Monday, November 12, 2018

November Newsletter

Dear AOS Friends, Families, and Teachers,

It's amazing how the Fall months seem to fly! We continue to be blown away by how quickly long summer days have shifted to chilly Fall evenings. As we get ready for the upcoming holidays, there's no shortage of activities going on at Academy of Sound.

Student of the Month:
We plan to start featuring a student (or students) each month who has worked hard in and out of lessons and shown progress in individual goals. Stay tuned for exciting features in the upcoming months!!

Happy Thanksgiving-Upcoming Closure Notice:
Thanksgiving is NEXT WEEK, which means that we will be closed Tuesday November 20th through Friday November 24th. Make sure you to double check the calendar on our website for other upcoming closings.

It's not too try something new:
It is November BUT it's not too late to try music lessons! A few openings still remain in strings, piano, voice, drums, and guitar/uke. Lesson tuition will be prorated when you start. Check out the openings on our website.

AOS Blog: 5 Tips for Successful Recital Preparation

With the recital just weeks away, it's important to be practicing to perform. As students, we get comfortable with our teachers, and it's easy to let performance practices slide. However, we should be practicing for performance EVERY SINGLE DAY, in and out of lessons.

Here are some tips for successful recital preparation.

1. Commit to your repertoire FAR IN ADVANCE
The recital is on December 16th. If you have yet to choose a piece with your teacher, it's time to do so this week. Next week is a holiday and will affect many lessons. You should leave lessons this week knowing exactly what you are planning to perform (including cuts if you plan to take any.)

2. Practice your piece and set goals for yourself
Your teacher reminds you to practice this week, but this rule is SO MUCH more important when it comes to recital preparation. Practicing doesn't mean just running through the piece once  a day. Instead, you should be breaking down your piece into sections and working each one individually. If you are playing a longer piece or singing a solo, you should also find recordings to listen to and study. Your teacher can help you to select ones that are appropriate.

3. Goals: Memorize AND early
This may not apply to you but memorizing your piece can take some of the stress off of performing. Aim to have your recital piece memorized no less than two weeks out. You can ask your teacher for tips on memorizing or even ask her to schedule weekly "memory checks."

4. Practice performing for friends and family
Family and friends make a great practice audience before the performance. Schedule a few "practice performances" with them in the weeks leading up to the event. You can even practice wearing the dress or shoes that you plan to wear the day of.

5. Take care of yourself!
This goes without saying, but make sure that you are taking care of yourself. Add an extra half hour to your week schedule, especially in the week leading up the recital. Drink plenty of water, and make sure you are eating healthy meals. It's so easy to let stress take over, especially closer to the event. Put your own health first- your body will thank you later!

Perhaps, the most important tip of all is to make sure to enjoy the process. While they might seem stressful at times, recitals are an excellent way to learn and grow as a musician. The process might help you to discover things about yourself you never realized before!

Teacher's Tips: What's in your backpack? (Kirstin Roble, voice teacher)

Every week, I get the response from at least one student of "I forgot my music" when I ask what we should work on today. As we're heading into one of the busiest months of the year, it's easy to forget music, pencils, or water bottles. This month, I thought I'd take some time to make a "lessons preparation list."

Before you come to lessons this week, ask yourself, "what's in your backpack?"

1. Music/Instrument- This seems obvious, but you need to bring your music books/sheet music and instrument to EVERY lesson (unless your teacher specifies otherwise.) If you come straight from school or work, put your music in the night before your lesson so you don't forget the morning of.

2. Accessories- Do you need guitars picks, reeds, rosin, or staff paper for a lesson? Those should also be in your bag each week. Not having those can slow down the lesson SIGNIFICANTLY as your teacher will be sent off to find the materials, or you will have to do without for that week.

3. Water bottle- It's DRY outside and inside. Bring a water bottle to each and every lesson. Your throat will thank you later.

4. Assignment book or notebook AND pen/pencil- We don't expect you to remember every detail of each week, but we do want you to write assignments down. That's why we ask you to bring an assignment book or notebook to each lesson to keep track of what you ned to work on. Don't have an assignment book? Ask the front desk, and they can help you get one!

5. Willingness to try new things- this isn't a physical item that you can put in a bag, but it deserves to be on this list regardless. As teachers, we might ask you to try something new to get a desired sound or explain a new concept. Yes, it might be a little silly or different than you're used to but the result can be pretty awesome. Be willing to TRY- that's all we ask.

Have a great rest of November, and we'll be back at the beginning of December with more AOS news!

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

October Newsletter

Dear AOS Students, Families, and Friends,

October is here, and once again, we are amazed to see the start of this new month! With the temperatures slowly starting to get cooler and the evidence of Pumpkin spice everywhere we look, Fall has truly arrived. It's been a busy first month of the Fall semester here at Academy of Sound, which we are excited to share! Some of the highlights as well as news items are below.

Meet Jackson King!

We're so excited to welcome Jackson onto our faculty at Academy of Sound. Jackson begins teaching drums this month!

Here's some information about Jackson!

Jackson has been playing drums since 2012, in styles like jazz, rock, funk, and metal. He is also skilled in rudimentary drumming, marching percussion, and other miscellaneous percussion. Jackson has experience teaching in both a large group setting and in private lessons. Jackson studies at Oregon High School, and will graduate in 2019. His drumming experiences are many, and include almost a decade with Shadow Drum & Bugle Corps under the direction of Nick Lane, as well as Oregon High School Jazz Band, Percussion Ensemble, Orchestra, and School of Rock. Jackson joined the Academy of Sound faculty in 2018

It's not too late to enroll!

September is always a busier month than we anticipate it will be, right? Even if you didn't get a chance to enroll in lessons in August, there are still some openings. Check them out here. 

One-stop Music shop!:

Do you need a new bow, rosin, staff paper, or music book for lessons? Stop at the front desk before or after your lesson to order! We are placing several orders throughout the week, and can often get what you need in just 2 business days!

Get a referral credit for new students:

We offer a $25 credit per new student that you or your family refers. Make sure the student notes that you are the one referring them when they register. If you have any questions, don't hesitate to ask our front desk staff!

Sonatina Festival:

Sonatina Festival is only one month away. If you are planning to participate or interested in learning more about it, ask your teacher in this week's lesson! Remember, Sonatina Festival is not limited to just piano students- other instruments can participate too!

Mark Your Calendars:

Our first holiday break of the school year is next month (Nov. 20-23rd.) The holiday recital will be Sunday, December 16th at 4pm. Stay up to date on these and all other dates by adding the AOS calendar dates to your personal calendar. Access our calendar here.

Teacher Tips: Practicing with Nancy Cox

Nancy is a longtime member of our staff, and has produced many excellent students during her tenure here. This month, she shares some of her favorite practicing tips for success!

1. When practicing, analyzing, memorizing, or woodshedding a piece (piano is my area) with a student, start from the back of the piece and move by adding shorter sections towards the front, gradually increasing the playback until the student is performing the entire piece with corrections.  This works because our brains learn on several tracks when going through a piece backwards by sections, then forwards.  Good tip for vocal students too.

2.  When making practice recommendation to a student, it is good to recommend the number of times a student should play through a piece each practice session, also the number of practice sessions per week desired, and the length of practice sessions.  It is good to have students monitor, record, or self track their practice sessions in writing or on phones etc.  I give younger students stickers or stars per days of practice.  Older students can learn to connect the learning/progress rate with the amount of time practiced.

3.  Remember the 8000 hours minimum recommended by successful rock stars for students with performance ambitions.  (Question:  What is the single most important factor that allows someone to become a musical (rock) star?  Answer:  Not a good agent.  Instead, 8,000 hours minimum of practice (figure it out).)

4.  Remember everyone puts in their frustrating times at the keyboard or in practice.  Sometimes breakthroughs come after several practice sessions, or even several weeks of practice sessions.  The key is to keep working on improving your performance, while learning to listen critically to yourself.

5. I try to ask my students after each piece played, What do you think?  Could this have been performed better?  What would make it better?  What do you think you need to work on when practicing this piece?  Some students have trouble "hearing" their performance errors or omissions.  I try to get them to focus on what they are presenting each time they perform, then to work on improvements.  It is always helpful to start out a critique with something that the student did well, or showed improvement on.

6.  Finally, it is always good to encourage students, but to balance expectations with realistic observations.  Students may not reach their potential if you don't have high enough expectations.  But also, I believe music as a life enhancement skill or experience is all about discovering the joy of creating your own project that you can improve and change as you are able.   That's all for now- Keep practicing is my motto!

That's all for now! See you in November!

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

September Newsletter

Dear AOS Families, Students, and Friends,

            The weather might feel like July, but we are officially into the month of September.  We want to start by wishing all of you a welcome, and welcome back to Academy of Sound! Our school year lessons will be starting next Monday, September 10th, but here is some information about what to know for this month.

Semester Start and Reminder: As mentioned above, lessons start Monday, September 10th. Don’t forget to double check you or your student’s time and day before lessons start!  There will be no lessons this week to help you or your student get back into the busy school routine!

Registration:  Our lesson openings are becoming fewer and fewer each day. With just a handful of spots remaining, make sure to register if you have not already. Here is a link to registration:

Punch Card for Busy Adults: Are you a busy adult?  We offer a 6-lesson punch card. Contact our office to learn more about this program!

Teacher Tips:

This month, our voice teacher Kirstin Roble, offers 5 tips for first time lesson attendees.

5 Things that are Ok to know for your first lesson

            Whether it’s your first lesson in three months or your first lesson ever, it’s not uncommon to be a little nervous. When I started taking private lessons, I remember having butterflies in my stomach at the first lesson.

1.    It’s ok to be nervous:
What? It’s ok to be nervous. I tell every new student that I get this exact sentence. Private lessons are different from a music class you might take in school. Working one on one is easier for some students to adapt to right away and harder for others. It’s ok to be nervous- your teacher is here to help you grow and achieve the goals you have.
2.    It’s ok to bring music or your instrument
This may seem obvious, but I get asked all of the time if it is ok to bring music you’ve been working on to your first lesson.  The answer I always give is “yes!” Maybe you’re auditioning for a solo in choir or band- feel free to bring that music into your first lesson! Your teacher can work with you on it and it can help us get a sense as to what you may need to work on in lessons
3.    It’s ok to ask questions
One of the biggest mistakes that people make when starting lessons is that they don’t think that they can ask questions or embarrassed to. Ask questions! That’s one of the best ways to learn. Also, feel free to take notes or record your lesson! In 45 minutes, we cover A LOT of material. I can’t always remember everything nor do I expect you to!
4.    It’s ok to ask about “how to practice”
Believe it or not, I didn’t learn how to practice just by sitting at home in front of my piano. It was my early teachers who helped me developed a strategy for practicing. Your teacher will have resources, tips, and even warm-ups that you can take home and replicate for your practice sessions.
5.    It’s ok to have fun in lessons
Yes, private music lessons can be fun! We do warm-ups, theory, and talk in foreign languages (at least in voice lessons!) but we also laugh and study really amazing music. It’s ok to have fun- we teach because we love it and we want to share that passion with each of our students!

As we get ready to start another year of lessons, there’s a lot of excitement at Academy of Sound. We can’t wait to spend another school year with you!

Friday, August 3, 2018

August Newsletter

Dear AOS Students, Families, Friends, and Teachers,
         We’re officially into August! If you can’t believe that it’s already here, you aren’t alone. It feels like just yesterday that we were starting the month of June! August is a busy month here at Academy of Sound. With Summer Session coming to a close, we’re getting ready for a recital and Fall enrollment. Here’s what’s going on this month!

Summer Recital in the Park:
Our summer recital will be taking place on Tuesday, August 21st, at 7pm. It will be Waterman Triangle Park (101 Janesville St. Oregon, WI. 53575) Our event is on Facebook- check it out and share with friends!

If you haven’t signed up for the recital, it’s not too late! You can sign up on our website at:

Leveling Up!
We didn’t have any students level up in Method books this month, but we are have many that are close. Stay tuned for updates in September and October!

Enrollment and Tuition Details:
         2018-2019 Academic Year lessons will begin on September 10th, 2018, and will go until May 22, 2019. As part of your tuition, school closings (such as Winter and Spring break,) are taken into account. All lessons are 45 minutes BUT 60 minute lessons can be requested. Tuition also includes optional participation in school recitals and events.

A couple of notes regarding lessons:

Piano Lessons:
         You might notice that the tuition for piano lessons is just slightly higher than some of the other lessons. Your tuition includes two professional tunings of your in-home piano. We recommend scheduling those in Fall and Spring for an optimal practice experience.

Guitar Lessons:
         Included in your guitar lessons are two professional adjustments. These adjustments will include a new set of strings. Maintaining your guitar will enhance your overall lessons and weekly practicing!

Sibling Discounts:
         Families that have two siblings enrolled in piano lessons can request a sibling discount on the 2X a year tuning premium if only one piano will be used in the home.

5 Inspirational Quotes to Live By When Practicing:

         Practicing can be very rewarding, but there are also the days where it is frustrating. Here are 5 quotes to help inspire you, even on the most frustrating of days:

1.    “The beautiful thing about learning is that nobody can take it away from you.”- B.B. King

2.    “Music can change the world because it can change people.”- Bono

3.    “Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and life to everything.”- Plato

4.    “You can’t stay the same. If you’re a musician and a singer, you have to change; that’s the way it works.”- Van Morrison

5.    “Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent.”- Victor Hugo

Teacher Tips From Erin Chisman:

This month, Executive Director and piano teacher Erin Chisman shares some of her favorite tips for success in music lessons.

Time, Expectations, and Measurable Growth

A few years ago I read a great book: Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. In the book, Gladwell tells several stories of prominent figures who've achieved successes greater than most. One of the common threads lies in the "magical" 10,000 hours. He asserts that it takes approximately 10,000 hours to achieve mastery in a field. 

Take your average practice time (in hours) per week, and you can do the math on how many years it should take to achieve mastery of your instrument. Let's say your home practice is 30 minutes per day, 5 days each week. That's 2.5 hours per week. 2.5 x 52 = 130 hours per year. At that rate it would take more than SEVENTY-SIX YEARS to reach mastery. Bump that practice up to an hour a day, six times each week and you'll get there in thirty-two years. That's still a very long time. This is why we don't want you to quit after just a year of two of private music lessons. At that point the fun has yet to begin!

My point is that we all should have realistic expectations about how time spent practicing your instrument correlates to musical growth. Once your expectations have been adjusted, it's time to make a commitment to a practice schedule.

One of my kids throws rifles for color guard in Shadow Drum & Bugle Corps, based right here in Oregon. The time commitment for rehearsals is not small: about 70 hours per week even when you factor in meal breaks. At that rate, one could be expected to achieve a level of mastery in just under two years (if the program ran continuously year-round, which it doesn't). Most sports also require a large time commitment to practice. This always equates to greater success of the individual and of the team. 

Those of us who are musicians must be willing to make some sacrifices to accommodate the practice time required to move forward. It may mean skipping some screen time, participating in fewer extra-curriculars, and blocking off time specifically dedicated to practice. That's where measurable growth comes in. At Academy of Sound, we encourage (some of us require) participation in yearly competitions. With these, a judge will rate a performance, giving teachers and students helpful information to determine strengths and weaknesses. We use this data along with our own observations to curate a music education plan for that individual. Then they enter the competition the following year, and we can use that data to compare to previous years. Do we see growth, stagnancy, or even a decline in performance? Then adjustments can be made to our lesson plans.

Another tool we use in piano to measure growth is method book levels. This may seem obvious, but we don't allow students to pass through songs in these books without demonstrating mastery. Sometimes this means a song must be practiced for several weeks. As students level-up, they'll need to increase practice time to keep up. This is why we often see a plateau around level 2 or 3. This is another crucial time to push through and keep coming back. 

Remember, your teacher is here for you. We have a wealth of knowledge and experience, and have probably been through the various plateaus and frustrations you'll experience as a growing musician. We're all still growing too! I suggest taking a look at your goals, and see if your amount of practice time will get you to where you want to be in time. 

That’s all for this month! Have a great August, and we’ll see you in September!!

Monday, July 2, 2018

July 2018 Newsletter

Dear AOS Parents, Students, and Friends,

            We can’t believe that it’s already July! Is anyone else feeling surreal about the fact that 2018 is half over? There’s lots more going on before the year ends!

TAKE NOTE: We are closed July 2-6th:

            We are closed for the first week of July (2-6.) Lessons will resume on Monday, July 9th.

2018-2019 Priority/Open Registration Reminder:

            Priority Registration will begin for the 2018-2019 school year on Monday, July 9th, at 6pm. To register, you must be a family enrolled this summer. You will simply log into your account, and select what lesson times you would like to enroll in for the school year. Open Registration will begin the following Sunday, July 15th. To enroll for lessons at AOS, new students will need to go to:

Smile! You could be on camera:

            We’ll be hosting an AOS photo shoot on Monday, July 16th at 10am. Erin will send out any additional details regarding this before the event date.

The reviews are in and…. Jack and the Beanstalk was a success:

            For just about three weeks, ten dedicated students ages 6-12 rehearsed and prepared the musical production of Jack and the Beanstalk. The show was directed Elisa Kaether, a familiar face to the AOS family. Academy Founder and piano teacher, Erin Chisman, who helped to prepare the young performers for their roles, provided music direction!
            On Saturday, June 30th, a final performance was held in the sanctuary of First Presbyterian for friends, family and concertgoers.  Over the course of roughly an hour, audience members laughed and cheered through the tale of Jack and his beanstalk.
            This talented group of performers presented a musical that they should be very proud of! Way to go, everyone!
            Missed it? Watch here!

Students Recognitions:

            Even in the sweltering heat, our students are still working hard at their instruments. We wanted to shout out to a few of them who finished a level in their lesson books this month!

Delainey Halverson leveled up to 2A in piano
Henry Rothering leveled up to 2A in piano
Aaron Meyers leveled up to 2 in guitar
Erica Briski leveled up to 4 in Suzuki violin

Way to go, everyone!

Teacher Tips:

            Our voice teacher, Kirstin Roble, offers some helpful tips for summer music lessons.

1.     Bring a water bottle: This may seem obvious, but I say this over and over in lessons each week. It’s hot, and dry. Moving in and out of buildings can make you feel less hydrated. Make sure you are keeping a water bottle with you, and sipping from it regularly.

2.     Schedule a time to practice: It’s summer, and there’s so much to do this time of year. I’m guilty of this as well (pool, farmer’s market, outdoor events!) but what I find helpful is to block a time each day to practice. For me, I like to practice early afternoon, about an hour after I’ve had lunch. I feel more energetic then, and I’m not yet at that point in the day where I just want to sit outside and watch the sun go down.

3.     Are you confused? Don’t be afraid to say something: When you’re learning a new instrument or refining the one you are studying, it’s easy to get bogged down by a new concept. If you are feeling confused or unsure of what the teacher is asking you, don’t be afraid to speak up and ask questions. We need your feedback sometimes just as much as you need ours!

Tips of the Trade Post:

            Each month, we are adding a short post to help you grow in musical studies. This month, we are focusing on practicing and how regular practice can help you progress in your musical studies. Read more below.

5 Reasons why developing a regular practice routine is important:

            In your lessons, it’s safe to assume that your teacher has suggested on a regular basis what and how often you need to practice on your own.  Practice? Like doing homework, you may think as your teacher runs you through the weekly assignments to work on.  Wonder how this extra work will help you progress? You’d be surprised!

1.     Muscle Memory: Playing an instrument (voice, piano, guitar, violin, you name it) requires developing muscle memory. In order to learn a difficult passage and be able to play it at the tempo asked of you, it needs to be practiced over and over.  If you only play your instrument at lessons, your muscles will have a tough time remembering what your worked on from week to week.

2.     Consistency is important: As with many activities in life, consistency is important. Practicing can help you develop that in your technique and the pieces that you are working on.

3.     Lessons are more productive: Re-visiting the same piece and passage week after week is not fun for either the teacher or the student. As a teacher, we want to help you soar above any challenging sections. When you practice at home, we can be better use your lesson to fix trouble spots as well as move into new music more quickly!

4.     New Discoveries: In practicing, you may discover something new about your piece that could inform your work in future piece. For instance, if you find that you are left hand moves quickly through fast sixteenth-note passages in piano music, but your right hand does not, it may inform how you practice sections like that in future pieces.

5.     Confidence booster: While practicing may seem boring at the time, we guarantee it will help increase your confidence in lessons and performance. When you know what you are doing, you feel better and want to do more!

While the term “practicing” suggests an activity that may not seem exciting, the results can be! Next week, when your teacher gives you new assignments to work on, pay attention and then go home and work! You’ll be glad that you did!

That’s all, folks! Have a great July, and we’ll be back for another edition in August!

-Kirstin Roble