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Petaluma music school rocks the lockdown

Melody Caspari, owner of the Petaluma School of Music, loves bringing music lessons to students of all ages and she’s not letting a pandemic stop her. The school is not only surviving during the shelter in place orders, it’s helping people get creative and filling their extra time with the sound of music.

Caspari said this is a great time to learn to play an instrument or refresh your musical skills.

“Many of us have more time at home and a need for self-expression and social connection,” she said. “Playing music together with an instructor can inspire inner creativity and bring us joys unimaginable.”

The school’s been around for nearly 20 years and has become a community hub where new students are constantly being brought in by friends. You can even find several generations of families studying there and making music together.

They have classes for all ages, beginning with babies. So far the oldest student has been 85.

“It’s never too early or too late to start one’s journey in music,” Caspari said. “We have a fantastic group of thirteen teachers.”

The school offers lessons in piano, electric guitar, violin, flute, trombone, harmonica, drums and more. They also teach voice, songwriting, composition and music theory.

As with anything else, confidence comes with practice.

“Some of our favorite success stories are those where students, unsure of themselves and their abilities, have gained a proficiency and delight in playing their instrument,” she said.

Many of their students have gone on to study music at universities and conservatories. Guitar student Avery Okamura studied music at Sonoma State and has returned to teach at the school. Laura Sandoval and Lucy London began in the school’s toddler music classes and are majoring in music at universities.

“We have several current students who regularly perform in musical theater productions with professional Bay Area theater companies,” said Caspari.

When the county issued a shelter in place order the school immediately launched online classes. They’ve also created an online platform where students can watch video tutorials and see lesson plans and courses to help them practice. They welcome new students to join in and learn to play an instrument while the pandemic has everyone stuck inside.

Caspari explained that the instructors are continuing to meet with their students at regular weekly lesson times via video chat platforms such as Zoom, Skype, FaceTime, Google Duo, and Discord.

“Our instructors are amazing, they jumped into virtual teaching with great enthusiasm and have devoted so much time and attention to supporting their students during this pandemic,” said Caspari. “Some of our students are delving into our online platform sharing musical messages and song videos with their instructors, watching content created specifically for them by their instructor, and pressing ahead in their musical studies. Our instructors have reported that their students are practicing their instruments more than ever before, making swift and impressive progress.”

They’re even putting together student recitals via Zoom in the next few weeks.

“Music is such an invaluable part of our lives and we want to share it with as many people as possible,” said Caspari. “The key to enjoying and succeeding in music is finding the instrument or genre of music that truly fits you. We encourage all prospective students to try an instrument or singing lesson with one of our instructors to see what may work for you.”

She said students often start out with one instrument and end up falling in love with another instrument and switching over.

“There is not one way to explore music nor one method of learning that fits all,” Caspari said. “Music learning is so individual and therefore we offer many different approaches.”

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