September 01, 2020
Lessons Instructor Spotlight: Susan Hawthorne
Susan Hawthorne: Piano & Voice Instructor in Tucson, AZ
Beyond the educational and social-emotional benefits of learning to play an instrument, music lessons bring joy to life.
“Music reaches the heart in a way no other medium can,” says Music & Arts lessons instructor Susan Hawthorne, who teaches piano and voice in Tucson, Arizona. “I want to pass on what I’ve been privileged to learn to new musicians who will bring beauty to the world around them.”
Hawthorne approaches music education with compassion. “Caring is key,” says the instructor of over 20 years. “I strive to build a program that resonates with each student according to their interest and abilities, including lots of fun, enrichment, and confidence-creating affirmation.”
A graduate of Wichita State University with a degree in vocal music, Hawthorne has conducted adult, children’s, and chime choirs (using hand-held bells), and created productions with homeschool students. She’s also an experienced performer who currently sings in her church’s worship band and is a saxophonist in the small jazz combo Retro Swing 7.
We spoke to Hawthorne about her own musical journey and the impact teaching music has had on her students’ lives.
How did you get started with music?
I began playing by ear, so my parents started me on lessons before I could read.
What is your teaching philosophy?
I tailor my instruction to the learning style of each student, offering fun games and progress charts for active learners, and revealing secrets of music theory for emerging composers. I truly care about my students and go the extra mile to help them hone their gifts and keep their interest high.
As a lessons instructor, how have you seen music impact the lives of your students?
It gives them confidence, helps them express themselves and increases their ability to think and interact. It also gives them a place where they can excel and have great fun. For older students, it keeps their brains alive and is a great social activity.
What do you like most about teaching music?
Seeing that smile of accomplishment when a student has just done it better than they ever thought they could.
What advice would you give to someone who is thinking about signing up for music lessons but might be unsure?
In music, you have the option of trying it for a while to get your feet wet and see if you enjoy it. You can ask the store to match you with an instructor that will meet your needs well, and they are always happy to do that.
What’s your favorite memory as a lessons instructor?
Seeing a young student of mine resume lessons and work hard to regain skills after a life-threatening surgery that had a large cost and long recovery. To see his utter joy as we sang together in his first lesson back brought tears to my eyes. He continues to improve and regain skills.
Do you think there’s value in taking music lessons, even if your student is not trying to become a professional musician?
Absolutely. I have seen in my students and my own children how crucial music is to mental and emotional development. It’s not just a fun hobby, it’s transforming.
Come and meet local expert instructors like Susan Hawthorne at a Lessons Open House event in-store every Saturday at a Music & Arts location near you. RSVP now!
By Serena Kappes