The Advocate

Newsletter for The Music Education Community of Western PA

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Finding the Right Private Teacher

Much is gained in the classroom and regular practice when studying music and learning to play an instrument. However, with tailored lesson plans and practice routines, private lessons will allow the student to experience rapid growth to become proficient at the instrument.

For private lessons to be effective, it is crucial to find the right teacher. The first criteria should be taking lessons with a teacher who majored in your instrument. Finding a competent instructor is especially critical in the early stages of learning the instrument, so bad habits do not take root, and effective practicing strategies are instilled in the beginning. Below are some ideas to keep in mind as you consider seeking private lessons for someone else or yourself.

It’s essential to ask the potential instructor questions to ensure that their techniques, styles, and objectives align with the students. Also, make sure that expectations are clearly defined and that they are something that you or your student can fulfill. It’s also essential to understand if the instructor’s studio policies will work well with you. Below is a list of questions from the Music Teachers National Association to keep in mind when selecting an instructor.

What is your professional and educational experience in music?

What is your teaching experience?

What age groups do you teach?

Do you have a written studio policy? Will you review it with me?

Do you regularly evaluate student progress?

What instructional materials do you use?

What other elements are part of your teaching curriculum?

Do you require students to perform in studio recitals during the year?

Do you offer other performance opportunities for your students, such as festivals and competitions?

Do you use technology in your studio, such as computers, music instruction software, and digital keyboards?

How much practice time do you require each day?

What do you expect of your students? Their parents?

A private instructor, who understands their student, can reveal a talent that you or your student would not have found without individual help. Also, if your student already has apparent talent, working with a private teacher is necessary to hone their skill and keep them challenged. A qualified instructor has years of experience with the specific instrument and can pass on insights that they have learned through their training.

Johnstonbaugh’s Music Center offers private lessons with qualified instructors at its Golden Mile and Allison Park locations and online. JMC qualifies all of its instructors to ensure that they are skilled teachers. Instructors also must clear a Federal Criminal History Record Check, PA Child Abuse History Check, and PA Criminal History Check. Take your or your student’s playing to the next level and find the right teacher today.

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JMC is proud to sponsor this year's Brass Camp, a summer ensemble open to Pittsburgh students in grades 5-12. Brass camp builds on what students learned through their school music programs and provides them with more experience playing as a group. The theme for this year's camp is Oktoberfest, featuring polkas, traditional Oktoberfest songs, music from Halloween movies, spooky tunes, and all things October!

The guest clinician for this year's brass camp is Dr. James Gourlay, adjunct Tuba professor at Duquesne University and Music Director of Pittsburgh's River City Brass. Gourlay has held many prestigious academic and administrative roles, notably Head of School, Wind, Brass, and Percussion at the Royal Northern College of Music (RNCM), as well as Deputy Principal and Director of the School of Music at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama (RSAMD), now known as the Royal Conservatoire for Scotland. Gourley is also recognized worldwide with the River City Brass, which plays 90 concerts per season.

Rehearsals are on June 26, July 10, 17, 24, and 31 at Rolling Hills Church Verona, PA, with a concert on August 1 at Rolling Hills Church.

Alex Ayers playing on Stephen Philip Harvey Jazz Orchestra Smash!

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Alex Ayer’s, JMC’s purchasing manager, is the featured pianist on Stephen Philip Harvey Jazz Orchestra’s (SPHJO) debut album Smash!, which releases on June 17 through the Outside in Music record label. Stephen and Alex studied Jazz at Youngstown State University together and became friends and collaborators through the program. SPHJO is a 17-piece ensemble with a rotating roster of musicians from across the tri-state area, many of whom are colleagues of Alex and Stephen from YSU. Smash! is a collection of 9 original compositions inspired by superheroes, characters, and themes found in comic books.

Alex and the rest of SPHJO will be touring the album over June and July. See below for the tour dates. The July tour dates will also feature internationally renowned trumpeter Sean Jones.

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The single for the album “The Mystics” is available on all streaming platforms.

Dennis Emert Upcoming Concerts

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Dennis Emert, JMC Educational Sales Representative, is also performing in concerts over the summer.

Dennis is playing French Horn in the Musicians Concert Band 2022 Summer Concert Season, conducted by Jeff Kroner.

The Musicians Concert Band has been performing since 1986, comprised of Western PA music educators, college students, exceptional high schoolers, and military & ex-military band members, with a roster of 110 band members.

The musicians are only given the performance pieces a few days before the concert and only rehearse two hours before the show.

This season's concerts are on June 9, June 23, July 7, and July 21 at Butler Intermediate High School, starting at 7:00 pm.

All of the concerts are free admission.

Dennis is also playing in a series of other concerts over the summer. Details below:

Johnstown Symphony Orchestra: Ready For Takeoff!

Sunday, June 26th, 7:30pm

479 Airport Road

Johnstown, PA

Have you ever heard a concert from an airplane hanger? The Johnstown Symphony Orchestra will be performing aviation themed pieces at the John Murtha Johnstown-Cambria County Airport, featuring music from Top Gun, Jefferson Airplane, Led Zeppelin, The Eagles, Billy Joel, E.T., and Tchaikovsky’s 5th Symphony.

Tickets and Event Information

Concert in the Park: Butler County Symphony

Thursday, June 30th, 7pm

111 Ernie Mashuda Drive

Cranberry Township, PA

Get ready for Independence Day with the Butler County Symphony as they perform a variety of patriotic tunes.

Free Admission

Event Information

Tell us what you think!

This newsletter is for you! If there is something that you wish to know more about or have questions about, please let us know. We will do our best to get you the information you need. Also, if you like what you read, be sure to send to a friend.

Issued February 2022

Newsletter by Joe Weinzierl and Dennis Emert