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The purpose of a masterclass is to give students an opportunity to perform for and be critiqued by an esteemed artist. Performing for a master teacher is considered an honor and an educational opportunity. Observing a masterclass is a rare opportunity to see a great artist at work.

The idea of a masterclass was first developed by Franz Liszt in the 19th century. Liszt was one of the most revered and sought after teachers of his generation. He is said to have more than 400 students; many of whom were famous such as Carl Tausig, Hans von Bülow and Emil von Sauer. At these early masterclasses, pianists as well as composers, violinists, cellists, singers, and even painters and poets would gather in Liszt’s home in Weimar to experience his teaching. A rather intimidating experience, it is said that students would enter the music room first and place their scores on the piano. Upon Liszt’s entrance, students would stand respectfully while Liszt went to the piano, leafed through the scores and chose the music to be performed.

By Julia Kossuth As October wraps up and we further approach the holiday season, I want to incorporate celebration and festivity into my lessons, studio atmosphere, and music that my kids learn, of course. This will not only be enjoyable for me as I teach, but also keep piano lessons relevant to everything else going on in the students' lives. Here are a few of those ideas: 1....

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By Julia Kossuth Lately I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about why students should participate in private lessons. After all, they have so many activities pulling at them between school and other extracurricular activities, why should they set time out of their week for private music lessons? Besides the obvious reason of desiring to play the piano well and the natural passion for playing that some...

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The administrative aspect of owning a teaching studio can be tricky at times, especially when it comes to money. And though it wasn’t easy, this summer I made the decision to go forward with a payment policy change that I’ve been contemplating for a couple years now.

Up until now, I had been charging per lesson. If a family cancelled — regardless of the reason or amount of notice given — they didn’t pay. Now while most of my students attend regularly and give plenty of notice for absences, this lax “per lesson” payment policy was resulting in quite a bit of lost income for me. It took some brainstorming, but I came up with a solution that I think will benefit everyone.

It’s always nerve-racking to make a big change like this, so I spent quite a bit of time putting my new policy into writing. I wanted to be clear yet concise in my explanation, and judging from the positive feedback that I’ve received so far from my clients, it seems that I managed to do so.

I’d like to share the letter explaining my new payment policy for those of you who, like me, need to revamp your own policies. Perhaps I can save you a little bit of the time I took to write it!


“Give a person a fish, and he/she will eat for a day. Teach a person to fish and he/she will be satisfied for a lifetime.”

In my last blog, Igniting the Spark, I wrote about my goals for the year – empowering students to take responsibility for their own learning. Since then, I have experienced an amazing paradigm shift and as a result, am truly enjoying my teaching. I have always enjoyed teaching, but am easily frustrated when students arrive at lessons unprepared or “check out” in the lesson! The shift this year has been a conscious effort to give students the tools for independent learning, talking less and demonstrating more, and holding them accountable for each week’s assignments. I am feeling much more relaxed and students are working a lot harder, with less stress on my part. I have focused on three main areas: