Our Approach

Our multi-faceted approach is constantly being refined!  Each year is uniquely crafted in response to new insights gleaned from the students and advances in music and education, but each year always includes a balance of solo and ensemble, a cross-section of time periods and musical styles, and opportunities to gather together in groups by age, by level, or by instrument.

We obviously underwent more than a minor change in 2020.  In response to the pandemic, Elizabeth Erickson dove into intensive research and collaborative experimentation with students and parents on how best to structure a well-rounded musical education online.  Decolonizing both curricula and teaching methods (which were previously on a path of slower incremental change) took on added urgency when the 2020 Black Lives Matter protests began.  These two pursuits will continue to be top priority for the foreseeable future.

(September - December & February - May)  
Grow roots to nourish and sustain your passion! 

For the majority of the school year, we polish instrument-specific skills, learn music from a wide variety of genres (including student requests), improve melodic, harmonic, and rhythmic audiation, and pursue topics of interest suggested by the students.  On a weekly basis, most beginners and intermediates have one-on-one mini-lessons, small group classes with other students playing the same instrument at a similar level, and Story Club, Teen Group, or Adult Group.  Some beginners/intermediates and all advanced students have weekly private lessons and Story Club, Teen Group, or Adult Group; some may attend a small group single instrument class as well.

(January & June) 
Blossom out and share your beauty with the world!

At the end of each semester, we play multi-level, multi-instrument ensembles together and record solos and ensembles for online performance.  Working in ensembles offers a profoundly enriching experience! Students gain rhythmic and harmonic sophistication and develop the ability to focus on their own part and the rest of the ensemble simultaneously.  Students also get together for "playdowns" (playing backwards through our core repertoire from hardest to easiest) and those who have finished a repertoire book recently may choose to polish and present their end of book recital during these months.  We also consider January and June to be our checkpoints in the year: a chance to reflect, brainstorm, and ensure everyone is being challenged the right amount, receiving the support they need, and enjoying their lessons and classes.

(July - August)  
Plant the seeds of inspiration! 

In the summer, to grant schedule flexibility while maintaining skill progression, students are invited to explore the vast world of music in a series of workshops.  Some are geared for specific levels, instruments, genres, or techniques, others center around a topic such as rhythm, composition, music history, or an introduction to using a particular app or program (such as for audio engineering or notation).  Students pick and choose the topics that interest them and the amount of time they wish to spend one-on-one to create a personalized hybrid of private lessons and workshops!