Music Lessons for all ages!

Orpheus Newsletter – May 2015

May Newsletter 

A Letter from the Directors
Summer – The best time for musical growth

Growing up in the country I remember how I looked forward to summer every year as the time when I finally had the free time to enjoy the things I loved: Swimming in the local water hole, reading and playing music. Things are actually not that different for my daughter: The new Murchison Pool is already beckoning, she can’t get her nose out of books and she will be recording her guitar pieces in a professional studio. Summer is the best time to pursue our deepest dreams while we have a brief respite from the daily grind of homework and school. This year we are hosting a special Summer Open Housefor New Students June 6th from 2-5 PM!
We have had a dozen little siblings signed up for their first lesson already and many of you have been telling your friends to give us a call. I can’t even begin to tell you how much we appreciate this. The best time to start is always when the student is most excited and the family is ready for the responsibility. But if one of your friends asks you if the Summer is a good time, please share some of these ideas with them:
1) Starting in the summer allows the student to have greater focus on their newfound passion without the distraction of schoolwork. The first few weeks of learning guitar, piano or violin require a great deal of focus and physical and mental growth. The fingers must grow stronger, the ear more acute and the mind must understand difficult new concepts. This is hard enough without one thousand other distractions.
2) It is generally a good idea to try to limit the number of new experiences a child must adjust to at one time. Whether they will be starting school for the first time or just be adjusting to a new teacher and class, it is nice to not also be adjusting to a new guitar teacher, a new practice routine and new learning environment for music.
3) Summer Intensives, where the student comes twice per week, provide the kind of reinforcement that can get students off to a great start. When a new student just gets their fingers on a piano, violin or guitar there are bound to be a dozen little flaws in their technique that, if not addressed, can cause serious handicap or even injury down the line. I have always felt that seven days between opportunities to correct these little bad habits is way too long.
4) Finally, the main reason we take lessons is to get to play cool songs. By starting in the summer with lessons twice per week students will have the opportunity to break through to the music they will love much sooner.
Summer has always been a time when we get to do the things we want to do rather than just the things we have to do. Let music be one of those things!                                – Klondike & Wendy


Understanding Our Summer Programs

For your scheduling convenience you may choose one of the following options:

1) 6 – 45 min. lessons + 1 camp (Taken as 1 intensive, over 3 weeks)
2) 12 – 45 min. lessons (Taken as 2 intensives, over 6 weeks)
3) 12 – 45 min. lessons (Weekly, all summer)

What Will We Learn In World Music Camp?
(Maybe you can help!)
Every year in World Music we pick four different countries to study, learn songs of these cultures and perform on authentic instruments. This year we will be studying Mexico, Ireland, North Africa & Japan. If you are originally from one of these countries we would love to hear from you what were the most powerful and important songs and traditions you experienced as a child so that we may make our curriculum more personal and as authentic as possible. Don’t worry if you have no musical training. Most people initially think they didn’t learn any music from their own culture, but when they start to think about it carefully they find that their entire childhood was imbued with songs and rhymes and musical traditions. Please contact us by phone or by email and we will set up a time to discuss and research your own musical experiences.
Musical Journey Corner

Now that most of our students are actively involved in Journey, there are events going on all the time! Students complete levels by performing at home concerts, public concerts, making CD’s and much more. Below are a few of the special projects that have happened recently and some that are coming up.
Please congratulate these students on an outstanding job!

Conor Jones, Guitar     Public Concert     April 11th, 2015
Ryan Honza, Voice & Piano     Level 1 Home Concert     April 12th, 2015

Sophia Balboa, Piano    Level 1 Home Concert     April 19th, 2015
Avi Distler, Guitar     Recital     April 25th, 2015

Cameron Robinson, Piano & Lee Robinson, Guitar     Recital     May 3rd, 2015

*If you are planning a musical journey concert or project completion, and would like to be featured in the newsletter, please email us the details and pictures of the performance to [email protected] Please be sure to include name, date, level and the specifics of the project. (i.e. home or public concert)

Pictured here are Sophia B. & her instructor,Wendy Kuo. On, Sunday, April 19th, Sophia completed her Level 1 Musical Journey Concert. Sophia did a wonderful job playing for her friends & family! Having passed the Level 1 test last semester, she is now ready to start her preparation for Level 2.

Best of luck to you, Sophia! 

Getting to know us, getting to know all about us!
Georgia Sears, Piano
I have wanted to teach for as long as I can remember. I used to teach my stuffed animals when I was little! I am so excited to be at Orpheus, surrounded by others who are also teaching obsessed & students who want to learn. One of my mother’s first comments in my baby book was, “loves music”.

Favorite Movie:

I have 3! Lord of the Rings Trilogy 

Favorite Food: 

Currently sushi but open to Austin’s options! 

Favorite Austin Location: 

To be discovered! Probably a nature trail. 


Several! In a few words… cooking, biking, running, hiking & most engaging, my family. 

Interesting Fact: 

I have a math degree & was an accountant! 

Eric Slavin, Guitar
I am the founding member of Argentina’s Santa Fe Guitar Quartet which has toured the world for 25 years, including Carnegie Hall & The Lincoln Center. I was inspired to study guitar by members of the Washington Guitar Quintet in the late 80’s. I also have 2 solo CDs you should ask me about!

Favorite Movie:
Cinema Paradiso 

Favorite Food:
Maine Lobster 

Favorite Austin Location:
Town Lake Hike & Bike Trail 


Interesting Fact:
I was born in Japan & my parents worked for the Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission. 

Liz Comninellis, Voice & Piano
I was born in Angola, Africa with my parents who were Baptist Medical Missionaries. My dad plays classical guitar every day, even though he is a doctor. His discipline and encouragement inspired me in my own musical career. I have studied in KansasCity, Boulder, Ottawa & now Austin.
Favorite Movie:
Charade with Audrey Hepburn & Cary Grant
Favorite Food:
Zucchini, almonds & salmon. 
Favorite Austin Location:
Zilker Park (so far!) 
Listening to audio books while I cook. 

 Interesting Fact:

In high school, I dyed my hair purple. It’s still my favorite color but not for hair! 
Orpheus Academy Pet of the Month!

We are now going to be featuring a “Pet of the Month” at Orpheus! Students are asked to submit a photo of their pet, in a musical setting, along with a short description about them. Pets can be enjoying the musical talent of their owners while they practice, dancing with their owners to their favorite tunes or even playing an instrument themselves! Be creative!!

Super Steve  is an Asian fire-bellied toad pictured here as he takes a break from practicing on his piano. He loves to dance to hip hop but his favorite song to play is Pagoda. When not eating live crickets, he enjoys going to Jumpoline with the Bellavia Boys (Mario, Dominic and Tomas).

Thank you so much to the Bellavia Family for their submission! 

We love to showcase our students’ family pets and want to hear from you! Please email a picture of your pet in a musical setting, along with a short paragraph introducing your pet, to [email protected]

Student of the Month
Veronica Hodapp, Piano

“I like playing the piano because it gives me the chance to hear what different songs sound like and it gives me a greater appreciation for music. The piano is very fun to play and I like to perform for others. I get great satisfaction when I learn a new song and can play it fluently so I practice often. Ms. Wendy is a very patient and great teacher and I enjoy learning from her.”– Veronica Hodapp

Veronica has been my student for 5 years and is a diligent and dedicated student. She has performed in many Friendship Concerts, Orpheus Summer Recitals and Retirement Home Concerts. Her CD, Veronica’s Zoo of the Animal Songs, will be released this month! I look forward to Veronica’s piano lessons every week, I really like that she always faces challenges with a “never give up” attitude. I know music will continue to be a big part of her life!

Wendy Kuo, Instructor

Student Appreciation Day 2015
Ms. Skye on popcorn duty. The snacks were in high demand that day! 

Student Appreciation Day 2015
We got rained out, but not before everyone got to go in the moon jumps! 

Flexible Goal Sharing

At our last monthly teacher forum our guitar teacher, Mr. Jesse, presented ideas relating to effective goal setting and, specifically, how to use goals in the context of a bigger picture of life-long love of music. Recently I have had the opportunity to benefit personally in my own guitar practice from some of the ideas that were discussed at that meeting and I wanted to share the insights I experienced through this year’s 50-days of practice.

     1)   Get a clear mental image of our dream goal: Short-term and Medium-length goals are more effective when combined with a powerful picture of our life-long goal. When we imagine ourselves playing the most beautiful music in the world in a big concert (or whatever our goal is), it not only makes it easier to get the energy to reach our short-term goal, but also helps us appreciate each goal as a step, not an end-point.

 2)   Be motivated, but reasonably flexible within the short-term goal. My goal of practicing for 50 days in a row gave me the energy to practice guitar after everyone had gone to bed on several nights and I felt great about that, but then a day came when an unexpected schedule change made it impossible to practice. If I didn’t have the mental flexibility and clear picture of my long-term musical goal
I might have given up then and there. But recognizing that the purpose practicing guitar for 50 days was only to increase my love of music and help me prepare a very cool concert, I quickly got back on track.

 3)   Celebrate each success along the way: We will, of course, have a certificate and Pool/Pizza Party at the end of the 50-Days. However, noticing how much better you sound and feel about your playing and sharing your pride with friends and family each day and week as you progress will multiply the joy and benefits you experience from achieving your goals as you go along.

 4)   Finally, when you complete your goal, reflect on how that goal fits into your larger goals. My martial-arts instructor told me years ago that more people quit Karate after achieving a Black Belt than at any other time. The purpose of our goals are to motivate us to become our best possible selves: Creative, Thoughtful, Compassionate, Energetic people (or whatever picture you have of your best self). Celebrate each step along the way, but don’t get stuck there.

Dr. Klondike Steadman


50 Days of Practice Challenge
Are you almost finished?!

We hope everyone is working hard to complete their practice chart. Keshav G. (pictured above) has been practicing as often as possible to try and complete his goal. We will be holding a pool party towards the end of May at Northwest Community Pool. Check out next month’s newsletter for pictures from the party!

Skype Lessons Available!

Last minute trip to see grandma? Summer camp schedules have you running around like crazy? Well ask about our Skype lessons, which can be done during your scheduled lesson time or at any time the instructor has availability!

Is Your Teacher’s Schedule Completely Full?!
As the number of enrollments keeps climbing, we’re filling up fast! Some teachers have opened up additional time to meet the growing demand, while others are still completely booked. Take a look and see who is still available!
Completely Full:

Joyce Wu, Piano
Christine Lunceford, Piano
Wendy Kuo, Piano
Klondike Steadman, Guitar
Skye McManus, Voice/Piano
Liz Comninellis, Voice/Piano

Almost Full:

Kay He, Piano
Ruth Navarre, Violin
Missy Hance, Percussion
Jesse Crites, Guitar
Elise Leung, Piano/Voice
Devin Ryan, Guitar
Bernie Brink, Piano
Andrew Noble, Violin

Important Dates!!

Monday, May 4th at 7am 

Early Fall Registration**

**Fall registration for current students who have signed up for a full summer program. At this time, new siblings of the current students may also register for Fall/Spring lessons. 

Saturday, May 9th 

Performance Classes


2:00pm (5-10 years)

Guitar  |  Piano/Voice


2:00pm (all ages)



3:00pm (5-10 years)

Guitar  |  Piano/Voice


4:00pm (11-Adult)

Guitar  |  Piano/Voice

Saturday, May 16th 

& Sunday, May 17th 

Musical Journey Tests
Students who are working on their Musical Journey levels this semester, will call in and schedule 2 – 10 minute* tests. One will be for the theory concepts and the other for performance and technique.
*Students taking level 3 or higher, will require 20 minutes for each. 


Week of May 18th – 23rd 

Musicianship Observation Week

Though parents are always welcome to observe their child’s group class, we do designate a couple weeks of the semester for Parent Observation week. During these weeks, parents are asked to join their child’s group class to see what goes on and what the children are learning. There is always a short per- formance planned so don’t miss out! 


Saturday, May 30th  

Last Day of Spring Semester

Monday, June 1st  

First Day of Summer Semester

Saturday, June 6th   *   2pm5pm
Summer Open House  

Pass the word along to all your friends! This is a great opportunity for children interested in learning an instrument. We will have many of our instructors available to meet with families and give the children an opportunity to try out different instruments & find the right fit for them! We hope to see your there!!

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Orpheus Academy of Music

3918-C Far West

Austin, Tx 78745

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Dr. Steadman Owner

Orpheus Academy

Music Lessons in Austin, Texas with Piano, Guitar, Voice and Music Camps
Orpheus Academy 3918 Austin, TX 78731
(512) 231-8999
(512) 354-3922