It’s Never too Late

“I used to take lessons…”

“It’s something I’ve always wanted to do…”

“I just don’t have the time to practice…”

“I was never good at it…”

You might be an adult who has said something along these lines.  We’ve definitely heard enough adults through the years say things like this.  Many times, in between the lines, the sentiment is often the same, “I really want to take lessons again!” but a lot of other stuff keeps bubbling up and getting in the way.

We’re here to tell you, in the immortal words of Shia LaBeouf, “JUST DO IT!

Let’s follow some of these most common trains of thought to see where they lead to, and if we can’t change course.

“I used to take lessons when I was younger.”

This might be the most common one we hear.  Lots of parents had music lessons as a kid, and often, that is why they enroll their children in lessons. Interestingly, some parents get their kids started with lessons because of the experience they had as a child, while some parents start their children in spite of the experience they had themselves.  Even if a parent had a less than stellar exposure to music as an adolescent, they can still appreciate the importance of lessons, and the impact it can have on their child’s life.

But here’s the thing – there isn’t one path to music lessons and music mastery.  You don’t have to start at age 7 and work diligently for a decade or two before you can do something meaningful with an instrument.  You can start lessons at 27.  You can take a 27 year break.  The piano, the guitar, they’ll still be there whenever you come back to it.

And when you do come back to it, it’s going to be a completely different experience.  When you come back to lessons as an adult, you usually have a much better idea of music you want to learn, rather than your teacher spoonfeeding you every new piece.  You might also be more open to the choices your teacher makes for you (even I, Miss Anna, was that stubborn little kid sometimes).  Musical concepts you didn’t grasp as a child may come more easily to you now.  You might be more interested in the fundamentals of music than you were back then.  Where you may have learned more classical pieces as a child, you may be more interested in learning pop music or learning about improvisation or composition now (there’s definitely more of a trend to incorporate these things into lessons than there was 20 – 30 years ago).

The point is – regardless of the experience you had as a child, if the spark of interest in music is still there inside of you, we say go for it!

“It’s something I’ve always wanted to do…”

Maybe you didn’t have lessons as a child.  For many of the reasons we already listed above, adulthood is an absolutely opportune time to start with music!  You’ve matured, you’re more disciplined, you know how to manage your time, you know what you do and don’t like, you’re able to commit to learning something new.  You understand, better than a child usually can, the lasting, positive impact that music lessons can have on your life.  You understand the importance of keeping an active mind as you mature and eventually move towards your senior years.  You know how important it is to have a hobby, if nothing else than as a stress reliever.

Your teacher will understand all your reasons for starting music lessons, too, and, because you’re both adults, you’ll be able to clearly communicate your “whys” when it comes to music lessons.  Adults are sometimes some of the best students to have because they know why they want to take lessons.  When you’re clear on the “why” then everything else becomes a lot easier.

So if you want to take music lessons, what’s holding you back?

“I just don’t have the time to practice.”

I don’t even know you, but if you’ve ever thought this to yourself, I can tell you, with confidence, you’re probably wrong.

“But, Miss Anna,” you protest, “I have a job, and two kids and all their activities, and, and, and…”

I know.

But here’s the thing about practicing.  You think you need to practice 30 minutes a day, every day.  But most days, you just barely have 10 minutes, so what’s even the point?  Well, as I say to my students young and old, 10 minutes is better than zero minutes, isn’t it?

In a perfect world, we’d all get to practice for an uninterrupted 30 minutes every day of the year (what a glorious world that would be!), but this sure isn’t a perfect world.  You live in the real world, and we teach in the real world, and we teachers can work with you on your practice goals, developing good practice habits, and effective practice techniques that will make the most of the spare 5 or 10 minutes you can put into your practicing.

And here’s something interesting that often happens, with students of any age.  If you can just make it to the piano bench, or pick up that guitar, that 10 minutes you think you just barely have in your day, very often magically becomes 20 or even 30 minutes.  Think of all the times you are just going to very quickly check something on Facebook, and an hour later you’re still scrolling through pictures of puppers and doggos!  That very same thing can happen to you if you just let yourself “check something on your instrument” for a few minutes.  An hour later, you’ll still be there playing away!

If you’re afraid you won’t have the time to have a meaningful experience with music, then let us assure you, we can help you have a meaningful experience with music with whatever time you have to give to it.

Finally, the worst thing to hear from any student of music, of any age…

“I was never good at it.”

Well, hold your horses, and stop right there.  Were you never good at music because you felt that way, or because some judgemental adult in your life made you feel that way?  Natural talent helps a lot – in anything – but the naturally gifted musicians are not the only ones out there making music.  The music world, just like any other area of life, whether it’s the arts, sports, business or politics, is full of people who are working with their natural talents and people who have had to work hard for every little skill they possess.

And anyway, you don’t have to be the next Arthur Rubenstein, Jimi Hendrix, Chick Corea, Renee Fleming, [insert famous musician here] to enjoy making music.  If you want to be the next big thing in music, you can work hard at it – Pharrell Williams was 40 when his hit “Happy” debuted.  And if all you want to do is be able to play some songs around a campfire or impress your friends at karaoke, those are important – and fulfilling – goals, too.

So if the thought that “you were never good at music” is the only thing holding you back, throw that idea right in the trash, and give it another try.

Taking lessons as an adult can be one of the most rewarding experiences of your lifetime.  You will be happy you took the chance, and we will be happy to work with you.  Head over to our New Student Signup Page to get started.  We can’t wait to see you at the studio.

 

Sail Away to Spring Break Camp

You’ve heard Miss Anna mention Spring Break camp a few times now and maybe you have some questions.  Well, here’s the long and short of it.

WHEN: April 2 – 6, 9am – 3pm.  If you require before or after care, please let us know so we can arrange something.

WHO: All current or prospective students at MAMS – any age level!  We will custom tailor activities with our “castaways” in mind.  Everyone will walk away from Spring Break feeling like they learned something.

WHAT:  Students will enjoy daily classes on beginning theory and listening skills, group activities and games, some singing (we’re putting together a great tropical playlist!) and one-on-one instruction.  Each student is guaranteed a one-on-one lesson at least once throughout the week.  Depending on the exact scheduling, we hope students will ideally have individual lessons 2 – 3 times over the course of camp.  At the end of the week we will put together a short performance for parents.

FOOD: Students should bring lunch daily Monday through Thursday.  Lunch will be provided on Friday (you can choose to send lunch in on Friday as well if you wish).  We will provide some snacks daily including pineapple and mango, plus coconut water and fruit juice.  We do have a small fridge at the studio so lunches and drinks can be refrigerated but we do not have a microwave to reheat anything.

CLOTHES: This might seem like a silly thing to list, but we absolutely 100% encourage (as long as the weather is agreeable) tropical wear – anything floral or beachy, flip flops or hawaiian shirts.  Pirate hats are always welcome though for safety reasons we discourage eye patches.  It hasn’t been very springy much yet in central NJ, so we can at least pretend a little bit for Spring Break!  The only thing we really advise against (besides eye patches), are bathing suits.  Otherwise, feel free to be creative!  Or not.

INSTRUMENTS: If your child plays guitar or ukulele, we encourage you to bring your instruments, plus music.  It is not a requirement, but if you would like a lesson, you will need your instrument.  If we have enough interest in ukulele, we will have a small group each day working on chords and strumming patterns. (Don’t have a uke but want one?  We suggest buying from Musicians Friend – their shipping costs are WAY low, starting at FREE for standard 4-6 day shipping).

If your child is a piano player, they can bring their music (and if they forget, chances are we have extra copies at the studio).

If your student is interested in lessons but is not yet on our schedule, then we would be happy to get you started during camp week.  If you need a guitar, ukulele, piano or keyboard, we would be happy to advise you on your purchase.

HOW MANY?: We will be sailing off with a minimum of 4 students, and our ship only has room for 10, maximum.

HOW MUCH?: Tuition for camp is $250.  A $50 deposit is required to hold your spot.  As stated above, space is limited!

If you are ready for camp – email missannasmusicschool@gmail.com to sign up.  $50 will be due the next time we see you, or it will simply be added to your March invoice.  The remaining $200 balance will show up on your April invoice.  If you are not yet a student at MAMS, please head over to our New Student SignupNew Student Signup to get into our system, and someone from our office will be in touch to confirm with you!

Welcome Will Genovese!

Miss Anna might be cool and all, but there’s only so many hours a day she can teach.  Now that MAMS is in a new space with great visibility, demand for music lessons is growing, and one teacher just can’t keep up.

So it is with much excitement that we are happy to welcome a new teacher to our MAMS family, Will Genovese.  Will is an established, experienced guitar instructor, well-versed in many styles, from rock to classical and almost everything in between.  A graduated of City College with a degree in Music Education, Will has performed across the NY and NJ area, both solo and in ensembles such as the Hunterdon Hills Orchestra and Esteem Entertainment.

Miss Anna has known Will for many years, and even took lessons from him at one point to learn more about flamenco style guitar playing.  There are very few teachers that she trusts to join the school at this early stage in our history, and Will is definitely on that list.  It is our hope that you will enjoy learning with Will just as much as you have enjoyed lessons with Miss Anna over the years.

To welcome our new guitar instructor, we invite all interested guitar students and their families to a special event on Saturday, March 3.  Following a brief performance by Will, students may sign up for a 20 minute trial lesson.  If students like his style, parents are welcome to sign up their children to become one of his students.  He will be teaching at the studio on Saturday afternoons and Monday nights.  Refreshments will be served.

Attendance is free but we ask that you reserve your spot before March 1 by emailing us at missannasmusicschool@gmail.com.

See you next Saturday night!

Join the Choir

Here comes choir!  If you’re a singer of any ability in 5th – 12 grade, we cordially invite you to join us in making some beautiful music on Thursday nights!

Students in choir will learn the basics of singing – good posture, breath support, proper vowel placement and more – in a relaxed group setting.  If you have a child who has been interested in singing but not yet ready – or interested in – one on one voice lessons, then choir will be perfect for them!  We will learn the basics through easy to learn choir warm ups; fun, beautiful (and sometimes funny) rounds and canons, and some great (to be determined) repertoire.

Has your child has been singing for years? Or have they never sung outside of the comfort of their own home?  They are both welcome to join us as we sing and grow together as one group.

Choir meets on Thursday nights from 7:45 – 8:30, and tuition is $25 per month.  If you are a current MAMS student, sign up through the My Music Staff portal (when signing up on the event on March 1, be sure to set that you will attend every meeting of the choir).  If you are not yet a current student, please visit our New Student Sign Up page to join in the fun!

New Year Play-a-Thon Wrap Up

Can I just stop and tell you how fantastic my students are?

Well, they’re pretty super fantastic.

When our Play-a-Thon wrapped up, and with a few extra donations added in, our final donation to Elijah’s Promise in New Brunswick, NJ, totaled $319.80.  Students practiced 96 hours and 36 minutes to make it happen.

A group of our top practicers was with me to present our donation to the crew at the Elijah’s Promise Soup Kitchen.  It was a great chance for the students to see the facilities and the people that our donation helped!

I look forward to running this event next year, with – hopefully – even more dedicated practicing now that we’ve seen how it all adds up in the end!  Thank you to all the students who practiced, and all the parents who encouraged their children on!  We really made a difference!

New Year Play-a-Thon

CALLING ALL MAMS MUSIC STUDENTS!

IT’S TIME TO PUT YOUR PRACTICE MINUTES TO GOOD USE!

 

Of course, practicing your instrument is going to help you grow into an even better musician, but what if your practice minutes could do even more?

Beginning on December 1, Miss Anna’s Music School students will have the chance to turn their practice minutes into a monetary donation for Elijah’s Promise, based in New Brunswick, NJ.

For every minute students practice between December 1 and December 21, MAMS will donate 5 cents to Elijah’s Promise.  That may not sound like a lot, but if every MAMS student practices 10 minutes a day for 21 days, that will turn into a $378 donation!

All students have to do is practice and log their minutes (first either using the log sheet that Miss Anna will be handing out or by putting it into their notebooks).  Then parents (or students themselves) can log minutes into My Music Staff to be officially counted.  From the portal, parents and students will be able to see the average practice time for the rest of the studio, and we will be posting the official tally at the end of each week on our Facebook page.  And that’s it!

BUT NOT QUITE!

For students who may be interested in doing a little extra to help Elijah’s Promise, there’s an additional step to take.  Students can find pledges of their own to sponsor their practicing – friends or family members who will pledge 1, 5 or 10 cents (or more!) for every minute that student practices – or they can make a flat donation.  As an example, if someone pledges 5 cents towards a student’s practicing, and they play 20 minutes a day for 21 days, the donor will end up donating $21 dollars.  After the 21 days are up and final minutes are tallied, students will go back to their pledges, collect donations, and turn them into MAMS.  We will then make our big donation during the first week of January.

If you’re a parent who has questions, do not hesitate to ask!  You all know you can reach Miss Anna in person, send a text, email or message through the Facebook group.  The most important thing to do is to just make sure students get practicing and more importantly, to begin logging their minutes.  We can enter them into MMS at any time for them to count.  If you need a pledge sheet to collect a few personal donors, just let Miss Anna know!

Elijah’s Promise is a fanastic organization that nourishes and empowers the community through food.  They run a soup kitchen every day of the week, a culinary school, a community garden and a catering company, in addition to providing many other resources to residents of New Brunswick and the surrounding area.  I can think of no better organization to donate to at this giving time of the year.

Calling all Choristers!

MAMS is starting a choir!

If you are in 6th through 12th grade and enjoy singing, you may be interested in joining the new MAMS choir.

Rehearsals will run from January to mid-April, culminating in a short performance at the Mid-Atlantic Music Teachers Guild’s Spring Festival.  The goal is to participate in the Festival’s Ensemble Showcase, where the students will be critiqued by music professionals from around the East Coast and perform for other students and their families.  The whole weekend is a great weekend to experience, and the Ensemble Showcase is great fun!

Interested students should get in touch with us (comment here, private message on Facebook or email us directly) for more information on fees and scheduling.  We are trying to find a time when the maximum amount of students can participate!

 

Guitar Programs at MAMS

Ready to pick up that guitar and rock out?  Our guitar class program is a fun way for kids to try out guitar in a fun, social setting.  It’s also a great way to try out guitar before committing to one on one lessons!  So what does MAMS have to offer?

Beginner Guitar, ages 7 – 13 – This class, on Saturdays from 11:45 – 12:25 is for beginners who’ve never played the guitar before. When they are ready, students can switch over to the Intermediate Elementary or Intermediate Teen class – even if it’s in the middle of the school year.  In this class students learn the basics of technique and posture, as well as music fundamentals like note names and values.

Intermediate Elementary, grades 3 – 6 – This class meets on Saturdays from 12:30 – 1:10 and is for elementary aged students who have at least one year’s experience on the guitar.  In addition to learning note reading and basic music theory, students will play together as a group in preparation for our end of year performance.

Intermediate Teen, grades 7 – 12 – This class is on Saturdays from 1:15 – 1:55 for teens who have one to two years’ experience on the guitar.  Students will learn music theory and note reading, plus chords and playing in smaller groups like trios or duets.

Students of all classes are expected to show up on time or even a little early to make sure that their guitars are in tune and they are set up.  All materials will be provided for students, and students will be invited to all performance and competition events alongside the studio’s one on one students, and of course to all of our fun studio activities throughout the year.

Tuition is $25 per student per month.

Classes are graciously held at one of the schools in Perth Amboy, but will be moving to a permanent home in Fords, NJ, at some point during the 2017-2018 school year.

You can register for class by going to the New Student Sign Up page at any point during the month of September.  We will then email you information on the class location.

PLEASE NOTE: The Intermediate Elementary and Intermediate Teen classes begin on Saturday, September 9, but the Beginner Class will start one week later on September 16.

Any questions?  Please email missannalawrence@gmail.com !  We look forward to playing guitar with you!

Back to School 2017!

It’s September!  Are you excited?  We are!

Miss Anna had an exciting summer up at dance camp, playing piano for ballet class and watching the little kids.  She even had an exciting turn, substituting for the character accompanist!  With just a day’s notice, she had to dust off her book of Ukrainian music and play pieces she hasn’t performed on the piano in years!  It was a little scary, but a lot of fun – which are important things to do every once in awhile.

Now that that’s done, we are very excited to get back into the swing of things.  Especially with this chillier weather we’ve had lately, especially over night, it’s like fall is already here.  Some of you may enjoy your beach time, but as Miss Anna says, “our favorite color is autumn.”  We’ve already snuck a few pumpkin lattes at Dunkin!

Some important dates and reminders –

Lessons begin again on Tuesday, September 5.  (If you’re a Monday student, your first lesson will be on September 11).

Intermediate Elementary and Intermediate Teen classes begin on September 9.
Beginner guitar will start on the following Saturday, September 16.
If you have not yet signed up for classes, please speak to Miss Anna ASAP, or head over to the New Student Sign Up page if you are, in fact, a new student.

Payment for lessons will now be done on a monthly basis.  You can pay in person or through My Music Staff (if you don’t have a login or forgot it, please speak to Miss Anna).  There will be a late fee assessed of $10 if you have not paid by the 1st of the following month.

Stay tuned for details on our back to school event!

Our fundraiser raised $1100!  We are excited because a big hurdle of leasing any kind of space is the initial security deposit.  Once we can get over that, we’ll be able to slowly start the process of making it our own as the school year progresses – renovations, if necessary, instruments and musical accessories, furniture and other supplies.  So thank you to everyone that donated, we appreciate it from the bottom of our hearts.  And stay tuned to watch our progress!

See you all very soon, friends!

Our fundraising campaign has begun!

The time is now!

If you are a student at Miss Anna’s Music School, or would like to be one in the future, or used to be one at some point in the past (I’ve been teaching for quite awhile by now), or if you simply appreciate all the hard work I do with kids and want to help me bring my education game to the next level, please consider donating.  Every little bit helps.

All money raised will go towards our security deposit and first month’s rent, a beautiful baby grand piano for the kids, and then furniture/office supplies/music supplies/etc (in that order).  The more we collect, the sooner this becomes a reality!

There are perks for all you wonderful campaign backers, at every level.  There are perks geared towards friends and students, and a few perks geared towards business owners and those who can afford to donate a little more.  Check it out!

Visit our campaign page at: http://igg.me/at/mams

And if you can’t donate at this time, please share with your friends!