About Craig, Student highlight

I Love My Students!

Story time with Craig today. I taught lessons on the side of my church music jobs for 18 and a half years. Finally in 2020, I decided that I would make the leap out of church music to doing something else. My degree is in music education, so going back to teaching was a thought, but what really intrigued me (and scared me to death) was stepping up my lesson business to full time. The pandemic hit, so I dove in to teaching online, which was a huge learning process, but I enjoyed it. I was building up a good number of students, and ramping up to the fall of 2020, when an opportunity to direct choirs part time came up. It was a good experience, but it only lasted 1 year. So, again, last summer, I started building up a good number of students. The fall came, and all of a sudden, I’m only down to 11 lessons a week. That’s far from full time. I started doing Door Dash to come up with the shortfall. I was frustrated and questioning why I made the decision I did.

 

But then, in December and January, more and more students signed up. I got to 31 students this past semester. And these students are fantastic! They are willing to learn, put in time to practice, are excited about music and learning, and it has reminded me of why I wanted to go this route of full time teaching. My students regularly make me laugh, surprise me with the questions they ask and the things they say. For example, I had a student tell me yesterday that he named his books! What did he name them? “Bruce Willis” and “Dwayne the Rock Johnson”. And he told me that after talking about having a summer pot-luck. I asked him how many pot-lucks he had already had and he’s had none. Hilarious stuff! It’s about music, but so much more. It’s about relationships.

 

One of the things that I’ve learned over the past year is that my background in church music ministry has helped prepare me for this. Music is about relationships and connections, just like church music ministry is. It’s not just the relationships with the students, though. It’s also about the relationships with parents. Because without the parents, the students aren’t getting to their lessons, getting their lessons paid for, So, it’s my responsibility to make sure that I am effectively communicating with parents, something also learned from church music ministry.

 

It’s been amazing to get to the end of this semester and look back at the journey I’ve been on. I know that I still have room to improve as a teacher and in communications, running my business and more. But the biggest thing that I am thankful for more than I can say is my students and their families. They have blessed and encouraged me far more than I could for them. And every day, I wake up excited to teach and excited for what will come for each lesson. This means that my work isn’t work. It’s joy. And it’s because of my students and their families.

About Craig

Why I Teach

In yesterday’s post, I wrote about what makes lessons with me different. That was one of the questions I wrestled with. One of the other questions was, why do I teach? For this question, the answer doesn’t take much time to develop a response. I can’t not teach. It’s not only what I’ve trained to do, it’s what I do well at.

 

Yes, I did go to college to be a high school choir director, which I’ve done for a few spots here and there. One thing that I’ve realized in that is that while I love to teach, I am much better off working in a one on one or smaller group setting. This doesn’t help in a choir room, but in personal lessons, it works great. So I take that knowledge and understanding and translate it to individual lessons.

 

One of the comments I hear repeatedly from parents is how patient I am. I’m not patient by nature, by any stretch! But I had teachers who were patient with me, and through my years of experience with music, I’ve learned that it is one of the toughest things you can do in life. And if you’re working on something tough, something you’ve never done before, a little patience and grace has to be given. That patience and persistence for the student does pay off!

 

I want all of my students to excel and succeed. For each of them, because they’re individuals, they’ll succeed on their own level, at their own space. And I love the challenge of helping them figure out and find success, no matter what their level. That’s why I teach. I teach because it’s who I am!

 

If you’re looking for summer piano, voice, trumpet, beginning guitar or ukulele lessons, find out more here.

About Craig

What makes Harmanny Music Education different?

I have been wrestling with this question as I keep reading business and marketing books that encourage business owners and businesses to figure out what is that makes them unique or different. So I asked questions:

 

Is it because I have 20 years of experience in teaching music? Is it because I have a degree in music education?

Many teachers have years of experience, as well as degrees in music education

 

Is it because I am passionate about music and teaching music to my students?

Music teachers don’t become teachers unless they’re passionate about music and teaching

 

Is it because I’m a male?

While, yes, the majority of music teachers are female, there are male teachers out there.

 

Is it because I’m a parent?

Many teachers have kids currently in the house or have raised kids.

 

Is it because I offer a variety of lesson options?

While many teachers do just focus on one specific instrument, there are teachers that offer lessons in multiple instruments.

 

Is it because I allow my students to have input in what they play?

Many teachers do focus solely on a methodology and allow their students a small amount of input, but some teachers do let their students give feedback and input on their lessons.

 

So, if it’s not this, or integrating technology in lessons, or using a fun software to help students their practice, WHAT MAKES HARMANNY MUSIC EDUCATION DIFFERENT????

 

And then it dawned on me. It’s in the name. While yes, you get music education, you get it from me. Craig Harmann. This isn’t a “School of Rock” or “Music & Arts” or any other studio where there may be multiple teachers. It’s me. I’m it. I’m the person you interact with all the way through. I’ve played the piano for 39 years, played the trumpet for 33 years, and played the organ for 30 years. I’ve hated practice but loved playing. I’ve fought and argued with my parents about practicing and taking lessons. I’ve learned strategies to help me simplify music and make it the best way possible. My focus for my students is to have a positive interaction with music and help them grow not only as musicians, but as people. Having a background in church music ministry for 18 years, I view what I do as a ministry to students and their families. I pray for them regularly. I want to develop relationships with my students and their families that last for years and years, and becomes something so much greater than music. THAT is what makes Harmanny Music Education different.

 

If you want to find out more about Harmanny Music Education’s summer offerings, click here. If you find out more about me, you can do it here

About Craig, Music stories, Trumpet

Easter and the Trumpet

Before I really focused in on organ playing, I was typically busy on Easter Sunday with singing and playing trumpet. And that’s where I want to focus on today. But before we get to Easter, we have to go back to that fateful moment back when I was in 5th grade and could choose an instrument. I wanted to play drums. My parents said no. Why? Too expensive? Too loud? No. The reason was because I couldn’t play it for church. Nevermind that drummers/percussionists are used regularly in worship services. Anyway, no drums. So, I went with…..the trumpet. And it started a journey of loud noises that I’m so thankful for.

 

When you think of Easter, it just seems right to have trumpets. You see, trumpets are loud. Trumpets signal things. And that’s what I got to do in middle school (not very well) and in high school (I got much better). Of course, the funniest story happened to me my freshman year of high school. As a band, we went every 4 years from Wisconsin to Disney World to march. It was awesome. It happened to be my freshman year that we went. It was over Holy Week, and to make things educational and fun we did other experiences. I guess part of the educational part was spending time at Cocoa Beach so that us Wisconsin kids could understand what a warm spring was. Well, I didn’t get in the water, and applied sunscreen…..but didn’t reapply. So, I burned. Badly. So much so that wearing a shirt HURT. We got back on Good Friday and I had to play for worship on Sunday. In a tremendous amount of pain, I gutted it out, my red skin shining through my white dress shirt. That, of course, was self-inflicted!

 

I loved the opportunities that I had to play my trumpet for worship. Especially on Easter. Once I got more into playing the organ, it was pretty tough to do much with playing the trumpet, as not only was I quite busy playing, it’s difficult to play trumpet and organ together! My goal for this summer is to get back to playing for worship again, which means getting back into regular practice. That is something I’m looking forward to doing.

 

While growing up, Easter and music definitely were hand in hand for me. I’ve loved being a part of making music in the church, especially at Easter. Today, I get to sing in our church choir, and the best part for me is that my oldest daughter is singing in the choir as well. That’s the fun of music. It spans generations. And in my life and in my family, it definitely has!

About Craig, Harmony, Musical Community

Harmony versus Harmanny

I use the name Harmanny Music Education for my business because….it’s a play on my last name, Harmann. For years, growing up, I’d have people spell my last name Harmon, or ask if I was related to Mark (I WISH!!). But no, it’s Harmann.

However, a few years ago, in a spark of random creativeness, I realized that it would be a perfect business name! Harmony in music is defined as the process by which individual sounds are joined together or composed into whole units or compositions. And as I pondered that definition and try to take into account what I do as a music educator, that’s the perfect definition.

You see, as musicians, we all are individuals. And there is power and beauty in the uniqueness of individual musicians. But when musicians work together, whether that’s in a band, an orchestra, a choir, or in smaller ensembles, there’s a combined power and beauty on display that is difficult to explain. Just like in music, one note at a time can create a beautiful melody, when there is harmony and rhythm added to those notes, something magical takes over.

At Harmanny Music Education, opportunities exist to grow as individual musicians, but I’m on the lookout to find ways for collaboration for students. The skills learned in making music go a long way outside of music to help create well rounded individuals who are empathetic, insightful and who work well in teams.

I am currently scheduling summer lessons starting in June for in-person lessons here in the Spring/Klein area of Houston, but also for online students outside of the Houston area. To find out more, click here. I’d love to help bring the joy and beauty of music to your house this summer or this fall.

About Craig

I learned the wrong movement!

As I shared in my post yesterday, music has always been around me. Whether that was church, home, all around me, I love music and have been surrounded by all styles. But back in high school, there were 3 musical passions that fueled me. Choir, playing the trumpet and playing the organ. In those 4 years, I had unbelievable experiences in these 3 areas that inspired and shaped me to become a musician. I want to share one of them today.

My junior year of high school, I was preparing for our annual solo/ensemble competition. I had worked hard at playing the trumpet, was very self confident, and was looking forward to being 1st chair trumpet my senior year. I had excelled on my first 2 solos my freshman and sophomore year and was looking forward to doing great on this one.

I picked my piece, and it was a piece with 4 movements. I was supposed to play 3. So I start working on the 3 movements that it said (so I thought) I was supposed to perform. And I’m getting down SO good. Of course, being 17 years old, I decided to procrastinate going through it with my band director until 2 days before the performance.

So there I am playing it for him with my accompanist. I’m just nailing it, and it’s sounding REALLY good. After I finish, my director says, “Craig, which movements did you play?” I replied with movements 1, 3 and 4. And the 1 and 4 were correct, when he looked in the book, but it was supposed to be 1, 2 and 4. OH NO!! I learned the wrong movement! The 2nd movement was slow, lyrical, and had a difficult accompaniment. My poor accompanist did a great job of making it sound great on such short notice.

After 2 days of cramming and preparing, Saturday comes. I go in and play the correct movements, and I’m feeling good. I get good feedback from the judge. I wait for my results, and when they are posted….it’s a STARRED 1st! That’s the best you can do, and it moves you on to state competition. WHAT? That’s amazing! I was floored. I then went and played it at the state competition (after much more practice on the right movement) and got a 1st there.

So, the moral of the story. First, pay attention to details. Had I fully read what I was supposed to do, there wouldn’t have been a problem! But, at that point, I was regularly practicing, and between band and choir, auditioned ensembles, along with singing in church choirs and playing the organ, I was fully immersed in music and music theory. So, I had already established good practice techniques, I was thinking about and surrounded by music all the time, and so that helped me a bunch in fixing my error.

I’ve learned from that mistake, I look back at it and laugh at it, but it helps me to encourage my students to focus in on details and establish those habits of practice, along with surrounded themselves with music. Music is a language, and the more we “speak” it (by playing and practicing), the easier it gets. Keep speaking it, keep surrounding yourself with it, and it will help you immensely!

About Craig

Why Do I Teach?

I’ve been wrestling with this question for a while. And there are a bunch of answers I could give. I love music. I’ve spent 39 years of my life making music, studying music and learning about music. I had amazing teachers that encouraged me. All of that is completely true. But that’s not the full reason why I teach.

As I thought about it, the answer became very clear to me. Music is transformative. That’s why I teach. Music has always been a major component of my life. Listening to records, cassettes and 8 tracks are some of my earliest memories in life. Hearing music in worship (my dad was a pastor) and singing along with hymns in church has been the rhythm of my life for as long as I can remember. And I think that’s why I missed it being the most important reason. Because it’s always been there.

Music has transformed me in many ways. As a child and into my teenage years, it gave me an outlet to build up my self-confidence and show my God-given abilities in many different ways. In high school, it transformed me from just being focused on church music (and pop music that I listened to on the radio) to being immersed in madrigals, vocal jazz music, musical theater and many other choral styles of music. And that transformation made me want to teach. I wanted to pass on that joy and enthusiasm to others.

It’s been 20 years since I graduated from college and been a “professional” teacher. I don’t use quotations around professional to knock myself down, but more to remind myself that I am still learning, just as much as my students are. In going to college and getting a music education degree, and spending 18 years in church music, the idea of building a business, marketing, social media and teaching lessons online were never really a thought….until March of 2020. Then everything flipped, and I had to learn on the fly. While I have 39 years of musical experience, I’m by no means an expert. I’m still learning and growing, just as every musician and every teacher is.

I teach because I love music. I teach because I had great teachers that encouraged me in so many ways. I teach because I love helping my students learn. I teach because I love seeing my students transformed. Not just learning the basics of music, but learning how discipline, perseverance, focus and everything else that goes with learning and performing music transforms students into people who are more in touch with their emotions, creative, driven and hard working. And that’s why I teach.