AN INTERVIEW WITH CHRISTINA KULICK
It’s been a pleasure to work with Ms. Christina Kulick as both a teacher and in support of the many students and programs she teaches. Ms. Christina has been working with the Piano School of NYC since 2004 and has fostered the development of hundreds of children across the many programs she teaches. Her group class at The Montessori Day School of Brooklyn is one of the most notable programs where she teaches a young class of Pre-School students ages 3 and 4.
“We joyfully work together to instill a love of music that lasts a lifetime! We do rhythm and ear training, Piano playing and Singing, Music games to learn note reading and the works of great composers”. -Ms. Christina
Similarly, teachers throughout the Manhattan Central area also report positive results with the programs they run. Children enjoy piano classes not only with their teachers, but also with Mozart Mouse and Beethoven Bear, who are not stuffed toys, but two little helpers in class!
For Pre-School students, finger independence is a complicated concept that is quite challenging for them to execute on the keyboard. Therefore, they make music with their teachers through singing and clapping along, and they learn to play the keyboard with their pointers. They also play music games and flashcards through which they learn to build a sense of rhythm.
“As a music educator, I believe that healthy music learning can bring out the positive qualities of each child. Especially in such an early age, every child has their own pace in absorbing and accepting new concepts. “
In the past two months, we are glad to see students’ improvement as they engaged more and more in class. A pre-school student was very shy in the first class and was uncomfortable staying in the classroom with other active children, he, therefore, kept crying. That was the first class on Sep 25. That night, we received an email from his mom saying that this would not work out, he wanted to quit the program. We talked to the parent and the boy came to the second class with his mom’s accompany. We put in a lot of efforts in encouraging our children and we want them to enjoy the process of learning and music making.
By the end of October, this little boy managed to play a song by himself and he also finished it with a big smile on his face. This was what we received from his parent this week- “Thank you so much for your sharing! I really appreciate all the effort that you are putting into teaching the class. My son is enjoying the class very much and it makes us feel so proud to see him doing so well. Thank you for everything!”
Unlike science and math, there isn’t a “must” in music. It is not 1+1=2; Two children playing the same piece can end up with two different outcomes, as different personalities can shape their music differently. Creativity is highly encouraged, and we are happy to see children playing music in their own ways. One thing that we can be certain of; Providing them the precious opportunity to get in touch with music by heart at this point of their lives is a life-time influence for them.
Please see the following info from Mr. Glafkos, one of our wonderful teachers here in Queens, about the importance of teaching improvisation to young students:
“My favorite activity to do with kids is teaching them through improvisation. I have them imitate what I do and then I have them go first and I imitate what they do. The benefits are tremendous. They learn to experience music right from the beginning in a simple and direct way. They learn to listen and pay attention. They tap into their own creativity right from the beginning of their training. Through simple improvisational exercises, we create form and something they can grasp without thinking. They experience rhythm. They are beginning to have a visual understanding of the piano keyboard through the experience of doing it rather than intellectualizing it first. The most beneficial result might be that they experience music as a fun and creative activity first. In my many years of doing these activities, they never cease to amaze me with the melodic motifs that they can come up with once they are guided into being creative.”
Born and raised in Pennsylvania, Ms. Kulick engaged in her studies of Music and Dance at the age of three, and thus the seeds of a lifelong habit of Music were planted. Showing a gift for Song, she began studying Voice and Piano through private lessons and became an active performer in her Elementary and High School Theatre and Choral Departments. In addition, she was accepted to study at The Harrisburg Arts Magnet School as a student of the specialized Music Theatre Program. A recipient of the Minna Kauffman Ruud Vocal Scholarship, she went on to further her studies at Chatham College in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with a Double Major in Music and Theatre. There, Ms. Kulick continued her Classical Voice and Piano studies and was an active member and performer in Music Department Recitals, Choir and Madrigals, Theatre Performances and Technical Design, Directing, Ballet and, Modern Dance Performances through The Chatham College Dance Collective and also performed to great acclaim in The Freeport Summer Theatre Festivals. She received her BA in both Music and Theatre in 1999, graduating Cum Laude. Honored as the only student in the Colleges history to write and perform two Senior Theses, Ms. Kulick showed her diversity in singing, acting, scriptwriting, directing, choreographing and set and costume design.
About Piano School of NYC: The Piano School of NYC is a non-profit organization dedicated to bringing affordable music education to all throughout the greater New York area. The Piano School brings 17 years of experience and offers private, small group, and Skype lessons as well as in-school programming, and lessons for students with disabilities. The Piano School aims to foster self-esteem and offers early, direct participation in music that might not otherwise take place due to income inequality and insufficient musical instruction in schools. More Information about The Piano School of NYC can be found online at www.pianoschoolofnyc.org or by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org or 212- 665-9051.