The History of Scales Aren’t Just a Fish Thing

Okay, this is an introduction to Scales Aren’t Just a Fish Thing. It’s a bit of a history lesson, but this is really important because I think you need to know how it was developed and how it’s different from traditional music lessons, and again, how it differs from every other online music method there is in the world. I’m sure you’ve seen all kinds of online music stuff, and there’s a new one coming out every week, and every month, and it seems like after a month or two most of them are not as motivational as they were previously. They move from one thought to another and are very insightful, but they don’t actually give you a course that takes you step by step from the beginning…picking up the instrument…to playing a solo somewhere, anywhere.  Scales Aren’t Just a Fish Thing is different, because it’s been around for a long time, and  been working for a long time. It’s proven. It’s proven by every student I have offered it to. 

There is a long history going back to when I was actually a kid, trying to learn violin, organ, piano and more, in school. Piano lessons for $1.25 by the local pastor’s wife down the street. I didn’t do very well. Although motivated, the style of teaching didn’t reach me.  I want to share this history with you because I want you to understand how and why this works. Some of the story starts back in the 60’s when I was in high school.  They wouldn’t let us learn an instrument until we hit 4th grade and even then, it was basically a joke.  The teacher was a band instructor not a violinist. Nice guy, I really liked him but there was absolutely no technique, reading or music theory taught.  It was more, here is where the note sits and here is the finger you play it with. 

 That’s when I started to lose interest in advancement.  It was impossible.  I had no one to show me what was next. I graduated and started college where there was no time to hunt down a teacher.  There weren’t any available anyway.  They were expensive if you could find one.  And I was on a scholarship with a sick mom and no time for extras.

A few years later, I got married, had children and my passion for the violin started to grow again. 

I was home taking care of two very little people and discovered that there was a new method of teaching children as young as five to play the violin.  My youngest was 3 but that wasn’t going to stop me. 

I am a woman, which in and of itself piles lots of ‘to do’s on your schedule, a mother with two little ones and another on the way, and wife so adding another activity to my plate wasn’t easy.  But I was determined.   Travelling to lessons, as far away as 45 minutes with little guys and no extra money wasn’t easy.  I took what they were learning and started teaching it to others.  I started to take lessons, became accredited as a Suzuki violin teacher. I was on the board of directors of the Greater Philadelphia Suzuki Association, so I was in touch with the method, I struggled with the pluses and minuses and quickly realized that something was missing.  Yes, listening to the music was fine.  But my students wanted to play in school.  They would bring the orchestra music to me and I would take hours to prepare it for them to understand …..most of it was ridiculous if you want the truth.  Again, the teachers didn’t teach them the music, just expected…I guess through some magical experience of osmosis, that the kids would be able to play it.  Soon technology caught up and teachers wanted the music played and sent to them to be graded. 

That was ok, but took me away from giving the student the repertoire needed to be involved in the Suzuki world or the solo world or the fiddle world. 

So, I started my first online music where the student could come to a class and go home and practice correctly for the week with a password and mp3, mp4 and sheet music.  It was an amazing addition to lessons and motivational.  It kept us connected.

 One day, friends came over and we sat and laughed and ate together.  The wife commented on how beautiful my sweater was.  A little while later the husband told me that he couldn’t see color and wondered what the sun was like.  How could I describe the color of the sun.  The orange hues of evening or the brightness of the daytime.  I could only think of an F#. Bright and clear.  That’s when it hit me.  Music is like color.  I chose colors with warm overtones for the sounds with overtones like A.  It is warm and comfortable.  The E is cool like blue.  Before long, all of my music was color-coded from Twinkle to Bach Double, and the kids and parents were beyond excited.  They would run in the rain to get the next book once I published it.  They learned a song…by memory in a week.  One parent in the early stages of lessons and reading music shared that she couldn’t tell if the A was on the G string or on the A string or even the E string.  Again, a lightbulb moment.  I made the stem of the note the color of the string on which it was to be played.  I didn’t realize until later that this was really helpful when shifting.  You could indicate a shift by the color of the stem.  Magic!!

Now, I didn’t have any online experience, any business experience, any sales experience, any marketing experience, I had never started a business before. I was naturally creative and passionate.  I used to say I could make something out of anything and was plagued by creativity. So, on top of teaching, being a mom, teaching my own kids and taking care of a household, I had to start studying how to put this all online.  There was no training available. Almost no one was doing business online, and there were no people that were really teaching how to put up a website.  So., I got a webhost and had him walk me through the process of putting up a website.  He was patient and kind, and I was a fast learner.

I continued with the violin lessons for the kids and myself, becoming accredited through more books in violin.  Before long I was doing workshops.  I’d created a series of music theory card games for teachers to play with their students at the end of a lesson for 10 minutes.  My students wouldn’t miss a class just to play the games. 

I didn’t know how to sell, so I basically gave everything away.  It really wasn’t the right time to do that because when I finally got time to polish everything, I found errors. And you can’t make errors in this kind of education.  Every note, every color, every stem had to be done by hand and be correct.  Proof reader….ha  There were none able to do it because it was so new.

I learned that when everything was ‘spot on’ and correct, and when I got it right,  I had a home run with every student and every lesson.   I also learned that getting everything perfect was really complicated and really hard and basically, at this point, a one man show.

That’s why so many teachers followed the same old same old.  They followed methods and songs that proved highly successful to a point.  But when those same kids went to school they were the tiny person standing on the stage playing with the 4th and 5th graders.  Their music was memorized, as it should be, but they couldn’t really read the music at the level they could play.  That’s where Scales Aren’t Just a Fish Thing solved the problem.  The kids could read the music easily and correctly.

What I also started to figure out was that something was missing with the Suzuki method and the traditional method was piece meal.  Suzuki got the kids playing but they had no theory.  Traditional teaching used old music that was slow and boring.  I am sorry…I am just telling you what I found to be a problem that needed an answer.    

As you go through the classes try not to say, “I knew that.” If you go through this and you say, “Yup, I already knew that.   I’ve already seen this. I’ve seen videos teaching this.  Take a step back and give each baby step a try.  It will fill in some blanks in your understanding and improve your life in many areas since learning styles and personal profiles of your body’s dominance are part of this whole method.  Not everyone can be taught the same way. So every learning style is addressed and will find success. Scroll down and leave me a comment.  Til next time.