Anita Tiemeyer’s Approach To Teaching

Anita Tiemeyer has one singular objective for her students, no matter what their age—to become well-educated consumers of music for the rest of their lives. Not every student is talented (or lucky) enough to become a professional musician. It is just not a practical goal when learning to play a musical instrument. However, by playing an instrument and participating in a musical group, the student will appreciate music more than a non-music student will. To be able to listen to music and to understand its meter, rhythm, harmonies, and melodies is to enable a student to have a lifelong joy of a pastime that is both enriching and satisfying.

On a more immediate level, Miss Tiemeyer’s first priority for music students is to play their best in band class. Working closely with the band directors, she makes sure the students are prepared for playing and written tests, and for performances such as Christmas and spring concerts, and the Indiana State School Music Association (ISSMA) organization contests. Students who stay in the lessons quickly get past this level of instruction, and Miss Tiemeyer then moves on to scales, etudes (workbooks), and solo literature.

The advantage of the private lessons is that the student learns how to play the instrument itself (the pedagogy), and learns reading and interpreting music in far greater extent than what the he/she would learn in the band class. The band director has to deal with a room of 40 or 50 students in a 50-minute class, and logistically doesn’t have the time to work with each student for an extended period of time. In the private lessons, Miss Tiemeyer will spot and correct bad habits such as wrong fingerings, poor embouchure, and incorrect hand positions that have been overlooked in band class. Details in the music, beyond the notes and rhythm, are taught, such as music terminology, symbols, intonation, dynamics, articulation, and phrasing. And most importantly of all, she helps the student with the very basic aspect of playing a wind instrument: having a solid, confident sound.

Miss Tiemeyer makes positive reinforcement and encouragement a central part of each lesson. This is not to say that she does not correct the student’s mistakes. Being extremely detailed-oriented, Miss Tiemeyer does not let anything slip. She communicates to the student not only what specifically he/she is doing wrong but also what he/she is doing right. Also, Miss Tiemeyer always gives homework assignments, and she teaches the students how to practice at home. Students don’t know how to use their practice time. They don’t know how to identify and work out specific problems in their music. Just playing through the entire piece, mistakes and all, once or twice between the lessons is not the way to learn it. Recognizing a problem area, breaking it down, and doing some good old-fashioned repetition are just a few of the techniques Miss Tiemeyer teaches.

One-on-one instruction is a crucial part of the band experience. Band directors want as many of their students to take private lessons as possible. A student who learns to play the music correctly in the private lessons is going to play better in the band. Moreover, he/she will influence the other band students by playing the music as it is supposed to be played, particularly with the correct rhythms. These students become musical leaders rather than followers. In such an ideal situation, the director can focus more on large ensemble issues such as intonation, balance between the sections, and putting everything together in a complicated band piece. There’s a reason why Miss Tiemeyer’s students consistently sit in the top chairs in the top bands, not just in middle school but also in high school, and often as freshmen and sophomores. As one band director has said many times to parents and students, “Students who stay with Miss Tiemeyer play well.”

Taking private music lessons opens doors to musical opportunities outside the band class. Miss Tiemeyer strongly encourages all of her students to participate in extra musical events, such as the ISSMA Solo and Ensemble contests, All-Region and All-State Bands, and student community groups such as the Indiana Youth Wind Ensemble and the New World Youth Symphony. And she works very hard at helping senior students to prepare for auditions to get into music schools at the university level, and winning music scholarships.

Additionally, Miss Tiemeyer helps parents choose the best instrument to buy or rent, and guides them in buying the necessary equipment and music. She will not hesitate to be available to parents and students when they need questions answered outside of the lesson. Without charge, she will spend time fixing oboe and bassoon reeds, or making simple emergency repairs. Because she has musical contacts in the Indianapolis area and around the country, she knows how to find the right people to fix problems. She knows the music business. She is willing to do whatever it takes to help the students succeed on their instrument.

Playing a musical instrument beyond high school, in college and after college can be a fun, enjoyable experience. There are always venues to continue playing music, such as in community bands and orchestras and even in church groups. There is a lot to be said about getting together with friends at a weekly band rehearsal and putting on a concert in the mall or in a city park in the summer. Making music means having a good time, having great social interaction, and having the satisfaction knowing that the effort is worthwhile.

Anita Tiemeyer is totally committed in helping her students do their best and achieve what they want to do in music. She is a perfectionist and sets high standards. She expects every student to do his/her best. To do otherwise is wasting her time and the parents’ money. When the student masters his/her instrument, the musical world will be open for enjoyment for the rest of the student’s life. It truly can be a life-changing experience.