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Personal Experience

I was a very fortunate young child to grow up in a home where classical music was all around me. If my mother was not playing the piano herself, she would always have a recording on of some famous piano concerto, or the radio would be blaring out music of all kinds, not just classical! And, as a child, concert-going became as common to me as doing my homework or eating a meal. It was my mom that took me constantly to concerts. Of course, I had no idea of knowing then that my musical life was already being formed. It was almost impossible not to see the passion that my mom felt about music, as it was almost always written all over her face. I witnessed either tears or laughter, or something in between, along with some kind of verbal comment about how beautiful the music was. It was inevitable that I would want to start studying the piano, and so my mom became my first teacher. We started my piano lessons together at the age of 8 and lasted all of about 3 months... it just didn't work!! This was the beginning of my love affair with piano, music and what later would become a lifetime of teaching.

Teaching Experience

I have had the pleasure of teaching piano, music theory, ear training and music history for 40 years. My students have ranged in age from 4 to adults. On the younger side, I was quite fortunate to have had the opportunity to create a music program for pre-school children in the 1980s when my own children were attending pre-school. My husband and I could not afford tuition for a summer camp, and the school's director, knowing that I was a pianist, asked if I would be interested in a barter situation. This began a summer of intense study and research for me, which resulted in the development of a popular group pre-school music program. During this period, along with my private teaching studio, I became a music specialist at Temple Judea Pre-School for several years. It was an invaluable experience, which afforded me a deeper perspective into working with children of this age level on a one-to-one basis in my piano studio.

Although I am a "classically" trained pianist, I have found over the years that it is of vital importance that students learn music from all different genres and styles. My goal with all students is to give them a well rounded foundation in note reading, rhythmic precision, theory, musicality, music history and above all, a sense of joy and happiness through music study. Popular music, and pieces written in a "jazz" style most often present far more complex rhythmic figures for students to learn. I have found these styles to be particularly helpful for students to learn to count with more confidence and accuracy. Many of these styles of music can be found in collections written by Pedagogical Composers, in a variety of "method books," as well as in teaching some of the older jazz "standards" from the past.

As for the four periods of music history, Baroque, Classical, Romantic and Contemporary periods, it is my goal to teach students the vast stylistic differences from one period to the next in phrasing, articulation, pedaling and dynamics.

Performance and Professional Organizations

Performance opportunities are essential for my students. They provide not only necessary motivational goals, but also the chance for each student to develop poise, concentraton, memory skills and focus. Two formal recitals are prepared each year, as well as informal performance workshops and playing for retirement homes. For those who are highly motivated, competitions are offered that are sponsored by the Music Teachers' Association of California, Conejo Valley Branch. I have been an active member of this organization since 1976, and also am a member of the California Association of Professional Music Teachers since 1998. Both organizations help provide extra opportunities for students to perform. MTAC and CAPMT also afford teachers the opportunity to continue to grow and improve their craft of teaching piano. Yearly conventions and workshops sponsored by local branches of MTAC are available.

It was important to me that I accept leadership positions in both organizations, MTAC and CAPMT. Through the late 70s, 80s and 90s, I served MTAC in the following positions: President for two terms in the North Valley Branch, First and Second VP, recording secretary and director. In 1994, I was asked to chair a state program called the Adult Seminar, which encouraged performing teachers, like myself, to have the opportunity to perform at the State Convention.

I have chaired and organized several programs including the Young Artist Guild Concert, the Southern California Junior Bach Festival, Certificate of Merit program, and Contemporary Music Festivals. As for CAPMT, I served two years as State chair for the highly esteemed and competitive Honors Audition Program, and served on the state board for the same two years.

My students have been consistently chosen on a yearly basis to perform in the following venues:

  • MTAC State Convention in student recitals
  • North and West San Fernando Valley and Conejo Branch Contemporary Festivals
  • Southern California Junior Bach Festivals
  • CAPMT State Bartok and Contemporary Festival
  • PTSA 31st District Scholarship Auditions
  • World Pedagogy Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Adjudicating Experience

Having had the experience of being a judge myself, I have often come away being totally reinvigorated by hearing some of the most talented students whose performances were stellar and awe inspiring. Or, I have come away from a judging experience having a renewed sense of appreciation for how my own students play. My adjudicating experiences include:

Serving as a Certificate of Merit Evaluator for 17 years

  • West Los Angeles Branch Concerto Competition
  • Hollywood Branch Winterfest
  • Santa Barbara Branch Contemporary Festival
  • Santa Clarita Branch Romantic Festival
  • Hacienda Heights Branch Winter Competition

Former Students

I've had the pleasure of nurturing many of my students from an early age through to the end of high school, to then see them go on to college to pursue piano or music degrees on both the undergraduate and the graduate levels. One of my former students, Sarah Iker, will be going on to pursue a Doctoral Degree in Music Theory and Music History. Even for those that go on to pursue other majors, I have found out that they are still getting over to the practice rooms or studying piano with a faculty member at the college they are attending. This, too, has given me a great deal of pride.

Personal Performance and Education

I am a firm believer in the fact that learning and growing are lifetime endeavors! I've continued my own piano study, practice and performing throughout my life. Being engaged in all three areas has afforded me the opportunity to grow tremendously as a teacher. For 14 years I performed in the Compinsky Master Class here in the San Fernendo Valley. Each time I have played for a different Master teacher. The experience of playing in this kind of venue gave me the chance not only to hear a diverse range of interpretations, but also the opportunity to play for my peers and hear them play as well. In 2003, I was chosen to participate in a program called the Master Classes of St. Malo. In the small tourist town in the South of France, I had the distinct honor to study on a daily basis with Dr. Bill Wellborn of the San Fransisco Conservatory and Adam Wibrowski of the Paris Conservatory. I also performed in three separate recitals that were given for the local residents. Other venues I've performed solo recitals in have been for the Los Altos and the San Fernando North Valley Branches of MTAC and Los Angeles Valley College Afternoon Concert Series, as well as solo recitals performing evening prorgams at the same college. In 2002, after one of my solo programs, I went into the recording studio to make a CD (An Afternoon of Music) of the same program.

I received a Bachelor of Arts in Music from California State University Sacramento in 1975 and I've done graduate work at both California State University Los Angeles and California State University Northridge. My teachers have included Carol Rosenberger, Daneil Pollack, Dr. Susan Svrcvek and Jim McCormick.

When not teaching or practicing, I enjoy going to concerts, spending time with my husband, Terry, movies, exercising, talking to and spending time with my two grown sons and hanging out with friends and my dog, Junior!

 
Studio Location
Northridge/Chatsworth
 
Phone
(818) 886-7181
 
 
Website
www.csmithpianostudio.com