After a long recovery from surgery, Anne was wondering if she would ever be able to have the stamina and drive to teach music again. She reconnected to her love of early childhood education, and her passion for playing, when she came across the Musicolor Method.
Now, Anne has reinvented herself as a private music teacher to preschool and elementary age children. She’s got a thriving, part-time business with a waiting list of eager students.
First instrument: Piano
Age I started playing music: 7
Number of years teaching: 38
Number of students before The Musicolor Method: 3-4
Number of current students: 14, plus waiting list
Interviewer: Christy Goldfeder
Currently listening to:
Bohemian Rhapsody movie soundtrack.
I’ve loved music since childhood
I started learning piano at 7 years old. I studied for 5 years, and I took exams for it in high school for what we call here in Australia, the HSC. In the U.S., I suppose you would call it your high school graduation.
I didn’t actually think I was clever enough to study music to graduate from high school. But I was encouraged by an inspiring and dedicated teacher who told me that I could do it.
I always knew I wanted to be a teacher
At University, I studied early childhood education, and I included music in my teaching studies.
I was actually a musicology major. I didn’t have to actually do a performance, but I had to do musicology arranging and composing. I absolutely loved it.
Professionally, I focused on classroom music. I played the piano, the guitar and sang with my students.
I had my son when I was 30. I taught early childhood music classes with him. He was able to come along when he was 2-5 years old.
My son’s early music lessons were a disaster
He started at age 4 with the piano, and it really didn’t work. At that time, there didn’t seem to be childhood classes that bridged early music and formal lessons. If he had the Musicolor Method back then, he would have loved it.
My son started studying guitar in school. Now, he and his wife are professional musicians living in New York.
I started performing later in life—teaching was always first
My son inspired me to learn bass guitar and voice and start performing in my 40’s. I was the bass player, backup singer, and music director of the church.
When my son was older, I got a job at his school teaching High School music and as the performing arts convenor. It was a role that I loved.
I was helping students perform for their exams, their performances and prepare for their graduation. At the end of the year they were doing performances.
My son and his fiancee (now wife) said, “Why don’t you start off because you have your early childhood background, your general education background. Why don’t you start teaching piano?” So I taught Kinder Music and Music Theory after the school year was over.
The Musicolor Method created the next phase of my career
I was recovering from hip replacement surgery, and I was actually feeling quite down and out. I was thinking that I might not be able to teach any more.
Andrew contacted me through LinkedIn, and he sent me information about his program.
As a parent and a teacher, I already knew there was a gap for young musicians. That’s what I had experienced with taking my son to piano lessons at age 4 – they were way too hard and really turned him off learning piano.
I could see the value in the Musicolor Method right away.
Plus, I have always loved color. If I showed you around my house see you got bright color paintings. The creative use of color in the Musicolor Method really appealed to me too. And it has been fantastic.
The kids are engaged and excited by the colors
I just loved the colors, and the children took to it straight away. My students started singing a lot more, which appealed to me as an early childhood teacher.
We love singing songs and they loved collecting the ribbons. I made a fun folder for them. We could go slowly through it, it didn’t matter how long a child had to stay. I could slowly go with the child depending on how they were developing.
It bridges beautifully with the early childhood years of music with 3-4 year olds. It’s the perfect solution until they’re a little older and can go on to reading music.
I believe there are still not a whole lot of good resources that bridge that Kinder music phase in young children. A lot of books have young students playing on the black keys. I do utilize that as one tool for visualizing different positions on the piano, but it gets boring, and it is not as creative as the colors.
The colors inspire creativity and compositions
I do integrate composition a lot in my lessons as well because the colors make it so easy for the children to write something. I am putting together a book actually, to show Andrew what our studio here has composed.
The kids get inspired by something that happened at school, or being on a holiday, or even by the stuffed toys I have in my studio. They use all of them to write song.
Even if they are struggling with playing with five fingers, they can still be creative. I love that. If they were learning traditionally they wouldn’t feel so good about themselves as musicians.
My part-time roster is full
I have students from age 4-9 on the Musicolor Method, and I have some older students who have gone on to other instruments but they come back to practice with me. But they actually started with the Musicolor Method.
I use it to build that transition solidly so that my students don’t lose that love for music or say it’s too hard.
The Musicolor Method helps connect with older students too
One student is turning 11 this year. I have actually said to him, “I think you need a better piano teacher now because I just focus on early childhood.”
But he’s still with me, learning harder songs like Star Wars and Harry Potter. We’re also learning chords, Beatles songs, and having fun singing together. I think that is quite interesting that he could really go to a different teacher, but for him, it is about the connection and the fun and creative process. He can play without the colors, but he still enjoys that creative side.
There are two older girls, and they are playing clarinet and saxophone. They are in grade 6. They are both in bands and they come back to me to practice. I don’t play clarinet or saxophone, but they feel confident enough with me to come back for me to help them practice. Their moms pay me to help them, I feel that connection is there to support them in their music journey.
Learn more about the Musicolor Masterclass here