Tampa Fine Arts Academy - May 2020


www.tampafineartsacademy.com | 813-463-8968

May 2020 From Engineer to Music School Entrepreneur Larry Bigel on the ‘Origin’ Story of Tampa Fine Arts Academy

When I taught kids, I cared about teaching strong basics so they could easily read and pick up new music and enjoy the music they created. It wasn’t about fitting into a particular music education mold. The kids created their own mold, like every musician creates their own goals on their journey. So, for a couple years, I was doing great teaching guitar. Then, I lost my engineering job at the firm back in 2002. In a way, it was well-timed (although it didn’t feel like that back then!). I guess everything happens for a reason. It gave me the opportunity to chase my own dreams: build a career teaching and playing music and start a family with my wife, Monica, in Florida closer to extended family members. So, in March of 2004, we moved out to Florida. At first, I went to people’s homes and taught private lessons there. But I wanted to open a place where I could offer all kinds of instruments for band or orchestra and teach students of all ages. We found a retail location in June 2005. That was a crazy time. Being an engineer didn’t entirely prepare me for being a business owner, and I needed all the help I could get. Monica was eight months pregnant with our first child while we were installing slat wall in our showroom. She helped so much. Whether greeting students, handling payments and appointments, or taking on many more admin duties, she was absolutely key to getting our business on its feet. Eventually, we grew to a point where we could hire more teachers and staff. Now, we have over 600 students, and sometimes, I can’t believe how far we’ve come. One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned in the past 15 years is you never know what to expect. Every student brings something fresh to our academy: their energy, perspective, and personality. I know how fulfilling music can be, as it enriches each of these qualities in our lives. I want our students to remember that music is a lifelong friend. It will stay long after their education here. Thank you for reading our first newsletter! I look forward to sharing more about myself and our school with you every month. Have a wonderful April, #TFAAFAM. 1 -Larry Bigel

It might be hard to believe, but I didn’t always think I’d run a music school. I used to help build helicopters in Connecticut — engineering was actually the start of my professional career. I have always been fascinated with cars, and my dad was an engineer, so I thought I’d follow his footsteps. After getting an engineering degree, I worked in that field for 12 years; from consulting to working in huge corporate firms, it’s fair to say I explored what it had to offer me. But I was always passionate about music. I began with learning trumpet in elementary school, then keyboard in high school. When I graduated high school, one of my friends had a guitar, but he always wanted to play piano. There was something about his guitar that intrigued me. I’m not sure what. Maybe it was the brand name “Stella.” Maybe it was the color. Whatever it was, I Even while I was working as an engineer, I spent every spare waking moment playing guitar. I’d get home from work at 5 p.m. and play the classic rock CDs of Led Zeppelin, Guns & Roses, and Rush until 10 p.m. Later on, I started gravitating toward acoustic guitar, and to this day, I love listening to and playing James Taylor, the Eagles, and Jim Croce. While working in California, I saw a flyer: “Music Teachers Needed.” So I started teaching guitar outside of my full-time engineering job. I taught up to 50 kids each week. What I’ve come to realize over several years of observation is the type of music lessons that people or places tend to offer generally fall into two different molds: traditional and rock. You either gain your reading basics through classical music, or you learn popular songs relying on your ear. But that’s never what music education really meant to me. For me, music has always been an old reliable friend. No matter how depressed or apathetic I got, I could pick up my guitar and feel l reignited to take on the world again. Playing music transports you somewhere else and can make you feel incredibly alive. Learning music offered a whole new dimension to my life. just wanted it. So I traded my keyboard for his guitar. And once I picked up a guitar, I never put it down.

www.tampafineartsacademy.com | 813-463-8968

Suzuki vs. Classical

The Great Violinist Debate

“internalize” their holding and playing posture. Students progress one step at a time, mastering each step before moving on. Suzuki violinists take a long time to learn how to read notes, but it’s certainly part of a child’s education — muscle memory and navigating the violin like a language is simply far more important than note reading alone. TRADITIONAL Parents are encouraged to watch lessons, but it’s not necessary for the student’s practice itself. Traditional lessons, or classical, are always focused on the one-on-one interaction between the student and teacher and how to read music from the early stages. While lessons with the Suzuki method might labor over proper technique, lessons with the traditional method might labor over specific pieces of work until they’re done correctly. Students learning through the traditional method can learn how to play multiple songs much faster. After several weeks, many students can already recognize the notes they will play. Many musicians employ a mixture of these methods, while some employ one or the other. If you or your child want to learn the violin, talk with one of our amazing violin teachers today and discuss the right option for you!

In this edition’s cover, our owner, Larry Bigel, talks a bit about music education and the two forms of music schools popularized in the U.S. There are many more styles of music education, but none are as highly debated as the Suzuki versus traditional teaching methods for the violin. At Tampa Fine Arts Academy, we offer both! But what’s the difference? Which is best for you?

SUZUKI Shinichi Suzuki wasn’t just an acclaimed Japanese violinist and founder of the international Suzuki method of music education; he was also a philosopher. He wanted children to learn to play the violin like a person would learn their native language, which is why the Suzuki method is also referred to as the “mother tongue approach” to music education. With the Suzuki method, parent involvement is crucial; often, parents will sit in lessons and gain insight so they can be involved in a student’s daily practice. Before a student even touches a violin, they’ll often listen to recordings to

Say Congratulations

FOR THE STREAMER There’s no shortage of streaming services, and depending on what your graduate enjoys watching, you may consider gifting them a subscription. Nostalgic Disney lovers looking for some stress relief would certainly love a Disney+ subscription, but if you know someone who has an affinity for the dramatic sagas, a subscription to HBO Now could satisfy their cravings. Hulu + Live TV can also be a great alternative for a grad who is out of the house! The best part is that this gift keeps on giving with every movie or show they stream. FOR THE ACADEMIC This May will mark the start of a new academic adventure for many. AI systems like the Amazon Alexa and Google Home can make staying in touch and studying easier, while an e-reader could house all their textbooks in one handy place. Laptop cases, screen covers, and other protective gear can keep their technology safe from wear and tear. (After all, what college kid can afford a new laptop on a whim?) Charging stations and cord organizers can also protect their tech and keep their space clean.

Spring is all about new beginnings, and for many, graduation is just the start of something big. Whether your favorite graduate is heading off to college, serve in our nation’s military, or join the workforce, there’s a gadget out there that will give them a great start — or at least make you their favorite relative. Check out this guide to find the perfect tech gift.

FOR THE AUDIO LOVER From wireless headphones that surround you with sound to Bluetooth speakers that offer crystal-clear quality, the options are endless when it comes to choosing an audio device. But before purchasing the “next best thing,” consider the person who will use it. If your graduate exercises frequently, they may want wireless headphones like Apple’s AirPods or one of the many Samsung varieties. On the flip side, if they enjoy action movies, a great sound bar for their entertainment system just might do the trick.


www.tampafineartsacademy.com | 813-463-8968

Best Snack and Meal Ideas for On-the-Go Parents

Our Favorite Quick, Kid-Friendly Eats!

Between work, school, and your kids’ music lessons at Tampa Fine Arts Academy, we know your weekdays can feel like chaos. It can be even more chaotic to keep the kids fed when you’re rushing in and out of the house. That’s why we’ve compiled some easy, simple snacks and meal ideas for an on-the-go day! BAKED SAVORY HAND PIES Want your kids to eat something homemade, healthy, and filling? Make these pies ahead of time for a perfect pick-me-up before their music lesson. Think of your favorite flavor combination and create a filling. You can customize it to even the pickiest eater’s preferences. Buffalo chicken, curry lentils, beef, or potato all work. Even veggies and cheese! Then, grab some store-bought, refrigerated pie dough and bake up several delicious meals at the same time! SANDWICH ‘SUSHI’ Wrap your favorite protein, veggies, and sauce in crustless bread or tortillas, then roll and cut into sushi-sized bites! This is a perfect snack for someone who doesn’t feel like eating a traditional sandwich but still craves the same flavors and nutritional value. We suggest using carrots, cucumbers, ranch dressing, and your favorite lunch meat or tuna! STRING CHEESE We know you’re not always able to throw together a hand pie or sandwich, so if you have to choose a quick, healthy snack, mozzarella

sticks are your best go-to. They’re low fat and a good source of calcium and vitamin C, and they even include 8 grams of protein and 4 grams of fiber! Plus, what isn’t fun about eating string cheese? NONFAT GREEK YOGURT With up to a whopping 24 grams of protein, a nonfat Greek yogurt snack will definitely help your child feel full longer! Plenty of flavors provide options any child can enjoy. We hope these suggestions help your busy household. Let us know if you have started using any of these tips, or if you have any on- the-go snack secrets you’d like to share!

Springtime Cacio e Pepe

Inspired by Eating Well

• •

1 tsp lemon zest


1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

• •

6 oz multigrain spaghetti 8 oz fresh asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces

• •

1/2 tsp black pepper 1 cup baby arugula

1 tbsp olive oil


1. Heat oven to 425 F. 2. In a large pot, cook spaghetti until al dente. Reserve 1 cup of water before draining and put spaghetti in a covered pot to keep warm. 3. Line a 15x10-inch baking pan with foil and toss in asparagus and olive oil. 4. Cook asparagus for 5–7 minutes and sprinkle with lemon zest. 5. Add 3/4 cup of the reserved water, Parmesan cheese, and pepper to the spaghetti. Stir until creamy. 6. Toss in asparagus and arugula before serving.

#Tfaafam Shout out!

we hope you are enjoying the online lessons. Thank you for being a part of the #TFAAFam! We will get through this together.


Making music easy and fun!

2148 Ashley Oaks Circle, Wesley Chapel, FL 33544 813-463-8968 www.tampafineartsacademy.com


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The ‘Origin’ Story of Tampa Fine Arts Academy

Suzuki vs. Classical The Best Technology for Graduates


Best Snack and Meal Ideas for On- the-Go Parents Springtime Cacio e Pepe


what is gardening good for?

health benefits of family gardening

give your kid the gift of a green thumb

Yes, there will always be football season, basketball season, and soccer season, but right now, it’s gardening season. That means it’s time to roll up your sleeves and play in the dirt. If you’ve been searching for a way to get the kids away from technology and engaged with the real world, gardening is the perfect activity for the whole family to enjoy. Not only is it fun, but it’s also beneficial for your kids’ development.

Jack Gilbert, a scientist at the University of Chicago and a parent himself, and his co-author, Rob Knight, emphasize the health benefits of garden time in their book, “Dirt Is Good: The Advantage of Germs for Your Child’s Developing Immune System.” The two found that exposure to different microbes, like those found in a garden, strengthens a child’s immune system and makes them less likely to develop allergies. If this is your first time gardening, you don’t need much to get started. Grab a few shovels, a pair of gloves for each family member, and fresh potting soil, and you’ll be set. Then, you can decide together which plants you’d like to grow! Carrots are fun because of the surprise factor — just imagine your child discovering that the part they eat grows below the ground! Peas are tasty and fairly easy to grow, as are strawberries. The options really are endless. Depending on the growing season in your area, you can choose to buy seeds or opt for rooted plants. Last but certainly not least, the best part of gardening as a family is the healthy, fresh produce you’ll get to enjoy all summer long!

For example, gardening can improve your children’s analytical abilities. As Dr. Wendy Matthews says, “Gardening exercises important reasoning, initiation, planning, and organization skills.” Furthermore, several studies, including one at Texas A&M University, suggest that gardening improves a child’s attitude toward fruits and vegetables and may make them more likely to choose them as snacks. Gardening helps kids identify with where their food is coming from, and nothing tastes better than a freshly picked strawberry or pea pod they grew themselves.


Making music easy and fun!

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