Hey, you. Yes, you, that teacher beavering away teaching people how to create music. This is a show about you and others just like you.
In Teaching Studio Stories, we visit with a music teacher each week and learn about their journey to this career and the bumps and bruises they’ve encountered along the way. This is a positive and fun space that is also not afraid to face the music. Listen and learn from other mistakes, cheer for their successes and, above all, feel part of a global community of music teachers.
You are not doing this alone. You’re not the only one who isn’t sure about every move and step and word. Join us and find your tribe.
If you love this show and you want more, try The Vibrant Music Teaching Podcast and the Colourful Keys blog. Please share your favourite episode (of either podcast!) with a teacher-friend who you think might enjoy it.
If you resonated with today’s story, then the Vibrant Music Teaching membership is probably a good fit for you too. Find out more at vibrantmusicteaching.com.
ABOUT THE HOST
Hi! My name’s Nicola Cantan and I have been teaching piano in Dublin, Ireland since 2005.
When I first started teaching, I was teaching the way I was taught. Nothing wrong with that right? It got me to where I was.
What gradually started to become more and more apparent though, was how much of music had been left out of my own piano lessons. No one had ever encouraged me to compose, taught me to play pop tunes by ear or allowed me to improvise and embellish melodies.
All I could do was play classical pieces exactly as the composer intended. (Oh, and scales. I could play lots of scales quickly and accurately in many different permutations and configurations.)
I decided this wasn’t what I wanted to pass on to the next generation.
Well, I did want to pass on this ability – but also so much more! I don’t want to throw out what’s working, but I think the standard piano lesson format could use a makeover.
What I do at Colourful Keys is to open students up to their own musical journey. What’s going to really inspire each student is going to be different. My job is to open the doors.
My students perform confidently, write their own music, play with great technique, get great exam results, and enjoy collaborating with other musicians. They play jazzy pieces & pop songs as well as the great classical masters.
This is what I call a well-rounded musical education.
It’s a big wide musical world, and I want my students to have all the tools needed to go exploring.
I went through about 13 years of music education before I knew anything about improvisation, playing from lead sheets, composing or how pop music is constructed. When I finally started learning about all these things I felt pretty cheated. Why had no one introduced me to all of this great stuff?
I don’t want to cheat my students out of anything that could help them connect with music-making.
The Joy of the Moment with Teresa Petrusma
Today we’re going to visit Teresa Petrusma in Ontario, Canada. I had the pleasure of meeting Teresa in person when I was in Canada a few years ago and she is a ray of sunshine personified. I know you’ll love this chat and that it will bring joy to your day as it did mine!
Links mentioned today…Practice Plays: https://vibrantmusicteaching.com/practice-plays/
Letting teaching take over with Roopika Bhatla
Today we’re talking to Roopika Bhatla, a piano and voice teacher in Noida, India. Roopika was one of the lucky ones who had her former teacher to guide her when she first started teaching. In this interview, she shares her lessons from preschoolers, games and so much more.
Roopika is a young pianist, teacher and owner at the Trill Piano Studio in Noida, India and has been teaching Western Classical music since 2016. Her love for music started as early as when she was 5 years old . And growing up she always had music in her life, learning the Hindustani Classical Music, being part of the school choir throughout, playing the keyboard and finally finding her love in piano. She is now preparing for her ATCL diploma. Her passion for music and teaching drove her to leave a successful corporate career and change her profession completely. She loves to teach young children and make their learning experience a joyful and memorable one! She understands the importance of music and hopes to enhance the music education system in India!
Links mentioned today…Dogs and Gates: https://vibrantmusicteaching.com/dogs-and-gates
Dedication and self-doubt with Serena Sheane
Today we’re visiting with Serena Sheane. Serena is a piano teacher based in London who is originally from Ireland so you’ll get double the Irish accents in this episode. Serena was a highly motivated student herself and we discuss the benefits and difficulties of teaching when you come from that background as well dealing with self-doubt as a younger teacher.
Before we get going I want to explain one little thing. In the first section, Serena refers to “GAA” and neither of us thought to explain it in the moment! That’s a common abbreviation here in Ireland for our local Gaelic sports.
Links mentioned today…Rhythm Railroad: https://vibrantmusicteaching.com/rhythm-railroad-1-tappers
Circle of Fifths Odyssey: https://vibrantmusicteaching.com/courses/circle-of-fifths-odyssey
Trusting your teaching gut with Heidi Vandermeersch
Today we’re visiting with Heidi Vandermeersch in Belgium. Heidi has been teaching for a long time but had to make some big pivots a few years ago when the curriculum and structure changed. I found it fascinating to learn about a music education system that is so different from the Irish one and yet still has echoes of the same conundrums we face here and I’m sure you will too.
Heidi is a 50 year old happily married mum of 4 kids between 8 and 14. She graduated in 1994 at the Lemmensinstituut (now part of “School of Arts”) in Leuven, Belgium as “Laureaat” piano and piano pedagogy. She lives in Ieper, Belgium where she teaches piano at “dé Academie”, the local music academy. She teaches around 60 students between 8 and 80. She also sings in Chorus, a local choir, and accompanies the Chorus Youth choir. In the little bit of spare time she has, she enjoys reading a good historic or romantic novel, going for a walk and cooking for the family.
You be YOU with Stephan Nance
Today we’re talking to Stephan Nance, a musician, writer, and piano teacher in Oregon. Stephan jumped head first into teaching before realising how much work is involved, an approach I think many of us, including myself, can relate to. In this interview, there are so many lessons about self-acceptance, being who you are and running your own race. You’re going to love it. If you want more from Stephan, go look up their album Look at the Harlequins! on Spotify after this. I think you’ll love that too.
Stephan’s performing credits under the name Sparkbird include multiple tours in Japan and Europe. Their album Look at the Harlequins! attracted the attention of Birding Magazine and the National Audubon Society for its abundant bird references. For their fiction, Stephan is a 2021 Lambda Literary Fellow and a 2022 Tin House YA Workshop Scholar. Stephan lives in Portland, Oregon, with their partner Adam, as well as two parrots who love to do tricks for piano students.
Links mentioned today…Rainbow Race: vibrantmusicteaching.com/rainbow-race
Piano Safari for the Older Student: https://pianosafari.com/product-category/method/older-student/level-1-older-student
Look at the Harlequins! https://open.spotify.com/album/4YRDi6Hh6rMTnkmqx4Iudx?si=Kb0_cZ4nQcaBiYQAsoyvPQ
Teaching Studio Stories Podcast Trailer
Welcome to Teaching Studio Stories, the podcast that brings you lessons and laughter from real music teachers all around the world. Each week we’ll visit with a teacher to learn about their studio and their journey with music so far. They may be young, old, experienced or brand new. They might have 5 other jobs or run a multi-teacher music school. The one thing that’s for certain is that you’ll see part of your story in theirs.
I’m your host Nicola Cantan. My membership site, Vibrant Music Teaching, helps teachers all over the world to include more games and creativity in their lessons, so that their students giggle their way through music theory and make faster progress. I also run a popular blog, Colourful Keys, where we write about creative ideas and teaching strategies and a solo podcast, The Vibrant Music Teaching Podcast where I share proven and practical tips and strategies for music teachers.
Episodes publish each Tuesday morning so tell your teaching friends that they can listen for free in any audio app that supports podcasts. Listen to the episodes to discover the teaching studio stories you didn’t know you needed to hear and hit the subscribe button so you don’t miss the next one.