Meet Julie, Robert, Andrew and Rachel Gastler from Columbia, MO. Julie is a student in the Busy Moms program. She is currently taking a brief and unplanned hiatus from the piano due to injury.Last Friday she cut her right index finger with a table saw. She still has a finger but is unable to play the piano at the moment. She says, “That is by far the worst result of this injury. I can manage not writing and am happy to be banned from washing dishes for a while, but my piano is calling me and I can’t answer.” The good news is that she should be able to play again once she done healing, but it will be a while the stitches wont even come out for 2 weeks.
Julie and Robert are both teachers at the same school.
Here they are dressed as Mr. and Mrs. Incredible for spirit week.
Q: What’s your musical background?
My grandmother taught me to sit at a piano and put my fingers on the keys when I was three. She had a few beginner piano books and taught me to read music (I have no idea how, though. I don’t remember, I’ve just always known). With that knowledge I would teach myself songs from her books. I had formal lessons when I was 9 for only a year. We moved and I had to stop taking lessons. I had a piano though and a few friends who played that would make me copies of their music. I taught myself many songs and played often enough that when I got in trouble that is what my mom would take away from me. Without formal lessons, I picked up probably every bad habit in existence and made up some more of my own. In middle school, I played percussion. In high school, I sang in choir. It wasn’t until college when I was able to take lessons again. I took lessons through the school and the first thing my piano teacher told me was that it sounds beautiful, but it looks terrible. I had 5 years of lessons in college in which I was sent back to the basics with scales and fingering exercises. I played the piano on average 2 hours every day on a beautiful concert grand piano in a church on campus. After college, I was without a piano for about 11 years. Occasionally over those 11 years I’d get to play a piano for a little while, but not frequently enough. 2 years ago, we bought a digital piano and I’ve been playing almost every day since.
Q: Anything fun or unique you’d like to share about your family?
We are a very tall family. My husband is 6’7”, I’m 5’10”, Andrew is 5’2” (and he’s only 10), and Rachael is 4’0” (and she’s only 5). We also all watched the total solar eclipse together this summer as it went right over our house. We’ll travel to the next one in 2024.
Andrew and Rachel safely watching the solar eclipse last August in our driveway.
Q: How do you structure piano lessons/practice for your family? Any tips to share?
I’m the only one taking lessons, though I regularly suggest it to my kids. First, as a busy mom (with a full-time job), I typically practice late at night after I’ve finished everything that must be done before I go to bed (as a reward to myself for getting it all done), or I practice right after I put my kids in bed. As for a tip – I was really concerned about getting a digital piano because I was one of those stuck up types who insisted on only playing grand pianos. But now that I can plug in a pair of headphones and play all hours of the night without disturbing my family, it was totally worth it. (I did get the weight keys, but few other bells and whistles because I really only want the piano function of it.)
Q: How did you learn about Busy Moms/Kids Do Piano?
It was my husband’s suggestion. After we got the digital piano, I realized just how out of practice I was. I had a list of “to-learn” songs and I was getting frustrated because I couldn’t learn them as easily as I had in college. My husband saw my frustration and said that surely the internet had something that would work for me since I wouldn’t be able to take traditional lessons. So we searched and found Busy Moms.
Q: Do you have any stories you’d like to share about your musical journey with piano lessons?
I’ve been so impressed with the brains ability to keep information. I thought after 11 or so years without a piano that I would have to relearn some of the songs I knew in college, but many of them are still there – I can’t seem to read the music to many of them quickly, but if I close my eyes and just go, my fingers usually know what to do. The brain is fascinating.
Q: What is your goal with learning to play the piano?
The piano has always been a part of me. I literally do not remember learning to read music or how to play since I started so early. I use it as a form of stress relief, meditation, prayer… There is nothing like playing the piano for me. I needed to take lessons though to relearn all the basic technique skills and improve my ability. I’m a teacher right now, but when I retire, I’m just going to sit around and play the piano all day.