Teacher Spotlight: Lauren – Piano and Voice Teacher in Dallas, TX

Educational Background:

Lauren is currently finishing her bachelor’s degree in music at Southern Methodist University where she is studying with Camille King. She has been a music student for most of her life starting at age 4. Lauren is part of the Meadows Opera Ensemble and has appeared in many productions including Alcina, Our Town, Cosi Fan Tutte, You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown, and a touring production of Broadway Anthems for the SMU-in-Taos Cultural Institute. In addition to her classical voice training, Lauren is passionate about musical theater and currently studies with Natalie Weiss from New York City.

Teaching Background:

Lauren has shared her passion for teaching with others since she was 11. She has served in leadership positions with gymnastics teams, dance teams, and choral groups where she was tasked with mentoring and teaching less experienced participants. Lauren has also been fortunate to serve as a teaching assistant at a Montessori school where she worked with students in the classroom and music program. She has also been involved in the creative and choreography process teaching high school spirit squads and dance teams.

 Personality/Teaching Style:

Lauren has an upbeat, positive personality and loves to share that positivity with her students. She believes music lessons should be fun and foster a love and appreciation for music. She expects her students to practice regularly but is not harsh with students when this expectation isn’t met. Her number one goal is to make sure her students are enjoying every lesson and their own practice time.

What others are saying about Lauren:

Lauren is very specific with what she wants but generous and helpful with those students with whom she works. She can sing, dance and act and has great skills as well as love for helping others thrive. Lauren is always prompt, friendly, and prepared. She left her problems, if she had any, at the door. I loved working with her. She is a real professional.

Sara J. Romersberger
Associate Professor of Theatre
Southern Methodist University

Lauren is very disciplined.  Fine young musician.  Talented singer/dancer. I have enjoyed working with Lauren very much. 

Virginia Dupuy, Prof. of Voice.  SMU

Special Skills:

Lauren believes if a student can learn classical voice and piano technique, they can sing or play anything. With voice, Lauren emphasizes the importance of learning to sing in a very healthy, sustainable way. Her classical background also transfers over to musical theater and pop music. Furthermore, because she has a strong dance background, Lauren takes a very physical approach to music and stresses the importance of connecting with the body when singing and playing.

If you are looking for a piano or voice teacher in Dallas, TX, look no further! Contact us today to schedule a lesson with Lauren.

Teacher Spotlight: Allison – Piano Teacher in Dallas, TX

Allison is currently earning her Bachelor’s degree in Music Composition at Southern Methodist University. She loves being a music student almost as much as she loves teaching and sharing her passion for piano, music theory, and composing. She has traveled throughout America and Europe sharing her music, even spending a semester at the Conservatorium van Amsterdam and attending the International Music Festival of the Adriatic in Italy. She always looks forward to coming back home to help teach the next generation.

Allison expects her students to work hard and practice diligently, but believes that the learning process should be a fun and positive experience for everyone involved. She is committed to helping students learn any kind of music they are interested in – classical, film music, video game music, pop, etc. – while still establishing a basis of good technique.

Allison teaches all ages and all levels, from beginner to professional. Lessons with Allison are engaging and fun, and Allison’s hope for her students is that they develop to be great musicians, not just great pianists.

Here’s what others are saying about Allison:

I had the distinct honor and pleasure to serve as Allison’s piano teacher for 10 years. I taught her from the very beginning until the time she left for her University studies at SMU in Dallas.

Allison is a fine musician. She is very detailed and thorough. She is always punctual in arriving for appointments. She always steps up to meet the challenge in front of her. She has a strong sense of determination. She puts forth whatever level of effort is needed to learn a piece of music and excel at it.

I invited Allison last summer to meet with one of my current students who is also considering a major in Music Composition. Allison did a lesson with this young lady and I was very impressed with her down to earth interest in my student along with the practical advice she gave. Allison assisted my student in playing a song she was learning. Allison was very patient and kind as well as being very thorough.

I have taught for many years and I am preparing to retire from teaching. I have thought many times that if Allison would be doing her Master’s work in San Diego, I would gladly and proudly transfer all of my students to her. I’m convinced they would be studying with the very best! I would recommend Allison to my students and friends!

Music Teacher, San Diego, CA

Allie has wonderful interpersonal skills and relates well with students and their families. She always has a smile on her face and never complains about any task. Her demeanor and character are what you want to see in a teacher. She is considerate, kind, and compassionate. It is clear that Allie loves music and she’s enthusiastic in any music endeavor she faces.

Allie is very bright and has such a delightful personality. Allie loves music and her love of music is infectious! She makes you excited about whatever she’s working on. Allie’s training at SMU combined with her natural engaging personality makes her ideally prepared to be a music teacher.

I would enthusiastically recommend Allie to anyone I met who was looking for a private teacher.

Associate Director of Music Admissions, SMU Dallas, TX

If you are looking for a fabulous piano teacher in Dallas, TX, look no further! Contact Starlight Music Lessons today to schedule a trial lesson with Allie!

How to Practice While Away From the Piano

Is your child in and out a lot this summer and having difficulty finding time to practice? While I can’t stress enough the importance of spending time at the piano practicing, did you know there are some things a piano student can do to improve his/her skills even when away from the piano?

POSTURE

Good posture is very important for a piano player. Even when the piano player is away from her beloved instrument, she can practice correct posture. This practice away from the piano will make it easier for her to have correct posture while sitting at the piano.

HAND SHAPE

To play the piano correctly a student must learn to keep her hands in the proper shape while at the piano. Many students like to rest their hands flat on the piano, but this is a bad habit that negatively effects the playing and must be corrected, sooner, rather than later. Encourage your child to practice holding an invisible ball or bubble. This creates the hand shape necessary for playing the piano. The more a student becomes familiar with this hand shape, the better equipped he will be at playing the piano with the correct hand shape.

FINGER CONTROL & RHYTHM

Obviously, playing the piano requires much hand/eye coordination and individual finger control. While away from the piano a student can practice gaining control over his individual fingers. Here’s a simple game that can be fun to play when you have a few minutes to spare. Think: Waiting room, car trips, grandma’s house, etc.

To Play:

  • Have the child hold up both hands, with fingers spread.
  • Call out different finger numbers for the child to wiggle. (Ex: Left hand #4!)
  • The goal is to help your child remember piano finger numbers and practice moving fingers individually.
  • For older/more advanced students you can call out one finger from each hand. (Ex: Left hand 5 & Right Hand 2!) They should practice responding quickly and accurately, and wiggle both fingers at the same time.

This game can be fun and lead to lots of giggles while sneaking in extra practice. 🙂

To add rhythm practice into this game, you can bring along your child’s piano book. Have your child “play” his songs with the correct fingering and rhythm. The child can practice playing the rhythm on a table or on his lap. The fingers will gain practice which can help a student improve, even while away from the piano.

FLASH CARDS
Ah, flash cards…. Some people love ’em, others hate ’em. Frankly, whether a student enjoys or hates flash cards often is a reflection of the attitude they’re presented with. If it is presented as a boring but necessary task, the child will trudge through flash cards only when forced. This doesn’t have to be so! Flash cards can be loads of fun and something that your child actually requests to do! Easiest way to make flash cards an enjoyable task? Make it fun! Make it easily accomplished. Don’t just hand your child a stack of flashcards and say, “Learn these.” Start with 3-5 flashcards. Have the child spend 5 min (or less if they catch on quickly) with those few cards. Then you’re done for the day! The next day have them do those first few cards again. Once they are strong on those, add 1 more card. Now the child only has 4-6 flash cards to work with, but most of them are easily recognized.

If you stay consistent with this method and have your child work on flashcards just about every day, he/she will have the entire stack of cards memorized in a couple of weeks! That might not sound like a great accomplishment, but IT TRULY IS! Usually what holds beginning students back like nothing else is a struggle with identifying notes on the staff. If they can learn to identify the notes with ease, learning new songs and progressing to bigger and better pieces is SO much easier! Click on the picture below in order to print out free flashcards for the Treble Clef and the Bass Clef.

You can also turn flashcard practice into a game: a race against the clock! Set a timer and see how many flashcards you can do in that amount of time. Then see if you can increase your score every day. Encourage your child to tell his/her teacher about the progress he is making in his flashcard time. His teacher can be a cheerleader and extra encouragement to get those flashcards learned!

If you have a child that can easily identify note names, don’t think they are done with flash cards! Oh, no! You can use this same simple method to help him/her quickly master a plethora of crucial music theory concepts such as intervals, dynamics, and other important theory. Hint: This method is also a great way to study for tests in all subjects. Remember, rather than trying to soak it all in at once, break the subject into smaller chunks. Go over that small chunk multiple times until it’s imprinted. Then add another small chunk. This is the best way to retain large amounts of information quickly.

Other ways may be used to improve music skill while away from the instrument, but this is a quick overview of a few ways to get your child practicing today! Don’t let the busyness of life get in the way of improving!

Want to hear a fun piano prodigy? Click on the video below. Hint: If you just want to hear the piano playing, skip ahead to 3:20. Do you think this child was born with incredible skill? Perhaps. But what is more likely is that he practices every day. If you want your child to improve on his/her instrument, even 15 minutes of practice per day can make all the difference! Consistency is key. Enjoy your summer, and enjoy that practice! 


Pssst! Did you know that Starlight Music Lessons offers a Practice Program that makes practicing fun?

Practice Pals
We take the dread out of Practicing!
Practicing is a must. Period. But practicing can also be fun! Our Practice Pals program is an add-on program available to those taking lessons. When you enroll in Practice Pals, your practice leader guides your practice sessions three times per week online via webcam. Practice Pals makes your practicing fun, engaging, efficient and motivating. Students who practice regularly will progress faster, enjoy learning more (since they can quickly see progress) and are more likely to build a life-long love of music.

November Newsletter: The Importance of Effective Practice and Setting Goals

Is practicing a chore in your home? Developing consistent and effective practicing habits is often the biggest struggle for those learning an 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

Practice Pals can help teach a student how to practice by walking with the student through his/her 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 dropping out of 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!


Setting Goals
It’s amazing what a difference having goals to work toward can make, no matter what the area of life. You set goals for yourself, right? Business goals, fitness goals, spiritual, financial, family goals, etc. Music education is no different. Goals are so valuable in keeping music students motivated and excited about their education. Do you or your child have musical goals to work toward? Here are some ideas that might help motivate the musician in your family: 

  • Participate in Starlight’s recitals!
  • Schedule family recitals for your child throughout the year. Invite grandparents, cousins, uncles and aunts, and family friends. Have your child put on a mini-performance.
  • Set a goal date in which your child successfully completes his book. (This one’s a larger goal, you might want to break it up into smaller goals for accomplishing specific songs in a certain amount of time.) You can speak with your child’s teacher to figure out what reasonable goals might look like. 
  • For every 30 minutes of practice the child gets 30 minutes of tv/video game/computer time.
  • If the child practices for the agreed upon time each week they get special time with mom or dad. (Making cookies, go on a special walk, play a board game, etc.)
  • Here’s an idea that can help students visually see their effort: Place two jars on the piano, one with beads (or rocks, pennies, marbles, etc.) and one is empty. Every day the student practices he/she can move one bead from the full jar to the empty one. Once the jar is full the child gets a special prize. This may or may not cost money, depending on your family goals. Maybe your child can get a special toy or movie when the jar is full. Maybe you can have a special family day out. Maybe the reward can be a lazy Saturday: movies and games all day long! 

Be creative, and don’t be afraid to get your child involved in the brainstorming process! Encourage their practice to be a fun activity that they look forward to every day!

But DON’T

  • Use their music practice as a punishment. This will create a negative association with music, and they will likely lose interest in learning music altogether.
  • Don’t ridicule or make fun of mistakes your child makes. Learning an instrument is challenging, and they WILL make mistakes! Regularly! If they feel shame or embarrassment for those mistakes they will lose heart. 
  • Don’t force your child to perform in front of family and friends if they don’t want to.
  • Don’t apologize to others about your child’s weak/flawed performance. They are doing their best, and they will grow the best in a supportive and nurturing environment. Children who fear ridicule or shame will often just give up.

As always, if you ever have any questions or struggles or need ideas, feel free to discuss your thoughts with your child’s teacher, and you are always welcome to contact us in the office about you or your child’s lessons. Hopefully you will be able to take something away from these tips to help your child on his/her musical journey!

Have a wonderfully happy holiday season!

Introducing Derek, Starlight’s Newest Music Teacher in Ft Worth

We are thrilled to introduce Derek, our newest member of the Starlight Music Lessons Team! Derek teaches Clarinet, Saxophone and Piano lessons in Ft. Worth, TX. 

Derek
Derek

Derek studied music education with Dawn Marie Lindblade at Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond, Louisiana.  During this time he participated in the SELU Wind Symphony, Clarinet Choir, Symphonic Band, and marching Band.

Derek has over six years of teaching experience; this experience varies from directing the single reed methods course at SELU to conducting music clinics in various churches in various states. As a music minister, Derek has taught many piano (chord approach & note reading) students in preparing them for Worship Ministry settings.

Derek believes in instilling and equipping the student with the proper motivation and skills to excel in their instrument. If the student can learn to love and enjoy their instrument, nothing is impossible!

Styles and methods Derek can teach include: Beginner, chord approach (beginning to advanced/worship ministry -098preparation), Jazz, R&B, Black Gospel, Contemporary, Traditional Hymns, Ear training (playing by ear), Southern Gospel/Country. Beginning to intermediate Clarinet. Beginning Saxophone.

Would you like to hear what others have to say about Derek? Previous students say,

“Derek is Headstrong, determined, organized, and a good person. He’s good with kids and has a good heart. Good character, good integrity. Good morals. Derek is just such a good person.” – Dallas, TX

“Derek has allowed me to see clearly and understand that music is fun and is important in my life!” – Slidell, LA

Derek has served as a Music Ministry Director for six years. He has just recently moved to the Dallas/Ft. Worth area in accepting a new Music Director position. In playing music for over ten years, Derek has developed a strong background in the chord approach and preparing students to play in a church setting. Derek’s current employer says:

“Derek is a fantastic young man, super talented, and has the temperament and personality to be a fantastic teacher with students.” – North Richland Hills, TX

Also overheard by those who have had the privilege of working with Derek:

Derek is an amazing person and amazing musician. He definitely has musical integrity and is a great person. I don’t recommend a lot of people, but I absolutely recommend Derek.  His main strength is that his musical intuition is very strong. He is very gifted and very trained. Way above average. Derek understands excellence and brings his best foot forward to his students.” Slidell, LA

If you are looking for a great clarinet, saxophone, or piano teacher in Ft Worth, it looks like you have found him! Contact Starlight Music Lessons to schedule your trial lesson today! If you are not in Ft Worth but are looking for a high-quality teacher in the DFW metroplex, give us a call to meet a teacher near you! You can learn about our teacher selection process here.

October Newsletter: It’s Your Turn to Shine! And… Preparing for Family Gatherings

Music Lessons for Adults

You know, we don’t only offer music lessons for kids. Many adults take music lessons as well, 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 as an adult, give us a call! (214) 477-8006 or reply to this email.

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!


Musical Preparation for the upcoming Months

Alright! The end of the year is quickly approaching, which means lots of gatherings, so make sure your family is prepared musically! This is the perfect opportunity for you or your child to learn some special songs to perform for family and friends. Now is the time to start preparing! Wouldn’t it be fun to have a musical performance during your Thanksgiving gatherings! If this sounds interesting to you, talk to your teacher about helping put together a repertoire of songs that can be played at all of your upcoming family gatherings. This won’t be a formal recital, but it can be a lot of fun and a great motivator for students to work extra hard at their music and practice more.


Speaking of practicing, if you haven’t taken advantage of our Practice Pals program yet, now might be a great time to give it a try!! Practice Pals can truly be the missing factor a struggling student needs in order to make that desired musical progress. Check out the details here, and enroll in Practice Pals today!

Happy Fall everyone!

Children’s Music Lessons

Referral Credit

Have you heard about Children’s music lessons?

“Of course! Who hasn’t?”

BUT, have you heard about how beneficial children’s music lessons can be?

“…. Umm.. sure… Kids learn to play music.”

No, I’m not talking about the joy of hearing your little sweetheart klunk on the piano tickle the keys like Mozart. I’m talking about benefits of children’s music lessons completely unrelated to music.

*crickets*

Yeah, now we have something to talk about. Do children’s music lessons even have benefits that lie beyond giving your child the opportunity to learn how to play an instrument? They certainly do! Let’s talk about some of those benefits.

So, do you like Math? Okay, maybe that’s not the best question. Do you want your child to be good in math? Yeah, that’s better. Did you know that children’s music lessons enhance a child’s mathematical ability and awareness? When a child is learning music, he is absorbing mathematical constructions inherent in music composition. For example, within the first few music lessons, a young music student is learning about fractions. She certainly doesn’t need a mathematical understanding about fractions to start music lessons, but you would be surprised to see the mathematical concepts that are learned under the guise of music. Shh! Don’t tell your kid that when you’re sending him to children’s music lessons you’re actually helping improve his math skills.

Not only will children’s music lessons help during a child’s young life, but studying music in the long run can increase math scores and even effect results on standardized tests as well as classroom tests. The College Board did a study “document[ing] a 100-point gap in SAT scores between students who had music instruction during their early elementary school years and students who did not. The longer students study music, the greater gap in scores.”  Other similar studies have produced the same findings. The results of these studies show that even when children’s music lessons are given to every group, regardless of IQ, the test subjects’ scores increase.

Do you think strengthening memorization skills is valuable? Regardless of what instrument is being learned, memorization is needed to learn music. Can you think of any areas of life that could benefit from increased memorization skills? How about every subject in school?  Music is a language of its own. The musician must not only learn the symbols of music, but he also must learn what action should be placed with that symbol. Therefore through childrens music lessons, both cognitive as well as muscle memory are formed.

What about an immediate benefit of music lessons? Children’s music lessons helps immediately strengthen a child’s speech patterns. The child must learn the patterns of highs and lows in music, and this directly correlates with the highs and lows of speech patterns. Not only will these strengthened speech patterns benefit the child in the short-term, through studies we have learned that the study of music also makes a big difference in the continued advancement of a child’s academic studies. These studies show that students of music learn foreign languages more easily and can improve performance on certain types of tests. Music is certainly something that can boost learning, no matter what the subject matter.

We could certainly go on and on about the benefits of Children’s Music Lessons, but we’ll stop there for today. Did anything surprise you regarding what can be gained from Children’s Music Lessons? I know many people are shocked to learn how amazing music lessons for kids are. If you know someone who could benefit from Children’s Music Lessons (…ehem…*cough* everyone!) then let them know about Starlight Music Lessons. We provide wonderful music lessons for kids in their own homes all over the DFW metroplex. Visit our website and learn about the Starlight Music Lessons Difference!

Sources:

(1)http://urwebsrv.rutgers.edu/focus/article/Music%20helps%20students%20retain%20math/1779/

(2) http://www.jstor.org/pss/3333638