"to come into being..."
My Studio and Teaching Philosophy
I teach in various styles, which reflect my own love of music in many genres including Classical, Jazz, Americana, and Contemporary. In addition to teaching privately, I am an adjunct professor at Cornish College of the Arts.
I consider it my job to foster and nurture that love for music which initially brought the student to investigate music. I am passionate about ensuring that the initial love for music remains through the whole of his or her life. I do not teach with a specific method, but rather combine several existing ones with each student's learning style to create the right balance for each student. I hold a teaching certificate in Dalcroze; which is a teaching ideology (not methodology), that incorporates: "Eurhythmics" (teaching rhythm and nuance of music through the body); "Solfeg" (sight singing and ear-training); and Improvisation. Dalcroze is based on the principle that music is expressed through the entire body. The Eurhythmic component is especially helpful in young children as their large motor skills are dominant to the smaller muscles in the fingers. In a lesson, we might walk away from the instrument and move around the room to feel a rhythm, or we will move to the music in order to feel a musical phrase with the whole body.
PRACTICING: I work with the students and their parents to develop a practice plan that makes sense for your schedules. Incorporating music into the realities of busy lives that people lead today requires finesse and patience. I have a high success rate with students staying with and developing a lasting relationship to music, largely due to understanding the demands of these busy schedules. I do not shame children when they do not practice, because fear and pressure of failure often results in children quitting music. If the child is not prepared for a lesson, we simply practice together and a lot is accomplished in such sessions. That is not to say that regular practice is not encouraged, and practicing techniques guided.
THEORY and COMPOSITION: I use application of music theory to musical pieces, helping the student to understand theory through composition. When studying a scale, for example, the student immediately creates melodies using that scale. S/he learns the chords in the key and creates harmonies to that original melody. Music notation software is available at my studio for the student to deepen the learning experience, enrich their relationship to their music, and to see their music published on a sheet of paper with a title they created and their name on the page. I have recording capabilities here, and we can record their playing of an original piece, or a piece from a book, or by ear, so that they can share their music with others, and listen to their creations at home.
TECHNIQUE: I encourage ergonomic playing and good technique early on, in age appropriate ways, through hand exercises that look like spiders and flowers, animals or rainbows (with young children). I have a piano stool and foot stool that are both adjustable so that the child can sit properly, training the correct muscles to play the piano. I have knowledge of the workings of the piano and can assist you in ascertaining how to best care for your instruments.
I am well- versed in vocal techniques that ensure a healthy voice.
I often help parents choose a guitar that is suitable for the size of the child and have low seats here to provide a balanced guitar stance which provides healthy guitar holding patterns at an early age.
MATERIAL: There is a library of music in my studio that I offer to students. We also consult the internet for ideas. Working on music that is not pleasing to the ear or of interest to the student is mostly pointless, and I welcome the student's ideas and opinions in the music that s/he is playing. I encourage students to bring music that they want to play; and music that they like to listen to, regardless of style. (Rock and Hip Hop are fine; and I have a vast library of classical, standard and jazz choices). I will consult with the parents about any new score purchases. I do charge an additional 5% on music that I purchase for the student. If you would like to save that 5%, by all means go shopping and I will be happy to help you choose appropriate music. I have an account with a few online sheet music stores and if we access one of those, there is an additional 5% charge to help cover my costs for ink and paper.
RECITALS: We have two recitals a year: a Holiday Recital in December and an End of School Year Recital in June. These are informal, fun, pot luck parties with music performances and games. The student is not required to perform, but always welcome to attend.
PET: Zorro (a small, hypo-allergenic, sweet, 8 year old pup) is loving and playful with children, yet usually sleeps under the piano during lessons. He'll greet you when you come in, and see you out the door when your lesson is over. He is always up for a game of fetch in the hallway before or after a lesson
Music is fun. My mantra.
I work with intermediate and advanced levels of players. With more advanced players, we work toward finding clearer and more beautiful phrasing; and strengthen your techniques to allow for more ease of playing.
My Teaching experience
I began teaching private lessons in voice, piano and guitar in 1988; and have been teaching full time since 1997. My students have ranged in ages from 19 months (classes at the Seattle Conservatory of Music) to upward of 65 years old. I have designed several music/movement programs for very young children and teens, including at the Seattle Emergency Housing, First Place School, Happy Medium/Giddens School, and Seattle Conservatory of Music. I have also taught workshops at the Experience Music Project (EMP), Boys & Girls Clubs of America (Bonnie Raitt Guitar School for Girls). I taught Ear Training, Rhythm, Theory, Composition, Inter-Disciplinary Art at Cornish College of the Arts (also Music For Dancers, Audition Class for theatre majors in their Junior year, and co-developed and taught a Cabaret Class for Theatre Majors in their senior year). I was Resident Musical Director and Composer-In-Residence in the Theatre Department at Cornish for 8 years, and although schedules with other projects have made it difficult to maintain that role, I am still invited to do an occasional show there.
Lesson Schedules, Policy and Rates
Lessons in my studio:
$50 for a half hour
$60 for 45 minutes
$70 for an hour
Travel to your home is a remote possibility– depending on our schedules– with an additional travel fee. I only travel on Tuesdays.
I am flexible with people's schedules and financial situations and can usually adjust my policies given communication with the student/family. The policy in which I usually work – if no other option is negotiated– is as follows:
When you enroll at Xeper, you are reserving a weekly (or bi-weekly) lesson with me. Payment for the month is due at the first lesson of each month. All payments are based on 4 lessons per month. So, whether there are 5 weeks in a long month or 3 weeks (December holidays for example), payment amount will be the same. For example, if you are taking one lesson a week for a half hour at my studio, you pay $200 each month. In December, there are usually 3 lessons due to the seasonal holidays. In a long month, there will be 5 weeks. You always pay $200. Your payments are based on 48 lessons per year, and I take 2 weeks of vacation in the summer. We start the year in September. Each July, I reconcile any missed lessons, overpayment or underpayment, and we do what is needed to balance the books. If you underpaid, I'll take a day off. If you've overpaid you are owed a lesson or a credit.
If a lesson is missed due to your vacation, or illness, etc., and there is advance notice of at least 24 hours, I do my best to make up that lesson (but can not guarantee it). Payment is due for any missed lesson regardless of whether the lesson has been made up. If there is one lesson missed in a month, it is usually not problem to find time to make it up. If there is an extended vacation, a few makeups become more unrealistic due to busy schedules. If a lesson is a no-show or cancelled on the day of your scheduled lesson (for any reason other than sudden illness), there will be no make up, but the lesson is to be paid for. If I cancel a lesson due to an illness, or a performance, of course I compensate those missed lessons.
If your child is sick and contagious, please keep him/her home. I will work with you to make up the lesson. Please be respectful of all of the other people who come into my studio. We don't want to get other people sick. Thank you!
I work all of these details out with you very informally, and I like that. I am always open to communication about payments, practicing, and any issues that come up around music lessons.
I am open to other schedules. If you want to come for lessons periodically without a definite schedule, that is fine. However, it is sometimes difficult to find a time that I am available when Cornish is in session. My schedule fills up quickly. Bi-Weekly lessons are available.
I have a limited number of scholarships for students who can not afford the regular rates. Other students are invited to contribute to the program, and I cut my rate substantially to allow for that student to take lessons. Please talk to me about availability if finances are an issue for you.
©2015 Gretta Harley