiving criticism gracefully is a valuable life skill. Again, the best way to improve this skill is to practice. Allowing your child to face criticism in a safe and positive environment the best way to encourage growth in this area.

5. A positive experience that reflects well on the child’s work ethic, determination, and skills. (This will look good on a child’s applications/resumes.)
Schools, employers, and others will look favorably upon the experience of participating in music competitions. Those in leadership roles who will evaluate your child’s competency and character recognize the sort of determination, work ethic, and commitment it takes to prepare for competitions. This sort of thing looks great on applications of all sorts!

6.  Learning to cope with disappointing results.
Contrary to recitals where everyone “wins,” in competitions the number of winners must be limited. Obviously, all the students work hard to be THE winner, however, some will be disappointed by the results. This is something that must be learned how to handle well. At Starlight competitions there are no “losers.” Everyone will be presented with a participation certificate and is praised for their hard work. Much will be gained even if a student doesn’t win the overall competition. But learning how to cope with unfavorable results will help the child become a more mature, well-adjusted individual who can learn how to find joy throughout all of life’s ups and downs.

All of this being said, competitions aren’t for everyone. Some people thrive and flourish in a competitive environment, while competition can cause others to whither.

For those who will be participating in a competition, remember, work hard, prepare well, and do your best. And be proud of your performance, whether or not the outcome is what you hoped for. Simply committing to compete and doing the preparation necessary is a great accomplishment in itself! That is definitely something to be proud of!

Planning for Success: Music Lessons

We are so thrilled you have chosen to make music lessons a priority in your child’s life. We regularly talk to adults regarding music lessons, and those who can’t play always tell one of two stories:

 “I didn’t take music lessons as a kid, but now that I’m an adult I SO wish I had.”

“I took music lessons as a kid, but when I didn’t want to practice anymore my parents let me quit. I really regret that. I can’t play an instrument today and am so disappointed that I didn’t keep up the music lessons when I was a kid.”

And then there are the adults who know how to play and reap so much enjoyment from playing their instrument. These adults are forever grateful to their parents for providing this opportunity for their kids. You are THAT parent! On behalf of your child, THANK YOU! Thank you for caring so much about your child and investing in an education that will bless them for the rest of their lives!

Remember: It is normal for kids to go through slumps where they’re not “in the mood” to practice or take lessons. If you make them continue through these slumps and work with their teacher to create a strategy to work through the slump, your child will be incredibly grateful in the long run! Click here to read more about musical growing pains.

As you are working on figuring out your fall schedule, don’t forget to work in music practice. It may sound like just one more thing to worry about, but creating a plan for practice will make music lessons more productive, worthwhile, and enjoyable.

Don’t underestimate short spurts of practice. 5 minutes here 10 minutes there can really add up to increased progress.

Have a structured practice schedule.  Set aside a few minutes most days of the week for practice.  You might have great intentions of having your child practice whenever you think to remind him/her, but unless you plan for those few minutes of practice each day, it will likely get unnecessarily overlooked in the hustle of the week. Click here to read more about setting musical goals.

Even the busiest of families usually have 10 to 15 minutes a day they can designate as practice time. But unless you actually set aside time that you and your child both understand is practice time, the good intentions will often wash out the door in light of your busy schedule. Your challenge is to figure out when is the best opportunity to practice. But you can do it!

Here are some ideas:

  • Right before bed.
  • First thing in the morning.
  • During meal prep.
  • Right after mealtime.
  • During commercials.
  • First thing after school.
  • During homework time.

This is not an exhaustive list; just a few ideas. I would like to focus in on the last idea. Music is so valuable to anyone! Give it the same level of importance in your home as school. Piano practice doesn’t take very much time each day, and if you include it in homework time, it will be much easier to make sure it gets done.Success in learning a musical instrument is most dependent upon consistency. A student doesn’t have to play for hours each day to be great. It only takes a few minutes each day to make considerable progress. The consistency is what’s key.

Music practice can be used as a break between activities, or a means to earn rights such as:

  • Screen Time
    • Can be an equal swap: You get as much screen time as you practice each day. 30 minutes of practice = 30 minutes of screen time.
    • Can be a set practice time to earn screen time in general.
      • Personal note: In my home, my children can’t have screen time unless they have completed necessary activities such as chores, schoolwork, and yes, music practice.
  • Playing with Friends
    • It only takes 15 minutes to earn an afternoon of fun with friends!
  • Sports
    • Perhaps you expect your child to keep his grades up to participate in sports, but do you require that he practice regularly?
  • You may include practice in your child’s allowance requirements.
  • Staying up 15 min later. (You could say, “If you practice 15 min, you get to stay up 15 min later.”)

Here are a couple of practice charts you might be interested in printing for your child:
Monthly Practice Chart
Weekly Practice Chart

  • Practical Application:
    • Place the practice chart in a sheet protector and mark practice with a dry erase marker. Show your teacher, erase, and start again!
    • Pin the practice chart on a wall so child and parents see progress daily.

Here is something else you can print if you would like:
Extra-Curricular Activity Planners

  • Included is 3 different planner pages to choose from.
  • 1 page that can be folded into a booklet to carry in a pocket or purse
  • School week planner

Are you having trouble making practicing fun in  your home? That’s what our Practice Pals Program is for! Seriously, if you haven’t tried this out yet, this can truly be a game changer for music lessons! Contact us today to get started with Practice Pals!

Click on the image above to learn more about Practice Pals.

Have a wonderful day, and remember: make that practice plan!

2015 Spring Recital

Wow! What a Show!

As usual, Starlight Students delivered a fabulous performance!!

2015 Spring Recital

2015 Spring Recital
Post-Show Mingling in the Black Box Theatre.

Whew! I bet everyone is a little bit more relaxed this week! Preparing for a recital is hard work from all angles, but oh, so worth it! Did’t the performers do a FABULOUS job?! We couldn’t be more proud! If you didn’t participate in the recital this year, click here to read about all the benefits of participating in a recital. We would love to see you join us for our next recital!

Do you have any photos or videos from last week’s recital? We would be so appreciative if you would share! It would be an honor to be able to spotlight your son/daughter in one of our newsletters!

Everyone relaxed, laughing, and enjoying the food at the reception.
Everyone relaxed, laughing, and enjoying the food at the reception.

We want to thank all of our students who were brave enough to walk out on that stage and give your best. We know how difficult it is to perform in front of others, but you did it!! You deserve a huge pat on the back! Maybe you played your piece perfectly… Maybe you didn’t. We are proud of you either way! YOU DID IT! That’s what matters! That is quite an accomplishment.

Guess what? You can add the song(s) your child performed at the recital to his/her repertoire list!

Unwinding and basking in the glory of a job well-done.
Unwinding and basking in the glory of a job well-done.

How fun! Don’t know what a repertoire list is or why each musician should have one? Click here to learn more.

Also, now that the recital is over, don’t let all that hard work go to waste! Make sure your

child continues to play his/her songs periodically so he doesn’t lose all that hard work.

Again, thank you to everyone who contributed to making these shows so wonderful. We genuinely appreciate you all!