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

Friday, June 1, 2018

June 2018 Newsletter

Dear AOS Students, Teachers, and Families,

            We’ve had a whirlwind May, which has now come to a close. Now, we’re excited to begin a busy (but fun!) month of June! There’s lots coming up this month, and we’ll be highlighting it below!

Jack and the Beanstalk:

We’re excited to be presenting our summer musical, Jack and the Beanstalk! Based on the classic fairly tale, we’ll be rehearsing and preparing it for a June 30th performance! This program is open to students, age 6-12 and there are plenty of roles for everyone! Our auditions will be held Monday, June 11th, from 1-3pm. Details and an online form for registration are available on our website.

Scholarships still available:
We are still accepting applications for full and partial AOS lessons scholarships. Please check out the details on our website and submit as soon as possible! We want to make sure that as many students can attend AOS as possible!

Recital Success:

We had TWO wonderful recitals May 12th! In addition to great performances by our students and staff members, we also are proud to announce that we raised $419 for the Academy of Sound Foundation, which provides scholarships to students. If you would like to make a donation to help our Foundation, you still can only through PayPal or sending a check. Details are available on our website!

Remaining Lesson Openings:

Our teacher openings are filling up quickly for summer! The following openings remain: 8 guitar/ukulele, 6 piano, and 1 violin/viola/cello. Want to enroll?
Click here to do so!

Photo Shoot Opportunity:

Erin will be sending out an email soon about a fun teacher/student photo shoot! Please watch your emails!

Makeup Classes:
This past week has been about makeup classes here at AOS! Our students have been trying something new! Check out a couple of photos from one our makeup classes where students had the opportunity to learn how an organ works!

Blog Post:

            Each month, we are featuring a post within our newsletter that includes tips and facts for parents and students alike. This month, we’ll be talking about your first music lesson. If you are starting (or re-starting!) lessons this summer, we’ve found some helpful tips for you to prepare!

5 tips for starting music lessons successfully:       

Starting music lessons this summer? Congrats- we are excited for you on this new journey! Before you take that first lesson, here are some tips to help you get ready!

1.     Have a list of questions: Teachers LOVE questions! During the week before your first lesson, write down a list of questions to ask your teacher. These questions can be related to your goals, previous lesson experience, or just general music knowledge questions!

2.     Familiarize yourself with some basic theory: In the age of the Internet, there are countless resources to help you get started. Take a little time to learn (or review!) notes recognition and values, the musical alphabet and what certain markings in music mean! It’s ok if they don’t make sense right now- that’s what lessons are for! Sites such as are great to help get you started!

3.     Contact your teacher ahead of time: If you are able, reach out to your teacher a week or two in advance to introduce yourself or your student. This is also a good time to ask what you should bring to the first lesson, such as your instrument (unless you are a singer or pianist!) or a notebook and pencil.

4.     Set up a practice area in advance: Believe it or not, you will be expected to practice in lessons! Before you start, take some time to set up a practice area if you don’t have one already. If you have a piano, that may be the area to use. Other items to make sure you have access to in the space include a music stand, metronome, pens/pencils, staff paper, and a storage area, such as shelves, to keep your supplies and books! Ideally, this area will be one that is free of outside distractions (TV, computer, etc.) and a quiet place where you can focus on your music!

5.     Don’t expect perfection right away: One of the biggest mistakes that people make coming into lessons is that they expect huge changes right away (sometimes in the first lesson!) You may notice some ideas that click right away, but it will take time for those changes to become permanent. Be patient- it’s the slow and steady turtle that wins the race!

Music lessons can be whatever you want them to be. For many, music lessons are a nice break in the busy schedule of the week.  The first few lessons can be a little nerve-wracking, especially for young students, but with time and a little patience, lessons can become an exciting part of a week, regardless of the age!

Teacher Tips from Adam Chisman, Guitar and Ukulele Instructor: 
We introduced this column last month, and are excited to add more helpful tips to our June newsletter! This month, Managing Director and Guitar/Ukulele Instructor Adam Chisman shares his tips for success!

Tips from Adam (in his own words)

The biggest point I try to make in lessons is to play more than you practice! 

Playing takes what you are doing in lessons and makes it more relevant to 'real life' and is really fun. Daily practice routines and tracking your progress will keep you improving - but in my experience, playing is the key when it comes to getting you over that learning curve to make your instrument feel second nature. Playing can be anything instrument related that you do just because you want to. Your interest in playing is probably the reason you got started with your instrument, so take time to enjoy your abilities!

Things to try: 
  • Write a song using your instrument
  • Cover popular music
  • Get friends together for jam sessions (could also lead to starting an official band)
  • Make a music recording to share
  • Informal music performances (family events, campfire singalongs, open mic nights etc.)

            That’s all for this month! Have a fun June, and we’ll see you in July!