BAH: Hi Claire, how are you doing today?
Claire: I’m doing great! Thanks for asking.
BAH: We wanted to ask you some questions about your experience with music, is that okay? This gives a potential music student the chance to know even more about you than you might find on the teaching profile.
Claire: Of course! Go for it!
BAH: How long have you been playing music?
Claire: I’ve been playing music since I was five years old. I have lovely memories of my father taking me to group piano lessons to learn the notes and after going into private lessons once I was more comfortable with sheet music and piano as an instrument.
BAH: That is such a nice memory to have. Why did you start with the piano?
Claire: I started with piano for several reasons. I grew up in a small town in Ontario so there weren’t a lot of options in terms of teachers or even people who play certain instruments. I think the piano is a great starting point because it trains the ear to be familiar with what a note should sound like. The nice thing about piano is when you press a key, it is guaranteed to make the correct sounding note that correlates with the key. This makes it easier to move onto other instruments because the ear is trained to know what note you are hitting if you are playing a wind instrument or even a string instrument.
BAH: Very interesting, do you play any other instruments?
Claire: I was fortunate to have a very strong music program in both my junior high school and high school. The schools didn’t have string instruments but offered practically everything else. I started with clarinet and the music teacher quickly realized I could read sheet music faster than English. While the rest of the class was learning how to read sheet music she would assign me different instruments to learn, by the end of it I could hop into almost any section and play.
BAH: Were there instruments that you leaned towards or favoured?
Claire: I loved playing trumpet, it often carries the melody and I would play it in a jazz band as well as a regular band. I liked that it still held some challenges reaching very high or very low notes while working on my embouchure. The teacher also encouraged me with French horn. The French horn is very difficult because it is much harder to hit the right note and you need to have a good ear to know what notes you’re hitting. It is a really beautiful instrument with a warm soft sound, almost opposite to the trumpet, but not all the compositions in band or music class had sheet music for French horn.
BAH: Were there any instruments you couldn’t play?
Claire: I never really looked into oboe or bassoon and I could never make a sound on the flute.
BAH: Can you think of any funny moments from your life involving music?
Claire: Oh my goodness! I can think of a few! In elementary school, my dog learned the recorder with me. She would howl along as I played! I think by the end of it she could hit the notes of Silent Night better than I could. I think a lot of people have vivid memories of the recorder growing up, particularly parents.
BAH: That is hilarious! It sounds like the dog knows how to sing! I’m curious, what opportunities has music created for you?
Claire: Playing in both school bands as well as orchestras in neighbouring towns created a sense of community and helped me make friends. I would often teach my fellow students different things on the instruments if they were struggling. Also, our school band travelled a lot together which made amazing memories.
My junior high and high school would offer students half credit for participating in the band. I participated in junior, senior and jazz bands at the same time most years, so music helped me graduate a semester early from high school.
BAH: What made you get into teaching?
Claire: Toward the end of university, I started teaching English online. I enjoyed the process of teaching and found it rewarding to see students grow so I made it my full-time job. Soon after I decided to combine two things I love, music and teaching. I quickly took on music students who wanted to grow and learn more about mostly piano and trumpet.
BAH: Why do you teach with Beethoven at Home?
Claire: I think Beethoven at Home is an incredible platform that connects students to teachers in a way that hasn’t been done before. It creates accessibility to music and allows students to browse through teachers, learn more about their profiles and choose the best fit. I started teaching with Beethoven at Home because I want to grow my studio and reach a broader range of students in the city while having credibility through the platform. Growing up in very small towns, I wish I had this platform and the accessibility it creates to find music teachers because I probably would have learned more instruments and progressed faster.
BAH: Any advice for someone starting with Beethoven at Home?
Claire: One of the best things about Beethoven at Home is that it is for everyone. Whether you have never played an instrument or want to sharpen your skills, there is a teacher for you! My advice is to browse through teachers, read their profiles and choose someone whom you think you’d be comfortable with. Sometimes approachability and teaching style can be more important than a million credentials. Beethoven at Home only hires teachers who are highly skilled and qualified. Be clear with the teacher about your skill level and what you want to achieve in class. Remember, having fun music is supposed to be enjoyable and don’t forget to practice!