Looking for the right music teacher for you or a family member?

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Looking for the right music teacher for you or a family member? At MACSA, it’s our goal to help you find the teacher who will bring out your best. Whether you’re looking for piano, guitar, voice, or any of our other offered instruments, whether you’re a beginning student or have been playing for years, whether you seek out music as a hobbyist or a competitor, at MACSA, our placement team will work with you to find the perfect match!

Here are some tips to help you out, as well as some insights into our placement process:

  1. Initial Interest

Alright, you’re looking for music lessons – fantastic! Perhaps you’re a little overwhelmed, and wondering where to start. Why not check out our teacher bios? MACSA seeks out teachers of the highest caliber, and here you can learn about their backgrounds and teaching styles.

  1. Contacting MACSA

Don’t hesitate! Give us a call (210-697-7111), send us an email (macsa@sbcglobal.net), or fill out the “Contact Us” form on our website. We’re happy to answer any questions you have, and we know the right questions to ask you, too! We want to know about you – hard facts like age and scheduling details are necessary, but we also want to know about your experience, your learning style, and your musical goals. The more we know, the better we’re able to find the right teacher for you.

  1. MACSA’s Professional Recommendations

Once we’ve talked with you and learned about you, we will send you an email recommending a particular teacher or teachers. Usually, we will give you three options, but there may be fewer – we will only recommend teachers we feel will be a good fit. The teachers will then email you to offer interview times. We encourage you to meet with all recommended teachers. Keep in mind, you won’t hurt anyone’s feelings by meeting with more than one teacher – we all want you to find the right instructor. If, while looking through bios, you’ve found a teacher or teachers who stand out to you, and you would like to meet with them, feel free to let us know when you contact us. But be aware, it may not always be possible to meet with the desired teacher. Some teachers may be fully booked, may not have the times available you’re looking for, or may not provide the particular technique or student experience level you need. When in doubt, trust our placement team! We’re here to help.

  1. Meeting With Teachers

Time to meet the prospective teachers! Please arrive early, so you can alert the front desk, or find the teacher’s room, depending on what time your interview takes place. Your interview will likely take place between two other lessons, so please be respectful of the instructor’s time. The interview will be approximately 30 minutes long, and this is your chance to get to know the teacher! Let the teacher know what you’re looking for, and ask any questions you may have. The teacher may also give a “mini lesson” demonstrating their techniques and giving you a taste of what lessons will be like.

  1. Choosing a Teacher

Once you’ve met with your prospective teachers, it’s time to make a decision! Remember – we all want you to find the right teacher, so go for the instructor you feel is the best match for you. It’s not a decision you want to rush, but keep in mind, especially during peak times of the year, open spots may fill up quickly. Once you’ve made up your mind, be sure to let us know right away! Or maybe you met with an instructor and knew instantly they were the right one for you – that’s great too! If you’ve found your teacher, you can sign up with them right then and there.

  1. Forms and Payments

This may sound like the boring part of music lessons, but it’s an essential one! Your teacher will go over the forms with you and will fill out their own portion themselves. Payment must be made and forms must be filled out completely before you can be entered into our system. If we don’t have forms and payment, your spot at MACSA will not be secured, and you might miss out on the instructor you’re so excited about!

  1. Lessons

Now for the best part – lessons! You will have a set day and time for your lessons every week, and payments are due the first of every month. Remember to practice regularly, and keep communicating with your teacher about your goals. We believe that music is an essential part of life, and we look forward to welcoming you to our MACSA family!

Conversations with MACSA: Brenda Boyd

Ever wondered what your teacher does when she’s not teaching? Does he have a favorite snack? What bands does she listen to? Is there a quote that inspires him? Now is your chance to get to know our teachers a little bit better! This is the first in a series of fun and personal interviews with MACSA teachers and staff. Keep an eye out for your teacher!

And now, to start us off, here is Brenda Boyd, our preschool piano teacher:

preschool

What do you love most about working with preschoolers?
It makes me happy. I love being able to teach, influence and nurture young children through music.   

What has surprised you most about working with preschoolers?
It surprises me when my preschool students correct my pronunciation. I had speech therapy when I was in first grade and it is still challenging for me to say certain words.

What’s your first memory of MACSA?
Seeing a MACSA advertisement in San Antonio Our Kids Magazine.

What’s something we might not know about you?
Christian, minimalist, runner, drummer.

What’s your favorite quote?
“If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.”
A Shakespeare quote in the song “Freewill” by Rush.

What book are you currently reading?
The Consolation of Philosophy by Boethius
I discovered Boethius when researching “Musical note” from Wikipedia.

If you could see any deceased musician perform who would you chose?
Karen Carpenter. The tone of Karen Carpenter’s voice can make me cry almost
anywhere or anytime!

What band would you camp out all night to get tickets to see?
Rush. My first camp out and rock concert was for the Rush Signals tour in 1982. Lee High School friends and I stayed near the big Cowboy Boots. The boots were off of the 410 frontage road back then. We ended up with the very last row of balcony seats in the old Convention Center. Worst tickets, but best concert camp out memory ever!

What’s a song or piece of music that has been particularly meaningful to you?
“Hold On” by Triumph Class song from Tom C. Clark 1985.The words inspired me at the age of 18 to “Hold On” to my dream of being a musician.

What was your favorite story when you were a child?
Peter and the Wolf by Tchaikovsky. I entertained myself as a young child by listening to the record.     

What’s your favorite breakfast food?
Water, Granny Smith apple. Egg, cheese, crisp turkey bacon on a toasted wheat muffin. And of course my caffeine fix of DDP (diet Dr. Pepper). 

Thank you, Brenda! It’s so fun getting to know you!

For more information on Brenda Boyd, please visit her page on our website: Brenda Boyd, Preschool Piano Specialist

Taking Piano Lessons in San Antonio? Finger Exercises are Crucial

In order to play the piano well, you need to have flexible, dexterous fingers that can move across the keys easily and nimbly. Though practicing can help you develop this ability gradually, there are certain finger exercises that can actually improve your flexibility faster and make furthering your talents even easier.

Are you taking piano lessons in San Antonio? If you want to be as skilled as possible, you should be working a number of finger exercises and stretches into each and every one of your practice sessions. Not sure where to start? Here are a few standard exercises to get you going:

  • Basic stretching. Start with some basic stretches. Close your fingers into small, tight fists, hold them there for about 10 seconds. Release the fingers, extending them out completely. Repeat this two more times. Then, take a few seconds to stretch and bend each individual finger. This helps encourage your digits to work independently of each other – a crucial component of piano playing.
  • Use a rubber band. Get a small rubber band and wrap it around two adjacent fingers. Then, try moving the fingers apart from each other. Move them sideways, up, down and away from the other in any way you can, and build up the muscles of each individual finger. Be sure to switch off, and do this exercise with different sets of two every time.
  • Increase the gaps. Sometimes, pieces of music require you to stretch the thumb and pinky of one hand far distances across the keyboard. To make this easier, try these two practices. First, place your thumb on middle C. Then, use your pinky to stretch all the way up to the C key of the next octave. If you can go higher, do so! Do this on the other hand as well. You can also do some hand stretching off the piano, too. Just lay your hand on a flat surface, spread your fingers out, and use your other hand to slowly and gradually fan your fingers out further, increasing the gap between each one. Do this regularly and you’ll see a greatly improved range of motion.

Are you taking piano lessons in San Antonio? Then be sure to work these exercises into your practice sessions. Want more tips? Contact the Musical Arts Center of San Antonio today.

Singing Lessons for Kids: What Age Can They Start?

Enrolling your child in singing lessons for kids can be a great way to encourage their passions, develop their talents and give them a great foundation for a successful career later on in life. But at what age should they get started? Do you enroll them the first second you see a glimmer of musical interest? Or is it better to wait until they’re old enough to ask for the lessons themselves?

These are common questions we get from parents, and the truth is there are no set-in-stone answers. Every child is different, with different interests, abilities and attention spans. Because of this, determining if a child is ready for singing lessons for kids should be done on a case by case basis. Specifically, parents should consider these traits in their child:

  • Ability to focus and pay attention. The most important thing a vocal student can do is focus. If you’re considering enrolling your child in vocal lessons, consider their attention span. Will they be able to sit still, pay attention and work hard for 30 minutes straight? Or will the lesson turn into a glorified babysitting session 10 minutes after you leave? If your child isn’t quite ready to be still for that long, it may be beneficial to wait.
  • Interest and passion for music. How musically inclined is your child? Are they constantly singing, dancing and listening to the radio? Do they beg to perform at every holiday gathering? You want to be sure they’re actually interested in singing before enrolling them in lessons. If they’re not, they’ll get bored, stop paying attention and the lessons will essentially go nowhere, no matter how good the instructor is.
  • Vocal development. Typically, a child’s voice will keep changing until their late teens or early 20s, but the biggest changes come around puberty. Though it is possible for a child to start vocal lessons before puberty, they’ll need to adjust their methods once their voice begins to change in a few years. Most vocal instructors prefer to take students who have reached this peak age, as their voices have already gone through their most significant changes.

Are you considering enrolling your child in vocal lessons? Then contact the Musical Arts Center of San Antonio today. We offer singing lessons for kids of all ages. We’ll even match your child with the perfect instructor for their age and musical goals.

Building a Foundation for Lifelong Music SM

Our Values and Goals

“We teachers bring music out of other people. We help to unleash them.  A friend once asked me – ‘Where is the art in teaching?’  I responded – ‘We teachers build our masterpieces inside of other people’”.                  Kenneth Thompson

Ken 2016Speech Given by Kenneth Thompson,
Executive Director and Founder of
Musical Arts Center of San Antonio, Inc.,

Why did I start teaching?

I began piano at age 13 in order to learn ragtime.  I used to think that classical music was boring.  In fact, I hated it.  But, after I had lessons for a couple of months, I heard some classical piano music again.  Because of the small “hook” of having a little understanding of how difficult it was to play so many notes so fast,  my mind and ears woke up and I was amazed.  Soon I was listening to the music itself more than to its difficulty and I could not listen enough.

I was in awe.

I quickly became obsessed with classical music and after six months of lessons I decided that I wanted to be a concert pianist. I had a lot of catching up to do so I practiced very hard.  Four to six hours of practice a day became normal for me.

I know that my life was changed by music and by the relationship that I had with my piano teachers.  I was lucky to find a good teacher who lived nearby and who moved me on to an advanced teacher when the time was right.  These teachers believed in me and did their best to see that the love that I had for music would grow and grow.

Before I had music in my life I was an underachiever.  Through my piano studies, however, besides learning about music, I learned long term, intermediate term, and short-term goal setting.  I learned self-discipline.  I learned how to delay gratification, how to overcome procrastination, how to face my fear of performing, how to take criticism, and how to creatively solve problems.

As a performer I had a desire to share my love of music with others.  I particularly liked to speak with audiences about the music I would be performing for them.  When they had a little knowledge about the music they would be hearing, I found that the audience would connect to the music on a much deeper level.

After several years of performing I realized that my personality was more suited to teaching.  I also realized that even though I could reach many different people by performing in front of an audience, and hopefully spark a love of music in them, that with teaching I could go much deeper.  I realized that the teacher can think of themselves as a conductor might see their musical contribution to an orchestra.  As a conductor does for the musicians in the orchestra, we teachers bring music out of other people. We help to unleash them.  A friend once asked me – “Where is the art in teaching?”  I responded – “We teachers build our masterpieces inside of other people”.

I believe that anyone who even just likes music is innately musical.  I feel, therefore, that it is my job to remove the barriers from them that are keeping this music from getting out.  I think of how Michelangelo when making a statue, would see the statue already completely formed inside of a piece of raw marble.  He simply had to remove the rock surrounding the statue to let the masterpiece out.

For us teachers the barriers to remove may be students who don’t practice, parents who are annoying or students who are immature.  But I believe that if you keep a student long enough and teach them well enough, so that they can eventually unlock the secrets of music on their own, you will then have a person who will be able to feel and experience the power of music itself.

Our job as beginning to intermediate teachers is to get our students to that point.  Some students will quit before we see them get there, but the optimist in me has to believe that some day the seeds we plant will sink in and grow.  The job of the intermediate to advanced teacher, I feel, is to continue this process.  Once a person is in love with music and they have that fire to learn more and more, it is our job as intermediate to advanced teachers to give them the physical, mental, emotional, and listening techniques necessary to be able to combine their personal musical vision with the musical vision of the composer.  If we are teaching improvisers and composers rather than performers, then we must teach them to balance structure and spontaneity so that they can go where their musical inspiration carries them.

I feel that teaching music is one of best careers you can have.  We teachers invest in people and we bring beauty to the world.

It is an honor to be a music teacher.

Why did I start Musical Arts Center of San Antonio?

I had a very successful studio in my home for about eight years.  I taught seven days a week for six years only taking a day off every three months or so.  I worked with great intensity on my teaching skills but, I was lonely and felt that I was missing something.  I would sometimes not leave the parameters of my house and yard for five days at a time.  At that time I was married to Dr. Carolyn True who is a professor at Trinity University.  I liked the way that the faculty at Trinity interacted.  I liked the way that they supported and challenged each other.  I figured that I was probably not the only private teacher who felt cut off from other teaching colleagues.  I thought that a community music school would provide the kind of support and interaction I was looking for.  Additionally, my home studio was near downtown San Antonio and I had parents driving from all over town to get to my studio.  The parents always seemed stressed from driving their kids all over the city to different teachers.  I knew that locating a school in a more convenient location would be beneficial to the parents and hopefully give them more quality time with their children.

I know that once a parent understands the value of music and the value of having an excellent music instructor that they will go just about anywhere to get their children to this teacher.  Thus I have always seen MACSA as striving to have a faculty that is a collection of teaching stars.  Whether your specialty is very advanced classical students, beginning students, working with special needs students, or working with students who currently have only a casual interest in what you are trying to do for them, what I ask of you, and what I ask of all MACSA teachers, is that you do your best.  That you continue to learn, that you continue to improve, and that you continue to grow.

MACSA seeks to create a win-win-win situation.  The parents have more convenience, the teachers are supported so they can do their jobs to the best of their ability, and the students are given the chance to have their lives touched by the power of music.

Our slogan – “Building a Foundation for Lifelong Music SM” – What does this mean?

Most simply it is that a student who you teach for long enough to be musically literate, should be able, years after quitting lessons, to open a music book and learn a piece of music on their own.  I always think of the student who studies music in high school and then gives it up when they go to college.  When this person settles down after landing their first job, would they be able to successfully learn or make music on their own?   My first pedagogy teacher put this notion another way – “Great teachers teach themselves out of a job”.

There is a lot of truth in this statement.  If I am teaching someone anything at all I would be considered to have successfully taught them if they could do what I am teaching them without me being there to help.  Of course there is a scary side of this too – If we teach ourselves out of a job we would have no job and therefore no income! This is bad.
Fortunately for us, however, we teach music.  We teach a subject that is so vast that no single person will ever learn all of it.  My answer to the scary part of teaching yourself out of a job is to keep learning yourself.  Stay ahead of your students! Or if you specialize in early level music, learn about childhood development, personality styles or anything else to help you do a better job.  In my experience a great teacher of any level in a convenient location has no trouble attracting students.

Thus we as teachers are still in the lifelong music process.  We are still building our own “foundation for lifelong music”.  We need inspiration too!  This is one of the reasons that at MACSA we do teacher enrichment activities such as workshops, or private coachings with other teachers.  When we challenge ourselves to grow we can more effectively lead our students to the bounty that great music naturally provides.

San Antonio Voice Lessons: How to Avoid Straining Your Voice

If you’re enrolled in San Antonio voice lessons, that means you’re going to be singing quite often – at least one hour a week for lessons, then all those hours you’ll spend practicing. That doesn’t even include time spent in your school’s musical or choir, or the time you might spend singing in your band. By the end of the week, you could easily have spent 10 or more hours singing!

With all this constant use, it can be easy to strain your vocal cords. As a singer, you can’t afford to stress your instrument. To avoid straining your voice, and ensure your vocal health during your San Antonio voice lessons, just follow these 3 helpful tips:

  • Don’t force your chest voice to go higher than it can. This thickens your vocal cords and increases pressure on your voice. Instead, let your voice go naturally to the higher notes, even if it sounds a little quiet or weak. If you keep practicing, this part of your voice will gradually get stronger naturally, without ever having to strain.
  • Breathe properly and sing from your diaphragm. Don’t rely fully on your throat muscles to help you sing. Instead, breathe deeply and evenly, and let your abdominal and diaphragm muscles do the work. Not only does this relieve pressure on your vocal cords, it also allows you to move your voice more freely.
  • Stay hydrated. It’s important to drink water before, during and after a performance. This keeps your throat and vocal cords lubricated, and it makes them more flexible as you continue to sing. You should also avoid alcohol and smoking, as these can dry out the throat and cause inflammation.

Are you enrolled in San Antonio voice lessons? Then follow these tips and take care of your instrument. The more you take care of your voice, the better it will serve you in the future. Contact the Musical Arts Center of San Antonio to learn more or to enroll in voice lessons today.

4 Tips that Can Make Private Guitar Lessons Easier

If you’ve never played an instrument before, starting private guitar lessons can be a little overwhelming. You’ll have to find your way around your instrument, get to know your teacher and, of course, learn to read music, recognize notes, play scales and much, much more.

Fortunately, as long you choose the right instructor, private guitar lessons won’t be as challenging as you think. To make your initial lessons a bit easier, try out these four helpful tips:

  • Buy a guitar that fits your body. Too many beginning guitar players buy instruments that are much too big for them. This makes it a pain to hold, difficult to get comfortable with and, more importantly, really hard to play. For children and teens, it’s usually best to purchase a smaller sized guitar, one that fits their size and stature better. That way, they’re able to hold and play it comfortably and without straining.
  • Invest in a few crucial tools. If there’s one tool that can make your lessons significantly easier, it’s an electronic tuner. These ensure your instrument is always in tune and ready to play, and they don’t require a lot of time or expertise to use. Other important tools include a sturdy strap, so you can play while standing and sitting, a capo, to raise the pitch, and a few packs of extra picks and strings.
  • Learn to read tabs. Learning to read music is difficult, but learning to read tabs is much more straightforward. Tabs are a good way to get started before you transition to traditional notation. Plus, tabs make it infinitely easier to pick up new songs, and they don’t take much time or effort to understand.
  • Watch your calluses. The more you play, the more calluses will start to build up on your fingertips. While these might not look physically appealing, they actually protect your fingers and make it easier to play in the long run. Don’t pick at them, cut them off or do anything else to remove them. At most, you can smooth them out a bit with a nail file; otherwise, let them be.

Think you’re ready to take on private guitar lessons? Then contact the Musical Arts Center of San Antonio today. We’ll match you with the ideal instructor for your needs and goals.

Getting the Most from Your San Antonio Voice Lessons

If you’re enrolled in San Antonio voice lessons, you’re probably very passionate about your craft. You want to get better, hone your talent and really develop your voice into the best instrument it could be.

However, just showing up to your lessons isn’t enough to do the trick. To get the absolute most out of your classes, there are a few other things you should be doing, too. Things like:

  • Practicing at home – You should be practicing at least three to five hours a week, going over your lessons from the previous week, reading through your books, practicing your scales and just spending time developing your voice.
  • Seizing performance opportunities – Really push yourself, and take advantage of any performance opportunities that come your way. Whether it’s participating in a recital or concert, trying out for the school choir, or just entertaining the family over the holidays, it will make you a stronger, better singer in the long run.
  • Watching others – Make it a point to watch other musicians, too. Check out YouTube videos, head to the open mic at your local coffeehouse, or sit in on a friend’s San Antonio voice lessons. You’ll pick up tricks that can improve your vocal skills and your performances.
  • Find a friend – Do any of your friends sing, too? Then set aside some time to sing together, go over your lessons and help each other learn and develop their skills. Do you have any friends that play other instruments? Start your own band, and help each other become stronger musicians and performers across the board.
  • Write your own songs – Take a stab at writing your own songs. It will help you discover how far you can push your voice, and it will really inspire creativity within. You can even bring your songs in and have your instructor help iron out the kinks.

Are you interested in bettering your vocal skills? Then consider San Antonio voice lessons at the Musical Arts Center. Contact us today to get matched with the perfect instructor for your skills and goals.

4 Ways to Make Your Guitar Lessons in San Antonio Easy

Guitar lessons (or lessons in any instrument, for that matter) are never easy. They take lots of dedication, time and effort – especially if you want to be good. They’re even more difficult if you’re a beginner. As a beginner, not only are you learning a new instrument from scratch, you’re also trying to pick up the basics likes scales, music reading and more. It can be pretty overwhelming, to say the least.

Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to make your lessons a little bit easier. Are you having a hard time with your guitar lessons in San Antonio? Then try a few of these tips:

  1. Buy the right supplies – This is crucial. With the guitar, there are a lot of tools and supplies that can make learning your instrument even easier. An electronic tuner, for instance, can help you tune your guitar in a pinch, so you never miss a second of playing time. It will also help you get more accustomed to the sound of each note and string and make you a stronger player.
  2. Carve out time in your schedule – Sit down with a calendar, and carve out three one-hour blocks each week. These should be dedicated “guitar” blocks. Use them to research new songs, practice your lessons, do your homework (if your instructor gave you some), or just watch videos of other players for tips and tricks.
  3. Work with your instructor –Use your instructor to your advantage. Talk to them about your interests and goals, and work with them to create a lesson plan that’s just for you. When you’re having problems, be honest about them, and let your instruct help you along the way. You’d be surprised how many tricks they have up their sleeves!
  4. Practice often – It sounds cliché, but the more you practice, the better you’ll be. And the better you get at playing, the easier and more quickly your lessons will come to you. Practice is a vital part of taking any type of lesson – not just guitar lessons in San Antonio, but driving lessons, horseback riding lessons and everything in between.

Need more advice? Interested in enrolling in guitar lessons in San Antonio? Then contact the Musical Arts Center of San Antonio today.

Taking Guitar Classes in San Antonio? 6 Items You’ll Need to Purchase

When you’re about to start taking guitar classes in San Antonio, obviously, you’ll need an acoustic or electric guitar. But those aren’t the only supplies you’ll need if you want to have a successful lesson.

Before you head to your first class, be sure to stock up on these six crucial items:

  1. Tuner – If you’re taking guitar classes in San Antonio for the first time, then you’ll definitely need a tuner. This will help you keep your instrument in tune before, during and after your lessons. Over time, you’ll be able to tune your guitar by ear, but this can take years to master.
  2. Capo – A capo is a small device that you place on the neck of your guitar. It helps raise the pitch of your guitar, allowing you to play higher notes without retuning your strings. Many popular songs require a capo to play, so you’ll want to invest in one early. A spring-clamp capo or a strap-on capo are both great options.
  3. Case – To protect your guitar while you travel to and from lessons, you’ll want to invest in a good, quality case. Though soft cases may save you cash, generally, you’ll want a hard case. This will best protect your guitar if you drop it, hit it against a wall or make any other error.
  4. Strap – Straps help you keep your instrument close to you, without having to use your hands. This makes it easy to play while standing – a crucial skill you’ll need to learn.
  5. Extra strings – Strings don’t last forever. In fact, chances are you’ll break one or two in just the first couple of lessons. Try to buy a multi-pack that offers you at least two or three of each string.
  6. Instruction book – Contact your teacher, and find out what instruction book they want you to purchase. This will have all your lessons, songs and assignments that you’ll need to use throughout your classes.

Are you considering taking guitar classes in San Antonio? Then come to the Musical Arts Center. Our expert teachers can help you master the instrument of your choice in no time. We even offer performance opportunities!