Winterhalter Music Teacher Showcase: Introducing Billy Chou

by Cassie Winterhalter on November 27, 2014

 Billy Chou

Billy Chou

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 music education majors studying piano with an instrumental emphasis (oboe for me and percussion for him). We became great friends and spent many hours hanging out outside the practice rooms when we took breaks from practicing. Both of us loved late night practicing and were often found practicing at the music school until 1 am when the doors were locked for the evening.

For awhile after college, Billy and I lost touch. I’m so pleased that we recently connected after he and his wife moved to the DC area. I’m also so happy that he decided to take me up on the offer to teach lessons with Winterhalter Music. I know that his students are really enjoying the positive, light-hearted, upbeat spin he’s giving them in their lessons.

Keep reading to hear Billy’s thoughts on music and teaching.

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

I decided that I wanted to become a music teacher back in high school. My high school band director made a great impression on me and I went on to his (now mine) alma mater, Ithaca College, for my bachelors degree. Now, as to why I decided to become a music teacher… Well, I have actually been away from music and teaching for the better part of the last 10 years. My last year of college had all of us music education majors shadowing actual teachers in the area and my experience didn’t exactly leave me wanting more. Fortunately, Cassie has been on my case in the intervening years to get back into teaching and now that I’m back, I am very glad to be doing so.

2. What is your favorite thing about teaching?

My favorite thing about teaching is watching students make progress. It is incredibly gratifying and satisfying to work hard for months at a time and then to look back at what the students have accomplished and learned in that time. There are a million different details in the world of music, from tempos and key signatures to different types of musical styles, so it’s kind of incredible to add concept after concept and watch as students make these connections and improve bit by bit every time they touch the keyboard.

3. How do you motivate your students?

Lots of high fives. I think stickers are great, and I also like to write silly notes on the page for the students whether it’s a message in regards to a passage the student plays incorrectly often or whether we just finished a piece and there’s a stick figure saying that they did a good job on it.

4. What do you hope your students will get out of taking lessons from you?

I hope that my students, if nothing else, learn from me that they can make music and have fun no matter what level of proficiency they possess. Like I said before, it’s important to me that I try to teach my students how to practice and not just what the notes on the pages are. From that standpoint, I hope that my students can come away with a sense of accomplishment after every lesson and/or practice session because hopefully I have done my job good enough that they are set up to figure out how to solve any problem that they might come across.

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

Chopin’s music is some of my favorite music to play. He was such a master of the piano and it shows in his music because despite the sometimes ridiculous amount of ink on the staff, it always comes out beautiful, flowing, and it makes sense for the hands and fingers. The same can also be said for JS Bach’s keyboard music. He was also another master and although he and Chopin were of very different time periods and musical styles, his music can also be described much in the same way. I find Bach’s keyboard to be almost therapeutic to the hands and it just feels right to play.

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

I enjoy video games quite a bit, although I am very much behind the times at the moment. My most up to date game console is the Wii (not Wii U!) and I haven’t even finished half of the games I own. I am also a fan of comic books although my sister is a bigger geek than I am in the regards.

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

In addition to studying piano, I spent two years studying percussion while at Ithaca College. I also work at Estadio in Logan Circle. It is some of the best Spanish tapas in DC and I would highly recommend coming in for some great food; come say hi!

I have to say that I agree with Billy on Chopin and Bach and love playing and listening to their music too!

Before I go, on this Thanksgiving day, I hope you take some time to reflect on all that you are thankful for. I have so much to be grateful for– especially this year! While I try to say so often, I want to express my gratitude again for getting to do what I do. I’m so incredibly lucky to get to spend each day inspiring students to love music. I never could have imagined that I’d have the opportunity to reach so many people by sharing my love for music. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Please leave a comment and let me know what you are thankful for this year! If you are interested in starting lessons with Billy or one of our other awesome teachers, contact us. Thanks so much for reading! Subscribe to the newsletter and “like us” on Facebook if you haven’t already.

Thankfully yours,


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