By Nick Poss, PhD, owner/instructor at the Eau Claire Music School
Is there someone on your holiday list who has always wanted to improve their musical skills? Start them on a lifetime of music making this year with the gift of music lessons.
New Beginnings for the School. My wife and I purchased the music school last year from our friends, the Smets family, who started the school in 2010. I’ve been teaching music lessons for over twenty years, and my education includes a Music Theory degree from UW-EC and a masters and PhD from Ohio State University in ethnomusicology. Our focus has been to offer innovative music education opportunities to our students and increase social music making in our community.
Lessons Offered. We have over twenty teachers who teach everything from drums to Native American–style traditional flutes to digital music production. Our most popular lessons are piano, voice, guitar, and drums, but we also have many students who study wind and brass instruments, as well as accordion, banjo, and other instruments. We also offer other education opportunities like a weekly class for children ages two to five called Musik Makers (Wednesdays at 9:30 am). Cathy Reitz, director of many local choirs and a former choir teacher, launched the Chippewa Valley Youth Chorus at the music school this fall for children in third through sixth grade. Our goal is to offer more choirs in the future for children of different ages and abilities.
Why I Recommend Music Lessons. To me, the greatest benefit of music lessons is learning to express yourself creatively through your medium of choice. In addition, there are a variety of emotional, social, and cognitive benefits:some of which are immediate, some of which last your entire life. Music lessons have been shown to improve verbal intelligence, empathy, working memory, auditory discrimination, and neural plasticity. These benefits aren’t limited to young students. Studies have shown that music lessons can be great for seniors in terms of improving cognitive functioning.
More about our lessons. We offer a 30-minute introductory lesson for $15 so that students can meet with a teacher and see if it is a good fit. They are welcome to meet with any instructor and even switch instructors, if they like. We book continuing lessons month to month for a flat monthly fee of $92 (prorated if the student begins mid-month). Many people purchase gift certificate for a month of lessons (four 30-minute lessons), but any combination of lesson offerings is possible.
Students can take either 30- or 60-minute lessons. Most students take weekly lessons, but other arrangements are possible if the student does not have a regular schedule.
More Fun! We offer two free recitals each year and plan a couple of other performance opportunities, as well. For students who are interested in participating, a recital can be a good incentive to reach their musical goals. We have a strong emphasis on social music making, so we encourage students to share what they are learning with friends and family.
We also offer free music ensembles each month to all students. So far we have had group piano ensembles and a ukulele orchestra. Our goal is to get students making music with each other. Not only is it lots of fun, but playing with others is one of the best ways to improve!