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Q & A with Grace

Why do you want to teach music?

Music is freedom. The freedom to express yourself in ways you can't verbally communicate to others. It is freedom from stress and heartache. It is an invitation to cry on stage tears of powerful emotion and see that energy translate to the audience. To give that freedom to others is my happiness.

I have always been a musician. When I was 8 in elementary school, I performed for the first time during a talent show. I played a boogie-woogie on the piano that my mother taught me and the feeling of playing on stage for people made me fall in love with music.  Teaching and performing are a natural progression for me.

What is your vocal history?

I have been both a vocalist and pianist for about 16 years, and an orchestral and choral composer/arranger for 11 years. In 2009, completed a 2-year conducting apprenticeship at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, and then composed and conducted a piece for my high school orchestra in 2011. I studied jazz piano under Blue Note artist, Anthony Molinaro and voice under Kirsten Hedegaard for 4 years at Loyola University Chicago to graduate with a B.A. in Jazz Studies and Composition. 

During my time at University, I was leader of my university chorale section (2011-2013), and student chorale director (2013-2015). I also organized and produced a vocal jazz concert where I arranged vocal ensembles, coached them to performance readiness, and assembled the venue, sound systems, and PR for the event. On the side, I was the music director of my acapella group (2013-2015), coaching the blend of about 15 students, arranging music, producing shows, and building morale. From 2015 to now, I have sang in Italy on tour as an alum with my University Chorale, began formally teaching voice and piano lessons (2016), perform at shows and jams, sing on studio sessions, and I now sing with a cover band on Lower Broadway in Nashville.

I have worked with small vocal groups of 15 students to large chorales of 100 students. I have worked with jazz, country, R&B, soul, and classical vocalists, as well as beginner pianists, intermediate jazz pianists, and pop singer/songwriter pianists. I have worked with ages ranging from 16-30 but am comfortable with all ages.

What other music experience do you have?

During my time at University, I played piano with the jazz band (2012-2015), wrote music for and performed with my jazz ensemble, (2012-2015), and organized and produced my senior recital (2014-2015). In 2015 I was a teachers assistant for a beginners piano course. I took a rigorous course load consisting of composition and arrangement, music theory, music history, and the art of listening, to experience as much music as possible. I also played out at my own shows, and subbed in keys for a experimental/funk band. In 2016, I moved to Nashville where I began playing out at blues/jazz jams, played my own shows, and with The Lower Broadway Band on Broadway in Nashville. I currently am in located in Pittsburgh recording a new album, producing and directing shows, and building my lessons business.

What is your process to working with new students?

My first step when working with a new student is getting to know you a bit to find out what drives you to achieve your goals. I then go over my lessons outline with you to pinpoint what your goals are and setup a timeline to accomplish them. My goal is to make you feel comfortable and build a relationship with you so that I may know how to push you to success!

What advice would you give a parent or student looking for a teacher?

Look for someone who will give you direction; a goal with no plan goes nowhere. Also find someone with whom you are comfortable. Music is a beautiful art that needs to be balanced between work and play. As a flowing give/take experience, both parties need to be willing to do both.

Does their experience match their price? -In other words what is the value of their price in accordance to their experience.  I would always side with hiring the musician with more experience, even though the price may be hirer. You will be sure to get what you want out of the hire.

Why should I hire you?

Every student of any study has the choice to push themselves. I was and am a student that will always be pushing for more. More technique, better tonality, wider repertoire, etc, and I will push my students to do the same.

A common misconception of students pursuing  music professionally is that their expensive education is wasted on jamming out with some buddies in dorm rooms and skipping night class to check out the latest and greatest in concert. That may be true for some; however, my music education, similar to those around me, consisted of running scales in a practice room for at least 4 hours a day between classes, memorizing standards, composing/arranging on weekends, and finding time between 5am and 7am to study for those core classes everybody loves, all while working 30 hours a week.

My senior recital was the result of 4-years of this. Six arrangements, 4,160 hours of sitting at a piano, 360 hours of lessons, and countless hours putting it all together while repeating a mantra of reassurance that it will all work out flawlessly. Standing up in front of that piano after my recital was my proudest moment to date, feeling the rush of applause and looking over at my ensemble gratefully nodding at their smiles.  This experience put a fire in me of what hard work and a LOT of patience can accomplish. I approach my students with this same fire and hope to instill the same in them.


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