Teacher: Coach & Therapist
Mary S. Vita-Catama
Licensed Occupational Therapist, Licensed Simply Music Teacher, Nutrition Coach
I haven't met a single person who didn't wish they could play an instrument. I have met many who despite past lessons, still cannot play the instrument. I have met many more who are completely dependent on the written music to play their instrument causing fear of being asked to play something! Are you one of the many who quit those childhood lessons but as adults someway wish you had not?
There is an intrinsic desire in every human being, for self-expression. Some express themselves best through speech, others through written word, others through dance and others through their instrument.
I have been each of the people described above. I began piano lessons at the age of 4 years old with a sweet older lady who did her best in teaching me to read and play while I was also just learning the English language. What a tough job - for all those involved. But it resulted in one thing - an individual who became fearful of music and sharing and a parent wondering how to avoid the same experience for her own sons. Oh! And a condition I coined "piano paralysis" where one cannot play anything on the piano without the sheet music!
Let me share with you how I have evolved into a unique coach weaving my experiences in other fields. In 2004 I searched for an individual (not necessarily a professional musician) willing to teach my one son with unique behavioral and neurological challenges. I found a method called Simply Music and I was hooked. All my sons were to experience this unique approach. However, just following the curriculum for each student cannot be where it remains.
It was inevitable that I started my own piano studio.
And so it began - my journey into a way of teaching that was enhanced by my beliefs and my own prior and current life experiences. I believe that once one makes a decision, the next decision is impacted and the next and so on. If these choices are somehow beneficial to the individual, all the consequences of these choices enhance and merge together creating growth in that individual.
As an occupational therapist, 12 years working in rehabilitation of adults with post-acute conditions allowed me to not only adapt environments and tasks but to naturally individualize learning styles. The Simply Music Program allows the use of all the aspects of music and all the skills and sub-skills that comes with learning to generate music with the piano. I found myself naturally merging my occupational therapy knowledge and skills to engage in different developmental levels. This is especially complicated in today's world where neurological challenges are becoming the norm over the whole life spectrum.
A practice that allows the use of a musical instrument as the primary modality to address the foundations of one's needs is simply fun. For those who come simply because they want to learn how to play the piano, find so much more of their being manifests during the experience. The reason may be because the success of making music through an instrument comes to life from one's core. Success in learning anything comes from one's core. That can be easy or that can be challenging. When it's challenging, it's hard. When it's carefully taught in a positive and dynamic way addressing the underlying foundational areas in the correct sequence and combinations, then only then can true learning take root.
I believe the core includes a desire and a decision. The core also includes a neurological and sensory system that allows processing of visual, auditory, tactile, vestibular, proprioceptive input and a physiological system that is nourished with balanced, clean and beneficial foods and environment. The reason is because no matter how much good stuff one exposes himself to or no matter how much good stuff is inputted, if the vehicle (your body and its many beautiful systems) does not have clear and efficient pathways and does not have beneficial and balanced fuel, the good stuff, in a compromised overall system, will not have much of a chance to manifest especially . With the desire and a decision to commit, the core can be addressed so learning happens.
Music is a powerful tool for the neurologically challenged and for the ones fortunate enough not to have those added challenges.
Music is a language. Most of us would agree that those years of foreign language learned from textbooks and in the classroom failed to provide us with the ability to express ourselves in that language. Some may have developed the skills by memorizing rules and practicing proper ways to put tools together to form sentences but can they express through that language?
Most of us agree that music ranks quite high in our children's curriculum for its many benefits. Like anything else, however, we may have not experienced enough to know quite how to unfold the most beneficial method of learning and the most beneficial experience for the individual and thus we enroll with the most convenient program or teacher in our area assuming there is some universal way of learning and teaching. There simply is not.
The method called Simply Music embraces the multi-sensory needs of the human brain to truly engage in learning. The methods of the Equipping Minds program complements and guides the teaching and learning aspects of our Program. And the Interactive Metronome supplements the training of cognitive, motoric rhythm, timing and speed.
I just makes sense to integrate all of these for efficient, dynamic and positive learning. The piano is a magical instrument used in my studio and it is available for anyone who is willing to begin a new but natural way of learning and accept the high risk of deeper self-discovery.