Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Oh Canada! Joanna and Lisa Bringing Music to a Nation

Sisters Lisa LeBaron (left) and Joanna Dick (right) of Sherwood Park, Alberta Canada, are the founding Let's Play Music teachers in the nation.  

Join the Family
Lisa discovered Let's Play Music in 2011 on a visit to Arizona.  After hearing about the program, she investigated online and was dismayed to discover that it was not an option anywhere in Canada!  Lisa knew her children would thrive with this fun and engaging program, so the natural decision was to join the Let's Play Music family.  Her sister, Joanna, was intrigued and decided to do the training at the same time.  

Both ladies took piano lessons as children and had a mother that taught piano lessons.  As a baby, Lisa sat in the room during her mother's lessons. When she started counting as a toddler it was not the regular "1 2 3 4" but "1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and"!  Her musical fate was sealed, and it was no surprise that both sisters became private piano teachers.

Lisa completed her Piano Teacher's A.R.C.T. (Associate diploma from the Royal Conservatory of Toronto), while Joanna took music and education in University and currently teaches music at an elementary school.  The Let's Play Music classes are taught in Lisa's house and the sisters had their first group of students graduate in 2014.  

Use Music to Teach Music

Lisa says, "Taking a group of students through the entire 3-year program was an amazing way for us to witness the magic of learning music through music."  On many occasions, the sisters would be planning lessons and listening to the songs, saying "that is so smart and sneaky!"  The lyrics of songs an the musical concepts demonstrated in songs are used to teach concepts.  Joanna says, "It is always fun to see the parents have those same discoveries as they attend class with their children and see how we teach complex concepts while having a great time."  

Become a Better Teacher
Even with years of prior piano teaching, both teachers agree that teaching Let's Play Music has helped them become better teachers through the LPM method.  Joanna especially loves the rhythmic and melodic dictation that the 3rd year students do. She says, "I find it amazing that something I did in university, the children are able to do when 7-8 years old." She also loves the careful listening and ability to create harmony in class.  "When the moms sing one part and the kids sing another, it is fantastic! It is so fun to teach in a small classroom setting in such an enjoyable environment."  One of her favourite songs is the catchy jazzy 3rd year song, Let's Find the Root, because it's so exciting to put on sunglasses and rock out with the kids!  

More that Just 'Piano Lessons'
Lisa loves that Let's Play Music is focused on creating complete musicians.  She says "It is impossible to pick just one favorite thing about this amazing program. I love the puppet shows and how they instill a love of classical music.  I love to see my students bring their own puppets and all do the show together."  As a private piano teacher, Lisa sometimes found it tricky to fit all of the aspects of musicianship into lessons, but with the knowledge learned from Let's Play Music, she now knows how to find ways to incorporate these elements into her private teaching, too.  Ear training, note reading and singing are all elements that can be used to expand musical possibilities for students instead of just taking 'piano lessons'!  

Joanna and Lisa both want their students to have fun in class and take away an enjoyment of music.  Learning an instrument is hard work, so with a fun foundation it can provide the stepping stones for so many opportunities for these kids.  The sisters commented, "It’s so fabulous that after completing Let's Play Music, although all the students have been in the same lessons, their strengths are not all the same.  The variety of ways they learn about music make it possible for them to all be successful in pursuing piano, voice or some other instrument.  For us, that is what we want our students to do, have music as a part of their lives to enjoy and share with others."  

Learn about class openings in Alberta, Canada HERE.

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