Monday, November 3, 2014

Katie Wilson: From Hating Lessons to Loving Music

Katie Wilson, M.S.

This week, I had the pleasure to get to know Let's Play Music and Sound Beginnings teacher, Katie Wilson.  Katie has been teaching in Midlothian, Virginia since 2012 and currently has 6 classes each week as well as several private piano students.

In addition to Let's Play Music teaching, Katie is the founder and co-director of the Young Midlothian Singers (a community children's choir for ages 7-13), founded in 2011.  She has also performed in adult choirs in both Washington DC and Richmond. 

Hated Lessons!?

Although Katie has been involved in music and performing for most of her life,  it wasn't always as joyful for her as it is today.  Katie says, "I took piano lessons as a child and hated almost every minute of it!  I loved when I could play songs that I chose and when I had a teacher who let me improvise and have fun." Too bad that was not the norm.

In retrospect, she wishes there had been Let's Play Music classes to nurture her when she was a child, encourage her composing and improvisation, and focus on learning to love the music she could create.  As an adult, she eventually returned to playing piano and composing and says, "I wish I had taken lessons longer and practiced more as a child."  

Most Important: Learn to Love It

Not surprisingly, Katie's dream for her students it to learn to LOVE music "whether they stick with piano or not."  She says, "My Let's Play Music classes give them the tools for understanding music and the confidence to pursue any musical avenue that appeals to them. I want music to be a part of their lives and their children's lives for generations to come!"  Katie has discovered that by teaching a love and understanding of music, not just the technical performance of it, her students get what she never quite achieved in her early lessons.

How Different Could It Be?

Midlothian is quite isolated from other Let's Play Music studios.  How did it make it's way into that area?  Katie explained that her best friend and mother of 4 Let's Play Music students gushed about how AMAZING the curriculum was and insisted that Katie should start teaching in her area.  "I was like, 'sure, yeah right, how different could it be from everything else out there?'"  As her friends children continued through the program, year-by-year, she continued to remind Katie that she NEEDED to become a teacher.

"I would say, 'yes, it sounds great' and then ignore her.  After years of nagging, I finally watched the demo video (watch here) on the website and was immediately hooked."

Katie has a Master's degree in developmental/ child psychology and learning theory.  She could see from the start how Let's Play Music was theoretically sound, with lessons building on each other and material presented in an age-appropriate way.  "On top of it all, it is SO FUN! I get to be crazy and silly and still teach sound foundational music theory. What could be better?"  She had finally found the program she'd wished for as a child, and applied that very week.

Teaching the Sneaky Way

Now Katie says the thing she loves most about teaching is being SNEAKY.  "I love that the students learn fun songs and don't realize how much theory is jam-packed into them. I also like to see the surprised look on parents' faces, especially very musical parents, when they see how cleverly we introduce tricky concepts."  Her clients were delighted when she used the feather and bulls-eye to demonstrate changing the rhythm of quarter notes to dotted-quarter and eighth notes, in a memorable, fun, and precise way.

When she's not teaching, Katie's four children are her greatest passion.  She homeschooled three of them up until high school, and still has a 5th grader at home.  She has successfully nurtured a love of music, theater, and performing in all of them, and says, "I spend a LOT of time in the car driving to and from rehearsals and shows. Keeping up with schedules is tricky as a single mom, but I love seeing them do things they are passionate about."

I had a great time getting to know Katie and hope you'll check out her classes if you happen to be in Virginia!

-Gina Weibel, M.S.

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