ALISON WEINER. I am an improvising musician. While working for twenty-one years as an architectural designer (primarily in Carrboro NC), I played music on the side - jazz, R&B, rock, pop, reggae - with all sorts of groups in all sorts of places in and around North Carolina. After two years working in Hawai'i (and playing music), life brought me to Florida, where I completed the Bachelor of Music degree in Jazz Studies in December 2007 and the Master of Arts degree in composition at Florida Atlantic University in May 2010. In addition to studying, performing and composing, as a graduate assistant I taught class and applied piano, jazz history, jazz improvisation, and chamber jazz ensembles. I have been teaching privately since 2005, beginning through intermediate levels, ages 5 on up. In October 2016 I graduated from Music for People's Musicianship and Leadership Program, deepening my improvisational and facilitation skills. It has all been, and continues to be, joyful. I love my musical life, and welcome the opportunity to share it with you.
MUSIC IS LANGUAGE. There are many different dialects. You hear a phrase you like, you want to respond somehow. It doesn't matter what your preferred style is - all music can be understood in terms of melody, harmony and rhythm.
FULL DISCLOSURE ABOUT JAZZ MUSIC. Jazz is my primary musical language. I love the extended harmonies offered by Duke Ellington and the beboppers, later so exquisitely enhanced by Bill Evans. I love the swing rhythm that emerged in early New Orleans music and the harmonic rhythms of bebop that continue to be used today. I love the act, and art, of improvising, of creating in the moment, for this is one of the the great gifts of jazz - be in the moment and welcome what comes, especially the new, the different, the constant transcending of the present.
CONVERSATION AND IMPROVISATION. We use our strengths and desire to improve our musical abilities and skills. Our emphasis is on musical conversation, and so we explore vocabulary (theory) • reading (sight singing/playing) • speaking (performing) • writing (composition) • listening (ear training and more)
Conversations happen between two or more people. They can be written down and performed, as actors read and perform parts written by a screenwriter, as musicians read and perform their parts of a work written by a composer. In our daily lives, conversations are spontaneous - we speak in the moment, drawing from what we know and who we are in the moment. This ability to be spontaneous musically, the ability to improvise, has been frowned upon (to say the least) for much of the past century in the teaching of what we generally refer to as classical music. Fortunately this is changing, as music is undergoing an extraordinary transformation across the planet. Just as everyone has at least one language with which they communicate, everyone has at least some basic ability to communicate musically. One of the great gifts of jazz throughout its history is its enthusiastic embrace of improvisation. Improvisation is also integral to many other musical genres across the globe. The ability to improvise, to speak spontaneously drawing from what we know and who we are in the moment. is critical to successful musical conversation at any level.
HOW DO LESSONS WORK?
WE START WITH WHERE YOU ARE AND WORK TOWARDS WHERE YOU WANT TO GO.
if you can't read music so well but can carry a tune, you're on your way
if you can't carry a tune so well or mess up on the rhythm but are comfortable reading, you're on your way
if you're ready to get past saying, I can't play but I love music, you're on your way
if you haven't played in a long time and want to have that joy again, you're on your way
we use your strengths and desire to improve your musical ability
FIRST VISIT: NO CHARGE. We meet, talk, share some music. You tell me where you're at and what you want to accomplish. I tell you how I believe I can help you or if I think you might benefit more by studying with one of the many other fabulous musicians we have in our area. Check out resources like Chapel Hill Music Teachers Association. Finding the best teacher for you works best for everyone.
WE WILL BE IN A RELATIONSHIP. Lessons are the heart of the relationship between student and teacher. As a student, you depend on the teacher to offer efficient and effective methods of study and appropriate information. As a teacher, and as music is my livelihood, I depend on the compensation you offer in exchange for my commitment to your musical education. Lessons work best when we communicate well with each other. The following information is presented towards that end.
WEEKLY OR BI-WEEKLY LESSONS ARE BEST. Weekly or bi-weekly lessons in combination with regular (ideally, daily) practice/playing offer the greatest benefit. I ask that payment be made on a monthly basis; that way we take time to be clear about scheduled dates and times. But weekly lessons are not for everyone. If you are wanting to pursue study and, for whatever reasons, can’t make a regular commitment, we can still be quite productive and have a lot of fun.
FEES. I keep this simple. Teaching happens at my studio in downtown Saxapahaw. Lessons are $60/hour (we prorate accordingly for 15/30/45-minute sessions). if this fee does not work with your budget, or give you pause in pursuing music, let's discuss it. I do not want money to get in the way of our having a musical relationship.
Can you find other teachers who will charge less? Very likely. I encourage you to consider other teachers. A good fit is priceless. And, here's my shameless plug...Beyond my three college degrees (one for architecture, two for music), music is my livelihood. I thrive on music, it is my passion, and I am grateful every day to have opportunities to share it with all sorts of folks. My lifestyle is modest. I rent an inspiring place that serves as both my studio and residence. My average teaching load is about 30 students, kids and adults. I pay my bills doing work I love. I am healthy, happy and lucky, and I work to maintain my well-being so that I can share my joy of music with anyone who wants to do the same.
RECITALS/PERFORMANCES. I encourage them for all students. They are opportunities, not requirements. I will arrange for them, usually in my studio. I do not charge for my time for this; consider recitals included in my fees.