01. 2019 (763) 432-9713 www.mnschoolofmusic.com
DEFINING THE MNSOM DIFFERENCE VISIONS OF EMPOWERMENT, UNITY, AND COMMUNITY THE MONTHLY MUSICIAN
H appy New Year from all of us at Minnesota School of Music! Whatever your goals are for 2019, we wish you all the best in seeing them through! For our part, the team and I have spent the runup to this year planning out our goals for the school and, more broadly, thinking about our identity as an organization. While I knew the exercise would be fruitful, I never expected it would turn into such a powerful experience. It all started when a good friend and mentor of mine, Keith TerHaar, recommended a book: “Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business” by Gino Wickman. Always eager to follow Keith’s advice, I ordered the book, though I confess it was going to be one of those works I got around to reading eventually. Then, on the day “Traction” was delivered to the front desk here at the school, I looked up and saw one of our customers was reading my book! Only, it wasn’t mine. After a brief moment of confusion, I realized my copy of “Traction” was still sitting on my desk. Laughing about the coincidence, I struck up a conversation with the father about his thoughts on the book I’d just received. After hearing his stellar review, I threw myself into reading it from cover to cover. One gem of wisdom from Gino’s work that stuck out to me was the idea that “successful businesses operate with a crystal-clear vision that is shared by everyone.” This got me thinking, while I’ve always had a written vision for where Minnesota School of Music is going, our recent growth has offered a fresh opportunity to recalibrate our compass. So, over the following weeks, I sat down with a pen, paper, and my daily Americano with heavy cream and started to brainstorm. And, well, nothing quite fit the bill. After a lot of caffeine and even more scrapped ideas, I had an epiphany. I couldn’t put down a clear vision of MnSOM on paper anymore because our school has become so much bigger than just me. I knew to truly capture a crystalline vision for our company, I needed to bring our whole team in on the process. You see, one of the things that has made our school so unique is the fact our teachers are paid employees. While other schools just hire private contractors, our educators are a full-fledged part of the business, making it possible for us to have these kinds
of vision meetings. So, when I called our staff together to discuss defining the things that make our school unique, I was ready for a long slog of a meeting. I did not expect what happened next. First, this was a voluntary meeting. I expected low attendance, but almost our entire team showed up, including those who drove in on a day that was meant to be their day off. It was incredible to see that our teachers are passionate enough about what we do here that everyone wanted to be part of the conversation. Best of all, the more we talked about our individual visions for the company, the more we found we were all on the same page. So much of what our team had to say was in line with what I’d written down for my own ideas — almost verbatim! From the ways we tailor our lessons to individual students to how we invite parents into the classroom to take part in their children’s educations, our team loves that we approach teaching in a far more personalized way than the guys down the road. In fact, as we talked, we realized that what we do here at MnSOM has an impact that reaches far beyond the classroom. Not only are we empowering youth by teaching valuable skills in vision casting, goal setting, and musical development, but we are uniting families and building a larger community. After watching parents meet their neighbors for the first time in our lobby and seeing students build confidence onstage, we’ve realized we’re doing far more than just teaching the G major scale. Long story short, the meeting was a home run. We left with a total sense of unity and a clear vision of what makes us different from the other guys. I couldn’t have made this school a reality without such amazing, caring team members. Of course, we couldn’t have built this incredible community without the passionate families that believe in what we do. As we head into the new year with our expanded classrooms and our threefold vision of empowering youth, uniting families, and building community, I could not feel more excited about what God has in store for us in 2019.
I offer a heartfelt “thank you” to all of those who have made this journey possible,
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There are around 2,500 military working dogs currently in service, and their efforts help save the lives of countless soldiers and civilians every day. One of these brave military dogs is Sgt. Fieldy, an 11-year-old black lab who was trained to locate the No. 1 threat in Afghanistan: IEDs. Sgt. Fieldy was deployed to Afghanistan with his handler, Cpl. Nicolas Caceres, in 2011. SGT. FIELDY COMES HOME REUNITING BROTHERS IN ARMS
Award, and in 2018, he won the American Humane Hero Dog Award for his service.
Early in their deployment, their vehicle struck a pressure plate while they were on patrol. Fieldy and Caceres were all right, but one of the other Marines in their company was badly injured in the explosion. The injured Marine could not be evacuated by helicopter until the landing zone was secured. Fieldy found another IED in the area and alerted Caceres. The bomb was quickly disarmed, and the injured soldier was taken to safety.
thousands of lives. After his deployment, Caceres returned home, but Sgt. Fieldy served several more tours without him. While Fieldy continued to protect soldiers and civilians by tracking down IEDs, Caceres worked tirelessly to make sure he could bring Fieldy home when his service was over. Military working dogs can be adopted by former handlers, law enforcement, or qualified civilians when they retire. After three years apart and a total of four tours served, Sgt. Fieldy was reunited with Caceres. In 2016, Fieldy received the K9 Medal of Courage
“These dogs are out there with us,” said Caceres when he and Fieldy accepted the Hero Dog Award. “The dangers we face, they face them too. They deserve to be recognized. We ask so much of them, and all they want is to get petted or play with a toy. They’re amazing animals, and Fieldy is just an amazing dog. I can’t begin to express the gratitude I have for him.” If you are interested in supporting our nation’s working dogs or would like to adopt a retired working dog yourself, you can learn more at MissionK9rescue.org.
This wasn’t the only IED Fieldy found. His sharp nose and dedication helped save
OUR SCHOOL’S STAR STUDENT TAKES HOME GOLD! MEET ELLA
Having attended Minnesota School of Music for five years now, Ella Kuipers has become quite the guitar player. Last year, as our longest-serving student, she achieved the highest rank on the Musical Ladder System™ that our school has ever awarded and took home a giant trophy! We sat down with Ella to find out just what makes her such a driven student and why she’s stuck with our school for so long. From the start, Ella’s musical journey came from a willingness to forge her own path. “None of my friends really knew how to play guitar,” she reflects. “So I thought it would be interesting to learn.” Thinking back on her first steps into the music world, Ella remembers it wasn’t an easy start. “I was plucking at the guitar, trying to figure stuff out on my own. It wasn’t going super well,” she adds with a laugh. But with time and practice, those early struggles seem a world away. Just recently, Ella mastered two challenging classics, “Carol of the Bells” and “Malaguena.” And yet, this
high school freshman remains remarkably humble about her achievements. When asked what she enjoyed most about her guitar lessons, Ella responded thoughtfully, “My teachers have always been really great. I’ve grown a lot and gotten to learn a lot about the guitar.” For her part, Ella is doing what she can to help other students grow, too. “I talk to other kids at our concerts,” she explains. “I always try to encourage students after they play.” It’s great to see our most experienced pupil taking it upon herself to help her peers. While some musicians may set their sights on stardom, Ella has her eyes on another set of stars entirely. “I want to be an engineer,” she explains resolutely. “I want to work on equipment and vehicles that will go into space.” Between her pragmatic mind and deep well of personal motivation, we have no doubt Ella will make this dream come true. If we’ve learned anything from the five years she’s been studying at MnSOM, it’s that Ella can do just about anything she sets her mind to.
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As the year begins anew, it seems like the perfect time to cover our last remaining R in “The 4 R’s of Routine,” Repeat. Repeat is particularly interesting to us as music instructors because, on the surface, it can seem so, well, redundant. Many students think, “Repetition is just a practice routine, right? You just play a song over and over again.” This kind of oversimplification of “repeat” is what gets many young musicians stuck in a rut. Often, students practicing at home develop play-it-from-the- beginning-itis — the idea that if they make a mistake, they should start again from the top. This frequently leads to young musicians who can nail the opening of a song but never really master harder elements down the line. If this is the case for your student, ask them instead to take the time to simply focus on the part of the piece, even down to the phrase or measure, that is giving them difficulty. Being able to zoom in on a particular trouble spot and repeat it is a far more fruitful use of time than repeating the same 65 percent of a song the student has already mastered. A method our teachers have found particularly effective here at MnSOM is to keep a tally of how many times a student can play flawlessly through one of these trouble spots. If you want to be involved in your child’s music practice, this can be a great way of jumping in. If your child is struggling with a particular area of a song, zero in on it and challenge them to play through that part flawlessly three times in a row. You can keep score for them, but remember, a mistake means the count resets to zero. When done properly, this method can keep students fired up in moments when they may otherwise feel frustrated or disheartened. But you also need to take care you don’t push a student to overcome a musical piece that is simply beyond them. At the end of the day, it is normal for music students to hit a wall in their practice at home. There will always be certain areas that prove too hard to overcome without an expert to guide them past pitfalls and spot subtle mistakes in technique. That’s where lessons with a professional music educator come in. With weekly lessons, we’re here for those trouble spots that prove to be too much on their own. A student who makes use of fruitful repetition at home, comes into their lesson knowing what they’ve mastered, and knows what still needs ironing out is in a very good spot to succeed. In this way, intentional repetition can make home practice sessions and lessons here at MnSOM harmonize beautifully. THE 4 R’S OF ROUTINE: REPEAT A MEASURED APPROACH KEEPING SCORE PROVIDING A BASELINE
WELCOME NEW STUDENTS
IS YOUR TEACHER If you’ve tried to make a schedule change recently, you’ve seen firsthand how full our teachers’ schedules are. If you are looking to make an upcoming schedule change, please read below to see if your teacher is sold out. Note: Teacher availability is subject to change based on enrollment. Please contact the front desk at (763) 432-9713 for up-to-date schedule information. SOLD OUT?
Mr. Barrett - SOLD OUT
Mrs. O’Neill - SOLD OUT
Mrs. Gagnon - SOLD OUT
Miss Pliam - SOLD OUT
Mrs. Hansen - SOLD OUT
Miss Taft - SOLD OUT
Mr. Norell - SOLD OUT
Miss Schwefel - SOLD OUT
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3533 88th Ave. NE, Blaine, MN 55014 (763) 432-9713 www.mnschoolofmusic.com
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INSIDE THIS ISSUE
Defining the MnSOM Difference What Happens to Military Service Dogs? Student Spotlight: Ella Kuipers
Welcome New Students The 4 R’s of Routine: Repeat
The Best Skiing Destinations in the World
WHO’S READY FOR SOME POWDER? 3 OF THE WORLD’S GREATEST WINTER SPORT DESTINATIONS
activities, and a town that captivates the senses. When you see the mountains of British Columbia, you’ll understand why they hosted the 2010 Winter Olympics. The location’s beauty is only part of your stimulating experience, because every curve of fresh powder makes your pupils dilate. Once you’re done flying down the hill where Bode Miller took the bronze, head over to the winter wonderland of the old Olympic Village for a cozy night in a picturesque town. If you want a great location for next year’s Christmas card photo, there’s no better place than the Tyrolean Alps. Nestled in a valley between perfectly molded mountains, the Austrian landscape provides a beautiful backdrop for your winter excursions. The densely wooded areas and the bright reflection of the snow frame the vibrant town that’s just waiting to be explored. When you’re ready for world-class runs, hop in one of the 11 gondolas and zip down the hills that hosted the 2001 Alpine World Ski Championships. ST. ANTON, AUSTRIA
The sound of the first carve through fresh powder is the anthem of all winter sports enthusiasts. Here are three of the world’s best places to experience that powder you’ve been craving all year.
John Denver’s anthem “Rocky Mountain high” is about the freedom he felt here. Where there are great mountains, there’s even better snow. The ski resort boasts five peaks, 187 trails, 34 lifts, four terrain parks, and a renowned cross-country trail. After a day on the slopes, head into the town of Breckenridge for dining and activities that ditch the glitz and glamour of Vail or Aspen and take you straight to the heart of fun.
WHISTLER, BRITISH COLUMBIA, CANADA
A destination that looks like a cross between a Nordic paradise and Olympic-level runs, Whistler is filled with true magic, winter
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