In 2003, I decided to build up a small teaching studio at my house until I reached 10 students. Many of these first students were castaways from friends who taught piano in the Seattle area. They often called me and said, "Michael, I don't know what to do with this kid or adult student. I think they have potential but they are driving me crazy because they don't fit in with what I typically do."
It became obvious within a few months that my little studio was for the misfits. Fast-forward to today, those misfits have accepted over $1,000,000 in music scholarships to the most prestigious music schools in the country, travelled the world playing music, produced tracks for major-label artists and become inspiring teachers around the country. But all of that superficial stuff aside, whether they went on to the top-tier of their musical niche as a profession or just play for themselves as a hobby - I just wanted everyone to connect with the music on a deep level so their quality of life was positively and vastly affected because of their musical experiences at CMA.
Amazing friends who play music joined me on the faculty and their talents took everything to a new level. After a couple of years we had exceeded the 10-student cap by quite a bit and we moved into our current location in Wallingford.
I've always thought of CMA as a lab. We are never finished questioning how things have always been done in music pedagogy and education. We've developed methods and programs that people from all over the US have flown to Seattle to observe. Teacher conventions in the US and Canada have asked me to speak to very large groups of teachers about how we run the lessons. We're still the misfit teachers for misfit students - and our program isn't for everyone. But I just didn't want lessons to be the way they were when I was a kid. Because when I finally started playing music professionally I realized that my lesson experience was so limited and held me back from playing to my potential - and it didn't need to be that way.
What makes us different? Probably a lot more things than what I realize, but these are a few key points…
-We are not in the business of telling students they "can't" do something
-Students can and should be able to read music, improvise and compose equally
-Everyone should sound different - we all have our unique voice and it's our job as teachers to bring that out in everyone
-Genres don't make something superior musically - we stay open-minded to all styles and backgrounds and want to help people play whatever they love
-We don't feel like being good happens at the expense of having fun - being good and having fun are actually a great match
-Adults can do this too and we love helping adults learn to play
-Girls often get the short end of the stick in creative music programs as far as opportunities and encouragement - we don't buy it
-Music should be a community endeavor - we want kids playing together and forming musical bonds from a very young age
-We want adults to jam with their peers and do group classes whenever possible
-We take a very long-term approach - we think years in advance with each student instead of going from song to song
I could go on and on. But basically, we are a music school in Wallingford that teaches kids and adults of all levels, abilities and backgrounds. If you want to try a lesson at CMA, we can set up a free trial lesson for you.
We currently offer piano lessons, guitar lessons, drum lessons, voice lessons, clarinet lessons, saxophone lessons, trumpet lessons, bass lessons, ukulele lessons, cello lessons, rock classes, jazz combos in almost every conceivable genre. Students travel to us from Seattle and the surrounding towns. We'd love to meet you and thanks for reading.
Michael Stegner - owner and founder of CMA
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