Welcome to the PMA Post, our Blog!

Welcome to the PMA Post, our Blog!  

Let me tell you a little about me.  I am the Academy Director of The Pittsburgh Music Academy, Jennifer Madge.  This is the story of why I teach:

I always knew I wanted to help people.   Or even be so bold as to say heal people.

A teacher that taught students so much about the joy of music making, how to express emotions through music, and to strive for excellence in technical mastery of the instrument, was my high school orchestra conductor.  During the summer between my freshman and sophomore year, he was tragically killed in a car accident.  He was beloved by all his students.  I made a promise to keep his memory alive by continuing to teach others.

In the struggle to decide a major in college, I toyed with both medicine and music.  I realized that no mistake I could ever make in performing or teaching could ever cause physical harm the way a medical mistake could.  I also understood that the hours of time into the instrument were already entered, and a medical degree would be just the beginning.  So my decision was made!

In my early teaching career, I was called by a studio to work with advanced Suzuki students.  My experience growing up with Suzuki students was negative and juvenile:  those were always the students just a bit more accomplished than I, so I was sure I didn’t like the method.  Then, I saw it in action:  playing by ear, music memorized without difficulty, joy in playing with others, a positive and nurturing atmosphere.  I realized the error of my past judgement about the method and dove into training!

As I took my first courses, I realized that I was already a Suzuki teacher without knowing the title existed!  Many of the hallmarks of the method I already used in my studio.  I loved the process of previewing the difficult bits before the beginning!  Finally an end to always starting at the top and stopping at each hard bit.  

I loved the process of memorization and repertoire building!  As a traditional student, there were times someone would ask me to play something.  If I had no music on hand or was between solos, I had nothing!  I vividly remember thinking, “people must think I am lying about my ability to play the violin.”  What a terrible feeling!

I loved the process of using old pieces to learn new skills!  It always took time to learn the notes of the étude before I could start working on the technique requested.  What a waste of time!  Why not dive in and start working on the skill today!

Most of all, I loved knowing that doing this would make beautiful people.  What could be better than teaching a family to share music?  What could be better than teaching parents and children to relate to each other in such a loving way?  What could be better than teaching a student that there has to be time and effort to succeed at the physical skill of playing an instrument?  What could be better than helping an individual discover their expressive voice on the violin?  What could be better than healing people in this way?

So that’s a peek into my story.  What’s yours?


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