In her piano studio, Julie tries to encourage individual expression as much as possible and discover the style of music most suitable for each student. Some of the pieces her students are currently working on are: Rondo Capriccioso by Mendelssohn, Maple Leaf Rag by Scott Joplin, Toccata in D minor by Bach, Frankie & Johnny (jazz), Moonlight Sonata, by Beethoven, Bach’s Chromatic Fantasy & Fugue, Chopin’s Waltz in C# minor.
Many times her students arrive with a particular song or piece of music they have heard and want to learn how to play. Some have a sincere desire to learn how to read music fluently. The beginner students usually take half hour lessons, and more advanced students who usually take forty-five minutes to one hour for a lesson. Part of the lessons are spent on learning about hand, finger, and arm position as well as entire body posture and starts with a simple exercise for strengthening the fingers. These exercises are gradually added to and built upon with subsequent lessons. Another portion of the lesson is spent on determining whether the student is ready to start learning how to read music. Sometimes Julie composes songs on the spot and teaches a student to play without sheet music. Julie places a high emphasis on music theory and or very young students, this is approached through various scales . Games, singing, clapping, and musical movement are incorporated into lessons, especially for the very young beginner.
For intermediate students, certain scales, arpeggios,and chords, are learned along with matching pieces. Julie plays through several pieces that she thinks the student may like to learn. At this point, the student chooses the piece he/she will be working on. For advanced students, part of the lesson is spent on finger technique, scales, chords, and arpeggios; afterwards work may progress with individual repertoire.
A special note on prevention of muscular tension problems while playing an instrument
It is of vital importance to maintain good posture while still staying relaxed at the keyboard. Relaxation of the shoulders, arms, and wrists is of the utmost importance. Arms and fingers also stay relaxed in between motions of playing the notes and chords. This constant tension and immediate relaxation in the fingers is the key to staying free of muscular tension problems that could appear with long-term improper use of the arms and fingers while playing the piano. A major part of Julie’s method is to ensure that relaxion of each muscle occurs throughout playing, whether it is scales, arpeggios and chords, or actual songs (pieces). Julie and her students have played for years with this relaxion method, happily reporting no muscular tension problems whatsoever.