When Hannah was a little girl, we enrolled her in Keys for Kids, a group piano class. The program, created by a marvelous, innovative woman named Inga Magid, requires that each child be accompanied by a parent who sits with them at one of the electronic keyboards and works with them at home. For years, Andrew and Hannah participated in the program, moving through the entire curriculum from Mini Keys, to Kinder Keys to Super Keys. When Hannah began individual lessons with Miss Inga her enthusiasm waned. I suggested we get a new teacher and Andrew wailed, “But I love Miss Inga.”
“Then you should take lessons with her,” I replied. He did, and that’s a story for another time, but it left us without a piano teacher for Hannah. Then, in one of those rare coincidences that makes you believe in angels, I found a business card stuck in our screen door. On it was a picture of a piano with local contact information for a teacher of same. I called, and a few days later we met Candace Cleary.
Inga trained in the classical Russian tradition. She is an exuberant, out-going Latvian, who scolds and cajoles in equal parts. Candace is from Canada and got her music degree at a university there. I do not know what her own training was like, but she developed a teaching style that is warm and encouraging. She is gentle, and earnest, and soft-spoken.
Candace lived in the center of town, and taught in her apartment. At our first meeting she served us lemonade and cookies in her impeccably clean, simply decorated living room. She had us at hello.
New to the area, Candace was just beginning to build her clientele. Before long I had recommended her to my sister and a friend, each of whom brought two new students to her, and it wasn’t long before Candace had a schedule full of dedicated students, and grateful parents. She found music that appealed to each individual, teaching some popular music, others classical or jazz. Under her guidance, the students developed confidence as well as skill. She encouraged Hannah’s interest in improvisation and another student’s interest in composing. There was nothing cookie-cutter about Candace.
For years Hannah had been happily taking lessons from Candace and we were thrilled. Many kids give up on music once they enter high school, but here we were, in Hannah’s junior year, and she was still going strong. And then, Candace told us that her husband had gotten a job in Washington and they were moving to Arlington, VA. I was devastated, as we all were.
It was such a joy to introduce people who were searching for a piano teacher to Candace. I’m hoping that residents of Arlington, VA will google for “piano teacher, Arlington, VA” and find this blog post. It would give me great pleasure to help Candace find students in her new home. But she only needs one to get the ball rolling; after that word will spread fast because a good piano teacher is hard to find. And now the best darn piano teacher in Arlington is in Arlington, VA. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I’m sure I speak for all of Candace Cleary’s former students and their families when I say, from the bottom of my heart, thank you.