Playing piano is one of my favorite things because it is fun! Playing music makes me happy, excited and relaxed. I love learning different songs, creating my own beats, and playing together with my favorite teacher Ms. Yujung.
- Zoey C.
I am happy to nominate Zoey for the Student of the Month. We’ve been working together for about a year and she’s exceeded my expectations since day one. Zoey is such a passionate student who is not only following my instructions and ideas but putting her own ideas to her music. She does not hesitate to use her imagination when we are interpreting the pieces. It’s my joy to see her bright eyes when we are discussing what this music is trying to say and how we can make it interesting.
I also appreciate her courage to perform in the performance classes even though she has a little bit of stage fright. She never gives up and works harder. She is going to give a home concert this summer and I believe she will overcome her weakness and perform beautifully. I am so proud of Zoey!
I’m so grateful that Ms. Megan chose me as the student of the month. I always enjoyed all my classes and I want to learn more about music and singing.
- Mahathi S.
I would like to nominate Mahathi for student of the month. Mahathi comes to each lesson with a positive attitude! She really enjoys working on long-form songs and songs with dancing and games. What I have found most compelling about Mahathi, though, is her curiosity. She asks many questions and really wants to understand music at a deep level. Thank you Mahathi for your curiosity and enthusiasm for music.
- Ms. Megan
I love music because it is fun and it makes me feel calm. Also, big pieces are very fun to achieve and conquer. Last but not least, Mr. Gordon is very nice and gives me awesome pieces to play.
Aarush is industrious and serious about his musical skills. He has picked out his own big musical challenges, set to them, and conquered them. He has attained a very good grasp of the workings of music and, after just a few short years, is playing impressive literature.
- Mr. Gordon
The Musical Journey, our 8-level motivational system focused on goal setting and creative expression, has just been completed for the very first time! Lukas E, an Orpheus piano student, recently finished his final project and earned his Level 8 trophy along with a $1,000 check to celebrate the achievement!
The Musical Journey is the only system of its kind that not only emphasizes each student's skills, but also their creativity. All Orpheus students are encouraged to participate in it, as it helps to create focused practice along with a great sense of accomplishment. Dr. Klondike Steadman sat down with Lukas to speak about his experience with the Musical Journey, his final project, and his time at Orpheus Academy.
Klondike: Lukas it's so great to have you here!
For all of you out there, I'm Klondike Steadman, I'm one of the owners and directors here, and we have the unique opportunity to celebrate Lukas, our first student completing all eight levels of the Musical Journey!
You know, I remember you when you were just four years old, you started lessons—you were just reminding me—in this very room. Now how old are you?
Lukas: I'm 17 now.
Klondike: 17! Wow! So, 13 years of lessons and it's been quite a ride. I can remember you in recitals where your feet wouldn't even touch the floor, and now you've gone through all of our programs.
Klondike: Tell me a little bit how music lessons have impacted you as a person over the years.
Lukas: They've provided just a really, really great opportunity for me to challenge myself mentally. So, coming here after school once a week or practicing at home every single day was just a really nice respite from sort of the academic side of school, and allowed me to express creativity in other ways that I really enjoyed.
Klondike: That's wonderful!
Klondike: You mention it's a respite, how did it help you during the pandemic? During the first year of lockdown?
Lukas: What was interesting was for a solid part of that first year I was in Japan, so I didn't actually get to play the piano for about a year. And so when I came back I sort of had to start over again, and that was hard especially without lessons at the beginning, but the more I practiced the more I realized that it was an amazing way to escape and sort of be in my own little bubble and sort of enjoy it for what it was.
Klondike: Well thanks so much for sharing that, I didn't actually know that you were in Japan during that year!
"Coming here after school once a week or practicing at home every single day was just a really nice respite from sort of the academic side of school, and allowed me to express creativity in other ways that I really enjoyed."
Klondike: Can you tell us about your experience with the Musical Journey? You've done all of these amazing projects, how did the Musical Journey impact your learning?
Lukas: Interestingly one of my favorite parts of the Musical Journey was the musicianship portion of the test. The harmonics, the rhythms, and the scales. And I feel like practicing that portion with teachers really helped all of the pieces that I would then play. So I think it was really interesting to see how the integral parts of music really express themselves in the Musical Journey and how that helped me become a better pianist.
Klondike: That's so interesting that you say that, because so many kids and parents don't understand that connection: how being a great musician, understanding how music actually works, helps you learn pieces. It seems like it would go without saying, but I think most people think it's all about putting your fingers in the right place.
Klondike: Well how does it feel having completed Level 8 of the Musical Journey?
Lukas: It feels really good! It's a little bit sad because I really enjoyed the whole "journey" portion of it, but I think it presents a new opportunity as well, where now I don't have to focus so much on the testing portions of it but more I can just apply what I've learned through the Musical Journey to new pieces that I can play. And I can find more difficult pieces and maybe spend more time on that, so I'm excited for what it will bring.
Klondike: Yeah, exactly. And I hope all the skills that you've learned along the way will make that a lot easier.
"It was really interesting to see how the integral parts of music really express themselves in the Musical Journey and how that helped me become a better pianist."
Klondike: So Lukas, for your Level 8 project, you made a website that will help you promote yourself professionally as a pianist. Can you tell me a little bit about that process?
Lukas: So at first, one of the more difficult parts about it was figuring out what sort of writing element I was going to incorporate into the website. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that really I could expand a lot on that and provide not only background about my personal self, but also about myself as a musician, or other interests I had, or what I hope to do with my musicianship in the future.
And so thinking about all that, I then decided to add a couple clips of myself playing the piano as sort of an example. I had just finished learning a Chopin Prelude that I really wanted to include on my website. And I tried maybe 10 or 15 times to record an accurate or nice version of this prelude, and struggled to each time. And so I finally ended up using one that— I got home from school and I decided, "You know what, I'm going to record it once and I'm going to be happy with it and that's what I'm going to put on there." And I did and it was, in my opinion, the best time I've ever played it, so I was really glad to have done that.
Klondike: You know, you touch on having to try and try and try again. I don't think a lot of people out there realize that that's a reason that we have these projects. Because any time you record yourself, you're going to notice the things that you didn't like about your playing, and there's literally no better way to get better at anything than to watch yourself struggling, and then focus on the thing that you're having trouble with and then try it again and try it again.
Well I think it's awesome that you made this website. There's so many people who need music in their lives, and having that website up there is going to help you connect with them in really wonderful ways.
Klondike: Do you have any favorite memories of Orpheus that you wanted to share?
Lukas: A couple of my favorites were, first of all— every day that I came to Ms. Christine's lessons after school, I would sit outside and wait for my sister Adeline to finish her lessons. And during that time there was a very nice gentleman just across the hall in that room over there, who was practicing—I don't remember with what teacher—but he would play a piece and I would hear it and really enjoy it. And every Thursday I guess it was, he would come out and ask for one person to come sit in on 10 minutes of his lesson or so. And so for maybe three or four months I would come and listen to him play and improve on that piece every single week, and it was really, really impressive. And that stuck with me a lot.
Klondike: I never knew that! I'll have to look at the schedule and see who was taking lessons at the same time as you back then. But I think that kind of gets at our community vision. The reason that Wendy, my wife, and I started this business was that we've always felt like teaching out of your home— students don't get to hear other students. And when they can hear other people they get inspired by that. That's really great.
Klondike: Do you have any advice to other people who are going through the Musical Journey, about how they can get the most out of it?
Lukas: So I would say, don't just look to getting to the very end of it. Even though it seems like a long journey, appreciate all of the individual steps and everything that you learn through it because that's really what will help you become a better musician.
Klondike: Well I definitely am so excited to be presenting you with the Level 8 trophy and a $1,000 check to help with your studies as you project into the future. I know that this is going to be true for you because I know how much you love music, but hopefully this is just the start of a new musical journey for you to take music out into the world.
Lukas: Thank you very much.
Klondike: So here's the Level 8 trophy and a $1,000 check!
Lukas: Thank you!
Klondike: Thank you Lukas.
Klondike: And to everybody else out there, I just hope that you will invest yourself the way Lukas has in building your skills, doing amazing projects, transforming the world, and bringing joy to everybody through your music. Thank you so much to everybody participating in this Musical Journey!
I love music because music is fun and I like to try new songs.
- Bodhi M.
I can’t keep up with Bodhi these days with how fast he has been learning songs. He’s been having so much fun in our lessons and wants to learn every song he can’t get his hands on. I’m really proud of him for the energy he brings to learning violin and I’m impressed with the length of songs he can learn for his age. Bodhi is young but he’s not afraid of a challenge, he’ll ask me weekly for songs above his level and we’ll try them out not getting discouraged along the way. Even though he’s always hungry for new music he really cares that he learns his songs well and goes back and plays his old favorites. I’m very excited to nominate Bodhi for student of the month and to celebrate the progress he’s been making lately in our lessons.
- Mr. Ernesto
Music has been such an important part of my life. It helps me let go of any worries I have, and it makes me feel at peace with myself. I hope that I will always be able to say that for the rest of my life!
- Krishna H.
Krishna has a passion and enthusiasm for music that is infectious! He puts the same focused energy into his singing that he does into everything else he pursues (from his honors courses, to swim team, to Latin competitions), and as a result, he has cultivated a really disciplined approach to practicing. In our lessons, he is thoughtful and nuanced in his self-evaluations, and he takes great initiative to research and pick out new repertoire that he is excited about. As a performer, Krishna puts himself fully out there and isn't afraid to try new things or show vulnerability in his acting & singing. His openness to feedback and sense of humor make lessons fruitful and so fun! Thank you for sharing your voice with the Orpheus community!
- Ms. Chelsea
It has been a pleasure working with Lux this past year, and her hard work has paid off with this great video concert project!
Watch on YouTube
"I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas" by John Rox
"Following the Leader" from "Peter Pan" - Music by Oliver Wallace, Lyrics by Winston Hibler and Ted Sears
"Do You Want to Build a Snowman" from "Frozen" - Music and Lyrics by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez
"Be Kind to Your Parents" from "Fanny" - Music and Lyrics by Harold Rome
An album of piano music by Sebastian. We're so proud of Sebastian for all his hard work on this CD!
I love music for the different ways it makes me and others feel. Playing guitar helps me feel calm when I'm stressed and happy when i'm rocking a song like AC/DC or Metallica. I really enjoy playing music with my friends and how we can shred together, have fun and play all different types of music even though we all play different instruments. Music brings us all together.
I'd like to nominate Reid for "Student of the Month". He has been taking two lessons a week for the last couple years, and has shown much enthusiasm and dedication to the guitar. He has mastered some tricky triad exercises and worked very hard to memorize the names of the notes on the fretboard. In the last few months he has made big strides in becoming a more independent musician and practicer, and he's already enjoying the results in his new pieces. Stay tuned, as Reid has an upcoming performance of Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven" AND Arietta by Kuffner!
- Mr. Stephen
I have been learning piano for more than three years now and I have so many amazing memories. I love music because it makes me feel relaxed and calm. At Orpheus, I love playing music with others during concerts and recitals. Thank you Miss Valeria for always motivating me. I hope one day I can play as good as you do!
Raina has improved so much over the last months, we currently are continuing with the virtual lessons and it works very well. She is a very good listener, and carefully follows directions in order to practice her assignments in an effective way. Recently, we are focused on learning more complex rhythms and she is nailing them!
- Ms. Valeria
Summer break never seems to last quite long enough, and many of our students are already planning ahead to make the most of it! In addition to Orpheus Academy's lessons and fun summer camps, extra summer free time means more exciting opportunities to share and appreciate music. We asked a series of "Would You Rather?" questions to help our students consider different ways to experience the joy of music this summer, so read on to discover what they had to say!
Would you rather...
The choice was clear for Lyla, who would much rather form a summer band with friends. She says, "I love hanging out with them so much," and would "enjoy it much more than playing alone."
River had a different take, and preferred the idea of only playing music alone for the summer, as according to him, "I mostly only play alone anyways."
Kai's friends clearly bring him joy, as he chose the option in which "I get to play music with my friends and I get to see them."
Amelia believes only playing music alone would be "totally better" and summarized why in just one word: "CALM."
Dave too thinks he would rather play solo for the summer. He currently finds it "hard to play with other people" as he "gets lost."
Abby had a very sweet response to the question, and would rather play in a summer band "because life is a beautiful melody" and "friends make it special."
Daniel considered the choices quite practically, and decided that only playing music with his band wouldn't work for him "because I wouldn't be able to play songs without them," and he would "lose his skills."
Kajiri had a similar thought process as Daniel, and chose the solo option for the sake of consistency: "so I can play all the time."
Aarush definitely appreciates being around friends, and chose the group option. In his own words, "it's better to be together FOREVER."
Arthi also picked only playing music with a summer band of friends, "because I think that hanging out and playing music with friends is more fun than just playing music by myself."
"Because I would be with my friends" is reason enough for Rishi to prefer the summer band option!
Samuel thinks only being able to play music with friends would simply "be more fun."
Would you rather:
Listening to songs around the campfire was the obvious answer for Zoey, who has "very sensitive ears" and therefore thinks that "maybe a big outdoor concert isn't the best." Zoe also believes a campfire setting would be fitting as "listening to songs is peaceful and relaxing."
Kyon chose to enjoy music at the campfire simply "because it is more fun!"
River thinks there would be "too many people" at a big outdoor concert, and at a "campfire I'd probably be with friends."
Aarush would "really like to be in a big concert."
Daniel also would prefer a big concert over a campfire. According to him: "because I don't know if people would be at the campfire and maybe they have something else to do."
Kajiri thought about the choices in relation to what she already currently likes to do, and picked listening to songs around the campfire as "I'm in girl scouts."
Would you rather:
Moukthika values originality, and would rather compose the music for a summer blockbuster movie because "you would have the opportunity to create something your own."
Daniel thinks the recognition that would come with composing for a movie would be great, "because everybody would see me and I would be famous." In addition to the original score he would create, he also would want to incorporate the song "Seven Nation Army" into the soundtrack.
Marc already has a vision in mind for the music he would write for a movie's original score: "suspenseful music."
Nicco went with creating a playlist for a big beach party as he believes it would would come with "more freedom," but he would still incorporate some of his own original pieces with "music I make on my keyboard."
Location is the name of the game for Corban, who would prefer creating the playlist for a beach party "because I would get to go the beach." Among Corban's rocking playlist, "Ode to Joy" would be featured.
Mira thinks "writing music for a movie would be more important and get more recognition."
Lillian chose to make the music for a movie, and seems to have a very specific kind of scene in mind that she'd like to compose for: "so I can write music for when the main character falls off a cliff."
Aura isn't quite sure what kind of music she would incorporate, but would rather create a playlist for a big beach party "because you get to play more music!"
Kajiri had an easy decision to make, and picked the option that would allow her to go to the beach! She would definitely put "Rainbow Unicorn Unicorn" on her beach party playlist.
Audrey didn't seem to know what a summer blockbuster movie is, but would make sure her beach party was keeping in theme with the location by making a playlist of "beach music."
Avanthika S. K.
Avanthika thinks creating a beach party playlist would "be more fun" and would put less pressure on her as well. She "would make/add tropical music, that's kind of Hawaiian maybe."
Anushka thinks piano music would be fitting for a beach party, and says she would prefer to make a playlist "because I like the beach."
Eleanor recognizes the difficulty in composing music, and would instead rather create a playlist for a big beach party "because it is easier." She would ensure that it was a swanky party though by utilizing "jazz."
Would you rather...
Sofia would prefer to perform music at a backyard barbecue "because people enjoy music while they eat." She would play "Spanish Caballero," a fun and lively piece!
Anya chose to perform music at a pool party, and the reason is simple: "I like parties!" She also says that "See Saw" would be among the songs she plays. In a later answer to the same question, Anya again picked performing at a pool party, for a similar reason: "I like pools!" This time she added "Ode to Joy" to the rotation.
Shuyao appreciates the more contained and personal nature of a backyard barbecue, and explains that it is "because I get to see my friends." Shuyao would perform "O Come Little Children" for those in attendance. Shuyao responded a second time to the question and said he would also play "Go Tell Aunt Rhody."
Although it might interfere a bit with her music, Kajiri would rather perform at a pool party "because I like to play in the pool." Among the songs she would play: "Bee Bee," "Queen Queen," and "Doggie Doggie."
Daniel had a hard time deciding and ultimately selected both options "because I like for people to hear how I play." He would also bring a good variety to the songs he performed, including Bach and "Seven Nation Army" by The White Stripes.
Anya prefers swimming to eating barbecue, and would play "Lean On Me," "This Is Your Time," and the bagpipes!
Guatham isn't one to be distracted easily, and would perform music at a pool party as "there would be water splashing on me when I am playing." He would also keep the party going by playing "longer songs."
Samuel enjoys a pool party more than a simple backyard get-together (even if there is food involved), and would play "Variations on a Theme of Corelli."
Ethan thinks a pool party "would be joyful to play" at, and would include songs like "Party in the U.S.A." and "Surfin' USA" for his performance.
Ana "doesn't do backyard barbecues sadly," so instead would play "Gaston" at a pool party.
On January 23, 2021 Dylan performed a home concert which included folk songs, and classical pieces.
"I am so very proud of Dylan for all the hard work that went into this huge accomplishment at her young age. Congrats, Dylan! Looking forward to many more." —Chelsea DeLorenz, Voice Teacher
On October 14, 2017, Natalie D., Nadia H., and Aubrey T. performed a joint public concert at the Blackerby Recital Hall. They performed a selection of songs from musical theatre, as well as folk songs.
I love music because each note is rhythmic. I love to sing along to songs like "The Let Go" by Ellie King and "Roar" by Katy Perry. I love playing music because everyone is unique and so is every instrument.
I would like to nominate Olivia. Although Olivia has just started playing the violin, she has worked hard to develop great posture and a textbook bow hand shape! She is always curious in lessons, practices regularly, and is developing a keen musical ear. I’m proud to have her in my studio!!
- Ms. Mackenzie
I like music because it is fun and entertaining. I told my mom I want to play violin in the future, and she told me to start small. She encouraged me to start with piano. After learning for months, I found it was pretty fun. I got to learn different types of music and dances. I could also play the piano while my sister dances or sings! Piano started my interests in music. I enjoy playing with my family and friends to share the joy. I can use the piano to create music and it is a very unique skill.
I nominate Angelina to be the student of May for my studio. For the past two years while all the lessons were held through Zoom, Angelina still stayed very passionate about music, very engaged in the lesson, practiced hard, and played well in every performance class. She also helped her little sister, Anna, who just started taking piano lessons a little more than a year ago, to practice at home. Angelina received the highest rating and was invited to play in the Honored Recital for ADMTA (Austin District Music Teacher Association) music festival this past March. The judge was particularly impressed with her cheerful personality and introduction for the pieces and said, "made me anxious to hear your performance." This is her first time playing for the festival and she received such great feedback. I'm really proud of her.
- Ms. Joyce
I love playing piano because, I like YOU my piano teacher, I also like piano because, I like every song I play on the piano.
Serena is a very talented and hard-working pianist. She is always motivated to read new pieces every week. Moreover, she has participated in many performance opportunities this semester. Discipline is the key to be successful in playing piano! I’m so proud of you Serena.
- Mr. William
I like music because it is a form of art where you can freely express yourself, kind of like drawing which is my favorite hobby.
I would like to nominate my student Audrey for student of the month. She has made unbelievable progress both during the pandemic and now that we are back in person. What amazes me about Audrey is how intensely focused and deeply expressive she is with her playing. One of the hardest things to do on guitar is to maintain your awareness of all the technical details required to modulate the tone or the dynamics while still being aware of where you are in the piece and hitting all the right notes. When Audrey can't get that right away I always ask her what would make it easier and she says "lots and lots of practice." - and she does it!
- Mr. Klondike