Houston, we're ready for takeoff!

Houston, we're ready for takeoff.

T-minus 4 days!!! June 21 is the last day of all schools here in Arlington, Virginia, and we know you've never been more ready for summer.

You’re probably already daydreaming of naps on white sandy beaches, free-play afternoons with your kiddos in the backyard, and those perfect summer sunsets spent poolside with the family.

Whether you’re traveling all over the world or just hanging out in your backyard hammock reading your favorite book, make it a summer to remember.

In addition to all those fun summer activities you have planned, if you’re looking for a creative activity for your kiddos this summer consider private music lessons.

Summer is the perfect time to try a new instrument or keep the learning going with your current instrument without the pressure of homework and school-year stress.

From composition projects, to finally learning heart and soul, to making progress in your lesson book, to extra improv and creativity time- there’s so many fun things to accomplish while keeping it light and fun!

Whether you’re a current student or starting for the first time, we’ve created lesson opportunities that promise the consistency you need to keep lessons beneficial and the flexibility you need to take all those fun trips!

Best of luck this week and we hope you’ll consider making music an enriching part of your summer.

Sincerely,

Laura Peacock

& The Blue Feather Music Team


YOU GOT THIS

It's the end of the year craziness and you're swamped with parties, graduations, sports teams finals, and so much more. 

It's the busiest time of year for most families and just wanted to say:

We see you, and YOU👏🏼 GOT👏🏼 THIS👏🏼!!!

For many of our families you might have noticed a break in lessons around this busy time. 

This was very intentional, as all Posh Peacock packages wrapped up the beginning of June to ensure you had some room to breathe and get through this busy few weeks without added stress of make-ups. 

We hope you take in every moment with your children these next two weeks. Take the pictures, enjoy some FroYo, and celebrate another school year in the books.

We are here, though, when you're ready to get started again for summer and even into next fall. All our packages are live and up online

Thank you for an incredible year and for valuing music in your lives. It continues to be an honor to work with your families share the joy of music with you.

Sincerely

Laura Peacock 
& The Blue Feather Music Team

Are you with us?

Last week I premiered our improved version of lesson packages. I hope you have been as excited as I am about these incredible changes and updates!

I firmly believe that a business, to be successful, must hold fast to the values it was built on. You cannot lose sight of your foundational ideals or you’ll get off track and one day wake up and not recognize yourself.

For Blue Feather, those values are: PASSION, PURPOSE, and LEGACY.

These three words carry a lot of weight and they needed to be an integral part of our studio operations in every way- woven into the fabric of who we are.

Our lessons packages are a way for us to honor this for our families and students. A streamlined, simplified way of studying music that allows us to serve our families with our foundational values in mind. 

Experience passionate instructors that are incredible at their craft, and even more incredibly dedicated to teaching and instilling a love of music in their students. 

Feel the difference of intentional instruction as your teacher crafts a lesson experience that’s as unique as you are. Learn at your own pace with what interests and engages you.

Be delighted by the long-lasting impact your music journey makes on your life. Our teachers are here for you, and our mutual investment in one another creates an exciting new dynamic that’s going to change the face of music and the futures of our young people.

What are your core values? What makes you get up and going every day? What principles do you live your life by? I’m sure those drive your decisions, big and small. 

Well, it’s the same for us! Are you ready to join us in this incredible journey? Are you with us?

Sincerely,

Laura & the Blue Feather Music Team

Core Values

You might have noticed some changes around the Flock... We’ve been hard at work crafting a music experience that is as unique as each of our students!

We took a deep look at our core values as a studio and it came down to three words: PASSION, PURPOSE, and LEGACY.

These three words are woven into the fabric of everything we do- from our events, to the kind of lessons we give each week, to the copy on our website, to how the business gets run behind the scenes, too!

Identifying our core values led to a bigger conversation of how we work with you, our students. We realized the old model wasn’t serving you to the level our core values demanded.

It was holding us back from telling the incredible story of how music can transform our lives. Study after study proves the power of music to be true, but why weren’t we honoring that to the best of our ability?

We asked ourselves: How can we serve our families the best? How can we uphold our values of passion, purpose, and legacy? How can we delight our families with incredible music instruction, deep and meaningful relationships, and value? The answer was clear.

We believe lesson packages redefines the value we place on the impact of music in our development. It evokes a story of music learning as a journey; a long-term investment in your overall development as a whole human.

Packages invite meaningful relationships with your instructor, and a mutual commitment to the music journey, ensuring you receive an intentional lesson experience.

What is a package exactly?

It’s taking the lessons you want weekly (or sporadically) and bundling them into a group that you pay upfront. Think of it like a gymnastics class, season pass, or private school tuition. Among the many benefits to you are:

...Flat upfront or quarterly tuition! No more calculating how many lessons were taken each month--payment is easy because you always know the amount.

...Built-in buffer weeks! No more make-ups or hectic rescheduling around holidays, vacations, and late-night rehearsals! Missed lessons just roll over to the next week--no stress, no mess!

...Additional goodies like performance opportunities, open mic events and more!

Your needs are also unique! That’s why packages have been thoughtfully curated in specific sizes to ensure everyone gets the best lessons arrangement that works best for their family on their timeline terms.

We invite you to partner with us in your music journey with a lessons package. We hope you feel they are as meaningful, thoughtful, and intentional as our core mission.

We look forward to continuing to serve you and your family, and to continue to serve and delight our community with music instruction that changes lives.

Sincerely,

Laura Peacock and the Blue Feather Music Team


New School Year, New Goals

It's officially back to school for Arlington County and I don't know about you but my social media pages have been filled with "first day" pictures. I absolutely LOVE this time of year because I get to see how my students have grown over the summer and it reminds me of my own childhood. 

It's also a reminder of how time is so precious and fleeting. It seems like only yesterday they were in 2nd grade, still learning to read and now they are headed into 7th grade and solving math problems I don't even remember doing until high school! 

Each new year of school promises new adventures, new friends and a continued journey of discovery as to who they are- becoming their unique individual selves that makes the world a better place. One of my favorite things to do the first week back to lessons for the year is to ask each of my students about their goals for the year. "What are you most excited about for this year for out time together?", I'll ask. I might also inquire about the songs or pieces they want to learn and see how I can help them get there.

The first lesson back for the school year is always fun, but even more than that it's an indicator of their growing (or feigning) musical interests and a little sneak peak into our upcoming musical journey for the year. Those first few minutes of goal setting really sets the tone for the year and allows me to create that unique lesson experience for my students.

What are your musical goals this year? Are there any songs or pieces you'd like to learn? Do you want to perform more this year? Asking these questions and setting goals are an easy way to inspire and motivate! Take a moment to write these down for yourself and see just how much of a difference setting goals, and writing them down, can make in your journey :)

Cheers to a new school year everyone, and may we lean into this new school year with joy and open hearts!

Laura

Teacher Feature: Rok Palcic

Rok Palcic joined Blue Feather Music in November of 2017. He now teaches 6 advanced piano students through Blue Feather and is currently obtaining his DMA at the University of Maryland, College Park. He can be heard performing this summer in Europe on the 27th and 28th of July at Masterclasses Haliaeti, and will be performing a recital on November 28 at 5 pm at the University of Maryland in the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center, in Gildenhorn Hall.

Rok brings a high level of expertise to our team of piano instructors, and is currently overseeing intermediate to advanced students in our Blue Feather family. He believes that raw talent is a gift and is truly passionate about discovering and cultivating that gift wherever he finds it. While he confesses that it is rare to come across the true gift of talent, and compares it to combing through an ocean to find hidden diamonds, this does not stop him from searching. As he searches, he challenges every student to bring discipline, respect for music and it's composers, and true devotion to their craft.

Rok grew up in Slovenia, where his first inspiration came as he watched his older brother play piano. "I was jealous," he admitted with a laugh. That was apparently all it took to start Rok on his quest for a world class musical education that would take him to universities in Germany, Austria, and then the United States. After completing a second masters degree at the University of Florida, he moved to the DC metro area to obtain his doctoral degree, in which he is studying the works of Mel Bonis, in order to present all of her compositions in a recital as his final dissertation. Mel Bonis, he explained, was a woman of the early 20th century, named Melanie at birth, who composed under a gender neutral pseudonym, in order to promote her compositions as a female in a male dominated field. He believes she was an incredible composer, and looks forward to resurrecting her largely forgotten body of work. 

When Rok is not studying the music of Mel Bonis, he can be found listening to quite a wide variety of composers. When asked about his favorites, he shared that he has a "group of go-to's", among whom are Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, Schumann, Schubert, Chopin, Prokovief, and Shostokovich. He finds that the greatest obstacle in teaching is keeping students motivated, and this, he believes, comes from exposing them to great music. Though the best way for them to absorb a passion for listening is through the influence of parents at home, he says, he does his best to point them in the right direction with listening assignments. Additionally, Rok encourages each student to understand why they are practicing. If you don't understand your goal when you approach your instrument, which should  always be to solve a problem, then your time would be better spent "playing video games."

In conclusion, we are proud to have Rok on our team, and we hope you will have a chance to hear him play at one of our upcoming recitals, at the University of Maryland in College Park, or should you happen to be traveling to Europe this summer, at the Master Classes Haliaeti! A fun fact: Rok briefly experimented with  the clarinet. This adventure, he tells us, lasted just a year and convinced him his future was definitely with the piano.

Teacher Feature: Keely Borland

Keely Borland has been with us since Sept 2017, and currently works with a roster of 10 Blue Feather students. Her instruments are voice and piano and she is attempting to learn some ukelele just for fun. She is an active performer, receiving ongoing vocal mentoring from Elizabeth Daniels and coaching sessions from Joy Schreier. She is passionate about the music she makes, and states,  "I just want to sing the stuff I love to sing. If I'm not enjoying it, why am I doing it?" 

This sentiment spills over into everything she does. Keely's first musical inspiration came from The Little Mermaid. As a child, she fell in love with the Disney classic and dreamed of becoming a voice over artist. So she started taking lessons, performing with local theater companies, and the rest was history. A chance to perform in a children's chorus in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat at Civic Light Opera in Pittsburgh, with Jody Benson (the voice of Disney's "Ariel") narrating, only fanned her passion. She was ecstatic, bringing Little Mermaid paraphernalia to rehearsals for Ms. Benson to sign. Keely crossed over into classical music around the age of 12 and has been at it ever since. 

What values hold a top priority in her lessons? Confidence is number one. Keely wants her students "to think for themselves," and be able to repeat back to her what she is looking for, in their own words, rather than mindlessly doing what she tells them. "If you're confident with a piece and not doubting yourself all the way through it, that can cross over to a lot of different things." 

Additionally, she believes in tailoring each lesson to the needs of her students in the moment. A great example of this occurred when she helped a piano student make up words to a song that was becoming a monotonous series of notes on a page. As they came up with their own imaginative words to go with the notes, the music came to life for the child.

When asked what obstacles stand in the way of success, Keely shared that kids often have an unrealistic "idea of what it means to be a performer or to go into music as a career." While she doesn't want to "dissuade them," she hopes "to give them a really honest picture of what it's like. Music is hard as a career. It requires hustling." She doesn't believe young people often realize that icons like Taylor Swift overcame significant obstacles to pursue the career they enjoy today. "Instant success"  is a fantasy, she explained; "If they really want to be a singer, you want them to know what they are getting into and still choose to do it."

A student who currently inspires Keely is a voice student in her teens named Caroline. Her range and confidence has greatly improved since they began work together. "The last couple lessons especially have been really, really good," Keely explained, adding that "she's able to laugh off mistakes," which Keely believes is an essential skill in order to progress. 

Upcoming professional events include The Mikado at The Victorian Theatre company in Baltimore this summer, where she'll be covering the role of "Yum Yum", as well as the Shenendoah Valley Bach Festival, and The Little Match Girl Passion with the Baltimore Choral Arts Society. In addition to the excellent work she does in our community, Keely also holds a church job. For more details on where and when you can hear her perform, please check out Keelyboswarthborland.com

Fun fact: "I geek out over film and tv and can't pick a favorite movie because there are so many amazing ones."

Teacher Feature: Jenny Anne Flory

Jenny Anne Flory began teaching piano and voice through Blue Feather in May of 2017, just as she was completing her Master's in opera performance at the University of Maryland, College Park. She now continues her studies with instructors Arianna Zukerman and Elizabeth Bishop, and coach Giovanni Reggioli

To hear Jenny Anne's beautiful mezzo soprano voice in concert, you can attend an evening of operatic scenes put on by the Potomac Vocal Institute on Mother's Day at the United church, 1920 G Street NW, DC. Further details will be posted shortly.

Jenny Anne found inspiration as a child in her 2 older cousins, who are "more like sisters." They played piano and did karaoke, and she desired to follow in their footsteps. Her mother and grandmother provided further inspiration through their active involvement in vocal productions at church. Jenny Anne's first performances were at talent shows in 4th grade with her local 4H club. She went on to play the saxophone in her middle school band, and then to sing with her high school choir.

Jenny Anne spoke of all her students with affection and pride. She is particularly excited about an upcoming middle school production of The Sound of Music, in which her piano and voice student, Emily, will be starring as Maria von Trapp. Emily, who started lessons with Jenny Anne in the fall of 2017, and already possessed a solid background in piano, is excelling quickly as an aspiring vocal artist.

When asked what obstacles musicians must overcome to succeed, she confessed, "I am my own worst critic. The nasty voice in my head prevents progress some days." On these days, she is learning to be more positive with herself, and recommends the value of seeing a great therapist, who can persuade musicians that "everything is going to be ok." Students too, sometimes get mad at themselves for mistakes, when the real issue is simply a need for more time to devote to their instrument. She is careful though, to "build relationships" first, rather than "hounding insane amounts of practice." Her approach is to encourage positivity, use rewards systems for accomplishments, and make lessons fun.

Jenny Anne's dream goal is to sing opera or concert music around the world. She hopes to find an agent in the future, but for now, she is enjoying DC as an ideal mid east coast location for networking. In her words, "I want to share my gift, and have cool experiences in different areas." 

A fun fact about Jenny Anne: She is "obsessed with the Washington Nationals."

Teacher Feature: Spencer Granger

Spencer Granger joined Blue Feather in  2016, bringing an expertise primarily in drums and guitar. While these are his main instruments, his skills are broad, having majored in voice for his undergraduate degree, and possessing proficiency in piano, cello, violin, viola, and bass guitar.

Spencer can be heard performing either guitar, bass guitar, or drums 2-3 weeks of the month at National Community Church's Baracks Row and Potomac Yard locations. He shares that his first inspiration came from watching his dad play music at church growing up. His dad played acoustic guitar and offered a strong tenor harmony to the worship team. While Spencer was a "later bloomer," picking up his first instrument at 12, he felt that listening to so much music throughout his childhood gave him a head start and "everything took off" from there. Like his father, he too is a tenor.

A student who currently inspires Spencer in particular, is a boy nearly 14 years old, who has been studying guitar with him  for 4 years. In the last year, he's been progressing quickly. "I have to practice before lessons to prepare for him," Spencer reported proudly. He is delighted when students begin to practice more and more for sheer enjoyment.

A value that Spencer wishes to impart to his students is time management, especially since we are located in the DC area. "I've never seen so many stressed out 9 year olds," he confessed, referring to our busy schedules and strong drive to succeed that is so typical of the DC community. "For myself as well," he says, "it can be hard to carve out time to practice when the pace of life here is so busy."

Another principle Spencer believes is important in developing any performer is what he calls "The big 3." These are Transcription, Technique, and Repertoire. Transcription is the ability to hear or see something and replicate it, either on paper or at your instrument. Technique is the ability to find your way around the instrument well. Repertoire is a set of songs that each student has developed and can play with ease at any given moment.

Spencer's dreams for the future include releasing music over next 18 months, which will require marketing and management over social media. He also hopes to build a better personal network of musicians, and start a family of his own someday soon.

A fun fact about Spencer: He is left handed and learned to play all instruments backwards!

Teacher Feature: Lawrence Chen

Lawrence Chen joined us at Blue Feather just a few months ago. While he teaches electric and acoustic guitar, his talents extend to drums and bass guitar as well.

Lawrence's musical aspirations began in church during his early years. As a child, he learned piano, violin, and cello, going on to learn drums for his middle school band. In high school, he picked up electric guitar "to fill a need at church and never put it down." Musical role models include The Edge from U2 and Nigel Hendroff from Hillsong. His role models in life have not only been musical ones though. People who have made a big impact on helping him become the man he is today include his childhood pastor Jaeson Ma, and Joel Patterson, worship pastor at Westmont College in Santa Barbara, CA, where he attended. 

His students also provide him with inspiration! One of them in particular is Emily Collins, who is picking up electric guitar, in his words, "even faster than I did."

Lawrence believes that fear of risks is our biggest obstacle to success. He draws from his own experience launching a startup. Though the endeavor proved unsuccessful in the end, it taught him new skills that he'll never regret. When asked what ingredients make a great performer, his answer was "listening." He cautions against becoming "silo-ed in your own practice to make your part perfect" and encourages aspiring artists to listen sensitively to the sound of their team, growing together. As time goes by, the music will become cohesive, because you truly "know your band."

In 5 to 10 years? Lawrence hopes to help shift the social impact sector to more sustainable business models. In the short term, he is already leading a team to DR Congo in May to help build better businesses, specifically helping their primary school become self sustainable.  He dreams of many similar projects coaching non-profit organizations in emerging markets to become financially sustainable.

A fun fact about Lawrence: He launched and directed his own startup company for 18 months, supplying fresh-food meal kits to underprivileged communities in Washington DC.

Teacher Feature: Chelsea Davidson

Chelsea is an opera singer, piano and vocal instructor who came to us in 2016. She has just concluded a run of 11 shows at the Sarasota Opera Florida, where she was cast as Frasquita in the beloved Carmen. After relocating for an intense month of rehearsals and thrilling stage experience,  she shared the following highlights: the opportunity to dance in the opening scene, the chance to play a peasant character since she's tall and usually type cast as a noble, and the friendships made with other leads in the production. "We are fantastic friends in real life, so the chemistry translates well to the stage," Chelsea shared, happily adding that "We get to be sassy."

A significant inspiration in Chelsea's early years came while watching La Traviata on PBS. She described how "The lights and costumes, seeing the orchestra play, and hearing emotions portrayed audibly where I could never express them in words" made a deep impression. "Given the chance," she said, "I couldn't imagine doing anything else."

Chelsea also receives inspiration from her students! While she couldn't think of one who inspired her in particular, because they are all so wonderful, a project that has been especially memorable lately is Kieran Tierney's dedication to working up "Castle on a Cloud" from Les Mis. She explained that Kieran was "intimidated by it at first," but doing beautifully before Chelsea left for Florida. She was very proud of Kieran for tackling something challenging, and excitedly awaited the chance to hear further progress upon her return from Florida. (In Chelsea's absence, her studio studied under substitutes from the Blue Feather team.)

The value Chelsea seeks to impart to her students "first and foremost is practice." "Only practice on the days you eat," she tells them, "and that is how a great musician is born. After that practice, go into performance and let it all go."

Chelsea's plans on the horizon? "In 5 years I hope to continue teaching and playing small roles around the country. In 10 years, I hope to be singing in the major opera houses around the world."  Though she is sticking with Bel Canto literature for now, she says, her voice is maturing into a dramatic coloratura. Dream roles include "Lucia" in Lucia d' lammermoore, and Violette in La Traviatta. The intense themes capture her creative imagination, and she plans to fully embrace the "blood stained wedding dress and death by consumption" and all. 

Blue Feather feels incredibly privileged to have Chelsea on our team. We share her with the NOVA community proudly, and excitedly await her students' upcoming performances in our June 2 recital. Stay tuned for our next teacher highlight!

A fun fact about Chelsea: She shared a stage with Beyonce at Obama's 2nd inauguration while performing with the Lee University Centennial choir. When she was featured in a solo, she even got to use the same mic as the pop legend, who was standing just yards away from her.

When Practice Becomes the Joy.

Nora Keith did not have the chance to perform on our spring recital, due to a traveling conflict. However, the work she put into this piece, and a simple, low quality iPhone recording I captured of her work on it this week, demonstrates a truth that has been growing in my heart over the past year.

It's not the moments on stage where we are guaranteed our greatest rewards. While those moments can be exciting and fulfilling, depending on how we approach them, they are very often overrated in the life of a performing artist. The quiet moments we spend pursuing excellence out of pure joy are worth far more than any standing ovation.

Nora's mom shared with me that her daughter has been spending lots of time in daily piano practice now that the summer months are giving her extra free time. She's adding it to her days and mixing it into the usual pleasures of tv shows and book reading, and the only reason this could be happening is because she loves it. It's summer time, and she could be at the swimming pool or the movie theater or anywhere but the piano, if she saw piano practice as a mere means to an end.

For Nora, who has been playing piano for just shy of two years now, the practice IS the joy. The quiet moments are her reward. The artistry of dynamics and legato and expression and beautifully rounded fingers are blossoming as she takes the time to "play," and I am proud of her.

Please take a moment to enjoy her rendering of "Leaving Netherfield" from the 2005 motion picture soundtrack of "Pride and Prejudice." 

- Kellie McHugh -