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A Closer Look at Music in Oklahoma City

By Beverly M. - Oklahoma City Piano Teacher

I’ve lived in some interesting places in my life — Paraguay, South America: Roswell, New Mexico; and Scottsdale, Arizona - just to name a few. I can tell you a lot about Paraguay and Roswell, because I spent long periods of time in each of those places. But in the 8 ½ years I have lived and taught piano lessons in El Reno, Oklahoma, I had no idea until today that there was a famous musician from this sleepy little town.

Surprisingly, there is a famous musician from my little town—and a very good one at that! Sam Rivers is a jazz musician and composer who performs on soprano and tenor saxophones, bass clarinet, flute, harmonica and piano. He was born in 1923, currently resides in Orlando, FL, and performs regularly with his orchestra and trio.

The other t
hing I discovered today came during a moment of self reflection. You would have thought as a musician I would have searched for the musical history of my new home, but I didn’t. I got busy — very busy — and put my blinders on like a good workhorse and got right to work. I had to build a business teaching piano lessons in Oklahoma City from the ground up.

Not only did I not know about Sam Rivers, but I also didn’t know about the Damrosch Music Club, which has existed in this town for five years. The monthly meetings that I attend with that group of musicians and singers are now one of the highlights of each month, and I totally missed it for five years. I only discovered it because the chorus director of the group came to a piano recital of her nephew and immediately asked me to perform at their meeting the following week. If I had only done some research, I could have been a part of this group when I first arrived in town. Our Christmas performances at the Federal prison are THE performance experiences of the year for me.

I would have to say that I have found teaching piano in El Reno/Oklahoma City more challenging than in other areas I have lived, but not in a way that you might think. In each community I have always had a few students who were special needs or had physical handicaps, but it wasn’t until recently that I realized that 28% of my 48 students have some sort of learning disability or physical handicap. It’s not that this community has more special needs population than any other—far from it! It’s somewhat of a mystery to me as to how these students found me, but I must say that I am SO blessed that they did! Although I have no special training to teach them, somehow we always figure out a way to make it work. What an eye-opener it has been for me to realize that ANYONE can learn to play piano! My “orchestra” is full of musicians who are “different.” What wonderful flavor they add to my life, and to the music that fills the air in this community.

If we’re not careful, we can become so one dimensional, so focused, so caught up in our own little world, we forget to look around to see all the incredible talents that have blazed a trail before us, or appreciate who is blossoming around us. From time to time, let’s look up, take the blinders off, and look to see who else in playing in the orchestra or singing in the chorus of life! I encourage you to remember this as you begin your musical journey taking piano lessons in Oklahoma City.
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Megan C. Austin, TX

I am a self-taught pianist who has been playing for 10 years. I can help you learn basic playing methods and theory and then we can branch into whatever genre you want!

About Megan

I am a violinist, composer, and general music nerd who would love to share my nerdiness with others! I compose and produce music for film and video games and have been playing violin since I was 9 years old.

Reviews

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Art P. September 25, 2014
Violin · In studio
Verified Student
This review is for both VIOLIN lessons and ARRANGEMENT & COMPOSITION, as I'm taking BOTH types of lessons from Megan.

I don't find ANYTHING wrong with Megan as a teacher of music lessons.

But I've only just started taking the lessons (have just had my third lesson), so not sure I can totally judge in so short a time.

I actually wrote a more-detailed and longer review a few days ago, but the system indicated I had taken too much time and so it wanted me to log in again. --By then all that I had typed had disappeared.

So I'm rating Megan FIVE STARS. But I'm rating TakeLessons' review-writing system only ONE STAR. --Hey gimme time to go into DETAIL, Man!
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Bill N. September 5, 2014
Violin · In home
Next to the five star rating there is a little blurb meant to clarify what a "5 star rating" really means. It says "best instructor ever" and I can say, without hesitation, that this is true for Megan.

I was extremely nervous about learning the violin for a few reasons.

First, I'm a folk guitarist and I worried that my learning style would not jive with structured lessons. I couldn't have been more wrong. Megan quickly sized up my current ability and somehow sussed out that I was not the "Play Twinkle 100 times by next week" type.

Secondly, and this may go against the first point, I went to college for music. I didn't finish, but I got far enough to think I know a bit about Theory. It has been a while of not using that part of my brain, though, and I worried about returning to it. I thought that Megan would either underestimate my knowledge and bore me or overestimate my knowledge and leave me embarrassed to ask for help. Again, I was quite wrong. Megan made it crystal clear what I needed to know without dragging me along.

Our first lesson was largely technical: how to hold the violin, tuning, bow arm posture and where the fingers go (a mystery to me who was used to fretted instruments).

Megan is a master composer and an inspiration to be in the same room with. She is as jovial and down to earth as any folk musician I've met but has the quiet dignity of a symphony's first chair.

I couldn't recommend her more.
James C. Austin, TX

If you're looking to for a traditional, classical piano instructor, I am not the man for the job. However, I meet more people who want to learn how to play their favorite pop songs than Bach. They would rather be able to play by ear, transpose, understand, & create music than follow a 3 page score note for note. Don't get me wrong, reading music is a valuable skill, & I teach it, but I focus on understanding, interpreting, & personalizing music rather than mindless duplication. I spent years in college learning music theory & analyzing sheet music, but everything changed when I finally discovered how to connect theory to actual application. Similar to the way training wheels help you learn to ride a bike, the tools & methods I use make it easy to get started & grow surprisingly fast! They allow us to simplify complex ideas or even difficult songs into something even a beginner can play understand & play!

About James

I have been performing, recording, and teaching music for the past five years. After getting a degree in music theory, I began playing with a band full time. In addition to playing all around Austin, I have traveled to places like Seattle, Nashville, and Waikiki to play shows, record, and interview with with my band on live radio. Songs from our album were played on Austin's own KGSR. We also played on Fox 7's morning show, Good Day Austin. I enjoy playing and teaching a variety of instruments and a variety of genres. To me, understanding music is key to unlocking your full potential for artistic expression. When I teach, I incorporate both what I learned in school and on stage. *** Lesson Details *** My goal is not to teach my students how to play a few cool songs on their ...

Reviews

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Alan A. January 26, 2015
Piano · In studio
Verified Student
James is an excellent instructor! As a beginner student, he worked with me to pin down my goals and tailored the lessons to fit me personally. He's great at many different instruments beyond piano, and this expertise allows him to explain music beyond just the notes on the page. He really helped me enjoy the lessons and feel like I've made great progress despite being a novice.
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Beverly N. December 3, 2013
Piano
Verified Student
We are very pleased with his progress so far.

Joshua started piano lessons with James in May, 2013. He has already learned to play numerous songs, and he has learned a great deal about different keys and chords in each key. James is very patient and utilizes every minute of our 30 minute lesson to cover as much as possible. Joshua likes and respects James a lot and looks forward to his piano lesson every week. Thank you James for being a great teacher!
Aimee B. Austin, TX

About Aimee

Aimee's Teaching Mission: To provide an inspiring environment for students to learn their favorite songs and to encourage creativity through exploring songwriting. Aimee demonstrates a clear self-awareness…revisionary”–Austin Chronicle “Nothing short of a work of art”–Performing Songwriter *Over ten years experience as a professional performing and touring musician *Five years teaching private and group classes in guitar, piano, bass, songwriting (over 100 private students) *Three years instructing Rock Camp USA Austin (children band camp) *Selected as a “Top 10 Band” by Austin Monthly *Featured in Austin’s premiere photo journal, Sound of Austin *Charted co-written songs in Europe *Songs commissioned and licensed to film *Performances with Dr. John, Ian McClagan (The ...

Reviews

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Eddie W. August 11, 2014
Guitar · In studio
I am a retired faculty/staff member of The University of Texas at Austin with degrees in education. An 8th grade teacher diagnosed me to be musically challenged, and I was told not to make an effort to learn music. After retiring I decided to get a guitar and try to learn something about music. I had been trying to learn how to play on my own, but I soon realized that I needed a teacher. The first teacher I tried could not answer my questions, and inspire progress. Aimee demonstrated a very high excellence in teaching proficiency in the first lesson. While in her studio I observed her teaching young students, and it was obvious to me that she could teach both young and older students equally well. Have confidence that you can learn music with Aimee's guidance.
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Mike S. August 7, 2014
Electric Guitar · In studio
I'm a new student to Aimee, but have played guitar for years. My goal is to learn some music theory, understand chord progressions and positions, improve technique, and learn how to learn songs: how to break them down into chunks, so it's not overwhelming. It's already clear that she and I are going down that path. Best of all, she is patient, which should be incredibly important to any student.
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Brook D. August 1, 2014
Piano · In studio
My nine year old daughter has been taking piano lessons from Aimee for nearly three years. I really like Aimee's approach. For beginner students, she uses structured lessons teaching the all important fundamentals. As my daughter advances, Aimee continues to stress theses fundamentals combined with tailor-made lessons drawing from my daughter's musical interests. Plus, her strong communication skills go beyond from behind the piano. Her administration of her services make it a breeze to arrange lessons, make up lessons, and the like. Lastly, Aimee is just a down right cool lady, who clearly loves music and enjoys teaching what she loves. Thanks, Aimee!
Gfire Austin, TX

I have been teaching piano for over 17 years to ages 4-90 at all levels from beginner to advanced. I teach the importance of mastery at each level, so that the student understands what it takes to play and perform at her/his best.

About Gfire

Gfire has been teaching and performing music full-time for over 17 years. Based in Austin, Texas, the "Live Music Capital of the World," she offers voice, piano, songwriting, yoga, folk guitar, and DJ'ing lessons to students from 5-105 and she specializes in sculpting her lessons to the strengths and desires of each individual student. Her students range from beginning to advanced levels, and they sing and play a multitude of musical styles, including classical, pop, rock, r 'n' b, country, folk, singer-songwriter, musical theater, blues and more. Gfire loves to share her talents with her students. She prides herself on instilling a "sense of mastery" to each of her singing and piano students, no matter on which level they are. The students come away with a real sense of ...

Reviews

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Kimberlee S. March 12, 2015
Gospel Singing · Online
Verified Student
Gfire is a great teacher! She's good at starting where YOU are. She's encouraging, easy going, and helps you to relax and feel comfortable enough to sing. She's really good at keeping you on course.
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Eric R. March 11, 2015
Singing · Online
In 15 lessons, Gfire helped me accomplish so much! I now sing a song with clearer phrasing and better note accuracy. Overall, my tonal quality and singing ability has improved greatly.
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Sharon M. March 3, 2015
Singing · Online
Verified Student
Gfire is just awesome. In only a few lessons I see such a great work with my daughter. She is already learning to find her head voice after three lessons and is getting better already. I am looking forward to greater things they will accomplish together. Gfire I have been looking for someone like you for such a long time. Where have you been hiding? Everyone look no further, you have found your voice teacher.
Thanks Gfire
Ryan F. Austin, TX

Learn to play the piano! All ages, genres, and ability levels welcome!

About Ryan

Greetings! My name is Ryan and I'd love to be a part of your journey in music! I have been a musician my whole life (I'm 33 yrs. old), coming from a very musical family, I've had some sort of sound making device at arms reach since I was a child. I've played in many bands, across all genres from Pop to Rock and Jazz, and studied Jazz Performance on Bass and Piano at the University of Colorado, Denver. I love teaching, and have a wealth of experience in creating a curriculum with students and parents which fits their specific aptitude, practice schedule, and desired results. Looking forward to hearing from you!

Reviews

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Sherrie M. August 4, 2014
Classical Piano · In home
Verified Student
Ryan has been teaching me classical piano for about a month now, and I couldn't be happier with his teaching style. I'm an intermediate student, who took more than 20 years off, and had forgotten most of my theory lessons. Ryan is patient, professional, and very knowledgeable. Ryan makes it possible for my brain to actually understand theory.

I highly recommend Ryan. He's the type of piano teacher who is there to help and not just earn a paycheck.

Thank you, Ryan, for making it possible for me to like piano lessons again.

Sherrie
Jessica H. Austin, TX

Teaching piano students of all ages in classical, jazz and pop piano styles.

About Jessica

Hi! I'm the daughter of a music teacher and began playing the piano when I was three years old. I hold a Bachelor of Arts in Music from The University of Texas where I studied classical music performance, accompaniment, chamber music, and theory and repertoire. I also have a strong background in jazz as a performer and teacher of jazz theory, arrangement, and improvisation. My responsibility to students is to provide a supportive, creative, and FUN environment for learning. Each lesson will be catered toward your individual goals and interests and support a well-rounded musical education. Wherever your studies take you, my ultimate goal is to foster a life-long appreciation of music from all periods, genres, and cultures in each of my students. I look forward to meeting you!

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Free Piano Lessons with an Expert Teacher

Learn how to play the piano in these video tutorials from a professional piano teacher!

Have you always wanted to play the piano? We’re here to help! Get started with these 20 video tutorials hosted by San Diego, CA piano teacher Jordan M, one of our expert instructors with TakeLessons.com. In this free video series, you’ll get an introduction to the instrument and learn a few easy exercises to get you reading music and understanding rhythm!

Video #1: Intro to the Piano

Intro to the Piano: Learn about the parts of the piano and how to find the all-important Middle C.

Video #2:
Piano Basics

Learn about proper posture, hand placement, and other beginner essentials.

Video #3:
Reading Piano Notes

Learn about the treble and bass clefs, and tips for remembering the notes on the piano.

Video #4:
Time and Key Signatures

Learn what all those sharps and flats really mean, and how to decode your music.

Video #5:
Understanding Rhythm

Follow along to master quarter notes, quarter rests, and half rests.

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Recent Piano Articles from the Blog

Whether you're just starting out or a seasoned pro, check out the Piano articles on our blog.

3 Small Mistakes That Make a Big Impact on Learning Piano

Not progressing as fast as you'd like on the piano? Here, Covington, KY teacher Stacey S. shares three common mistakes that might be tripping you up as you're learning piano...   Learning piano is a fun yet challenging journey. If you're feeling frustrated, however, you might be tempted to quit before you can really can play much of anything. But by addressing three small mistakes often made, you can improve your learning process! Small Mistake: Not practicing enough Big Impact: Sl … Read More
3 Small Mistakes That Make a Big Impact on Learning Piano
Not progressing as fast as you'd like on the piano? Here, Covington, KY teacher Stacey S. shares three common mistakes that might be tripping you up as you're learning piano...   Learning piano is a fun yet challenging journey. If you're feeling frustrated, however, you might be tempted to quit before you can really can play much of anything. But by addressing three small mistakes often made, you can improve your learning process! Small Mistake: Not practicing enough Big Impact: Sl
15 Beautiful Quotes Every Piano Player Will Love
It's hard to put the joy of making music on the piano into words, but this difficulty hasn't stopped many great minds from trying. To celebrate the beauty of this grand instrument, we put together this collection of wise words and quotes about piano. Which one is your favorite? 1. “The piano keys are black and white but they sound like a million colors in your mind.” - Maria Cristina Mena 2. "The piano ain't got no wrong notes." - Thelonious Monk 3. “Pianos, unlike people, sing when
Play Me, I’m Yours: The History of Pianos as Street Art
Hearing piano playing while walking down the street isn't something we expect everyday. But with the "Play Me, I'm Yours" campaign, there could be street pianos coming to your city soon. The program has been around since 2008, and has blossomed to placing street pianos all around the world with one simple encouragement: "Play me, I'm yours." How it Started The first city with street pianos from the Play Me, I'm Yours project was Birmingham, UK. There was 15 pianos placed around the city, and
7 Crowd-Pleasing, Classic Good Songs to Learn on the Piano
Whether you’re just beginning piano lessons or you have been playing for a while now, it’s important to have a list of a few good songs to learn. That way, you can set goals for yourself and build up an impressive repertoire. Here are seven good songs to learn on piano, from classical to jazz to ragtime. They are listed in order from least to most difficult. “Für Elise” by Ludwig Van Beethoven While this solo piano piece is actually titled “Bagatelle No. 25” in A minor, it’s more commonly k
Where is the Best Place in the House to Put a Piano?
Buying a piano is a big investment -- so it's important to care for it so it will last for years. Learn what to keep in mind for piano placement in this guest post by teacher Timothy S...   So you went and splurged on your first piano. Even though you can't exactly play the piano right now. Or maybe you can and your purchase is less a splurge than an investment because some initial lessons have convinced you that some real musical talent resides in your home. Even few of those w

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