Conversation with private music teachers

Welcome to within the musician podcast. This show is a place of discovery for all students, performers, educators, and future educators. My name is Monica Williams. I’m a flutist teaching artists recording artists performer and lifelong learner. Join me this week as we discuss a very interesting topic. on this show. I usually just have one guest at a time, but today have two other private music teachers. Let me say first, this episode was only planned a couple of days ago, after lots of thought on my part about the events and difficulties and the rewarding experiences that happens out of conversations that happened with students in 2020. And, you know, the final kicker was last week for the siege of the building, and now we have the inauguration. And like many teachers on that day, I was teaching students during as it develops, and there was questions. And this happens as well with the Black Lives Matter protest the heated election and the ongoing developments of COVID. The isolation students felt cancellation of graduations canceled concerts canceled vacations canceled lots of things and the challenges with virtual school learning that students were facing. As private music instructors, we have a really unique position. Our instruction is completely individualized. As creative instructors, we teach the whole musician, which is more than tone, technique, rhythm or theory. It’s a major part of it. But often our job is to find out how a student’s week what, what challenges did they have during that week, what breakthroughs musically? Did they have that week? How are they enjoying or connecting to the music? And how can we help them strategize? So next week is better. With all this going on, it’s nearly impossible to avoid the conversations with some students, especially the older ones. It would be like avoiding an elephant in the room if I just went on to have a student play scales without addressing how they were and how their week was. And we have to take into factors of how the world is. As private instructors, we may be the only adults that get that one on one time with them outside of their parents. Back on episodes do this to students tell all I had many of my students come on the podcast and voice their feelings. They all thought their teachers were awesome. But they felt less seen and heard. They felt often like they were just a square on zoom. Some of them thought that their teachers might not even recognize them outside of class if they were on the street and didn’t know even how to say their name correctly. So the purpose of today’s episode is to have a discussion with other teachers about how we can have some of these conversations. It’s kind of like there’s an art to conversation as well. And we’re all creative thinkers. We want to investigate how much of our personal views to share with students because we want free thinkers. We also want students that have a really high ethics and feel secure. So we’re going to share some stories about this time, and come up with ideas on how we can better help students to use music to overcome these difficult times and investigate ways that we can even become better teachers as we go through and navigate these Uncharted times. So I am going to have the two teachers that I brought on introduce themselves, tell us a little bit about yourself, where you teach what you teach, and anything that you feel pertinent. Steven, you want to go first.SESteven Evans3:52Sure, so my name is Steven Evans, and I am a cello and piano teacher. I work at the Center for Community Arts in Walnut Creek, California. And I’ve been teaching, I think 35 or 40 years now. So it’s been a while. And, you know, with as regards to my teaching style, I like to keep things very fun and light hearted but I also believe that there’s a lot to be gained with, you know, working hard. So I try to get the students interested in working to achieve a goal, whether that be you know, they want to do a certificate kind of program something like that, or if they just want to, you know, get better at their instrument, you know, and I’m always looking at what does this particular student need, you know, what did what do they want to workMWMonica Williams4:45on? You know, I love that that individual thing and, and I think a sense of accomplishment and a sense of growth during this period where like every day is like the same was whatever students say like every day bleeds into one another Other and so if you can measure your your success with those certificate programs and recitals and stuff, I think that helps the mindset as well.SESteven Evans5:08I’m sorry.MWMonica Williams5:09Yeah, yeah. I Rena, tell us about yourself.IFIrina Fatykhova5:15Hi, guys. My name is Irina McGill. And I was born in Russia. And I graduated from Moscow Conservatory playing violin and piano. And after that, I was invited by one of the universities in the United States to do the master’s degree. So I moved to the United States about, let’s say, 13 ish years ago, and ended up being in Chicago. So which is really, really snowing today. So it’s very different, I guess from California right now. So it’s, yeah, it’s a very snowy day to day, so very white, that probably some kids speaking of kids, right, so they’re really was waiting for the snow today. I taught for have been teaching for many years, probably around 20, or something years, and I teach both violin and piano. I have studio in Chicago, as well as I’m a founder and owner of the I play music school that based in Chicago, but we also obviously offering lots of lessons online. So we have different teachers, we have different instruments. So I have to manage not only myself, not only my studio directly, but also lots of other children that belong to the school and to other teachers and to speak to them and to basically be a little bit more open. And more wide, was right variety of the problems that we face right now.MWMonica Williams6:51Awesome. So I read it. So are you you’re different than region than we are California is very much on lockdown. Are you teaching in person yet? Or is it all online, and your teachers that because it’s your work at a school.IFConfirming Speaker…7:05So basically, we are in love to teach in person. Personally, I didn’t switch back. So the difference between me and other teachers probably was, in general, because my students exists in about for about 10 years in Chicago, and most of my students are with me for all this time. So some of my students being five and a half right now we’re in, you know, growing mastitis and dating other girls. So they’re close to 16 right now. So I’ve been with them for a long time. And the idea is that switching to online for them with knowing me and us know each other in our style, right? My style of teaching, so it was not so different and so difficult for them. But yeah, so lots of teachers prefer to teach in person. And thank God, we actually allowed to do that. But I always ask parents, and I always ask my teachers if they feel comfortable about this. But yes, we can do that. So some people they teach in personal radio here in Chicago. So I personally did not go back to, to in person to check yet.MWMonica Williams8:22Yes, you bring up a good point I ran. And this is something that I had thought of, too, is that we often have an ongoing relationship with students for many, many years. Right? So that’s there, it’s not new to them. It’s not like this year, when they started their virtual learning in school. A lot of the they don’t even know their teachers. I mean, they’ve never seen them in person. So I think there is a connection that’s maybe a little stronger with private teachers that have had long engagements with students versus people that are just getting new students through the school programs, because I feel like I have a very strong connection. That’s kind of what you’re saying is there’s a long, strong connection. So the internet online thing is a little bit of an easier transition. And it’s working a lot better than I thought if you asked me eight months ago, nine months, 10 months ago, now I Oh, gosh, 10 months ago, if this would work, I think I would have like, you know, that said You’re crazy. But um, it really has it really has for the for the online working. So my next question is about COVID. So I mean, it’s dominating the news and that, you know, we’re all in here. Personally, I’ve you know, we’ve had some conversations with students you don’t want to focus on on that, but it’s hard to ignore, as I said, the fact that we are going through this pandemic, has any of your students expressed fear or concern and were you able to reassure them in any way, Steven?SESteven Evans9:57Yeah. You know, it’s a really valid thing I definitely have noticed, with some students as we’ve gone along, you know, we’re in what the ninth month of this, you know, that, that it’s if there’s a fatigue with, you know, and when will we ever be able to get back to this and, etc. And, and that’s definitely draining. So I do have conversations with students about it, basically, I just try to come from look, hang in there, you know, someday soon we’re going to get back to it. I’ve also been doing a lot of, you know, kind of, I guess, confidence building, just trying to keep them, you know, look, music is what we can work on music is what can kind of help us through this. Music is very consoling, a lot of times. And so I think it’s really, really good to keep them at that. And then I noticed with them, so I have a cello ensemble, and we have been allowed to be in person. And many of my students have said, Yes, outdoors, were, one of the difficulties is very far apart. Yeah, we have to keep the minimum six feet between each other. So it could ensemble kickin a little sketchy sometimes. But every student that I’ve talked to about it says, that’s my one social activity for the week, and they, they are so excited to go there. And I love that, you know, that they’re, they’re able to really feel that enthusiasm for, you know, it’s something that, you know, something like that means any way and when they’ve got it, and it’s by what time out today, you know, then they, they’re really happy to be there. So that’s, that’s been a good a positive thing. On the other hand, I have had lots of students saying things like, you know, I’m losing sleep, or I sleep at funny hours, because I don’t, I can basically stay in my bed and do my classes through school, you know, so there’s definitely a kind of a, I don’t know what the word would be. But it’s it’s a little bit starting to go to a dangerous territory, I think where, you know, where’s your Where’s your will to live and enthusiasm and things. So I always try to with those students, I try to just, you know, help them. Maybe cheer up is the best way I could say that,MWMonica Williams12:16you know, something that resonated with me. And it reminded me of a conversation I had on an earlier episode with a mental health professional Tony, last weekend. And she’s we’re talking about the uncertainty of this whole thing. And she mentioned that just having focusing on the things that you can control is very helpful to your mental health. Because there’s so much we can’t control. There’s so much we can’t control but you can control when you pull up an instrument and use that as an experience to help soothe yourself, you can control your progress on it, you can, you know, have that in your life. That’s something that’s not necessarily taken away right now, because a lot was taken away from from students at this time, at least temporarily. So that that that resonates with me. Yeah, I read now, what’s your thoughts on this?IFConfirming Speaker…13:09Well, I agree with lots of things that you guys say it just maybe because in Chicago, we’re not so much strict so badly. And lots of schools continue, at least maybe partially online, in person. So not all of the kids were really distanced so so much, but yes, I had I had several kids that either completely had to stop taking music lessons because of the amount of time to spend on line. And that unfortunately goes mostly to the younger children that just starting just to start a line right away was not so No, it was not so easy for some of them, right just to start music lessons, but at the same time Even kids that were in music and person in have to switch especially at the very beginning, the very beginning of this pandemic when it’s it’s went from normal as we used to say right to your life to completely over the screen life and for little children to go from maybe sometimes allowed to have 30 minutes of cartoons or some other stuff games on the screen to eight hours into add to that right away the another activity like music lessons, even though we like it that we actually can do that for life, right. So lots of things kids have to cut off completely like soccer team or baseball or some other sports or other key activities. So remember lucky that we can get to that with with kids. We still continue to teach them. Some kids could not do that really well right so they could not manage that. Some kids that stayed and continued to do online lessons. Yes, they they were saying, well, we’ll read a spend eight hours on the screen we’ll read you’re looking at the teacher who really trying to do it difficult. So what I usually say, yes, guys, I know, it’s difficult times right now, I don’t think it’s easy to anyone, adult or a child or anyone, right? or elderly people that can even leave their house right now for anything they shouldn’t, because it’s kind of dangerous even go to the grocery store right now. So but think, at the same time, how music can help you what’s happening in between the lessons in between the screen time that we have, you have to practice, right without practicing, we can get too far away. So it’s, it’s probably you will be you know, getting better a little bit. But this really got to be a little by little. So without practicing the without the effort will not go so far. So what’s happening when you practice? Do you use the screen? No, this is the activity. That’s that’s something that is no screen time, something that you can use to actually switch from the screen to something non screen not only something that you can do as if you’re in person, right. So that’s something that should, and I think it helps through through this times for all my students.MWMonica Williams16:26Yeah, completely agree. And it’s to your point that, you know, that there is it’s true that you have a half hour, 45 minutes, hour, whatever you have, but it’s a very different experience than I think some of their virtual learning that is a big fatigue right now, because it’s one on one because they can ask questions at any time, rather than having to put in the chat box or like, you know, or you know, it’s a different experience, I think school in person. And you know what I’m talking about, like all grades that, you know, when you can see other kids, you can pass notes, you can raise your hands, as one of my students said in the virtual class that, you know, she could run into her teachers at lunch and ask questions that way. And it’s a completely different experience, because of those interactions, where what we’re doing privately is literally just a back and forth response. And to your point, I love that I read that, that there is a whole seven days between now and then. And it’s true, there’s not a whole lot that you can do that’s nonvirtual music, however, you know, you can use some technology to help but is is very individualized, personalized away from the screen. So that’s a good point to parents, because I think that that there is a fear of starting anything new, especially online when students have so much. And I get it, I totally get it. But that’s another viewpoint. Another way to kind of look at the situation is you’re looking for activities to help with a mental health of your kids is just including something that’s artistic, you know, and that could be I mean, I private lessons were great. Some of my students are doing great artwork, you know, like art lessons, that’s also helpful dance, you know, any of those things at any of the arts, essentially, to help with that. One thing that I tell my students is we’re trying to navigate the isolation is, is to use music as part of their mental health routine and something physical, so something physical, something artistic to help with their day. And I’ve no, I think that at least for me, my students, there is COVID fatigue. And there’s just like, I’m hearing lots of things like, you know, I’m so tired, like you mentioned, Steven sleeping at, you know, kind of erratic hours. And I’m just trying to get my students, one of the things I did is just to have a practicing streak for 2021, meaning, I don’t care how long you practice, just connect with your instrument, do something with it, so that you have a connection to that artistic thing. And for me, I do flute so it’s breathing, right. So it could just literally be a long tone exercise where you’re breathing into the flute and using it as a breath awareness and connecting to the sounds. And if that’s all you feel like doing afterwards, you’ve you’ve done something, hopefully, you’ll be inspired to, like, you know, practice a little bit more, but the idea of just using it as a mental health aspect, I think because it is it’s a hard time and I think as we go this me personally, as we get into month 10 I’ve noticed more of that this last month is just this, like really fatigue. I think that at least in California, we were thinking that January, mid January, students will be getting back to school and I think my students have just realized that they may not be going back, you know, we don’t know, we don’t know, they might not be going back seniors this year, might not be having prom again, you know, we don’t know you know, it’s not like they can plan for that. Their senior projects in which they usually get mentorship has to be done completely online. You know, the there’s things that we didn’t think would be really happening I didn’t think would be happening at this point. And it’s now a real As we hit a new year 2021 that that might be a realization. So let’s talk about 2021. I love this as I think about this idea. I was at the end of the year of teaching online, and I told the students like, you know, just next week, I’ll see you next year we 2021 isn’t that great word 2020 is behind us. And she said, I hate to burst your bubble, but nothing is going to be different next week. I was like, oh, yo, you’re hutterite. But like, could we like imagine this? And then, of course, January 6 happen. And I was teaching that day, the stage on the Capitol, I’m like, are you kidding me six days into 2021. And there’s, you know, craziness. I remember, I was like, literally teaching that day as a student. And they were checking in Have you heard What’s going on? Have you seen this? And and it was, of course, you have to talk about it? Because they’re, they’re bringing it up? That’s part of private teaching. Right. And so you do you do try incorporated into a little bit musically, but and trying to reassure them that everything is fine. We’re not, you know, civil war is not imminent, says one of my students was like, you know, suggesting, how do you handle the let’s talk about the political climate, the political climate? Black Lives Matter? Also, with teaching, though, that a lot of those times is there in the conversations, especially I’m thinking my high school students and adult students do but high school students?MWMonica Williams21:25You know, do you include those into your teaching? And why or why not? arena? You want to go on this one? thoughts on this?IFConfirming Speaker…21:35Sure. Well, I’m not so big on politics, so much, right. So as a music teacher, I’m trying to concentrate on music mostly. And if my students try to maybe start conversation like that, so I feel they have already a lot, a lot of that on TV, a lot of that around a lot of that online, a lot of that there appears right? They talk about themselves. And I try not to be we go too much into that, except for, as you said, read Monica, that I like the point that you just want to reassure that it’s going to be alright, I guess that’s something that I will tell them, guys, it’s going to be all right, we’re going to be fine. It’s 2021. And we will be fine. So we will get through that the country or the entire universes now is getting through the stage where it’s the world pandemic that we were faced, unexpectedly? No, but I didn’t believe that’s going to happen. Right at the end of last February, I went just for a couple of days to Florida. And I remember standing there in the teachers thinking, no, no, no, it’s not gonna be like that thinking to figure something out. It’s not it’s Guess what, like, couple of days later, just all was locked out completely. Right. So the same here, we probably were not prepared for some of this things that happen. But I try not to go too far work conversation with students about that. So I try to think this way that predicts most of the time, they try to separate people’s views to separate peoples from each other, rather than music we should use to unify people to bring them together to think as one whole, it doesn’t matter where you live, you live in Japan or you even pressure or you live in the United States. Music can bring us together music can be something that actually unify us as the whole as the universe. And for that reason, one of the reasons why in I play music school, we’re actually offering lessons in different languages, which are, which I think something that support my opinion about bringing people together and unify them. So we offer lessons in Spanish will for lessons in Japan, Japanese, in Chinese in Russian in Ukrainian and polish. So you want to learn how to sing in Spanish right away? No, probably want to take a cello lesson in Chinese. No problem, right? So that’s I think even getting even broader the idea of bringing people together through the music and to help all of us to get through all those difficult times.MWMonica Williams24:27Yeah, and I love the first of all, it’s awesome that you offer lessons in so many instruments. And by the way, if you’re interested in and learning more about iryna or Steven, I’m going to link their websites in the Episode Notes. So feel free to check that out if you don’t have a pencil and paper right now. But I wanted one thing you said about the universal language. I love that idea. I sometimes tell my students that, you know, when the spaceship was up and they were looking for extra life, they put mathematics and Onboard if the case they encountered a foreign, you know, alien so that they can communicate because it is a communication. So I love the idea that music is a universal language into unites people. But that’s a conversation in and of itself, which is that pollute politics divide. I mean, I think that’s a beautiful way of bringing in conversation, politics divide, and music is to unite. And there’s a lot that’s hard right now. But, you know, we’re going to use our music and work on bringing unison into the world rather than division. And you know that. So that’s a great way of, you know, not bringing your own personal views into it. But but still acknowledging and I think that that’s the point acknowledging that there’s a situation in the world and, and how to bring it about, I think that’s beautiful arena. Steven, what do you think?SESteven Evans25:52I love it. And, you know, it’s interesting, I mean, maybe think of a conductor that I had worked with years and years and years ago, in an orchestra. And he used to say, this sort of preface to every rehearsal was, what other occupation, would you find 75 people come together, in order to agree upon something, we’re going to set aside all of our sort of personal differences and things, but we’re going to make music and the music will unify us and the best music is when and we know, this is orchestra players, the best music making is when we’re really all there in the same page, you know, we’re all, whatever piece we’re playing, we’re playing it so beautifully, that we love it. And I’m, I think I’m very similar to what evina said about politics. I try not to, like, I don’t start a conversation on that, but I will definitely talk with a student about it. And I feel like, you know, the students sometimes need to just get an opinion about it, or they need to get, and I think it right now, it’s very important for them to get a reassurance that you know, it’s gonna be okay. And I think sometimes I use, you know, I grew up during, like, Watergate, and all these upheavals that were happening back in the 70s. And I think I’ll tell them about that and say, you know, look, we survived that. Yeah, you know, it’s not pretty when it’s happening, and it gets chaotic. And there’s all this stuff flying around. And sometimes you don’t even know what to believe. You know, there’s a news report about this, and then about this, and about this. And so I tell them, just somehow disengage a little bit from it, and try to take a step back before you freak out, you know. And the other thing that I’ve been doing is I’ve been with my cello students, I’ve been telling them, Look, you all know, Bach cello suites play what it’ll help you, you know, play a Bach Cello Suite, it’ll calm you down. And it’s really like Monica, what you were saying, it’s that music, mental therapy, you know, that you can really, really help yourself get and your mental state by, by playing with, with some of my students, too, I’m always trying to be sensitive to the fact that their parents may have political viewpoints that they’re telling the kids so I’m not trying to, you know, say, raise my own flag with my students and say, yeah, this is how you should believe, but rather I try to, you know, just kind of help them out. And balance things. You know. And and I think that music is such a great tool for that you didn’t and I love that universality of it. And you don’t, you don’t need to speak a particular language to appreciate Beethoven or Mozart or anybody, you know, it’s there, you know?

28:45Yeah, IMWMonica Williams28:46like that. And you said one thing, and this is a great point to bring up is history, because I know you’re an awesome music teacher history teacher as well, is that historically, there have been conflicts, and yet, we have overcome those conflicts. So I like that I really liked that idea is that’s just that’s just factual. There was tension. I lived through it, and it got better. And it’s really hard right now, but it will get better. So I think that that’s a great way to bring dialogue in any probably historically, you could bring you know, music, relativity. You can bring it in. I love that idea. those are those are beautiful ideas. Me personally, I don’t initiate conversations too much. Although they sometimes tend to come up sometimes when I just asked about how their week was. I try not to interject my political vote until this last year. I put very, very little on my social media. A lot of my students follow me on social media. And I did put my voice in a little bit and I felt strongly about it this last year because you know, to be honest, like Republican, Democrat, independent, I would choose another party if I could, if I could vote a different party right now. But I think had to say something when the you know, the George Floyd happens, you know, I put the black square on my, on my social media. And I and I thought I debated that for a second because I don’t want to take away people’s free thinking I want my students to be free thinkers. So at the same time I wanted, I wanted everyone who supported me, through my recorded music and my students and family and friends to know that I didn’t think what was going on was okay. I never believe in violence of any kind of not anything like that. So I don’t believe that, you know, got way out of hand with the, with the riots and protests, and I and I let that be known to there’s never, there’s never a reason for violence of anyone. But it did bring a good point I’m gonna bring into like the, there was a musician that I was in youth orchestra, he was actually he graduated a little bit ahead of me and was study with my teacher, and he put in an art and a, an article. And it just like made me stop in my shoes. He is now sitting principal in a major orchestra. And he teaches at one of the major conservatories as as one of that, and he said, as a black man, I have to wear two different shoes, even though I’ve gotten to this prestige. And I’ve done all this work, because we know it takes so much work to get to be a principal position of a major orchestra. And he said I, you know, I can wear a hoodie in the conservatory and teach. But I don’t wear that same hoodie. When I go into the gas station, I make sure my hands are out. When I go to buy something from the clerk, I make sure my hands are always visible, because these are the lessons I had to learn as I was growing up, and I was like, Wow, that is amazing that there’s that difference. And so I wanted to make that known that that wasn’t okay, that’s that’s not okay, the we got to we got to do better. And as artists, you know, we have to acknowledge that that’s a part of the emotional connection. So it puts the buck square. And in, you know, if it came up, I did let I did let my viewpoints known because it’s not, to me, that’s not a political issue anymore. That’s a human rights issue. And we have to do better I tried, you know, to do some music, or involve some music that was, you know, more from people of color. There’s, you know, a lot of contemporary great people of color work. So I did find Scott Joplin. And, you know, we did some of that, you know, we tried to I tried to bring in some awareness to just living and nonliving. Artists, did you guys do anything like that? Did you find any music that you could bring into this that would kind of help students?SESteven Evans32:51I didn’t actually seek any out. But I did find myself, you know, sometimes directing students towards that. And I don’t, I didn’t make a connection that I’m doing this because of that. But I think it was probably in the back of my mind. Yeah, you know, I want to and, and one of the things I like to do is, you know, unearth, these composers who have been neglected a little bit, and there are so many of them, you know, and I find that, you know, with with, especially with my cello students, because they’re all in an ensemble, and they all hear each other play kind of the same pieces. A lot of times they want to find their own piece. This is my music that I haven’t heard all of the others play. And so I can get, I can feel like I own this, this is my piece to play. So I found a bunch of things that really fit there. There’s a fantastic, he’s kind of a jazz cello composer named David Baker. And I found a couple of pieces by him that were really, really good. And there are also a couple of, for my, for my girls, students, I like to find female composers that.MWMonica Williams34:03Yes, yeah, you know,SESteven Evans34:04because I think for girls, especially as they’re growing up, it’s nice to know that there are some female composers out there so that if they, if they wanted to do that, they could, you know, it can be definitely dominated too much by Beethoven. You know, I love music. But I think sometimes, you know, students want to hear different voices and diversified. So I’m all for that.MWMonica Williams34:33Yeah. And I think that’s great that you encourage that and seek that, you know, to people to seek that out. Because it is I mean, historically, if you look through the the repertoire, it is dominated by white men, you know, our living composers are mostly white men. Not all but if we were to categorize that in percentages, it would be it would be pretty much like that. So it could be hard for students to find stuff that is Is diversified like you, like you said. So that’s, that’s pretty awesome. That’s pretty awesome. And then I was thinking about this. This band director I was speaking to recently, people, composers that put it on living composers that put it on social media, just derogatory statements. I do like the fact that that some people are speaking up and not playing their works, you know, your words mean something, and to have students of school age, you know, playing works by someone that they could look up that said, a very derogatory thing, not not cool as teachers, because that’s an ethics thing for for us, you know, so I do like that words are becoming accountable, I haven’t encountered that, you know, where I’ve found it, fortunately, you know, but I do like that idea, that was a stamps that I thought was like, wow, that’s, that’s pretty powerful that, you know, he loved this particular composer. And he was doing lots of works, and he just took all the programming away for for that particular composer. So your words, do mean something as an artist, because we have a platform, as a as a recording artist, and performer and teacher, you know, I’m not famous and in any way, but there is a platform. And so, I do like that some artists, you know, can use that platform for their good because artists historically have been on the side of humanity, you know, we don’t have to be starving artists, but we are, we can relate to the fact that, that there’s humans struggle, and if there’s human struggle, I think that that empathy, you know, of artist is pretty powerful that we can empathize with the, the the people that are necessarily that needs to have recognition. And so, as an artist, I felt pretty called that I needed to just not say completely silent, because to me, that was also making a statement, not saying words, and it doesn’t mean I need to have those conversations, but that was one way I did it was on social media where it could be visible. And if anyone asked me directly, of course, age sensitive, and I didn’t give it all out, but that I’m never for violence, I am always for. And I recognize, I recognize what’s happening right now. And I recognize my white privilege, you know, that there’s, there’s privilege that I that I have, I like my colleague that I you know, went to school with something I never had to think of what I wear when I go into, you know, buy a soda. So that was one way I kind of bridged that in a sensitive way without like, going all out. I didn’t March I didn’t, you know, do anything. COVID pretty much prevented that. I wouldn’t have done that. But But, but I still, as an artist, and a teacher acknowledged that I wanted to do a little something to show my, to show my where I was. So yeah,SESteven Evans38:00I think you know, what lovely thing that that you just said, which is is very useful to apply to music is that, you know, we’re struggling all the time as human beings, and we’re even struggling, we get a new piece of music, you know, a very difficult piece of music, and it’s a struggle to perform that and so they can use that to help them become, you know, more sensitive to other people and other people’s struggles. You know, and I think that’s one beautiful thing that music can do for us is it can help us link all together and see oh, you know, this person has it a little bit worse than I do. And therefore I don’t need to I don’t need to say anything derogatory and I try to make it so that you know we’re not you know ever saying derogatory things I just don’t believe in that I with you on you know violence is not a good thing. It’s always best to work things out let’s talk about it. Let’s let’s figure something out even if it takes a while, you know, it might but it’s it’s nice to actually discuss thingsMWMonica Williams39:06yeah. And terenas point of the universal language it’s it’s also like an emotional connection so even without words you know, you can express those those maybe for a younger student things that don’t necessarily can’t even necessarily articulate with words the worries the struggles and and and express that as a way of channeling again for the mental health aspect of it. But you know that a lot of great artists great works great performances came out of struggle too because it does trigger something in us that that helps us emotes and that’s the language of music. It’s a it’s it comes very much from the heart center. I feel. There’s all the technical stuff, the brain stuff, but the heart center of actually, of actually doing music right. So One other thing I wanted to ask is just because I think that as music teachers, we’re always talking about music, and it’s awesome if a student can make it to a conservatory, and that’s what they want to do. But as a teacher, I’m not necessarily that’s not my goal of teaching is not to get a student to become a professional musician. It’s more to, like you said, Stephen, get competence, free thinkers, you know, help with the, you know, all the development things, if they’re a younger students, there’s lots of studies and that’s. So when we’re in this time, are there things that you can measure? musical development outside of music? Like, is there any key things that you noticed within a student’s that would be like a signal that you’ve actually you’re actually being successful with a student’s other than they got a level eight or 10 on a music certificate? Like what what other things I ran out? What you want to talk about that a little bit? Is there any other things that you can notice other than performance and a piece that would mark a student’s success with music?IFConfirming Speaker…41:08We have lots of things to say about that. When I teach, I always talk about how music helps in everyday life. How music helps in, in just in education itself. How’s it’s a part, like a little puzzle part that brings the entire picture together? Right? So if you think about that, what is how music work works? And how, what does it mean to play a musical instrument. And one of the studies of the I believe it’s in from England says that when a person plays a musical instrument, right, so what’s happening in their brain, it’s makes both parts both sides of the brain work simultaneously. This is such a rare condition that we’re never able to experience in everyday life, what it means that development of our brain goes just huge, big deal, right. So then another thing that brings that together to work for the most parts of the brain to work together the mental math, which is awesome. I think math, and music are so close right now, even the standard was some sort of like a time signature account. And, you know, we use numbers or if you think about the works by bar, how it was calculated, you know, so many, you know, people already look that through and found lots of different codes in their math school math formulas. The same was music, let’s say just the climate, right? That was lots of colds that was you know, the hidden into their music. So, it lots of things that are connected in another part probably, that music brings into that in is the medicine, right, that’s how you feel your body, how you can operate, how you can put it together. So how you feel your muscles, cooperate with the work of your brain and work with your ears and work with your eyes. So it’s so many things that’s happening with you simultaneously, that cannot just go away by itself, right? It’s a huge benefit to any any human being who wants to learn a musical instrument. So and if you’re lucky with that, because lots of the parents, if not all of the parents that we teach, right that I teach, personally, their kids or the kids that the other teachers from high school they teach, they understand that they understand the benefit of the music, and how much it brings into their future, how music will incorporate in their world, not just to be able to go to the concert, and to understand at least a little bit what’s going on on the stage, how to add some music, what to try to hear there, but also how to use that later in your life or maybe even right now, right? Because that’s the keeps you very, very concentrated and helps you to be very organized. So it lots of different aspects. I guess I’ll just do this given time to talk because I can do that for hours. ThankMWMonica Williams44:31you for worked with a lot of young kids with what you’re saying. Have you experienced that like a student? Have you seen because you say you’ve taken them from like young, very, very young age to to now in high school? Have you seen their development in school and their progress in school? Also match it? Have you ever had a student that was struggling in school that’s actually done better after studying music because of all of the things that you’re saying?IFConfirming Speaker…44:56Oh, I believe so. I believe so because I think it’s good. Mostly for math in languages, helps tremendously with being logical to reason more, and to understand how to put things, you know, to separate them in parts first, and then put them back together, which lots of problems in math, how do we usually do, right? We separate them in part, and then bring it all to one part, that music helps a lot with that, that’s awesome. That ability to reason and to separate and then put it back together. So in four languages, obviously, because, as we said, repeated many times, and everybody understand that music itself is a separate language, right in by learning by bringing the child to be able to listen. And not only to listen, but to hear, to hear himself or to hear people around the child. That means there, you’re so much that they, of course, they develop good ear, and they are much better into languages. I think it’s, it’s, I would say probably this two subjects the most Yeah,MWMonica Williams46:09definitely. And probably the small motor skills, especially if you’re starting a kid young, you know, for writing and coloring and art, you know, if you’re, if you’re making them use fine motor skills for piano and violin, I’m guessing that they would also have more dexterity and control of those fine motor movements, in addition to the whole brain thing, which is, which is also awesome. Yeah, I’ll give Stephen a chance to talk in a second, as you were talking, I was thinking, you know, about the developments of some of my students and the surprising things, you know, so so not just the musical things is, like, I remember having an adult student and we measured success by how her COPD got better, literally the breathing, the lungs got better, because of using the the winds into the instrument. I once had a student, she has done stopped taking with me, but she was to turn to 90. And she was doing the instrument to just keep she started under 70, which is already amazing, like, you know, and, and kept through it. But the reason she started in her 70s was to develop better mental cognition and to be able to maintain your your brain. And I always told her and I will always remember this, that you are an inspiration, because we’re musicians, and doing music continues that but I think doing something new as an adult, or new as a child invokes that that dual, you know, brain relationship that Irina was talking about how that you can you can use both sides of your brain. And to develop a strength, it’s like a muscle, you know, your brain is a muscle, your if you don’t use it in different ways, it doesn’t have the potential to reach heights. And I remember watching a documentary, I think we only know what like 10% of the brain, like, you know, it’s like, it’s it’s almost like, you know, you know, the an uncharted territory. And we know that music helps with that process. So it goes much more than just learning Beethoven or Bach, you know,

48:09yeah.MWMonica Williams48:09Steven, what do you have to say? I’m sure you have left to say,SESteven Evans48:12always. But, but this point, yeah, it’s, you know, it’s, it’s a fascinating subject for me, you know, I’m, I’m very big into seeing, you know, especially the little ones grow into something, you know, I have several students that I’ve taught for about 10 years. So I’ve seen him from age five, now they’re 1516. And it’s incredible, what, where they’ve gone. And I do believe that without the music, I don’t think they would have gotten to where they are. They’re very, very fun to talk to, you know, I can I can hold a very what I would consider adult conversation with them a very mature conversation. And what I love about music is that it seems to interest us in everything else, you know, there’s so much that music leads to, you know, like I read it was saying, There’s, there’s mathematics and there’s, you know, systems, logical systems, there’s languages, everything comes from music, and I think if you study music, you start to appreciate all this other things and say, Oh, well, I’m gonna, I want to look at that. And I want to look at that. And I want to, you know, try that out. And just a quick anecdote. One of my students made it into Princeton. Very, very brilliant kid. That’s what he baited into Princeton. And he told me that at Princeton in the physics department, you have to, you are required to play music. And I thought, I love this place. I bought a pair too, because that to be it, you know, and he said, what they, they were really taking this, you know, idea that when you play music, it opens up your brain. It says, you know, here’s all this You know, the two sides working together and there’s, there’s some kind of a synergy that can happen there, that will then create something new. And that’s kind of what physicists do, you know, they’re dealing with these crazy things, we can’t really get our head around. So when they play the music, they, you know, they can, they can definitely, probably find some new things. So I love that about, about music and what we do. And I do feel that, you know, when I was going to school, my cello teacher in college was the one who got me started teaching. And she had this saying, when we were, we were basically being trained how to teach little ones you don’t remember, at first, I didn’t know what to do with it, you know, I’ve tried to tell that by you know, grownup language, how to play this instrument, and it was very difficult at first. But she left me with this one thought, which was, she said, Don’t worry so much about the exact thing you said, are all of that, just make sure that your student leaves the lesson with a bigger smile than they came in, make sure that they, you know, they’re leaving, feeling energized, and they’re leaving feeling, you know, like, I want to do more of this. And, and, and, you know, I’m going to do more of this, you know, and I’ve, I’ve always kind of liked that idea, you know, that’s partly my job is to get you guys interested and engaged, and, you know, really having fun.MWMonica Williams51:26That’s awesome. I love that idea. Because that’s like, that’s what we need right now. Right? You know, we want to learn music and that’s but but we want to leave you leaving energized rather than fatigued, you know, the Xoom fatigue that everyone is talking about, you know, that you leave a lesson energized about your, your upcoming week, because we all need that energy. So I love that the smile, his smile is probably one of the best indicators of of progress, then, you know, so so because the mood is, is very much like that, and to you know, I would one way I measure success is that their, their willingness to do performances, it’s not the only thing because that’s not for everyone, I have some adult students that their intention is not to perform, that’s fine. But like, you know, the idea of a shy student that comes to you, and over the course of working with you now has the confidence to perform and the understanding that it’s okay to fail, it’s okay to have mistakes, it’s not really failure, but you know, at least that that takes courage courage to like go on stage and and have the possibility of not being perfect because life isn’t perfect life is not perfect at all. And I have hopes I don’t get to see them at all their academic and other outside performances. But as we know, public speaking is the number one fear amongst adults right so if you can get them up on a stage and doing a performance with being and being okay, making a mistake or two and not beating themselves up, you know, because they didn’t do perfectly then that’s a serious progress, you know, that you could you could measure so. And music is continuing to go on where I work with Steven we have these online recitals, which is great, but kids can perform out their window they can perform. And, you know, for other family members on zoom, just seeing anything I love when I get students pictures like that, you know what I’m thinking of one student that sent me a picture of her performing for her class, you know, for a holiday thing that was a major success that to me is like, you know, awesome, like, that gives me such energy as a teacher that we’ve made progress that’s that’s outside of the method book repertoire that we’re doing that’s that’s almost more important I think you know, the getting so that they can connect to the music and share with others and feel good about that experience. So that’s that’s really awesome. Well, I’m keeping an eye on our time here and I think it’s about time to wrap up so I want to give you each a chance to tell people where to find you and and when you do I will make sure to note this in the program notes. So if you’re not if you’re out walking or doing anything and you don’t have this just check on that episode notes. I will link all of this to to them so that you can look up iryna and Steven Steven, where can people find you if they would like to learn more take lessons?SESteven Evans54:35Sure. You could look at the contract costume music guild.com that’s one place you could find me and the other would be the Center for Community Arts in Walnut Creek and both have a websites that Contra Costa music guild is simply contract custom music guild calm and then the community artists arts dot add up. Late arts dash Ed dot o RGMWMonica Williams55:01Great, and you’re teaching online and not just online right now we’re in California. SoSESteven Evans55:06yes.

55:06All right now, yes,MWMonica Williams55:08I Reno, where can people find you?IFConfirming Speaker…55:12First of all gonna say thank you so much for having me because it’s a great opportunity to speak up and to talk about things right as it was a great experience. I love it. So the AI plays in play music school is located in Chicago, it’s based in Chicago. But obviously we’re for music, music lessons online, nationwide and worldwide, because we have students in different countries as well, not only within the United States. So the website for that will be I play music dot School, which is very easy to remember. Right. So and as mica said, there’s going to be somewhere in the chat that where people can find it. So I really hope that we could say something positive and say something useful for the future learners or for the people who already have something to do with music. So thank you so much. Absolutely.MWMonica Williams56:09This was a great conversation. So you know, I’m being an artist and being a teacher. It’s it’s more about just the music that I think that that’s what we talked about today is really about the art of having conversation and having being open to dialogue being open to the individual learner that we encounter on a day to day basis. So this was a great conversation. So if you liked today’s episode, please like share, subscribe and review that would help us get more visibility out to more musicians and teachers that could use conversations like this and until next week, for buying

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