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New Opportunities for Piano Students at HAA

Hunterdon Academy of the Arts proudly announces a newjacobs music logo.jpg partnership with the Jacobs Music Company, one of the largest dealers of Steinway and Yamaha pianos in the North East.  Much more than a piano retailer, Jacobs Music is heavily involved with music education, sponsoring recitals, concerts, master classes, and other educational events in local communities, as well as at their main location in Willow Grove, PA. 

Partnering with Jabobs Music greatly enhances our keyboard program, which has been expanding rapidly.  Over the past two years, our keyboard and piano enrollments have increased substantially. To accommodate growth, the keyboard faculty at Hunterdon Academy of the Arts expanded from just a handful of instructors to 11 professional piano teachers as of fall 2010.

HAA keyboard students have a wide variety of programs to choose from, including piano group classes--among them, Music for Little Mozarts (ages 5 to 7) and Pianissimo Classes (ages 6 to 8)--in addition to private piano lessons.  Adults, too, have been joining us for their keyboard needs, taking individual lessons or the newly launched group keyboard class, Basic Keyboard and Note-Reading, designed specifically for adults.

Our partnership with Jacobs Music presents piano students some wonderful opportunities to get the most out of their piano classes and lessons. Crucial to making long-term, steady progress on the piano is having access to a good instrument for practice purposes.  We have heard your concerns about the expenditure of purchasing a new piano, and our partnership with Jacobs Music now provides you with a very attractive solution: a low-cost, hassle-free piano rental program. For only $49/month--a rate that has been specially discounted for HAA--you can now rent a brand-new upright piano from Jacobs Music (Willow Grove) through HAA.  And should you wish to purchase the instrument later, all rental fees will apply to your purchase price.  For students moving from electric keyboard to acoustic piano, this is the perfect bridge that will be very easy on the budget!  Also, students curious to find out whether or not piano studies is the right choice  for them, will get a clear understanding of what it would be like to own a good piano in their own home.

Below pictures feature the rental piano offered by Jabobs Music.  We have a sample here at the Academy, and you're welcome to try it out.  Just give us a call to let us know when you'd like to come in: (908) 782-4943

Four New Faculty Members to Join HAA

Karina Vazquez Colis.small resized 600We are delighted to welcome four new instructors to the faculty of Hunterdon Academy of the Arts: Brandon Eldredge (piano); Thomas Hanslowe (violin); Seth Rosenthal (flute); and Karina Vazquez Colis (drums; jazz; voice; and jarana). 

Specializing in piano, Brandon recently graduated from the College of New Jersey with a Bachelor of Music degree in Music Education. In addition to serving as piano accompanist for St. Paul's Lutheran Church and St. Magdalen's Church in Flemington, Brandon has taught music theory and conducted several bands at Moorestown High School and William Allen Middle School.

Thomas Hanslowe, too, joins us with a Bachelor of Music degree in music education, which he received from The College of New Jersey.  With a concentration in violin, he is looking forward to building a violin studio at HAA.

Succeeding Pamela Riley, distinguished flutist Seth Rosenthal is a very experienced teacher who is highly respected in the professional community.  Over the years, many of his flute students in the NY metropolitan area have won prizes and awards in music competitions.

And, lastly, we are very happy that Karina Vazquez Colis (see above photo) has joined our faculty. As a multi-instrumentalist with a Professional Music Diploma from Berklee College of Music, Karina offers a unique set of skills that will broaden the scope of our programs. Passionate about world jazz, Karina is a drummer, vocalist, and player of the jarana, a Mexican guitar-like instrument that originated in the Huastec and Veracruz regions.  She is well versed in a great variety of Central and South American musics and between 2002 and 2008 was featured on 9 CD's, one of which was released by the prestigious EMI Records label.

We are thrilled that these four outstanding artists and teachers have joined our faculty to meet the rising demand for music lessons at Hunterdon Academy of the Arts. 

It's going to be another great year!

Music Schools Flemington: Spring 2010 Survey Results (Part 1)

Every year we ask our families to participate in a brief survey. Though we maintain

Join the Best Music School in Flemington NJ!

 close contact with our teachers, students, and families throughout the year, this survey provides an additional forum for participants to let us know how we are doing as an institution. In our ongoing efforts to improve our programs and meet the needs of our students, we want to find out in which areas changes need to be made, and of course, we also enjoy receiving "pats on the back" and knowing where we have exceeded expectations.


The results of this year's survey are in and as in previous years, have been extremely positive. Judging by the responses, Hunterdon Academy of the Arts is on the right track in so many ways. We are extremely delighted to hear that we have provided our students and families with a music program that many respondents characterized as "
far better than other music schools." This is wonderful news indeed! Below are only a few of the glowing testimonials our families shared with us:

"Being a member of HAA has opened many opportunities for us as a family to enjoy music!! Thank you for always finding innovative ways of communicating with families with all current HAA musical events and news."

"Can't think of a way to improve the school!"

"Our class is a big highlight of our week. :-) Thank you."

Musikgarten Educator Ann Engberg ("Mrs. E") is a "wonderful teacher, my child LOVES her. She has a wonderful gift and shares it so expressively!"

Musikgarten Educator Francesca Panfilo-Milza, "Mrs P, is a fabulous teacher! She is energetic and fun and it is evident that the children respond positively to her teaching methods."

Musikgarten Educator Michele Collins is "approachable....Friendly....upbeat....prepared....structured....informative"

"[Our daughter] has learned more with [violin teacher] Dr. Hoffman than with any other teacher."

"Mrs. Peare has been a pleasure throughout our Keyboard Group class years"

"We're very satisfied with Mrs. Schmidt's [piano] teaching methods. She has been flexible when needed, recommending the appropriate grade level for taking the Trinity exam, providing sufficient material for practice and continuing to make lesson and practice time enjoyable. " 

"I love the Bel Cantos Program and Mrs. Nagy is an amazing director."

"Not only is [guitar teacher] Laura [Oltman] very talented, but she builds a wonderful rapport with her students. She's warm, patient, supportive, and knows when and how to push without discouraging her students. She's wonderful!" 

 

Of course, there is always room for improvement, so there were a few honest concerns expressed by some of our parents. To find out how we are addressing them, read "'Ins and Outs' of Music Practice: Spring 2010 Survey Results (Part 2)."

Practicing a Musical Instrument, or Eating Cilantro?

Practicing an instrument is for me a lot like cilantro.

Let me explain.

I used to really dislike cilantro. Indian food was tainted by its smoky, pungent flavor. In Mexican food it was an something to be picked around in salsa and guacamole. Any other cuisine and it was simply an unpleasant surprise. Ick.

That same "ick" factor is one that all too frequently accompanies the idea of practicing an instrument. Speaking to my own past experience, it's so much easier to go for a walk on a sunny day than it is to sit inside and work out a technical passage in a piece, or, heaven forbid, practice scales. Again, I say "ick." However, even in cases when the sun is shining, the weather is balmy, and all of Nature cries out to me, I often find myself in front of the piano, working assiduously and often

Stefanie Watson, Piano Teacher at Hunterdon Academy of the Arts.jpg

 even happily. How is this possible?! One word: cilantro.

It wasn't a conscious choice to overcome my distaste for cilantro. On one experience eight or nine years ago, I unexpectedly ended up with a hefty garnish of it in some soup. I took a spoonful, and can still remember thinking, "I never want to taste this flavor again." Yet bit by bit, I began to discover that guacamole wasn't completely ruined when cilantro snuck its way in there. I didn't have the urge to spit out my dal when that little speck of green weaseled its way onto my spoon. Soon, I bought my own bunch of the herb and consciously added it to recipes, and even, dare I say, enjoyed eating the results. Perhaps it's just something for which I had to acquire a taste, but I truly believe that introducing it in subtle, effective ways was my key to falling for cilantro.

Likewise, through my various esteemed piano teachers, I've discovered that there are ways to tackle an issue that don't involve beating your head against the wall (figuratively or literally). No more repeating two measures over and over again with the hopes that your hands will decide to cooperate and miraculously work the way they ought to. Instead, for example, find a way to use rhythm to trick your brain into focusing on something else while simultaneously teaching your body exactly what it needs to do. Or, for younger students, perform your pieces for an audience of stuffed animals, one time for each "friend" that listens. Be inventive. Make up little self-rewards. But above all, find Mary Poppins' "element of fun" that makes the medicine go down. I truly believe that practice shouldn't be an onerous task, but it should be one done conscientiously. In the words of one of my graduate school professors, Judith Nicosia, "Practice makes permanent." If a passage is learned wrong, it takes FAR longer to un-learn than it would have to study it carefully and accurately in the first place. That spoonful of soup with the mouthful of cilantro took years to overcome; the notes I memorized incorrectly in my Beethoven sonata took no small amount of time to fix either.

Above all, I am of the opinion that the majority of prejudices in life, culinary, musical or otherwise, can be overcome with an open mind and the right attitude. Whether you're talking about some food you dislike or sitting down to finally learn how to play an A-flat arpeggio, give it time and the proper context and you may just find that there are ways to overcome your bias. So, whether your opponent is a multifarious plant whose leaf and seeds have totally different names (cilantro and coriander, incidentally) or a seemingly insurmountable piece of music, my advice remains the same: give it a try. Baby steps. Open mind. Take a bite.

Bon appetit.

 

Stefanie Watson

Piano Teacher, Hunterdon Academy of the Arts

Flemington, New Jersey 

Piano Lessons Flemington

Looking for Professional Piano Lessons in Flemington? Study with Dr. Lynda Saponara, the latest addition to our piano program!  Dr. Saponara, who receivedpiano lessons flemington.jpg her Doctor of Musical Arts degree from Rutgers University, joins eight other piano instructors to meet the rising demands for piano and keyboard instruction at Hunterdon Academy of the Arts. Having previously held several university appointments, including at Rutgers, The College of New Jersey, New Jersey City University, and Wagner College, Dr. Saponara brings considerable knowledge and professional expertise to this community.

Why should you take piano lessons? The National Piano Foundation cites several university studies documenting the benefits of piano studies. Research conducted at McGill University in Montreal shows that "children who took piano lessons for three years scored higher than their peers on tests of general and spatial cognitive development - the very faculties needed for performance in math and engineering and other pursuits." Similarly, according to the University of California at Irvine, "students who took piano lessons along with computer puzzle-solving did better in math." For older students, too, piano studies can be very beneficial since they may reduce feelings of anxiety, depression, and loneliness. (For more information, visit The National Piano Foundation.)

New Music Teacher Appointments!

February 2010: We are delighted to have appointed three new music teachers: piano teacher.jpgMarisa Arzillo (voice and musical theatre), Alan Rigoletto (guitar), and Richard Woo (piano). Marisa is pursuing a distinguished career as a singer and operatic stage director. She has started teaching voice for us, and will take our Musical Theatre program to the next level. Though well versed in all guitar styles, Alan Rigoletto is coming to HAA with some significant expertise on the jazz guitar, as well as a semester of guitar studies at the Hochschule für Musik und Darstellende Kunst ("Academy of Music and Performing Arts") in Frankfurt, Germany. Lastly, currently pursuing a Master's degree at Westminster Choir College, Richard Woo is majoring in Piano Pedagogy/Performance and Music Education. In addition to his professional studies, he is also on the piano faculty of Westminster Conservatory of Music.

We warmly welcome Marisa, Alan, and Richard to our music faculty.  They will help us maintain our high standards of education and meet the demands of our growing lesson program!

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