LESSONS

A Brief Statement of my Philosophy

Music is for everyone. The mission of the Studio is to provide a meaningful experience of music to everyone.

Music is for every age. The Mitchell Harp Studio offers musical opportunities for every age, carefully coordinated with the developmental needs of the student.
Musical training is not just for the "talented". Every child and adult can derive great satisfaction and sense of achievement from the study of music. The Studio strives to nurture every student's capacity to share and enjoy music. For those whose love of music inspires them to a high level of commitment, the Studio offers quality training, experience and support without peer in the area.

Music deserves to be an integral part of a child's total education. The skills developed in the study of music extend far beyond studio or concert hall. The Mitchell Harp Studio aims to contribute to the development of discipline, good habits of mind, and socialization in every student.

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Important Information

In studying music, we are not just developing the skill to play an instrument, we are developing the ear and a sense of musical hearing and processing as well. An important component to lessons is repeated exposure to the world of classical music through listening. Some ideas:
- play classical CDs at home or in the car on a daily basis, or tune your radio frequently to a classical station (KDFC-FM or KMZT-AM in the Bay Area);
- try to see live concerts whenever possible.

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Caitriona Mc Dermott-

Student of Bertina Mitchell since 1993

Awards:
Caitriona was the second prize winner at the International Harp Festival in Ireland in 1993.

Second place at Granard Harp Festival in Ireland 1993.

First Place at California State Talent Competition in 1999.

Grand Champion award at California State Talent Competition, June 2001.

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Testimonial

“Bertina Mitchell is without a doubt one of the most exceptional people I have ever met. I have studied the harp with her for almost eight years, and I cannot even describe the extent of the positive influence she has had on my life. Bertina is certainly an impressive musician and an incredibly accomplished professional harpist, but she is even more importantly an endlessly compassionate, patient, and forgiving teacher. I came to Bertina with no musical knowledge whatsoever, and with care and optimism she guided me from the simplest scale to the most dramatic concerto. She gently encouraged me to persevere through every struggle, and taught me to love music so completely that I cannot imagine my life without it. I am so proud of the skill Bertina has led me to acquire, and I’m confident that I’ll be able to hold my own when I graduate and enter a college orchestra at the end of this year. It will be so difficult for me to leave Bertina, who has become my most respected teacher, valued friend, and a member of my own family.”
Ellery Burgess

It is with great pleasure that I write a letter of recommendation for Bertina Mitchell. Bertina has been my children’s piano teacher for the past 3 years. My 9 year old twins connected with Bertina immediately, responding to her genuine warmth and her enthusiastic, supportive approach. Bertina is a patient teacher and sees the children for who they are and the musicians they are within. Bertina tempers the demands and expectations of a teacher with love and encouraging words. Bertina challenges the students to keep the learning process going, and praises their accomplishments. Not only have my children progressed as talented piano players, they have gained self-confidence. Bertina’s passion for music and teaching is evident. I highly recommend Bertina as a piano teacher, so your child can experience her passion and love of music first hand.
Yours very truly,
H. Kimberly Zydel

Bertina Mitchell has been teaching piano to my 11-year old son for two years. He has developed both an ability to play and an enjoyment of music because of Bertina's thoughtful guidance. Her love of music and teaching is quite evident, whether she's teaching how to play, how to read music, or other music fundamentals. I am impressed with her kind and clear manner that encourages my son to explore the music. She incorporates his interests into the lessons, including helping him write his own compositions at age 10!
She has won my son's heart and imagination, and he has this to say about Bertina: "She helps me change what I"m doing wrong, she picks out the right books and songs for me, and she does it all very nicely." Perhaps the best recommendation is that he enjoys coming back every week for his lesson, and wants to practice so that he can improve every week!
I would be happy to talk to parents about Bertina's abilities as a piano teacher.
Paul R. Peterzell

It is absolute pleasure that I write a letter of recommendation for Bertina Mitchell. Bertina has been my children's piano and harp teacher for the past 7 years. My 17 year old (presently) and my 13 year old girls loved her from the very beginning, connecting with her warmth and enthusiasm as well as her consistently positive approach. Bertina is a patient teacher and treats each child with love for their individuality. Never-the-less, she has standards and expectations that she makes clear to them and they have learned the benefits of self discipline as it regards to music and other aspects of their lives. My children have progressed as both piano and harp players, gaining self- confidence and skill that will help them socially and for enjoyment, their entire lives. Bertina's true vocation for music and teaching is obvious. I highly recommend Bertina as a music teacher for any adult or child who wishes to learn. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to recommend someone I truly believe in!
Sincerely,
Nancy Muggoch, NP, MS, ACHPN

"Bertina's inspirational love of music comes through in her teaching. She has the perfect combination of kindness, motivation and firmness. Over the past two years my two kids have made wonderful progress on the piano. I couldn't recommend her more highly!"
Jeremy Cline

"Our daughter has studied harp with Bertina Mitchell for over seven years and from the very start we've been impressed not only by Bertina's wonderful musicality, but also her gentle and effective method of musical instruction. As parents, we are deeply appreciative of the support and encouragement Bertina has given our daughter in her musical education. At group recitals it is clear that she is just as attentive to every student of hers. Personally and professionally, we cannot say enough good things about Bertina Mitchell!"
Amy Marsh

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Information on teaching:

The book "Sound Choices: Guiding Your Child's Musical Development" by Marianne Uszler Machover, Oxford University Press, is strongly recommended as a resource guide.
What to Expect Each Week

Private lessons are scheduled once a week. Each lesson will last 45 minutes. Every lesson's assignment will be carefully written down in the all-important assignment book, which will include:

Technique: Scales, Chords, 4-finger Patterns or other exercises to develop muscular control and agility. Theory: Flashcards, Note speller or Theory book to develop fluid reading
New Material: New songs or passages to learn
Old Material: Music to polish, perfect or memorize
I may also include duets, composition, improvisation, sight-reading or listening as part of the assignment.

To optimize progress, it is important to find the perfect balance point of stimulation. Too much work, and the students may feel overwhelmed, too little, and they become bored. In general, a perfect assignment will feel "big" or "hard" at the beginning of the week, will seem just right by day 5, and may even feel "easy" by the day of the lesson.

The homework for each student is individually designed and tailored to consider his/her unique needs, abilities and interests. It is my expectation that students will complete all of their weekly assignments to the best of their ability and will fulfill the practice requirement on a daily basis.

Parent Presence at the Lesson

It is almost always recommended that students in first and second grade have a parent either present for the duration of the lesson or available for "touching base" at the beginning and the end of each lesson to optimize home practice. Some children receive extra benefit from having a parent attend lessons on a weekly basis, others prefer to have their teacher "all to themselves".

What is the best practice routine?

A set time every day helps establish practice as part of a child 's routine. Some students thrive on morning practice, other do best after school or even right before bedtime. Beginning students can start gradually to fulfill the practice requirements: the first week - 10-15 minutes, and gradually add 5-10 minutes to the expectation for each week. Dr. Suzuki, a famous music pedagogue, once said, " You should only practice on the days that you eat."

What is my role as a parent in my child's practice?

Your support will shift with time, but your emotional support is always essential, Organizing your child's practice, telling what to play and how many times, helping with counting and note-reading. Calling attention to dynamics or phrasing will all be part of your role. If you are new to music yourself, learn alongside your child. Make music a family affair.

Students 12 and older are expected to be responsible for their own practice. At most, you can remind them of their decisions, but it is not in the best interest of budding teenagers to "make" them practice. For music to really work for adolescents, it must be something that comes from desire within.

Students of all ages, however, need you to applaud and encourage their efforts. Be an appreciative audience. Let them know how proud you are of their efforts and progress.