Article by Foothills Living, July 2019 Edition
When a 17-year-old athlete bolts through the front door of his
home saying that his piano lesson didn’t feel like practice and
that he wished he could have played for hours, a parent has to
wonder what made the piano lesson so much fun.
To begin, the music teacher is Micheal Kleinschmidt, or Mikey
as most people at Music Makers Workshop call him, and he has a
talent for inspiring students of all ages and for helping them find
their niche in music. When he first meets his students, whether
the pupils are adults or kids, he asks them quite a few questions
about themselves to learn their interests, and this serves as a
starting point for his approach to working with them.
He explains that he first connection to music is feeling, so he intertwines students’ interest with the music for an organic experience rather than having them sit and learn music in a traditional, structured, archaic way, which is how many of us learned.
Mikey also embraces technology and says that to ignore it would be a mistake. He explains that there is so much technology available and kids see that, so he incorporates music apps in his lessons and refurbishes old computers the students use to practice.
When asked if he has any students that are really great, he says
with 100% sincerity that everyone has something they have a
knack for, explaining that a little girl can play a simple song like
“Mary had Little Lamb” and it can bring a person to tears. He
continues on to say, “Everyone will impress you in their own
way,” adding, “It depends on the setting and the kid. They all have
their talent. They do,” he nods genuinely.
He emphasizes that music doesn’t have to be perfect, which people can sometimes get caught up in. He also notes that there are many ways to experience music, expressing one idea after another. To hear him talk about music is in itself a pleasure, and to learn about his personal musical talents is equally interesting.
He can play pretty much everything except guitar and horns and, upon prompting, he agreed to touch briefly on the music he performs outside of teaching. His schedule is actually chalk full of performances with his Jazz Trio called What’s the Big Idea that plays at local venues, wine festivals, weddings, and much more; he has also toured with celebrities, such as Josh Groban; and he played for years in the community with both Hot Church and the Adult Choir at Mountain Park Church when it was on 24th.
But music is not about a list of accomplishments to Mikey. Music is
about getting a student to connect organically, which means that they
are learning about music as if it is an organism rather than an inert
object. Typically music that is organic grows from the seed of an idea,
continuing to grow and develop in new and ever-changing ways.
Mikey says simply, “This is gold here [at MMW]; this is where
everyone is growing the most. If you want to learn more, teach it.
I thought I knew a lot. It’s a whole different thing.”