Name: Rachel Donahue
Degrees Earned: General Music degree from the University of Indianapolis; Master of Music in Piano Pedagogy from Butler University
Years of Teaching Experience: Started teaching in 1999. There were several families from my home town who contacted me wanting lessons. I started with ten students that fall. I later taught in the community music centers at UIndy and Butler. During my year between UIndy and Butler I taught for a small new business. There I got experience teaching group piano classes. Since then I have taught independently and have added two teachers to my studio.
Other Work Experiences: Besides teaching private and group lessons I have helped out at university piano camps. I also enjoy opportunities to play for special events and weddings.
Personal Status: I will be celebrating five years of marriage this summer, the second birthday of my son, and a new one coming in September.
Favorite Teaching Memory: One of my favorite stories is about a student who is now a freshman in high school. When she first began taking lessons in third grade, she flew through her books. Giving her new songs was like feeding her candy! She would get so excited she would leap off the bench getting inches from my nose just because she was overcome with joy about getting a particular song. This happened almost every week – any teacher’s dream! The best part is that now many years later she is still passionate about music. Though she is not leaping from the bench anymore she does plan to study music in some capacity at college.
Most Influential Teacher/Mentor: At UIndy I began studying with Dr. Sorely and she has had the strongest impact on my own teaching style. She opened my eyes to so many things that had never clicked before. Her explanations were colorful and she often used stories related to the songs. She had two pianos and many times would play along with me. She talked about performance and what to think about before you play even what to eat. She was much more specific and instructional than any other teacher had been. I learned not only what to do, but also what not to do.
Brief Teaching Philosophy: My goal with every student is to figure out what turns them on and feed that fire as long as possible. I still incorporate songs I feel are important, but if they are into familiar tunes I make sure to have one in their weekly assignment. I want to cultivate a love for playing the piano for the rest of their life.
Favorite Performance (yours or attended): While I attended UIndy I took piano ensemble. I had a dear friend from South Korea that I loved playing duets with. She was miles ahead of me and therefore acted as a teacher when we rehearsed. We performed Grieg’s “Wedding Day at Troldhaugen.” This piece will always remain very close to my heart, in fact I had it played at my own wedding.
Favorite Composer(s): If I have to choose only one it would be Debussy. Every piece is so unique and very difficult to play well. His music creates vivid images and stories every time I listen to it.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?: I see myself continuing to teach private lessons. Possibly in a studio outside of the home with even more teachers.
Hobbies outside of music: One of my favorite things to do is garden. I love everything about plants! It has really become an addiction for me. In the springtime I am constantly daydreaming about my gardens or plants I want to get or new gardens I want to start! To me there is nothing more satisfying than taking a blank area of the yard and cultivating it into a thriving garden filled with perenials.
The funniest thing a student has ever told you: One of my adult students is very analytical and precise. She will often stop playing because she started without thinking of a tempo. One day she stopped playing and started giggling. She then explained that she could not play because her dog was drinking water and that was throwing her tempo off. Now when the dog starts her rhythmic lapping we can’t help but laugh!
One Studio Management Tip: I have learned that it is better to start off strict in dealing with the policies of my studio. Then later if I want to bend any rules for specific situations I can do so without the clients feeling like they can take advantage of me in that area.