Studio update, Summer 2023
Hi everybody! I hope you all have been enjoying your vacations. This has been my least busy teaching summer ever! I miss you all and am looking forward to resuming our lessons in the fall. We are taking our own family trip to Maine from 8/25-9/5, so there will be no lessons during that period. After that, we'll start up again in earnest!
Due to rising costs of everything, I am increasing my rate this year again. Each tier of lessons will increase by $10, so (prices below are for Venmo or check):
Was previously $70, now $80
Was previously $100, now $110
Was previously $130, now $140
I will keep the cash discount, so as before, you can deduct $10 from each lesson if you pay in cash.
After trying the prepay method last year I think I've worked out the kinks. Each semester bill will now include 15 lessons. If we go over I will issue an additional bill, but 15 was the average studio-wide for both semesters. This should mean fewer bills and bookkeeping for everybody.
At the end of June we finally let our beloved nanny of the past five years go, and this fall Sebastian and Oliver will be in afterschool. Masha should be doing the pickups, but there may be some bumpiness as we get used to the new routine. I ask for your patience during this transition! For that reason, the sooner you can get me your schedules, the better. I think there are at least a few families that are likely to want to change lesson times this semester.
This year I have some new activities planned for the studio, including more composition! With any luck, we can look forward to hearing some original compositions in the next studio recital.
Finally, at the beginning of the summer I was shocked to receive a diagnosis of inattentive ADHD from my therapist. Maybe this is not such a surprise for some of you who have had to wait for me when I missed the subway, or for a long overdue bill! But since then I've been doing a lot of reading on the subject, and have learned quite a few interesting things. Be on the lookout for a separate email from me soon discussing neurodiversity.
Okay, I think that's everything for now! Hope you all are having the best time and I can't wait to reconnect with you all again!!!
So as promised, I wanted to send a separate email addressing neurodiversity in the studio. With my own recent diagnosis of ADHD, I thought it was time. I've revised this at least a dozen times already - it was hard to write, and I've been nervous to send it. My intention is to open up more lines of communication for anyone who would like to take advantage of it - that's all!
My experience working with neurodiversity goes back more than 20 years, before I even started teaching piano lessons. One of my first summer jobs as a college student was working at a company called "Lindamood-Bell Learning Processes," where I tutored kids who had been diagnosed with learning disabilities in reading. Most of them had ADHD and/or dyslexia. So although I don't have a background in psychology, I got some hands-on experience for a couple years, and a lot of the techniques I learned at that job actually ended up forming part of the backbone of my pedagogy.
Over the years, I have worked with a number of students that I suspected were neuroatypical, but one thing that has always been pretty consistent is that the parents didn't talk to me about it. I'm sure everyone had their reasons, and since I'm not a professional psychologist, I didn't ask. But I did notice when some kids would have particular difficulties, and did my own research on how to help them based on what I saw them struggling with.
All this time, I never suspected that I had ADHD myself, mainly because I am not hyper, and was generally a good student, often top of my class. I didn't think I was "disordered." As it turns out, ADHD can manifest in a number of different ways, and has significant upsides such as hyperfocus, energy, and creative, in addition to the downsides of distractibility and lack of executive function. ADHD people can be very high-achieving, and it is frequently found in artists. And hyperactivity may or may not be present.
It was only during the last couple months of working with my therapist that I started to see some trends that could indicate ADHD. When I finally sat down and went over my entire life looking for the symptoms, I found they were present in every major struggle I had had and continued to have. I brought the list to my therapist and asked him for confirmation, which he gave. Since then I have read a number of books on ADHD and continued to refine the list. Now I have no doubt that it has been with me my whole life.
So why am I telling you guys all of this? Well, over the past ten years I've noticed a big increase in neurodiversity among kids. I think many of my colleagues would agree with me on this. We don't know why, but it feels these days that "neuroatypical" has become the new normal, and represents a majority of students. Maybe it's just because more diversity of thought processes is accepted than in the past, which would be a great thing! After all, ADHD and dyslexia at least have likely been with us for hundreds of years already, and I think it's taken as common knowledge nowadays that kids don't all learn the same ways. There have been all kinds of public debates on such basic topics as whether it's better for the genders to be separate or integrated, and using metrics other than age to define classes, before you even get into "diagnoses."
Regardless, I don't often get the chance to talk to parents directly about this, so up until now I have just made my own private assessments of each student, and adjusted accordingly.
However! If you suspect your child is neuroatypical, or has particular learning challenges, I encourage you to talk to me about it. I will do extra research and find the best method to approach their particular way of learning. Some students need a very rigid lesson structure, others more flexible. Many need extra enthusiasm and positive reinforcement. Some need the information presented a certain way - some do better with reading, others with listening. Some do better with more creative input; others only want to play exactly what's on the page. I always try my best to tailor my curriculum based on what I see in the lessons, but if you have additional information that you feel would be helpful, I would love to hear it. And like I said, I am not a professional psychologist, but if you are looking to get a diagnosis from someone else, I would be happy to help out by describing what I see in lessons.
As for my own family, Oliver doesn't turn six until October, so it's early for a diagnosis, but we're pretty certain he has raging ADHD too. (Sebastian may as well, but of a different variety - he is more independent and stable at the moment.) So we will have our hands full for some time over here, trying our best to figure out all the challenges that come with being an ADHD family. It's been a particularly difficult summer, as a matter of fact. If we learn anything that would be useful to any of you, I would love to be able to put it to use.
There's so much more I want to say on this subject - please ask me if you have questions. Eventually I will get around to writing some blog posts about it, I imagine. In the meantime, just remember that I'm always available to discuss any of your concerns regarding your kids' learning, and the more information I have, the more I can do.
And of course - regardless of everything else, everyone can afford to practice more! Haha!!