Today I am sitting down with one of my very best friends, Jessica Peresta. Jessica started an online company for music teachers that branched out into helping parents teach their kids music. She also does all kinds of amazing work with special needs kids. In this conversation you’ll hear how music can improve kids’ brain development, how music has power, and what to do to make that work with you as you raise your kids, whether you have a baby or a teenager. I can’t wait for you to hear this inspiring conversation! Let’s dive in!
In This Episode Allie and Jessica Discuss:
How to direct musically inclined kids
The power that music has over children and their emotions
Teaching music to your kids in an informal setting
Music for kids with special needs
What if music didn’t exist?
How to purposefully include music in your kid’s life
How to encourage kids who want to pursue a future career in music
Jessica’s piano course
Mentioned in this Episode:
Courses (Use the code PURPOSESHOW for 10% off!)
Mom life. We’re surrounded by the message that it’s the tired life. The no-time-for-myself life. The hard life. We’re supposed to get through it. Survive. Cling on by the last little thread. And at the same time, Carpe Diem—enjoy every moment because it’s going to go by so fast. The typical mom culture that sends us all kinds of mixed, typically negative messages. We shouldn’t take care of ourselves; it’s selfish. The more ragged you run yourself, the bigger your badge of honor. But also, ditch your mom bod and work out. Don’t yell. Make more money. Show up. Be better, but not at the expense of time with your kids. I am putting a hard stop to all of this. While being a mom, running a business, and whatever else you might have going on is hard, it is a lot and there’s lots of giving of yourself, the idea that motherhood means living a joyless, nonstop-hustle-with-zero-balance kind of life, where you give and give and give and never take, needs to stop.
I’m on a mission to help you stop counting down the minutes till bedtime (at least most days). Stop the mom guilt and shame game. Stop cleaning up after your kids’ childhood and start being present for it. I want to help you thrive in work, home and life. I believe in John 10:10 that we are called to living an abundant life and I know moms are not excluded from that promise. Join me in conversations about simplicity, some business and life hacks, spirituality and lots of other good stuff that leads to a life of less for the sake of enjoying more in your motherhood. I’m Allie Casazza and this is The Purpose Show.
Today I am sitting down with one of my very best friends, Jessica Peresta. Jessica is amazing. We met when I lived in Northwest Arkansas and we’ve stayed in touch and been good friends ever since.
She started an online company for music teachers that branched out into helping parents teach their kids music, and the power of music for kids. She does all kinds of amazing work with special needs kids—music therapy and music theory.
She’s such a light and such a musical person. When you’re with her you start to really care about all of that when you maybe hadn’t thought much about it previously.
Here’s what I want you to know about this episode. If you’re hearing this right now and you’re thinking maybe this is not really going to be what you want to listen to right now or you just don’t know if you care about this, I want to encourage you to go ahead and keep listening because the conversation here is so inspiring and so encouraging.
It really made me feel lifted up. It really made me feel like a couple of things that we’re doing with our kids that I’ve been thinking of dropping, I’m never going to drop now..
I see so much new perspective and value in music and in the simple, doable ways that Jessica teaches for bringing music into your day. It can improve your kids’ moods. It can make your home more peaceful. This is a really big deal.
I’m so happy with the way this conversation turned out and I’m really excited for you to hear it. I want you to let me know what you think on Instagram.
Jessica Peresta has such an amazing story with music. Music has carried her through trauma and really difficult things in her life. She has taught music for many years. She actually won a Teacher Of The Year award several years ago for creating a music program in an inner city school where she taught.
She’s incredible. She’s a powerful woman and a very incredible music teacher. She’s so passionate. You’re going to see that.
She’s going to walk us through some things that we can do with our kids. You’ll hear how music can improve their brain development, how music has power, and what to do to make that work with you as you raise your kids, whether you have a baby or a teenager.
Enjoy this conversation with Jessica!
ALLIE: Hello friend! It’s so good to see you in this setting.
JESSICA: I know! It’s so weird, isn’t it? Normal conversation turned into a podcast episode.
ALLIE: I know. I love it. Thanks for being here.
JESSICA: Yeah. I’m so excited, Allie. Thanks for having me.
ALLIE: Tell us about what you do, and all the personal stuff like your family, your boys and all that good stuff.
JESSICA: I am married to a really tall guy. He’s 6’6”, and no he does not play basketball. We get asked that all the time. I have three boys—a 10 year old, an almost 8 year old, and a 5 year old. And we live in Northwest Arkansas.
My passion is for music and helping teachers and parents help their students and children learn music in different settings (it doesn’t always have to look like formal lessons). And I’m really passionate about teaching parents how to bring music into their homes. We’re going to talk a lot about that today. I’m very, very passionate about that.
I’ve been doing music my whole life since the age of 6. Now I have a business around it. I love inspiring others to bring music into children’s lives. That is a little bit of me in a nutshell.
ALLIE: We met when I lived in Northwest Arkansas. How many years ago was that? 3 or 4 years ago? Jessica was my best friend when we were there. I think we met at a church event or something.
I love our friendship and I love how we still talk. And now we’re both business women, but when we first met, neither of us were. I started it there. I was up and figuring it out, and then that spread to you.
We had all these conversations about ideas for music online. We really have separately, but at the same time, built our businesses together. I really love that. We’re so connected and I love that. I’m thankful for you.
So, let’s talk about music. I don’t know what exactly to prompt you with, so you carry this conversation for these amazing moms that need to know the power of music for kids. But one thing that I was thinking about this morning is the impact of music on my own life.
I took piano lessons for probably five or six years when I was a kid. My mom wouldn’t let me quit and I felt forced, but I liked it. I don’t know why I was like that. I think it was because I felt like I had to go, so suddenly I don’t want to.
She finally let me quit. And I’m so sad that I did. I can kind of play by ear still, but I lost that practice, that gift, and that soothing.
Music has always been a remedy for anxiety for me. I was a really anxious kid and still struggle with anxiety as an adult. Music, not so much performing it but listening to it, has always been so huge for me.
My memories are attached to specific songs in my life. Like I remember I listened to that song a lot when we were on this trip or when we lived in Arkansas or when we were doing this.
Music is so powerful and I love it so much, but I just don’t feel empowered to direct my kids. How do I direct them when they are musical? Leland, especially, is so musical.
I want to start out there and let you take it away.
JESSICA: Yeah. So, same. I started piano lessons at 6. My parents didn’t just put me in lessons because that’s what parents did. I actually had a homeroom teacher in my classroom who played Jolly Old Saint Nicholas for us.
We had a hand-me-down piano from someone at church and I went home and figured out the melody. My mom put me in lessons pretty much right after that. It just stuck.
That became my creative outlet. I felt that I could really succeed at this, and I really enjoyed it.
Later on, I actually quit for a year. I don’t tell very many people that story. But it became redundant, like a chore almost—do your homework, then practice piano.
But I really loved it, so I told my mom that I wanted to get back into it. The rest is history. I’ve been doing music the rest of my life.
Allie, you just did an episode about how to encourage your children’s gifts and how to figure out what they are good at and encourage them. And it’s so true.
Personally, people just assume that because I am musical my kids should just naturally be too. Or they’ll say, “It’s so nice that they have a built-in piano teacher.”
To which I say, “Yes, but not all of them want to play piano, and that’s okay with me. I want to push them to follow what they’re good at.”
My oldest son is musical. He can listen to a song and pick out the melody, the main part of the song. He will always hear an instrumental part in the song and start humming that.
My middle son is sort of interested in piano, but he’s also our athlete. He loves basketball. He loves it. And so I’ve been encouraging that a little bit.
Our youngest is too young right now to know. He says he wants to play piano, but I always encourage parents to start their kids when their kids can read a book.
There are people that do younger piano lessons or music lessons. But for me personally, I’ve noticed that it’s easier to teach kids when they’re a little bit older, like 6 or 7. I feel like it’s a good starting point.
For parents listening to this who are overwhelmed, you want your kids to get involved in music, but you don’t know if you should. You either don’t want to push them or they’re not interested. You’re thinking, “Do I do it anyways?”
My answer is that I think it’s based on each family. I have taught students who didn’t want to come, their parent got them involved in learning music and then it turned out the child ended up liking it. And I have had students where you could tell they were just being forced.
I think it is a personal decision. You know your child better than anyone else in the world. And it’s also okay if one child is interested in music and the other one isn’t.
There are so many ways to encourage creativity. And experiencing music doesn’t just have to be in a formal lesson setting.
ALLIE: I really want to talk about the therapeutic side of music. What does it look like to incorporate music into every day? I feel like in our home, one of the main things that the kids will remember when they’re grown is that we always had music involved in everything.
We have special songs for certain things. Music is basically always on in the house, unless I’m recording.The kids have their favorite bands. I’ll say, “We’re going to go on a drive. What song do you want to hear?”
And they immediately name four or five songs that they want to hear. Songs make them feel something. What is the importance and what power does music have over children and their emotions?
JESSICA: Without going into a lot of detail, I grew up in a family of trauma. I had a lot of turmoil in my family growing up and music was my escape. Not all kids experience a dramatic situation like that, of course.
But, like you said, music connects us. It connects kids to memories, but it’s also great for brain development. Kids just enjoy it.
One thing I love about music, and I tell people this all the time, is that there are kids who struggle in academic areas, have a disability (my oldest son has high functioning autism), are special learners or typical-learning kids and experiencing music is something that all kids can feel successful listening to or exploring.
It’s not just about formal music instruction. Any parent (even if you’re not musical, or you’ve classified yourself as not musical, or someone has told you that you’re not) can find a Spotify station that your kids like.
You can find a Pandora station that your family enjoys. You can introduce your kids to different styles of music that maybe they didn’t even know existed.
I don’t want to spoil it but one of my favorite movies that just came out was Trolls World Tour, because it explored a bunch of different types of music. My kids were like, “What’s that type? What’s that music? What’s jazz? What’s this?”
We had a whole conversation about it. It wasn’t a formal sit down music instruction like, “Let’s bust out the saxophone and play that because it’s jazz.” It was just about having a conversation and experiencing it.
Why do kids enjoy it? It is soothing. If we’re having a stressful day one of the first things we do is play music.
I have three boys, so they fight sometimes, especially right now in quarantine. We’ll play music and you can tell the moods start changing.
They are all starting to develop their own little styles of music and what they enjoy. One might enjoy this band or type of music and the other one likes this, so we’ll take turns letting them pick.
Music helps kids express themselves. It helps them if they’re having a rough day. It helps them develop experiences and connect things in life later on into adulthood. It also really does help with brain development too.
Music integrates into other subjects as well without you even realizing it, whether you homeschool or your kids go to a school. I still to this day remember my multiplication rap from 3rd grade and my 50 States song.
Why is that? Because music sticks in kids’ brains. It helps them truly remember what they’re learning.
That’s a whole lot I just unpacked there. Music helps so much with kids. It doesn’t have to just be about formal lessons.
ALLIE: One thing that I’m thinking about as you’re talking is that in our family we take a lot of drives. At the time of this recording we are in quarantine, so we’ve been taking a lot of drives and listening to a lot of songs.
And after the song is over I will stop it and explain that this person is going through something. This is what’s happening.
Or I’ll say, “Wow, I really liked how they said that.” Or I’ll say the opposite, “Oh, that was really negative. Did anybody feel that? Do you feel negative from that song?” I’m teaching them to pay attention to the lyrics.
Mainstream music was so important to me. I would put the CDs in my little Walkman, put my headphones on, ride my bike back and forth, and listen to Michelle Branch or whatever. It was your basic white girl kid music, but it helped me so much.
It soothed me. I resonated with the words. I resonated with the story. Even if I really didn’t, because I hadn’t lived very much life.
It just made me feel something. I think what it really comes down to is that music empowers you to feel seen and understood. And I want the kids to learn that.
Leland, he’s just kind of listening. He loves guitar so he’s listening to that. I’ll say, “Wow, did you hear the words? It sounds like he lost something important to him. What do you think about that?”
Sometimes he’ll say, “I don’t know,” but at least I’m drawing the picture. They’re probably going to be so annoyed by it, but I want them to hear, connect, and feel. I know it helps Bella because she always asks, “Mom, what was that song about?”
I think there are things like that that are so connective. As a homeschooler, that’s teaching.
JESSICA: You and I were talking yesterday about how sometimes I feel like parents think it has to just be about classical music appreciation. Do not get me wrong. The classical composers are definitely our forefathers in music and were trailblazers.
I am a classically trained pianist. But there are all styles of music.
I love what you just said because you made it so simple and you’re making it so simple for your kids because you’re not making it a formal, “Today, we’re going to do music class. It’s 45-minute lesson.”
You’re simply doing a music appreciation activity off the top of your head where they’re listening, explaining what they’re hearing, and maybe identifying instruments.
What were they feeling when they wrote this? How does this song make you feel? Do you notice it’s in a sad key or a happy key? Major or minor without you even knowing? And if you don’t know what that means, that’s okay. The kids can identify happy or sad.
It’s a simple way to let kids experience music that’s not necessarily formal. It doesn’t just have to be classical music. You can experience all kinds of different music with your kids—what you enjoy and what they enjoy. I think there’s a happy balance there too.
ALLIE: I don’t know if you have anything to say about this—I’m sure you do—but I’ve been wondering about special needs children and music. I was reading an article a couple of months ago that was talking about how music is helping them connect, helping their brain development, helping them connect with their parents and their siblings.
I know so many of the moms that listen to this show have kids with special needs. What could you say about that situation with music?
JESSICA: My oldest son has high functioning autism. He’s 10 now. The older he gets, the more his differences are noticed—the social aspect of it.
Music is something that he is starting to feel a little bit more successful in. I have tried to teach him piano. I’m not giving up by any means, but I have to slow things way down for him because I can’t move at a typical speed like I would for my other son.
I encountered so many different special needs kids when I was in the classroom. I’ve taught kids who are deaf. I’ve had a blind student. I’ve had kids all over the autism spectrum and everything else in between. And yes, kids can completely experience music, whether they are special needs learners or not.
And what’s really neat is it does help them connect with their families. Because here’s the thing, even if you’re sitting here and your child has special needs and you’re like, “Well, they are deaf and they can’t hear this song.”
There are so many ways to talk and still experience music. They can still feel the vibrations.
Think about Beethoven. He wrote many amazing piano pieces and he could not hear. He’s one of my favorite composers.
It definitely does help with brain development because it’s been proven that music helps with processing sound, language development, speech perception, and reading skills. Maybe you’re not going to see this stuff happen overnight, but it does help kids connect with their families.
It’s a way for them to do that just by listening to music, playing music, experiencing music. Stand up and dance with your kids. It doesn’t have to be anything formal or a Tik Tok dance. Just move to the music with them.
Listen to the music with them. Sing a song with them. Experience it together. It doesn’t have to be formal.
Special needs kids can definitely learn music. It might look a little bit different and it’s going to be based on what that child’s disability is, but they are going to definitely be able to learn music just like any other kid can.
ALLIE: What an eye opening and hopeful thing to hear for the mom who’s had a child that’s been recently diagnosed with something and they feel a disconnect or a fear about, “Well, am I going to be able to communicate properly with this child?”
Music is the ultimate bridge for communication barriers. I remember when my kids were babies, music was a bridge for us because they couldn’t talk.
Leland is 9 and he’s so musical. I didn’t really know anything weird about it at the time, because he was only my second. At that point you’re like what’s normal and what’s not.
But when I was in the last trimester, I’d play Kanye West or something with a beat and he would move. Not to the beat but he would react. Then I’d play something soothing like classical music and he would calm down.
Music has an effect on babies, on people, on all of us because I think it has an effect on our spirits. It doesn’t matter what language you speak, if you have cognitive development issues, or if you’re a baby in the womb, it’s the great bridge. That’s what I think is so beautiful about it.
I love bringing it into our family, even though I’m not an instrumentally musical person. I don’t know how to play anything. I just love music. I think that that’s good news because every mom can bring that in to their home.
JESSICA: It’s called a universal language for a reason. What’s really neat is even if it is in a different language—if you’re listening to a song and someone’s singing it in Italian—everybody’s still hearing the same melody, the same instruments, whether you’re speaking that language or not.
Think about baby toys. Probably the most popular toy is a baby rattle. Why?
Because babies love to hear the rattle. They love to hear the rattling sound. It’s making music, whether you realize that or not.
That’s the very first instrument they’re ever playing, and it’s so neat to see that because they don’t know what they’re doing. I remember playing music and then just handing my babies a rattle and they would start shaking it. Not to the beat but just shaking the rattle because it’s like moving to the music.
ALLIE: You feel it in your soul. I love that.
Not to sound negative but what’s at stake if we don’t bring music in? What are we missing out on if we don’t encourage our kids toward music? Even if they don’t have a seemingly natural artistic musical ability.
JESSICA: If music didn’t exist? Is that what you’re kind of asking?
ALLIE: Yeah. I think we take it for granted. I feel like this is something we just overlook because it’s just a part of our life.
But what would it be like if we didn’t have this? What is music gifting us that we take for granted?
JESSICA: One of my favorite lessons I teach is to think about all the places music is—at baseball games, or any sports event for that matter, everybody stands for the National Anthem.
ALLIE: Have you ever been in a football stadium when the players are coming out and they’re playing some kind of song? The players coming out is only a piece of the excitement. The rest of it is all music that’s making you feel that excitement.
JESSICA: It’s a unifying thing. Everybody feels like we’re all in this together. We’re all hearing the same song.
The excitement gets going. At a baseball game you hear “Take Me Out To The Ball Game.”
Think about how boring a movie would be without music in it. And you know what I sometimes think about, because that’s where my brain goes as a musician, but these composers for those movies didn’t start out that way.
Everybody starts as a beginner. You never know if your child is going to be the next musical arranger or composer. You just don’t know. We don’t know where our children are going to go one day.
A movie would be so boring without music in it. Or even some shows we watch. If there’s a dramatic scene on one of our favorite shows and it’s complete silence, it’s awkward.
ALLIE: So awkward. I’m thinking about shows like Grey’s Anatomy where they’re doing surgery on a mother of eight that’s gonna die. If there was no song playing and slow motion, all you’d hear is the slicing.
It would be so awkward and painful to watch if there wasn’t music to communicate through the lyrics and the cadence. Is it sad or happy? It makes you feel what you’re intended to feel and what the actors played out before the song started playing.
JESSICA: We already talked about quarantine, and you may be listening to this when quarantine is way over with, but during quarantine how many virtual concerts have you seen? People are doing it for free from their living rooms in these popup virtual concerts.
Disney even did one where they were singing Disney songs. How cool is that? They’re bringing music into your home.
Experiencing music should be a part of your daily life, whether it’s virtual or not. And it doesn’t have to be formal. Look around you where you live.
There is probably an orchestra or Philharmonic somewhere around you. I know a lot of times for the 4th of July, they’ll be playing for fireworks shows. Just playing music over the sound system.
Experiencing music is just so important. I love that you asked, “What would it look like without music in the world?”
I think it’d be so boring. I can’t even drive in the car without having some songs on.
ALLIE: It makes it enjoyable. I always pause in my driveway first and pick something that’s going to fit the mood that I’m in or what I need that day.
Okay. So, our kids are going to experience music all around them, whether we purposely include it or not. But what does it look like to purposely include it? Can you give these women some action steps?
JESSICA: We’ll start with the youngest of kids. Play music and watch your child. I remember my oldest son being in a high chair and I’d just play a song.
It was Five Little Monkeys Jumping On The Bed and he just started bouncing to the beat, bouncing to the song. I didn’t teach him that. He just experienced it.
Find some nursery rhymes. Play nursery rhymes for the youngest of kids and let them listen to it. Eventually they’re going to catch on. Then you’ll see toddler-aged kids start singing with it.
Find some simple instruments. And if you don’t have any instruments in your home, that’s fine. Kids all have voices and bodies, so let them just sing and move to music.
And when it comes to movement, just turn it on and let them move to the music or pat their legs to the beat. The beat is how a song is kept steady, like a heartbeat. They can pat their legs to the beat or move to the song.
Then as they progress—if you’re wanting them to get a little more formal in lessons—there are definitely piano lessons, guitar, or drum. Ask your child what they are interested in.
Leland’s into guitar; I have a son who wants to take drum lessons. We just personally are not ready for all that yet, but we will get there.
But singing, dancing, walking to the steady beat around the house, identifying different genres of music they’re listening to. Think about all the different movies and shows that have music in it. One of my favorite ones for younger kids is Little Einsteins because it introduces instruments and musical styles and they travel around the world.
ALLIE: It’s interactive. They’re asking, “What do you think this instrument is and what is that sound?”
JESSICA: Yeah. I love shows like that that are educational.
ALLIE: They’re in front of the TV, but this is a win.
We call our parents’ music “oldies.” And I love introducing kids to what we listened to when we were children. For example, Nsync. I was obsessed with them and my kids are like, “Who is that?”
ALLIE: Just the best band of all time!
JESSICA: Really. I’m on the Nsync side; Backstreet Boys were okay.
Let your kids listen to the music that you enjoyed. I think one of the greatest ways to experience music with your kids is to tell them about your childhood. Did you play an instrument? Did you sing?
Were you ever in a band or choir? What were your favorite songs to listen to? When did you listen to them?
Why did you like that band? Did you get to experience them in person? Did you ever get to go to a concert?
Explain to them all these things. If you did decide to go further and pursue music in a certain way or learn an instrument, why? How did you get to that decision?
I think so many times parents forget to just have conversations with their kids. It’s no one’s fault. I’m just as guilty as anyone else because you’re just busy.
It’s just stopping sometimes to have a conversation with your child about your childhood, how you experienced music, and what benefits you got from it. Sometimes they’ll say, “Oh, okay, my mom or dad did this. That’s awesome.”
Then there are formal settings too. There’s preschool music classes. Kinder Music is one which is amazing. Kids all come together to learn music together.
Then there are private piano and instrument lessons which can sometimes lead into kids being in band, orchestra, or choir, or go on to pursue music in another way. There are so many different music careers now.
What people can do with music nowadays keeps growing and growing. It’s so incredible.
ALLIE: I think a lot of parents think, “Well, I don’t know if I want my child to pursue that because they’re not going to be able to make a good living in that.”
What would you say to that?
JESSICA: Yes and no. I could have gone the piano performer route and been a concert pianist, but I decided to get in the classroom to teach music in a school setting.
If your child says, “Mom, I want to be the next movie music composer.” And you’re like, “Oh, well how are you going to do that?”
With anything in life, if they don’t ever try it then they won’t know. But let’s say they get into it and there is no money in it, they can still do another job as they’re pursuing that career until it ends up taking off.
I think if they have a passion and a desire deep down inside of them, it’s not going to go away. They’re never going to know unless they try. You don’t want your child to be 99 years old one day and say, “I wish I had this.”
ALLIE: And I think they’re also always going to be dissatisfied with whatever career they do choose for money because they’re going to wish it was this other thing.
And I appreciate how much you’re probably holding back right now because we both want to say, “Take it online! Online businesses are the way to go!” Because your business does so well and we’re both in the online space.
Hudson has your piano course. I shared about it a little bit on Instagram and said, “This is what we’re doing because his in-person lessons have been canceled. I remembered one of my closest friends has a piano course, so we got it and he’s doing it.”
I got so many DM’s from people asking, “What is this?”
I don’t know about you but I’ve been feeling like in quarantine there are some things that we have done to adjust, but I like the new way so much that I want to keep it that way when everything is back to normal. Being at home is one of those.
It just creates so much less. It creates so much more pause. And so we’re going to continue the piano lessons.
I was asking Hudson about it yesterday and he likes it this way. He was like, “I like that lady way better.”
Plus he can pause and go get a snack or go to the bathroom or whatever. I love the way you have it laid out.
You have it set up for anybody at any point in their lessons. Hudson already knew some and he knew where to skip to what he needed. It’s great.
I know that’s what you do. You create programs online and you also help music teachers with their whole job. Explain what it is you do you on your side of the internet for anyone who might be inspired by this and wants to bring music into their child’s life more from home
JESSICA: A few years ago I had just been asked the same questions over and over. I have taught in-person piano lessons for years in my home or in a studio and it got to the point where I was like, “Why am I not making something online for people to access virtually if they want to? Then I would able to help teach anyone who needs it.”
Being a mom of three kids, I can tell you, life gets crazy busy. Some people do enjoy the in-person lessons and that’s incredible. I’ve done it.
I am a huge advocate for in-person instruction. But at the same time, some people don’t like the busy, busy, go, go, go, and they just want a way to learn virtually. So, I created a piano course.
I have two parts of my business. Part of it is helping elementary music teachers in their classrooms. I started at a school that didn’t have a music program for seven years, so I am helping teachers who are in the same boat as I was in.
I started as a piano player and I am so passionate about helping teach piano to kids and adults (I have adult students too), so I decided to create this piano course. There are 25 lessons.
It started as two courses—Level One and Level Two. It’s still divided that way, but it’s lumped into one course now. It tells you in each lesson what you’ll be learning in that lesson and there’s a printable workbook to go along with each lesson.
What I love about it is it’s a step-by-step approach that meets kids where they are. And then parents might find out that they’d like to start learning right along with their kids.
I’ve had so many parents say, “I let my kid push play and learn, and then I slowly found myself learning right along with all of it.” There are so many adults who wish they had taken piano.
It’s a step-by-step approach where a child can go as slowly or as quickly through the lessons as they need to. Once they reach the end of the lessons, if they decide to continue piano, they can just continue in-person lessons. Or I may end up recording more lessons one day.
I decided I wanted to help teach piano online for people that need another option, or just want another option if you’re sick of driving around.
ALLIE: That was it for me.
JESSICA: It’s cheaper than probably five piano lessons, I would say, if not less than that. And then, also, I just wanted a way to connect with kids virtually, so that’s why I started that and I love it.
ALLIE: And Leland is really interested in the guitar and the drums, but I’m going to have him go through it as well because I think the piano is a good base for understanding all the instruments. It’s so good and so therapeutic.
Oh my gosh, how many times have Brian and I come back to the drawing board? We keep having to go to these piano lessons and it’s hard to see the value in it when no one is jumping up and down and freaking out that they get to go to piano lessons.
But it was a part of our homeschool. Even the times when the kids have gone to public school, we’ve still been involved in music. But going was hard.
Now this is another thing that’s off of our calendar. I don’t have to do the drive time. I don’t have to have somebody come into our house, come and teach them at a time that works for them and not us.
I don’t have to cancel a lesson. We can just do it later in the day if it doesn’t work that morning.
Music is so important. I have seen it connect us as a family. I have seen my friends have children who have anger issues, who are adopted, who have had trauma, and music connects them.
I have seen it in my own children. I know it’s important. But I am sorry, I just don’t want to drive and go a million different places when I have four kids.
Your at-home piano lessons are absolutely a game changer and a must. I can’t even express enough how I feel. I can check that mental “good mom” box for the day.
Sometimes we need to let that box go. But I feel like, “We did this today. This is so good. We didn’t have to drive to a teacher. We didn’t have to disrupt the day. I’m able to keep working or get the kitchen cleaned up while he does his lesson.”
What you’re bringing to the table is so huge for every mom. It’s so important. And I love that you do this.
JESSICA: The way I taught the online lessons is exactly like I would teach in-person. It’s not going to be exactly the same because I’m obviously not sitting there next to your child.
But with the years of experience I have with teaching in-person lessons, I literally mapped out exactly what it takes for a child who doesn’t know anything to get to where they can play and know a ton of musical theory.
And that was my goal. As a parent, if you don’t want to sit there and hover over your kid, I’m literally teaching them step-by-step, reminding them what to do. I’m saying, “Make sure you do this before the next lesson,” and that kind of stuff.
I just recorded a podcast episode about what you said about why piano lessons are so important, and if you don’t mind I want to touch on that for just a minute. I’ve been asked this a lot too.
First of all, if you’re child comes and says, “I want to learn guitar. I want to learn drums. I want to learn whatever else,” then do that. That’s totally fine.
I also went on to learn clarinet and guitar. I had to learn every instrument because of my degree path in college so I would know how to teach them just in case.
I didn’t end up needing to, thank God. I would not be a good orchestra instructor because violin is not my cup of tea.
But the reason, in my opinion, piano is so important is because the piano is something I feel like kids can feel successful in because the first thing about piano is when a child pushes a key down a sound instantly comes out. There’s no squawking or beeping or trying to put your hand over the right fret.
Also it’s a linear instrument, so the kids can see the notes. They can realize, “Oh, I see if I play up this way to the right high sounds come out. If I play this way to the left, low notes come out.”
They know if I push notes down, the right sounds are going to come out. They can visually see what they’re playing in a linear way. But also, in the future if they decide to learn another instrument or if your child’s naturally gifted at singing, piano is a great instrument to have in their pocket for that.
We talked about the different music careers. If they want to sit down and arrange a piece for tuba, then they know they can play down here low and then write the parts down. Or if they’re practicing a singing part, they can play out the melody for that as well.
My course also teaches music theory. Without stepping on toes, what irritates me is a lot of piano instruction I’ve seen online (even on YouTube because I researched it) is simply I’m going to teach you a song by rote—which is basically, “Play what I’m playing.”
That’s awesome. And I think for adults, especially, that’s great because let’s be honest, a lot adults nowadays are like, “I’m kind of past the point where I care. I just want to learn a song.”
But for music, theory is so important. And if your kids decide to continue on with learning music and another instrument, there’s so much theory being learned behind piano.
Not just the physical, hitting the notes, but the theory behind it will help carry them on as they continue learning music in one capacity or another in the future. If you want your child to learn an instrument but don’t know which one, piano is a good starting point in my opinion because it encompasses all that stuff I just said.
ALLIE: Also in this time of distance-learning where parents are basically home educating, and even those of us who do homeschool full time, there’s always that age-old question of, “What do I do with the other kids when I’m focusing on one of the kids?”
For me, the biggest thing has been, “This is your time to do piano. I don’t care if you’ve expressed musical interest. I don’t care. It’s a part of what we’re doing in our family.”
We have literally built our days around this online course that I have from you. And I just want you to know that it’s that good. It’s so good. It’s so easy.
The lessons are just the right amount of time where I’m like, “Okay, let me focus on helping Bella understand this math formula while Leland does his writing and Hudson and Emmett are doing piano together.”
We’re not having all these problems of, “How do I do this at the same time as this?”
If you create other things, other options that are going to further your child’s brain development and help them connect to themselves—even if they never do anything professionally with music—it is good for them. You can feel good about that decision.
Music matters. Music is important. Like you said, it’s the universal language. It is time well spent and money well spent.
What a huge help for you as a parent when you’re trying to balance all the things, get dinner done, get the schooling done. Even outside of COVID, while someone’s doing their homework someone else could be doing piano lessons.
And you know that their brain is getting stronger, they’re getting more connected to themselves, and they’re having that time of learning something that is so beneficial for them.
JESSICA: People think because I’m a musician that I’m a natural artist too. I did not get that side of the arts gene at all. I know I can not do art to save my life.
And so what do I do? I look for help online. There are so many websites that have been helping my kids with drawing and art.
If I try to come up with an art lesson by myself, I am literally like, “So today we’re going to draw a stick figure because that’s all mom can do.” It’s so sad.
ALLIE: Yeah. We, as moms, don’t need to know everything. We don’t need to have all the answers. We don’t need to be good at everything.
We need to reach out and create resources that will support us in giving our kids the well-balanced childhood we desire them to have when it’s got to do with something that we don’t innately know. And what people like you are so good at is saying, “I’m good at this. Let me help your child learn it.”
JESSICA: I appreciate that. I love it. I love seeing the pictures you send me of your kiddos learning. It’s so sweet.
I love seeing pictures from all my parents. They post pictures of their kids and tag me on Instagram and it blesses my heart so much because that’s what it’s all about for me.
ALLIE: Well, where can people go and connect? Where can they read more about all the at-home music programs that you have, specifically the piano one?
I know you have the teachers’ one that’s separate and not really for the listeners we have with us today. Well maybe. You never know when one of the parents is a music teacher.
Where do you want to send people to connect with you as a person and with your piano program?
JESSICA: If you want to connect with me on Instagram, you can find me @JessicaPeresta.
My website is thedomesticmusician.com. And if you go there, you will see specific tabs just for parents. When you click on those, you’ll see everything you need to help you bring music into your home for your child.
ALLIE: Amazing. Thank you so much for taking time out of your day to walk us through all of this and explain. You really painted a picture of why this is important and it’s not just a side note. I really appreciate that.
JESSICA: Thank you so much, Allie.
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