Alecia Stringer’s Music Fun Studio
I had the opportunity to sit down with one of Nashville’s great piano teachers, Alecia Stringer’s Music Fun Studio and talk about raising a child up with piano lessons versus not. There are many benefits to piano lessons for both boys and girls from just the experience and confidence level to excelling in math and other areas in their lives. Find out more about these benefits.
Nashville Rocks: How did YOU get started playing piano?
Alecia Stringer: When I was about 8 years old we were walking in a mall and they had a piano store and someone was playing and I was like I would really like to do that. So we walked around looking at different pianos and my dad said are you serious? Are you going to practice? Is this what you want to do? I was like yeah I do. It looks like alot of fun and he said “I might do it with you.” You know to encourage me on…
NR: I think I said the same thing to my daughter…
AS: I DO have a mom and son student right now so that’s very inspiring.
NR: I can play Butterfly really good.
AS: I have to hear that sometime…I took piano from 2 teachers growing up about twice a week and I did that for about ten years. So sometimes when students come to me and have already had 5 or 6 teachers I’m a little worried about what style they’ve learned.
NR: yeah I bet they’ve all been taught different methods.
AS: All sorts of different things. So some of them are way behind…
NR: But you’ve been playing since you were 8? That’s still awesome.
AS: When I went to college, I didn’t realize
NR: Were you a music major?
AS: Yes, I have a bachelors from Western Kentucky.
NR: With the intention all along of teaching music?
AS: Yes, I took pedagogy classes cause I always wanted to teach because I wasn’t a performer. Everyone has their own talents and I prefer teaching.
NR: When did you get your first student and what was it like?
AS: When I was in high school my teacher recommended it. “You should go into pedagogy.” I was like, what is that? She said, “teaching music.” So then when I went to college and got the scholarship I was already able to teach the basics and earn a little money teaching piano to college students right away.
NR: Were you a teachers assistant?
AS: Yes, then I just started teaching it on my own with my upright piano I had since I was eight years old. It was about 1999 when I started taking some students in that summer and about a year later I had the most students I had ever had. Colleges were getting alot of calls needing teachers and I was up to 30 students. We got to the point where we were questioning how you can serve that many students.
NR: Scheduling becomes a nightmare at that point I imagine…
AS: right, so we were balancing a studio and mostly boy students…
NR: Do boys have a more difficult time paying attention and staying focused?
AS: No, they were a blessing. They brought the joy to the music. Meet the Flintstones music, Star Wars, they were dressing up for recitals. It was alot of fun. Seeing more boys take lessons was a great dynamic. I learned alot when I had a full studio, that was paying for everything I had learned.
NR: Do you take any kind of continuing education to stay fresh?
AS: I wanted to take some lessons from this teacher that took from Rachmaninoff. You know you can learn from different teachers at the master level that had different teachers themselves and really pick up different techniques.
NR: Martial artists are the same way.
AS: exactly, at western there was a famous player from argentina and she was 96% blind. Seeing her perform was really a great influence on me. So when I was in Arkansas I also studied under a teacher that learned from Rachmaninoff. I’ve gone to some workshops in Nashville for different techniques.
NR: What is your favorite part about teaching kids?
AS: I love seeing the lightbulb come on.
NR: Those “ah ha” moments?
AS: Yes, the “ah ha” moments are great. When they come in they didn’t even know how to play and now they can just look at a piece of sheet music and be able to play confidently.
NR: I was really surprised that my daughter was able to pick up so much under just a few lessons.
AS: I learned alot in college taking all those students through different methods. Now I know which method is fast and for what people. There are so many methods that come out and being in a pedagogy class you learn why some work and some don’t. I’m a teacher that can teach from different approaches.
NR: Why is music good for children?
AS: I always look back to keeping that experience for them. They really grow in other areas of their life so much faster when they are music students. I’d rather teach a kinder music child piano rather than any other student because they already have some of that development grounded in them. The young ones learn so much faster the earlier it is introduced to them. Kindof like “Mozart Brain.” They have that new switch trned on where they just learn so much faster. They’re more literate.
NR: Does that fall into the same realm as what a parent should be doing?
AS: Parents have different needs and location is a big factor. And parents need to be interactive with the kids and keep them active.
NR: What is your basic format in the beginning?
AS: The fun part is about the music they like, what do you know about a piano? What types of styles and mechanics are involved. Even with voice, what is your vocal range? How do you breathe? Exploring what’s involved. I have a couple videos on my blog that show how a piano is made, what it takes to put it together so they can really see the whole realm of the instrument and what they can do with it.
NR: Then do they go into another stage?
AS: Basics of rhythm, how fast they learn that, basic beats, note values.
NR: What’s the next stage?
AS: Keyboard geography and note names and letters.
NR: going back, what are the real benefits again of a child at an early age learning piano.
AS: The piano is the basic instrument for any musical instrument that you would use. If they want to learn guitar, voice or any other instrument, then the piano is the basic instrument that they are going to learn the fastest and be able to move to anything else they may want to do. If they can get two years on piano, they can move to any instrument so much faster and easier.
NR: And the benefits of learning with you are what…location to South Nashville, plus all of the earlier stuff we mentioned.
AS: I can feed back on how fast a student can learn and recognize plateaus. Where are you struggling on your practicing. Everyone learns at a different speed and you want to learn those pedagogies and go for it.
One thing you want to impact people with most is that you are putting your time and effort and money into this and they are going to get it back in so many other ways like in confidence level, experience, math skills and more. Alot of kids lack these things in their life and piano can introduce those things so much easier. Some people wonder where was that thing missing in my life and that was because I didn’t learn to play and I didn’t learn that musical instrument. That’s why its so sad that now many schools don’t offer music. These kids are missing out on all these experiences. Then they wonder, why are test scores so low. Well, did you offer them music?! Because it does play in hand and is a factor in that.
NR: Is piano like riding a bike?AS: Yes, if you go away from it you can certainly come back to it much easier.