TakeLessons Honors our November Music Teachers of the Week

Each week we recognize a TakeLessons teacher on our Facebook page that has shown outstanding commitment and dedication to our program.  In case you missed any of our recent posts, take a minute to learn more about each one of the phenomenal teachers that we honored this month!


Carmen S. from Canoga Park, California

Carmen S

Carmen is based in the LA area, and teaches a variety of subjects including piano, cello, singing and opera voice. Carmen is extremely flexible, and is always willing to take on new students outside her regular hours of availability. She has recently started working with several violin students, and is using these lessons as a way to strengthen and improve her own skills!


Damien S. from Orlando, Florida

Damien S

Specializing in guitar and music theory, Damien is an extremely proactive & enthusiastic teacher. Years of touring internationally and writing scores have given him the experience and work ethic to share his musical knowledge and abilities with others. Damien also goes above & beyond to spread the word about TakeLessons in Orlando by posting flyers around town. His dedication to Constant & Never-ending Improvement is inspiring!


John L. from New York City

John L

John is currently working with six TakeLessons students, three of whom are learning to play the ukulele! He has been lucky enough to play many different types of music throughout his career, and believes he can give aspiring musicians a deep understanding of what is most important in these different styles of music. John also shares his talents by playing with several performance ensembles, and has been featured on a number of CD’s.


Mark H. from Buckeye, AZ

Mark H

Mark is both a contract & a lesson center teacher in the Phoenix area and currently has 12 active students. Mark teaches singing, guitar and piano lessons, and his students remain motivated by his patience and genuine interest in their progress. Mark has also spent the last 10+ years working in music ministry and has performed in just about every type of venue – with audiences ranging from 10-10,000!


Rachel B. from San Diego, California

Rachel B

Rachel is one of our San Diego singing teachers. She’s been with us for almost two years and has taught 26 students in that time! Her students tend to stick around for their lessons with her because they love her enthusiasm, patience and commitment. She has lived in several different countries, including Haiti, the Dominican Republic and Australia, where she received her formal vocal training.

Congratulations to all of our outstanding Teachers of the Week for the month of November!

TakeLessons First Ever EXTENDED Black Friday Sale – 30% Off Music Lessons!

Extended Black Friday SaleThe holidays are almost here, and for ONE WEEK ONLY we are inviting you to kick off your holiday season with this special offer!  For the first time ever, we are holding an EXTENDED Black Friday Sale, so you have a full week to take advantage of this great deal.

From Sunday, November 21 through Sunday, November 28, 2010, new students will receive:

30% off a monthly or quarterly package of lessons!*

This offer is good for private in-home or in-studio lessons with a TakeLessons Certified Teacher, as well as lessons at one of our Best Buy or Learning Care Group (Childtime, Children’s Courtyard, La Petite and Tutor Time) Lesson Centers.

This is one of our biggest sales of the year – don’t miss this opportunity to sign up for music or singing lessons at this special price!

Simply call us at 877-231-8505 between November 21st & 28th and mention the offer code “BLACKFRIDAY” to receive the special discount.  Remember, this deal is for one week only, so don’t delay.  We will be looking forward to your call!


*Offer valid for purchases made from Sunday, November 21 through Sunday, November 28, 2010 ONLY.  Lessons can take place at a later date.  Offer valid for new students only.  Mention offer code BLACKFRIDAY to redeem. 30% off applies to monthly or quarterly lesson plans (the number of lessons in first month purchase is dependent on selected start date).  Discount applies to first month’s lessons only. Subsequent billing cycles will be charged at full price. Discount given at time of purchase; any changes made to lessons after purchase may not be applied in full.  Offer cannot be combined with any other offer or promotion. Offer has no cash value. Discount not available online at this time.

Tips for Teaching Music to Students with Special Needs

music lesson

This post comes to us from TakeLessons teacher Valerie B. in Wilmington, Delaware.  Valerie teaches piano and singing lessons and has worked with children of all ages and skill levels, including students with special needs and disabilities through a Delaware state agency called VSABelow, she shares some of her best tips for helping these students overcome challenges and succeed in their lessons.


I’ll begin by saying that my degree is in Music Education, not Special Education or Music Therapy.  But there is much we can learn about teaching children with disabilities from personal research, experience and networking.  Sometimes the things that are unknown can be the most beautiful and life-changing to us as teachers.  I’ll be the first to say that I am still learning and growing in this area, but am embracing all that I can to be the best teacher to any child that enters my studio.  Below are just a few tips I can share, many of which can transfer over to any student.   Be encouraged.  Be motivated.  Love them to their very core!

1)  Do your homework and ask questions.  Read up on your student’s disability.  The more you understand where your student is coming from, the better you will be able to meet them where they are at and then lead them forward.  Ask the parents questions like “What kind of learner is your child?” (visual, auditory or kinesthetic).  Find out what might be a distraction for them. For example, if you have a fan in your studio, that could be a visual or sound distraction for them.  Or, if the light on your piano is too bright, that could be bothersome to them.  Be an educated educator.

2)  Have back up plans. There is no cookie-cutter approach to the ‘right’ way to teach.  What works for one student might not work for another.  And, on some days, what worked last week might not be what keeps their attention today.  Always have a plan B in your lesson for them, as well as a few ‘sure-fire’ approaches that you know will work for them no matter what.  I like to have my owl puppet handy.  When all else fails, ‘Owly’ goes to work and teaches the lesson for me.

3)  Give positive reinforcement! Everyone responds better with encouragement as their fuel.  Don’t underestimate the power of “Good job!” and “That was beautiful!”  I treat every song as a performance, giving them a huge applause, no matter how simple the song.  I have stickers at the ready for each page they play and a treasure box of goodies that they are allowed to pick from at the end of the lesson.

4)  Think outside the box. You might want to consider trying more than one teaching approach during the lesson.  I will often start at the piano, but then I’ve been known to draw a staff on the floor and play a note game or pull out crayons and let them color a quarter note.  I stay animated and let my voice inflections help keep their attention.  The power of a whisper can be amazing and I have found that they even tune in more when I sing my instructions to them and let them sing it back to me.  Visual aids, like flashcards and pictures, are also fabulous for lessons.  Don’t be afraid to try new things!

5)  Keep your language simple. Speak in concrete terms and say what you mean.  Avoid abstract language.

6)  Be patient.  Oh the sign of a good teacher!   Patience, patience my dear!  I always say, ‘We’re in no hurry or running any race.  We’ll get it when we get it.”

7)  Love them! I see all my students first as a person, then as a student.  When they sense a sincere love from you, they will receive your instruction better.

Like this post? Join the TakeLessons community and receive exclusive updates, expert advice, tips and more! Sign up for email updates here!


Wilmington music lessons with Valerie B.Valerie B. teaches piano and singing lessons in Wilmington, DE. Valerie received her Bachelor’s degree in Music Education from West Chester University, and specializes in teaching kids, including those with special needs. She joined the TakeLessons team in December 2009.  Find out more about Valerie, or visit TakeLessons to search for a teacher near you!


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TakeLessons Honors our October Music Teachers of the Week

Each week we like to recognize one of our outstanding TakeLessons teachers on our Facebook page that has shown an outstanding commitment and dedication to our program.  In case you missed any of our posts last month, take a minute to learn more about each one of the phenomenal teachers that we honored last month!


Valerie B. from Wilmington, Delaware

Valerie B

Valerie has been teaching piano, singing and violin with TakeLessons for almost a year and her commitment to sharing the gift of music is truly admirable. Not only is she passionate about sharing her love of music with her students, but she also works with a Delaware state agency called VSA to teach students with special needs.


Sharmay M. from Spring Valley, California


Sharmay teaches singing, opera voice, theatrical Broadway singing and music performance in the San Diego area.   She has been teaching in-home and in-studio lessons with us for over a year, and recently accepted a position to teach at our new Best Buy lesson center in Chula Vista, CA as well!  She goes the extra mile for her students, and often holds recitals in her home so that her students have the chance to perform for each other, and their parents can see their progress firsthand.


Rene R. from Miami, Florida

Rene R

Rene is another TakeLessons teacher who teaches both privately and at our Best Buy Lesson Center in Miami.  Though he has only been teaching with us since June, Rene already has 11 active students and works hard to ensure that they always have the best possible lesson experience. He teaches a variety of instruments including guitar and bass guitar, drums and piano.  In a town where traffic can get tricky, he has been more than willing to go outside of his travel zone to take on new students, and he does everything with enthusiasm.


Sandy M. from San Francisco, California

Sandy M

Sandy teaches piano, music theory, trumpet & French horn in the San Francisco area. Sandy is an example of a phenomenal TakeLessons teacher because she works very hard to engage her students during their lessons, and is always looking for new ways to motivate and inspire them.  Her creative approach to teaching helps her students succeed each and every time they have a lesson with her.

Congratulations to all of our outstanding Teachers of the Week for the month of October!

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