Music is a very versatile thing, as there are so many things you can do with it. I love music for this reason. This versatility gives me so much potential to learn in both the electric and classical guitar fields. In other words, there are so many different "genres" of music in the genres of electric and classical music. In electric, there are many, many bands, and certain bands have certain playing styles which can be hard to master. In classical, factors like time period, nationality of the composer, and the composer themself all play an immense role in the resulting piece. This versatility also makes it fun. Every new song will be different, and it is much more fun to learn different material. If you learn one song over and over again, it will get boring, but if you learn new material, it will always be really fun.
When I came to Orpheus over a year ago, I disliked classical music. I found it boring and way too hard to master the fingering. I like the fact that I was pushed to go out of my comfort zone and learn classical guitar. Learning classical guitar also helped me refine finger technique on electric guitar, as well.
My teacher, Mr. Wyatt has played such a huge role in helping me learn new songs and refine my technique. He is an awesome teacher who can really encourage as well as make lessons really fun. Thank you. -Avaneesh
Avaneesh has been a constant hard working student since he started taking lessons here about a year and a half ago. Over this time, he has developed fingerstyle skills that he never had while also furthering his electric guitar picking techniques to new heights. Any lesson with Avaneesh is exciting due to how much material he comes prepared with between the 2 main genres that we cover. I am also extremely proud of how he has handled his approach to playing and lessons during the pandemic by seeing the idea of being home more as an opportunity to practice and listen to music even more than he did while things were normal. As he hits the ground running with high school in the Fall, I am very excited to see how the guitar will continue to be such a defining and ever improving part of his life. -Mr. Wyatt
I like playing on the piano so that I can learn new songs. -Ayaan
Ayaan has made so much progress with me and has only been taking lessons for one month! I'm so proud of how hard he has been working and love his curiosity and excitement for music! -Mr. Mike
I love music and singing because it relaxes me. Music makes me feel free, calm, and happy. Since I was a baby, I loved to sing! Also, music has become a very important part of my life. Best of all was joining Orpheus Academy of music and having the best singing teachers in the world! ( Ms. Chelsea and Ms. Jessica)! Thank you Orpheus Academy for helping me to achieve my goals! -Jena
I chose Jena for Student of the Month because of her infectiously positive attitude and eagerness to learn and make music. She brings so much energy and enthusiasm to all her lessons and performances! Jena is incredibly open to feedback, always excited to try new challenges, and never shies away from putting in hard work! It is such a delight to work with Jena - thank you for sharing your voice! -Ms. Chelsea
I love music—it makes me happy and I enjoy stretching my voice and learning new songs! -Krishna
I am thrilled to nominate Krishna for Student of the Month! Krishna comes to every lesson very well prepared and eager to jump right in. She brings a tremendous amount of energy and focus, and she takes great initiative in spotting areas where she'd like to make improvements and practices those areas thoughtfully. As a result, she has already grown so much in our short time together! You should be very proud of the work you are doing, Krishna! Thank you for sharing your voice with the Orpheus community.
At some point, we’ve all had the experience of learning something new and wondering, “When am I ever going to use this?” Students can struggle with learning math for instance, because it isn’t always clear how those math concepts relate to their daily lives. The solution isn’t just more word problems, it’s using motivating, real-world projects to keep students engaged in a learning process that matters to them. When a student needs to use algebra to build a birdhouse for their mom, or convert measurements for a cookie recipe for their friend, they become more motivated to learn, and they're more likely to retain that knowledge and have a deeper understanding of the material.
Perhaps it’s no surprise that this same idea applies to learning music theory. Pieter, an Orpheus guitar student, has developed his understanding of music in large part by writing and experimenting with his own compositions. These original pieces give him the chance to put theories like melody, harmonization, and instrumentation into practice, and apply them to something he really cares about. Pieter’s teacher, Jesse, spoke with Pieter and his dad, David, about Pieter’s compositions and the role they have played in his musical education.
Jesse: Pieter, how long have you been playing the guitar?
Pieter: At least three years.
Jesse: What’s your favorite part of playing music?
Pieter: I suppose it’s performing.
Jesse: Does it make you feel a certain way, or do you like preparing for a big special event?
Pieter: I suppose I like showing off.
Jesse: Fair enough. You acquire a skill, you want people to see you show that skill off, so I understand that completely.
Jesse: What is your favorite kind of music to play?
Pieter: Music that I’ve played over and over and over again. Because it’s really easy for me to play.
Jesse: Yeah! Well so that means just about any style of music is fun for you to play once you feel comfortable, confident playing it?
Jesse: What first made you interested in composing music?
Pieter: I suppose it was just… I was shown it one time and I wanted to try it. I was shown a tool to make music and I suppose I just liked it.
Jesse: Is there a particular style of music or instrumentation or instrument you like composing for?
Pieter: Well, I generally compose pieces that have multiple different instruments in them actually.
Jesse: Yeah, what is it you like about that?
Pieter: Seeing how they might fit together, I suppose.
"Musical knowledge is something that a person will enjoy their entire life no matter the age. A good foundation that I can provide them now, although it involves a lot of challenge and effort on my part, is a gift that I can give my children that will last them a lifetime and give them much joy and happiness."
I always wanted to learn to play music but never had the opportunity while growing up. I don’t even know how to read music.
Many years ago, my sister-in-law suggested that it would be good for my son, who was five at the time, to take piano lessons. I jumped on the suggestion for several reasons. One being that my son enjoyed playing on our small keyboard and seemed to have an ear for music. Also, I wanted all my children to have the opportunity to learn how to play an instrument and read music since I never had the chance.
Nicholas, what motivated you to start learning and playing music? Were you inspired by your siblings?
I was motivated to start learning and playing music because all my older siblings before me played music and it seemed really fun. I also listened to music a lot.
I have seven children—ages 28, 25, 24, 22, 19, 16 and 12. They all took lessons from Wendy or another teacher at Orpheus Academy. In fact, my oldest children started with Wendy several years before she and Klondike started Orpheus Academy of Music. My kids really liked her (as well as my husband and me) so we decided to continue with her as their teacher and just make the drive to Far West Blvd when Orpheus Academy of Music opened.
My oldest children took piano lessons but when it came time for my now 22 year old son to take lessons, Wendy asked him if he wanted to try another instrument. He was super excited about the idea and chose to take classical guitar lessons. My 19 year old daughter chose to take violin lessons and the youngest two wanted to learn to play the piano.
All of my children started lessons at either age 4 or 5 (most at 5) and all continued until the end of their freshman, sophomore or during their junior year of high school. Several of my kids still like to play. My oldest child still plays a lot and every time he comes over to our house, he’ll play a number of songs. Some of my other children play occasionally. My 19 year old daughter plays the violin at church with a college group and occasionally just for fun. She was able to apply her musical knowledge to the ukulele and easily learned how to play it. My 16 year old daughter plays the piano a lot and joined her high school symphony ensemble. The youngest is still taking piano lessons at Orpheus.
Nicholas, how have your siblings supported you in your musical journey?
My siblings have supported me in my musical journey by providing me an example in which I should strive to reach.
Kathy, how do you support each of your kids’ individual musical journeys? Do they require different approaches?
I try to support my kids’ musical journeys by encouraging them, actively listening to their practice and praising their efforts and improvements. I had to support my children sometimes in different ways and with varied approaches. They all, at times, didn’t want to practice or felt like giving up 'cause it was too hard or that they were tired of it. That’s when I realized that I needed to be more attentive and involved with their practice, especially in their younger years.
With some of them, I asked them to show me how to play a piece or to teach me notes. When a child realizes they’re smarter in some areas than their mom, a sense of pride seems to take over and he/she wants to learn more. Actively watching and praising their progress is a huge motivator.
I also have to sometimes juggle other extra-curricular activities that my kids want to be involved in with piano lessons. It can be challenging especially with sports but we have always made it work. Musical knowledge is something that a person will enjoy their entire life no matter the age. A good foundation that I can provide them now, although it involves a lot of challenge and effort on my part, is a gift that I can give my children that will last them a lifetime and give them much joy and happiness.
My lessons translate to my life by teaching me to have a routine and stick to it.
Kathy, what have you learned through the process of helping your children learn music?
I have learned through the process of helping my children learn music that I must be patient with them. Like all of us, we have good days and bad, days when we’re lazy and days when we’re fired up to learn. Music lessons have taught me to be more patient, more encouraging and also how to direct and motivate my children in music lessons as well as life.
I truly enjoy hearing the music my kids play and I let them know that. It really is a big motivator and gives them a sense of pride and accomplishment.
Advice for Other Parents
My advice to parents in supporting your kids in music education is that patience and encouragement go a long way. There will be many days when your child wants to quit or do something else. I think it’s good to try other things too but don’t give up on the music lessons. Keep encouraging them and ride out the bad days because in the end, your child will thank you (mine did).
It’s so wonderful to hear my children perform. On the rare occasions that my kids try to perform together, we have so much fun and our house is filled with laughter and lots of music!
Lyla is always attentive, well-behaved and well-prepared for class. She participates in class activities with enthusiasm and musical skill. Also, Lyla always goes the extra mile for video recording projects, with great attention to detail. Lyla is a pleasure to have in class!
Aylin has been a guitar student at Orpheus for twelve years, and during that time she has participated in private lessons, group musicianship, honors guitar quartet and trio, guitar ensemble, dozens of summer camps and so much more.
But it was the arrival of our greatest challenge as a music school this past March that brought out the best in Aylin. Completely on her own, she came up with several powerful ideas that have become central to our mission at Orpheus during this pandemic. Aylin wrote to me and said, “I know that Orpheus values giving the gift of music to the community. Especially during this stressful time, I think retirement homes, for example, might need us most." And, since my entire staff was consumed with moving nearly 700 students from in-person to online instruction, Aylin took the lead in crafting what was to eventually become the Musical Postcards for Seniors initiative. This program has motivated our students to invest themselves deeply in practicing music because they know that they can submit a video that will make a difference in the lives of residents of over 750 retirement homes across the US, Canada and Australia.
In addition to starting and running the Postcards program, Aylin also started our "Practice Buddies" system -- all this while applying to college (she already has early acceptance to the UT Neuroscience Department!), keeping straight A's, and helping out with the Orpheus Guitar Ensemble. Aylin truly exemplifies what it means to be a member of this community through her own learning and service to others!
One for the Record Books
Another reason this particular concert is unique is that we have more family performances than ever before! Family music making has always been an important aspect of the Friendship Concert, but with families spending more time together, many seized the opportunity to bond through making music. It really is wonderful to see the joy of the brothers, sisters, moms, dads, and cousins who were able to connect and create with each other.
The Power of Collaboration
As students couldn't gather in-person to rehearse and perform, we relied on our wonderful teachers and staff to create a space for students to collaborate and perform together virtually. Consequently, some performances are separate recordings that were edited together. In these, one student would record their performance part and send it to their partner, who then listened and played their own part along with it. Our amazing editors then edited the separate videos together to create one, final performance.
Many students made multiple attempts and recordings before getting their performances just right, and they practiced for weeks before even getting to that step. So as we enjoy the music and celebrate the performers, know that every performance encapsulates weeks and months of hard work, trying, failing, and trying again. This is the process of learning, and the result is something truly special. Performers will remember not only their final performance, but the challenges they overcame to get there, and the togetherness and community that they shared to support them along the way.
I really enjoy learning music at Orpheus. For me, learning music is like learning a special language. As part of my lessons with Mr. Jeremy and Advanced Musicianship with Ms. Skye, I really have enjoyed learning how to compose my own songs. With help from Mr. Jeremy one of my songs “Night and Day” won second place recognition in the Doss Reflections competition this year. Thank you to Mr. Jeremy for being such a great teacher!
Kaleb has been preparing diligently for the Musical Journey and the various musical projects we have been working on. He is always very prepared for our lessons and demonstrates clear signs of progress each week. Alongside Kaleb’s hard work with the guitar and his understanding of musical concepts, his personality and attitude are at the highest level. Kaleb is very eager to be the best he can be and I believe these traits will carry him far in anything that he attempts. He is a joy to have in my studio and a remarkable member of the Orpheus community!
I love music because it fills my heart with joy. I also really enjoy listening to good tunes. Ms. Ruth is a great teacher, and I like working with her!
Alex is an extremely hard-working, dedicated student who has made great progress during the time we have worked together. I am so proud of his advances in both piano and composition! He is always well-prepared for his lessons and is always an enthusiastic participant in performance opportunities! Recently, Alex completed Musical Journey Level 2 with a beautiful CD project. Alex is a pleasure to teach and I look forward to our continued work together!
"He started learning piano this year and he has demonstrated incredible discipline and curiosity towards music. He always comes prepared and sometimes even does the extra things I did not ask him to do. He is attentive and very observant in the lesson, it is always a joy to work with him."
Tal came to me already a competent player, and I could very quickly see how I could help him become an even better all around musician. He is one of my hardest working students and I can really tell how much work he puts into practicing every single week. One of the great things about teaching Tal is that he has always had a vision of where he wants to be musically, but that does not get in the way of being open to anything I'd like for him to try to get him to where he wants to be and beyond. I look forward to every lesson with Tal not only because he comes so prepared and motivated, but also because his lessons truly challenge me to come extra prepared as both a teacher and performer to best aid him in attaining his goals.
I love my piano and voice lessons, they are fun and sometimes challenging. I feel proud of myself when I master a piece."
"He is very talented boy.
He complete his Musical Journey Test Level 3 without mistake.
Ron is taking piano and voice class as well."
“I am excited to nominate Abby as student of the month. Abby has only been taking lessons with me since August, but has made incredible improvements in her playing. When we first began, Abby struggled to use her bow effectively. Now, she is playing beautiful Detaché and Martelé strokes with ease and is on her way to becoming a true master of her bow! I always look forward to Abby’s tenacious attitude and inquisitive spirit in lessons. Thank you Abby for allowing me to guide you in your Musical Journey, and thank you to Mom, Lisa, for playing a pivotal role in Abby’s achievements as well.”