Meet An RMM Student: Brenda

This post is the first in a series of interviews of RMM students.  Brenda began learning piano using the RMM approach in January 2011.


What made you decide to start taking piano at this point in your life?
While I’ve always thought I wanted to learn to play the piano, I probably would have not attempted it if I hadn’t met Megan; she encouraged me to try it and that’s the little push I needed.

How did you feel before you began?
I was very excited to have my first lesson, and a little nervous – mostly because I didn’t know what to expect.  But I couldn’t wait to start and I still look forward to every lesson.

What has surprised you about learning piano?
The biggest surprise has been that even though a particular piece seems beyond my abilities…..if I will just slow down and continue to play, I do eventually master it.  It’s a great confidence builder!

What is the best part about learning piano?
It’s something for me to do “just for me”.  I don’t particularly want an audience – I enjoy sitting down and practicing – sometimes for just 10 minutes – other times for 45 minutes.  It’s “my time”.

What is the hardest part about learning piano?
I want to play well – right now.  I tend to get a little frustrated and have to remember I’ve only been taking lessons for 7 months.  I’m looking forward to next year at this time and hope to feel much better about my progress.

How has music made your life better?
I’ve always loved music – mostly singing.  It’s my goal to be able to accompany myself and maybe grandkids, someday!

Looking Forward!

This is what Megan’s Piano Lessons looked like a year ago.

This is what Megan’s Piano Lessons looks like today.

We’re  packing up and heading to Tulsa!  Very excited for a new beginning and a fresh start to Megan’s Piano Lessons.  See you in Tulsa!

Looking Back

One of my favorite parts of teaching piano is finding creative opportunities for my school-aged students to perform.  I definitely like to prepare them to play in formal recital settings, but I think it’s just as important to get them out in the community to share their music in many different environments.

This past school year we had a really fun mix of performances.  I thought I’d share a quick recap of each of them.

October – Cowtown

Cowtown is a great museum in Wichita!  It’s a replica of Wichita from the 1870s.  When you visit, you get to walk around to all sorts old buildings and houses.  There are old-fashioned games in the school yard, carriage rides through the town, and lots of characters in period clothing to show you around.  My students played in the Saloon on a Saturday afternoon.  Families sat around the tables and my students took turns performing on the big piano on the stage.  Many Cowtown visitors popped in to hear some music while we were playing.

November – Concerto Competition

The Wichita Area Piano Teachers League offers an annual Concerto Competition at WSU.  I had 3 students work very hard to prepare for it.  They started practicing their concerto in the summer.  They memorized and performed 1-2 movements for a judge.  They weren’t old enough to compete yet, but they did receive comments on their playing and it was a great chance to get used to playing a concerto for when they are old enough.

December – Wichita Art Museum

When I planned this performance, my goal was to find a way for my students to learn to play background music.  This was the perfect opportunity to accomplish this goal!  The Wichita Art Museum invited us to play Christmas music on a Saturday before Christmas. I asked my students to learn 5, 10 or 15 minutes worth of Christmas music.  We ended up having over 4 hours of music and students took turns playing their shift.  The music could be heard all over the museum.   

March – Music Among Friends

Every year the Wichita Metropolitan Music Teachers Association hosts a music festival for piano students.  The theme changes each year and this year’s theme, Music Among Friends, was to encourage students to perform together.  Students played with a sibling, parent, friend or teacher.  In between performances, there were demonstrations showing students how other musicians work together, including a harp duo, Monday night jammers and an organist.

April – Music Trivia Night

Music Trivia Night has been a huge hit with my students and their families for the past 2 years!  It is a combination of an ensemble piano recital and team trivia contest.  There are 5 rounds of trivia and prizes for the winning team.  We end the evening with snacks and visiting.

May – Music Progressions

Music Progressions is a wonderful program offered by KMTA.  It is a 10-level curriculum that evaluates students in performance, theory, listening, technical skills and other areas.  It is a good way to for students and teachers to stay on track all year long, plus it shows you exactly what skills students are mastering or need more work on.  I prepare all of my students to be ready for Music Progressions, and usually many of them sign up to participate.  It has always been a positive experience for us!

Monday Night Jam

Tonight is my grand finale at the Monday Night Jam before I move next week.  I’ve been playing the fiddle with this group for the past five years.  Its the epitome of RMM!

A group of friends that jammed together at the Walnut Valley Festival in Winfield, KS decided they wanted to continue jamming all year long.  They play a mix of Irish and traditional music.  There are all sorts of interesting instruments in the mix:  guitar, accordion, bodrhan, fiddle, manodlin, flute, whistle, hammered dulcimer, mountain dulcimer, banjo, and even spoons!

The past few years we’ve been playing in a room at Old Chicago.  The atmosphere is very laid back, but also very energizing.  People are coming and going, eating, drinking, and talking.

This has been particularly fun for me as a musician because its an occasion where I can play for the pure enjoyment of it.  There is no pressure to perform, play all the notes correctly or practice to perfection.  I can just show up and play!

What is RMM?

Everything is abreviated these days!  Here’s a new one for you:  RMM.

RMM stands for Recreational Music Making.  Its a new and exciting approach to learning the piano.  It was created specifically for adults who have always wanted to play the piano.  It requires no talent and only an openness to try new things with a group of other adults in a fun and stress-free environment.

Not only do RMM students get to learn how to play the piano, they also receive a number other benefits from the program – new friends, stress relief, wellness, a creative outlet, happiness, balance, coordination, among many others!

Almost 2 years ago, my local music store, asked me to help start an RMM program in their store.  I traveled to Corpus Christi, Texas and was trained in the Musical Moments RMM program by Debra Perez.

I have always loved teaching piano to children, but in the last 2 years I have discovered how fulfilling it is to teach adults as well.  Many of my adult students have told me that learning piano has changed their life!  Music really does make life better!



CDs Are Here!

My elementary and middle school students’ big goal for the year was to make their own CD.

We had assignment books that looked like iPods.

Inside the assignment book there was a point system.  For every 20 points earned, students got to record a song.  When they had 200 points or 10 songs, they were ready to make a CD.

The students got to help design their CDs and we had them printed using kunaki.

Last weekend we had a CD release party at the park.  Everyone was excited to see their CDs for the first time!

My students and I learned a lot from this big project!  I think a lot of students were surprised by the amount of hard work it takes to record (and re-record!) music.  Most songs took several tries to record, often spread over several weeks.  This was also definitely a lesson in delayed gratification.  It took a whole year of work to finally see and hold the finished product.  But its something they will can keep forever and they will always remember how and what they were playing during the 2010-2011 school year!


Hi, I’m Megan!

I’m an Independent Piano Teacher and I love to share music with students of all ages and abilities.  I hope you’ll stick around and learn with me about how music makes life better!