Minnesota School Of Music - February 2020

02. 2020 763-432-9713 www.mnschoolofmusic.com



T his month, we celebrate love on much in this newsletter: how my wife Erin and I first got together. Believe it or not, our relationship has lasted 22 wonderful years — the majority of our lives. Not only does our shared history go way back, but it also started right here in Blain! “High school sweethearts” would be the best way to describe our relationship. It all started at a mutual friend’s house in 1997, the year of Tamagotchis and “Titanic.” We played a few rounds of pool together and got to talking, eventually deciding to go out on a date to Perkins. Sitting together with that breakfast food between us, I don’t think either of us could ever imagine the future we were setting out for ourselves. It was a rather unlikely beginning. I was a senior enjoying the relatively new freedoms of having a driver’s license and a cell phone while Erin was a freshman finding her way in the world. And therein lay the first obstacle — while a three-year age difference isn’t much in adulthood, the gap can seem huge for teenagers. We were both operating in very different worlds with one of us adjusting to high school life and the other preparing for his next step in life. And then, of course, there were parents. and relationships, so I thought I’d share a story I haven’t touched

Looking back, I certainly don’t blame Erin’s dad for regarding me with some suspicion at first. After all, being an older teen with subwoofers in the back of his car, I probably didn’t make a great first impression. I got used to the sight of him watching me through the window every time I dropped Erin off — and now that I’m a father myself, I can’t say I blame him. But, for what it’s worth, when I came to him nine years later on Christmas Eve to ask for his blessing, he said yes. I asked Erin to marry me shortly after at Gooseberry Falls. It was the dead of winter, and we’d gone on a careful jaunt through the woods. Despite the snow and ice, I got down on one knee and popped the question. She, in turn, made me the happiest man on earth. We got married the following spring and set out on the new adventure of raising a family. Being with the same person for 22 years certainly brings its ups and downs. Hurdles come from within and without, but, as long as you face those challenges together, love perseveres. As with any serious commitment, a good marriage takes work, and — believe it or not — being a musician taught me that. New musicians, like newlyweds, have a bit of a honeymoon period. For three months or so, they make a great amount of progress, mastering new skills as they gain a greater understanding of their

instrument. But inevitably, reality sets in and they realize, “Oh, this is hard. This isn’t as fun as it used to be.” In both situations, this is when you’re faced with a very important choice. Serious commitments have their challenging moments whether it’s a commitment to a person or an art form. Those who can learn to stick with the path they chose during these difficult periods are ultimately the better for it — a lesson better learned sooner than later. This is one of those life skills music teaches so well. Long before I faced the challenges of becoming a father and a provider to my family, I faced learning the guitar. I’d already experienced the “I’m going to be a rock star” honeymoon period that comes with that instrument, as well as the crushing revelation of just how demanding playing guitar at the highest levels can be. Likewise, when it came time to face the challenges of married life, I’d already proven to myself I could fight through those moments of doubt, learn from them, and overcome any obstacles in my path. Most importantly, I learned the sweet music that comes with fighting through those challenging moments.

Happy Valentine’s Day,

–Eric Nehring

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In a 2008 survey conducted by the National Trust in Britain, children were more likely to correctly identify a Dalek from “Doctor Who” than a barn owl. Likewise, a 2010 Kaiser Family Foundation study of 8–18-year-olds in the U.S. found that the average youth spends more than 53 hours a week engaged with entertainment media. These statistics, coupled with growing concerns that children are spending less time outdoors, are leading to terms like “nature deficit disorder” and global initiatives to get kids outside. Why is contact with the outdoors so important? Researchers are answering this question by studying the benefits of time spent in nature. One benefit is that outdoor time helps kids understand boundaries and learn how to assess risk. As naturalist, author, and broadcaster

Stephen Moss puts it, “Falling out of a tree is a very good lesson in risk-reward.” Not to mention, time in nature may help improve focus for hyperactive kids. In one national study of youths by the University of Illinois, participants’ attention deficit hyperactivity disorder symptoms were reduced after spending time in a green setting versus a more urban one. This may be due to the fact that natural environments call upon our “soft fascination,” a less exhausting type of focus than what is required by urban environments. Emotional benefits were discovered too, including reduced aggression, increased happiness, and improved self-esteem. Beyond just getting outside, the type of contact we have with nature also matters. Visits to nature centers and watching “Planet Earth” are two ways to

experience the outdoors. But research points specifically to the importance of free play in the natural world: unstructured outdoor time when children can explore and engage with their natural surroundings with no curriculum, lesson, or activity to complete. Ever notice how kids are fascinated by the simplest things? A child visits a rose garden, but before they even get to the flowers, they become captivated by a leaf on the ground or an ant crawling on their shoe. Children are born naturalists. These are the moments we need to recapture. Take a page out of that kid’s book, and as the saying goes, stop and smell the roses — or leaves or ants — with no checklist and no plan, just time spent playing outside.


As we celebrate Valentine’s Day and the meaningful connections in our lives, we wanted to touch on a key part of any good relationship: communication. From significant others to business partners, having an open dialogue is crucial to any healthy, happy partnership. The same can be said about your relationship with your child’s music instructor. We’re lucky to have truly dedicated professionals on our teaching staff here at MnSOM. They all have the experience and skill to make a difference in your child’s music education. However, they can’t see every aspect of your child’s life. As a parent, you can provide valuable insight into struggles your young musician may be having at home. When a student struggles during home practice or feels they aren’t being challenged enough, they may think there is nothing they can do. In these moments, it’s easy to become frustrated

or bored — and the idea of avoiding their instrument becomes more and more enticing. Left long enough, this small practice problem could have your child convinced they just don’t like playing music. In these moments, it can make a world of difference to bring their teacher into the conversation. Teachers can change practice styles, teach new techniques, and even adjust the difficulty of the exercises. Our teachers want students to learn and grow through their practice and have no problem adjusting to your child’s needs. They just need to know a problem exists in the first place. So, if practice frustrations have your child thinking of giving up their musical education prematurely, have a talk with their teacher. Don’t throw in the towel at the first signs of trouble. Chances are, a minor change can get them back to enjoying music and the learning process.

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At MnSOM, we pride ourselves on hiring some truly talented teachers who are dedicated to passing their skills on to the next generation of musicians. Sergej Root is the embodiment of this philosophy. Drawing on years of industry experience as a double-platinum music producer in Germany, Sergej helps his students see beyond the scales of music practice and build a sound entirely their own. “My dad loved the Beatles,” Sergej recalls of his childhood. “I kept singing their tunes, and, by age 12, I picked up playing the guitar — it’s the usual story of a young musician,” he says with a laugh. From these humble beginnings Sergej built a career, earning his bachelor’s in music and winning awards for his sound engineering. So, how did he find his way to our school? the two moved to India, where Sergej’s wife had been hired to teach at a German immersion school. “We sold everything and made the trip. It exposed me to a whole new world of music.” But the Roots’ globe- trotting wasn’t over yet: Within a year of being in South Asia, they received a job offer from another immersion school right here in the Twin Cities! Supporting his wife’s career, Sergej once again made the move to a new country and, in the process, found our music school. “I love sharing my knowledge — showing kids there are a lot of layers to being a good musician,” Sergej says. He goes on to explain, “You can learn Jimi Hendrix’s songs note for note and still not sound like him. The next level of playing music is learning how to create your own TEACHER SPOTLIGHT MEET SERGEJ ROOT “The music industry is a 24/7 job,” Sergej explains. “It got to be too much, so my wife and I decided to travel.” Eventually,



Victoria H. Sara S. Ann L. Luke V. Audrey K. Connor O. Kyla S. Madeline A.

Jayda A. Ellie K. Katherine J. Phoebe Z.

Rose J. Sosie B.

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?

sound.” Beyond sharing his love of music, Sergej is dedicated to giving students better instruction than he himself received. “I actually took a year off playing the guitar,” he reflects. “In the end, I realized it wasn’t the instrument I had a problem with; it was my teacher.” Sergej explains that his lessons had been unstructured and impersonal, adding, “That’s why I love this school. Lessons are personalized while sharing a single vision. I wish I had that kind of guidance!”

Mr. Barrett - SOLD OUT Mrs. Bunish - SOLD OUT Miss Ferbuyt - SOLD OUT Miss Hoops - SOLD OUT Mrs. Lehner - SOLD OUT Mrs. Morris - SOLD OUT

Mr. Nehring - SOLD OUT Mr. Nistler - SOLD OUT Mr. Norell - SOLD OUT Miss Pliam - SOLD OUT Miss Schwefel - SOLD OUT

Thanks, Sergej!

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3533 88th Ave. NE, Blaine, MN 55014 763-432-9713 www.mnschoolofmusic.com



Love and Music

Stop and Smell the Roses Talk to Your Teacher

Welcome New Students Sergej Root: Platinum Artist and MnSOM Teacher

Your Epic Adventure Awaits


GOZO, MALTA While Odysseus’ journey was perilous, he did enjoy one peaceful stop. Odysseus spent seven years on the mythical island of Ogygia, home of the nymph Calypso. Historians suspect that Ogygia was Gaudos, now modern-day Gozo, Malta. Gozo is home to the Ggantija temples, which are older than the Egyptian pyramids. In addition to exploring its archaeological marvels, Gozo’s visitors can also enjoy snorkeling, horseback riding, and other memorable adventures. ITHACA, GREECE If you want to chart your own odyssey, make your final stop Odysseus’ home, the island of Ithaca. Covered in lush greenery and quaint villages, Ithaca is a wonderful place to relax at the end of your trip. Visitors can enjoy their morning coffee by a seaside cafe before lounging on a secluded beach for the rest of the day. It’s no wonder why Odysseus fought so hard to get back to Ithaca! With dozens of other islands to explore, the Mediterranean is the perfect place to plan your own odyssey — minus the mythical monsters, of course.

One of the oldest stories in Western literature is Homer’s “The Odyssey.” This epic poem tells the story of Odysseus and his long journey home after the Trojan War. While Odysseus’ travels were fraught with mythical

monsters and magic, many of the places he visited are said to be inspired by real islands in

the Mediterranean. Even today, travelers flock to these islands looking for peace, adventure, and epic stories of their own. SICILY, ITALY One of the most popular stories in “The Odyssey” is the tale of Odysseus rescuing his crew from Polyphemus, a man- eating Cyclops. It’s said that Polyphemus made his home on what is now modern-day Sicily. Fortunately, there are no Cyclopes in Sicily today; there are only cultural festivals, world-class golf courses, and delicious food.

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