PCM: Where are you right now and who are you with?
RM: I’m at home in Pasadena with my husband and our 5-year-old daughter, Helen.
PCM: How are you feeling and how have you adjusted to life at home?
RM: It took a while, but we have finally found our daily/weekly rhythm now that the school year is in full swing. I’m much more intentional as to how I spend my non-working time because I feel it asks a lot of the little one to play quietly for so many hours in a row while I’m in lessons. Helen is taking YM 5 with Ms. Lindsay this year, which is definitely the highlight of her week. I’m so thankful we were able to enroll her in that class — she’s learning a ton and having a blast!
PCM: What does a typical day look like for you right now?
RM: On a typical day, we have a fairly slow start to the morning. Once we’re up, my daughter and I do her Kindergarten work and some art projects and then we go to the park. We’ve actually spent more time outside enjoying nature than ever before. After lunch, I settle in for an afternoon of teaching. In addition to PCM, I also have online classes for the upper school choirs at Westridge, making practice tracks and running sectional rehearsals for them.
PCM: In what ways (large and small) has the current situation impacted your studio / music educating experience?
RM: Teaching remote lessons is certainly a different experience than in-person lessons. If anything, this situation has inadvertently caused students to be more independent and responsible for their own learning. I am constantly impressed with how the students are able to process so much verbal instruction, when so much of the instruction used to be through non-verbal gestures or quick, almost instantaneous modeling. I have been able to do a lot of ear-training and echo playing with them, which I feel they really enjoy. I have quite a few very young students who have just started piano lessons either during the summer or at the beginning of this school year, and for them, I rely heavily on the magic triangle of student-parent-teacher. I am fortunate to have many dedicated parents and caregivers who act as my extended arms and fingers in the lessons, and for that I am extremely grateful. For the older students, many of them send me videos of themselves, which provides much better sound quality than the streaming platforms do, and I can give feedback to them throughout the week. And across the board, every single student is learning a ton of music!
PCM: What are you most looking forward to when everyone returns to campus?
RM: I am looking forward to walking down the halls of PCM and hearing sounds of various instruments coming from behind all of the studio doors; playing real-time duets with my piano students; meeting my newest students and their parents in person for the first time; writing music and rhythms on the big whiteboard in the Theory room with my Theory students; getting twelve young musicians to play (and stop playing!) their keyboards at the same time in Piano Bridge; collaborating with students and faculty members for PCM performances; having casual conversations with colleagues and parents before and after the Friday night recitals; popping into the office to ask random questions; catching up with colleagues over coffee or late lunch in the faculty lounge; taking a break from so much technology.
PCM: What, if anything, will you miss?
RM: I will miss my current commute, which consists of walking down the hallway to the piano; teaching in bare feet; hearing my daughter say, “Mama’s done!” the second I hang up the last Zoom call for the day.