Winterhalter Music Teacher Showcase: Introducing Jeff Lee

by Cassie Winterhalter on April 30, 2015

Jeff Lee

Jeff Lee

Back in early February, I had the pleasure of hiring Winterhalter Music’s newest teacher, Jeff Lee! This post is long overdue. Let’s just say I’ve had my hands full between then and now…. More on that in a future blog.

Jeff is a guitar and piano teacher. As a fairly recent graduate of the University of Maryland, Jeff was at a crossroads. He could either go to medical school or he could pursue his dreams of making music with his band. I’m happy to say that Jeff chose his greatest passion– music of course! I’m thrilled to have him as a part of our wonderful team of teachers. Keep reading to hear Jeff’s thoughts on music lessons and teaching.

1. Why did you decide to become a music teacher?

Music is my greatest passion and I would like to share that with others and try to spark their interest in music as well.

2. How do you motivate your students?

Positive reinforcement is always good and really having them believe they can do well. Learning an instrument is very difficult, but it just takes getting past that mental block, so you have to try to change that mental state. Also teaching them learn their favorite song always inspires them.

3. What is your favorite music to play and listen to?

Blues music can never get old. I can play that forever. And I’m still learning new ways to approach playing blues. I listen to a lot of music but I love playing and listening to pop/rock music similar to John Mayer and Ed Sheeran. They have such a feel to them that really connects with my emotions.

4. What do you like to do in your free time?

I focus all my time to my band, Skyline Hotel. We play shows and record music nonstop. I’m always in the studio or playing at a venue and furthering my music career. Music is my love and there isn’t anything I’d rather be doing. I’m working my way up the music business ladder. I hope to get signed and play for thousands of people in the near future.

5. What are some fun facts that people might not know about you?

I’m bilingual, I speak Cantonese. My favorite time of the year is from Autumn to Winter, so from October up until New Years. Halloween and Christmas is the best time of the year 🙂

I hope you enjoyed learning more about Jeff! Jeff is currently accepting new students, so if you are interested in starting lessons with him or one of our other excellent teachers, don’t hesitate to contact us.

Also, a huge congratulations to all of our students who participated in our spring recitals this past weekend! Everyone performed beautifully, and it was such a pleasure to witness all of you sharing your love of music with one another. I don’t know of anywhere else where students can perform everything from Mozart to the Red Hot Chili Peppers to pieces they composed themselves, all in one day. I’m so happy that my dream of creating a music school where students love music and learn the type of music they love, has become a reality!

If you haven’t already, please subscribe to the newsletter and “like us” on Facebook. Thanks so much for reading, and I’ll catch you next time!




Tips to Help Maintain Excellent Posture When Playing Piano

by Cassie Winterhalter on January 8, 2015

Photo credit:  Wonderlane

Photo credit: Wonderlane

Happy New Year again! I hope your 2015 is off to a wonderful start! I know that it promises to be another awesome year. I’m very excited about what’s coming up for me this year. 🙂 More on that in an upcoming post…

Today I’d like to share my top five tips to ensure that you use proper posture in your piano lessons. While posture may seem menial and is often overlooked compared to other things taught in lessons, playing the piano (or any instrument) with proper posture is so important. Proper posture sets the foundation for a high standard of playing. It also prevents injuries, which can unfortunately happen to anyone and are quite common when proper posture is not followed.

Here are the top five tips for maintaining excellent posture while you play piano:

#1: Use a bench when you play, or if you have to use a chair make sure it’s an appropriate chair

I always think it’s better to use a bench when you play piano rather than a chair. It provides flexibility to slide right and left when you play higher and lower notes. This isn’t possible with a chair. Students often end up straining side to side to reach notes that are far to the right or left.

If your piano or keyboard did not come with a bench, consider getting one. Plenty of my families have ordered benches online. If you do need to use a chair even for a period of time, use one that is not cushy and won’t sink in when you sit down. I’ll talk more about the importance of the height of your seat below. Also make sure the chair doesn’t have arm rests, as those will get in the way of your arms when you play.

#2: Check the height of the bench or chair

This is so important. Make sure that when you sit on the bench or chair that your wrists and forearms are parallel to the ground. If not, this puts undue strain on the wrists and can easily cause injuries. I like to tell students to imagine their hands as a table top. As long as they keep their “table top” flat, the food or drink on top of the table, won’t spill and make a mess.

Very often piano benches are a little too low. Even my own bench that came with my grand piano is just a tad too low for me. I have a piano cushion which I use to keep myself higher up. Not only does it keep my wrists and forearms at the proper level, it also makes sitting on the bench for long periods of time to practice or play for fun much more comfortable.

If your bench is too low, I recommend getting a piano bench cushion. One specifically made for piano benches is better, so it won’t slide around or fall off. If you need to, don’t hesitate to grab any pillows or cushions you have in order to increase your bench or chair height before you’ve gotten your piano bench cushion. You can also buy an adjustable bench which can go up or down based on how high you need it. These are more expensive, but are really amazing!

#3: Sit halfway back on the bench

When you sit on the piano bench your bottom should be about midway between the front and the back of the bench. You shouldn’t sit right on the front of the bench edge or really far back on the bench either. Sitting right in the middle will provide you with the most flexibility as you play and will also make pedaling easiest.

#4: Use a stool if need be

We always encourage young children who are interested in lessons to begin with us. If you’d like more information on how young is ok, check out this blog post.

Many young students don’t have long enough legs to reach the ground when they sit on the piano bench. That’s totally fine, but often these kids become really antsy and swing their legs front and back or will sit on them during their lessons. This usually makes them more distracted and less focused.

To combat this, I suggest grabbing a stool and putting under the bench where your child’s feet are dangling, so they can rest them on top of it. This works wonders with otherwise distracted young students.

#5: Sit up straight and tall and don’t hunch over

This is self explanatory. It’s bad for your back to hunch over when you play. Believe it or not, it also can affect your playing and overall sound quality in a negative way. Sit with excellent posture and all of this can be avoided.

Thanks so much for reading! Please leave a comment below and let me know which of the above tips or which tip of your own resonates the most with you.

If you haven’t already, subscribe to the email newsletter and “like us” on Facebook.

Have a beautiful day!




The Power of Setting Intentions in Your Lessons

January 1, 2015

Happy New Year!!! I can’t believe it’s 2015. Hooray! I am so excited about what’s to come this year, and I hope you are too. 🙂 This year I’ve decided to set intentions for myself rather than goals or resolutions. I’m going to be doing this both personally and professionally. This practice has tremendous value, […]

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How One Foundation Gives the Gift of Music to Children in Need

December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas to you if you celebrate Christmas! Regardless of whether you celebrate Christmas or not, I hope you have a beautiful day and that you feel love in your heart and the joy of giving to others. I also hope that you and your loved ones are safe and happy today and everyday! We […]

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Music’s Superpowers

December 18, 2014

Congratulations to all of our students who performed in our winter recitals on Saturday! I so enjoyed hearing all the wonderful performances and seeing the progress of each student since the last recital, along with the collective progress of our students as a whole. It’s always so mind blowing to me to see what our […]

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Last Minute Recital Tips to Help Your Performance go Smoothly

December 11, 2014

Our winter recitals will be here in two days! Wow. They always seem to sneak up on me each year. I feel we just resumed lessons after summer vacation. Where does the time go? Anyway, I have performed so many times. Growing up I played in piano recitals, competitions, festivals, and master classes. For oboe […]

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The Benefits of Doing “Practice Recitals” Before a Performance

December 4, 2014

I hope your Thanksgiving was wonderful no matter what you ended up doing! I stayed in the area and enjoyed a delicious feast with my in-laws. While I was grateful not to have to prepare the entire meal, I was happy to contribute by making apple and pumpkin pies from scratch. Yum! Now that the […]

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Winterhalter Music Teacher Showcase: Introducing Billy Chou

November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving! I hope you are having a wonderful day spending time with people you love and eating tasty food. Today, I’m so pleased to introduce you to Winterhalter Music’s newest teacher, Billy Chou. Billy and I happen to go way back to our college days at Ithaca College in New York. We both were […]

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As a Parent of a Music Student Should You Also Take Lessons Yourself?

November 20, 2014

It’s sure been a chilly few days recently here in the DC area. I know some parts of the country have had it much worse, but 24 degrees fahrenheit has been quite cold for here in November. When I first lived in DC, the cold weather didn’t really bother me having lived previously in Wisconsin, […]

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Winterhalter Music Teacher Showcase: Introducing Megan Woods

November 13, 2014

Today I’d like to introduce you to Winterhalter Music’s newest voice, piano, and violin teacher, Megan Woods! Megan joins Winterhalter Music with a huge love of teaching and tons of experience teaching students of all ages. She holds a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Music/ Music Education from the University of Akron. Currently she teaches […]

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