Thursday, June 13, 2019

June is Finally Spring and other Exciting Updates!

June Music Notes

  • I hope everyone is having a great summer so far! School is just about over, the sun is JUST about to come out, and we have some fun stuff to work on together! Please at least skim this e-mail as many of the questions I get every day in lessons and via text are answered here and on my website:
  • First of all--a BIG congratulations to Adara, Vivian, and Carrie for their recent high scores in the Royal Conservatory Assessment Program! Congratulations also to Vivian for her Third Place in the Illinois Music Association Competition. Well done, Pianists!!!!
  • My altered summer schedule begins Monday, June 24th. That's coming up! Let's talk if you have travel plans you haven't let me know about or conflicts coming up!
  • Please remember--No cell phones in lessons. I have been finding it very distracting and want to be able to give your child my full attention. Thank you so much!
  • If you're on Facebook, please follow FaithSlakerMusic for weekly updates as well as articles on parenting, music education, and events around Chicago!

Summer Studio Recital!
Click here for the full video of the entire recital. Everyone played beautifully and I'm so delighted to be able to share it with you!
The Last Book 1A Group Class of the School Year!
Pictured: Viviene, Vincent, Amy
Kabir gave a wonderfully musical performance last weekend and graduated from Suzuki Book 2. We're already excited to be working on new material and if you click here, you can see a video of his encore piece - Knight's Tale.
With summer just around the corner, and many of you having fun summer travel plans, I'd LOVE to see pictures of pianos around the world that you've been able to play! You can find them in hotels, in malls, in restaurants, and even on the streets! Keep your eyes open and make it a habit to play every piano you see! Send me pictures, or post them to the FaithSlaker Music Facebook page!
During the summer I am available for lessons more than once a week if you are interested in taking advantage of the time your child will have not being in school. Let me know and I'll put you guys on my list of students to contact when I have an opening!
Also, for those of you who haven't been regularly attending lessons, we're all working on a "Music in the Movies" recital for the fall term. Every student is looking to the movies to find inspiration. We're choosing pieces in the next week or so and we'll be working diligently all summer on these! This fall, everyone will play their movie music with images from their movie projected on screen behind the piano. I'm super exited!
ISMTA Competition:
     This one happens in October, so it is something to think on over the summer.
     For more information:
     I'd love to have my students participate. This is a newer one for me.
     It is open to all intermediate and above level students.
  • June 24th: Summer Schedule begins
  • June 29-July 7: Chicago Suzuki Institute: No Lessons
  • July 15: Fall Deposits and Fall Schedule Requests Due
  • August 19-September 2: No Lessons. Summer Break!
For more Calendar Dates, please see my website:

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Suzuki Therapy

Suzuki Therapy: How music lessons can help cure our modern-day anxieties, distractions, and other first-world maladies.

In today’s age of social media and cell phone addiction, when community is shaped by your Facebook feed, and a time when kids and adults alike are experiencing an inability to be alone brought about by technology, how could you expect someone to tolerate sitting down at an instrument every day? To tolerate spending time alone every day? To feel proud having devoted an entire hour to a passage of music when there are texts to answer, instagrams to post, and your teachers and bosses expect to be able to reach you at all times?

So many chronic mental health issues in today’s society can be addressed in music lessons. We all know that music study improves self-esteem, it teaches overcoming obstacles and setting goals, and it brings respect and a loosening of ego into daily life. This is how you can focus that power to make a more lasting impact.

To have your students participate in the research, please have them fill out the following survey. Survey: The Perks of Studying Music.

To participate in an online and ongoing happiness survey yourself, go to

Suggested Reading

Barron, Carrie & Alton. The Creativity Cure. Scribner:NY, 2012.

Burkeman, Oliver. The Antidote. Faber & Faber: NY, 2012.

Cognitive Neuroscience of Music, The. Peretz, I & Zatorre, R (ed), Oxford U Press, Y, 2003.

Coyle, Daniel. The Talent Code. Bantam Books: New York, 2009.

Csikszentmihalyi, Mihaly. Flow. HarperCollins: New York, 1990.

Davis, et al. An Introduction to Music Therapy. McGraw Hill, 1999.

Duke, Robert. Intelligent Music Teaching. Learning and Behavior Resources: TX, 2005.

Dweck, Carol S, PhD. Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. Ballantine Books: NY 2006.

Goleman, Daniel. Focus. Harper Collins, NY, 2013.

Gunatillake, Rohan. Modern Mindfulness. St. Martin's Griffin: New York, 2017.

How to Memorize Music. James Francis Cooke. Theodore Presser Co.: Philadelphia, 1948.

Levitin, Daniel. The Organized Mind. Dutton: NY, 2014.

Levitin, Daniel. This is your brain on music. Dutton: NY, 2006.

Miles, Elizabeth. Tune Your Brain: Using Music to Manage Your Mind, Body and Mind. Berkley Books: NY, 1997.

Oxford Handbook of Music Psychology, The. Hallam, Cross & Thaut, eds. Oxford U. Press: Oxford, 2009.

Suzuki, S. Ability Development from Age Zero. Alfred Publishing, New York: 1981.

Suzuki, S. Nurtured By Love. Alfred Pub., USA, 1983.

The Child as Musician; A Handbook of Musical Development. Gary McPherson. Oxford U. Press, NY, 2003.

Articles, Websites, and Links:

Teaching Lessons for Children with Special Needs

Could Playing Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker improve kids’ brains?

Music Lessons Improve Children’s Cognitive Skills and Academic Performance

"Develop Grit" Esther Fellows. American Music Teacher. Feb/Mar 2019.

Handiwork: How busy hands can alter our brain chemistry

Thursday, February 21, 2019

MTNA-PTG Scholarship Award, 2019 (Scroll Down! It's Me!)

Two ISMTA Members to be Honored at National Conference

Congratulations to Frances Larimer, who has been named MTNA Teacher of the Year, and to Aubrey Faith-Slaker, who has been awarded the MTNA-Piano Technicians Guild Scholarship.

Both will be honored at the MTNA Awards Brunch on Wednesday, March 20th, 10:30am at the National Conference in Spokane, Washington.
Frances Larimer, NCTM, Piano Professor Emerita, created the master's and doctoral degree programs in Piano Performance and Pedagogy at the Northwestern University School of Music and served as director of these programs for over 25 years.  Prior to this, she established the group piano programs for music and non-music majors. Since her retirement in August 1998, Larimer has served as consultant in piano pedagogy for Yamaha.

Larimer has been active in MTNA for many years.  From 1975 to 1979 she served as national group piano chair for MTNA.  She has served two, four-year terms on the editorial board of The American Music Teacher and for five years was a music reviewer for Clavier.  She was honored as ISMTA Teacher of the Year in 2018.

Aubrey Faith-Slaker maintains a home studio in Chicago and also teaches at the Music Institute of Chicago and Sherwood, the Community Music School at Columbia College. She recently had her application to become a Suzuki Piano Teacher Trainer accepted and plans on finishing that process by the end of this summer. Aubrey has been active in teaching and studying in Central and South America for the past several years and will be giving a presentation on Music Lessons and Mental Health for Today's Distracted Children in Mexico in May at the first Suzuki Conference of the Americas. For some time now, Aubrey has been traveling to Lima, Peru to study and teach at the largest consistently-run Suzuki Festival in Latin America. Her award money from the MTNA-PTG scholarship, which is offered to MTNA certified teachers who use technicians in the technicians guild, will go toward teaching at the next Festival Suzuki de Peru. She has been MTNA certified since 2006. Aubrey received her BM in performance and pedagogy at the University of Illinois and her MM at Southern Methodist University.

Aubrey is an excellent example of why becoming an MTNA certified teacher is so valuable! Learn more about MTNA certification here. You can also learn more about Aubrey Faith-Slaker on her website here.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

The Chicago Piano Lesson Weekly

For those of you who have expressed interest in the music psychology articles and local events I share with you regularly, you might want to check out my newsletter on those very topics!

The Chicago Piano Lesson Weekly comes out twice a week and can be accessed here, from my website, and highlights are posted regularly on my FaithSlaker Music Facebook page and Twitter.

For today, please enjoy this article on Parents as Engaged Partners in Music.

Friday, December 21, 2018

Winter Studio Recital Video, 2018

Congratulations to all my talented and hard-working students on this year's Winter Studio Recital! What a beautiful way to spend an evening!

Practice, rest, and enjoy the holiday break!

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Allegretto 2 Endings

A group class activity helps students recognize the differences in the endings in Allegretto 2 and is a good introduction to form.

Monday, September 3, 2018

Back to School, Graduations, and the Summer Contest!

August Updates!

  • Reminder - No Lessons August 20 through September 3. Summer break! Lessons resume after Labor Day. 
  • Sherwood Registration: Please register for 15 of the 16 fall term lessons. Lesson Time Details to follow.
  • I do have openings at FaithSlaker Music in Noble Square and at the Music Institute of Chicago in Evanston. I like to give preference to current families and friends, so let me know if you have anyone in mind that is looking for lessons!
  • No Lessons September 7 - 9. I am participating in a Suzuki training course those days.
A preview of Whitney's Senior Graduation Recital! Here she is playing some Hindemith this Summer!
As many of you know, I am working on becoming a Certified Suzuki Piano Teacher trainer for North, Central, and South America. This is an enormous undertaking, and I'm hoping to make a bulk of the progress on the application this term. I am getting really close to having the application portfolio together and really appreciate your help with this. I'd like to thank the following families for their patience as I worked through the lesson-video process of this project: Declan's Family, Kabir's Family, the Amy's Family, Orson's Family, and the students in my Book 1 Suzuki group class! I hope to submit the entire portfolio by the end of September!
Graham's Final Performance as a pre-college member of our piano community! In a small family gathering - August 2018.

Hello all PianoKids! You've worked hard all year and I'm so proud of all of you! I'd like to propose a contest for the remainder of the summer: send me a video by 8pm on Labor Day (Monday, September 3) of you playing your instrument in a creative, unusual, or impressive way. You may learn something entirely new, show us a new way of playing something old, incorporate technology or other instruments or even other skills that you have! Judges will determine the winner based on everyone's current level. The winner gets one free lesson to work on WHATEVER they want at the piano, plus their choice of where they fall in the order of the next recital. Have fun with it! I look forward to seeing everyone's submissions!