Hello! Resident blogger Robin Owens here, former student of Derek Berg, owner of Clarendon Hills Music Academy and piano teacher extraordinaire, and of Nelmarie for voice. Today I want to talk about how studying at CHMA helped me get into Berklee College of Music.
I started at CHMA when I was in fifth grade at Madison School in Hinsdale, back when it was still called Creative Music Strategies. My voice teacher of the time recommended I give lessons with Derek a chance, and he’s the only piano teacher I’ve had to date. From the start, CHMA was a good fit for me because all the teachers I’ve had/tried there have been enthusiastic, knowledgeable, and encouraging.
Not to be confused with Berkley in California, Berklee College of Music is located in Boston, Massachusetts and, to give you an idea of it’s caliber, it’s often called the Harvard of Music. I don’t mean to brag, but it’s one of, if not the best contemporary music schools in the world. And I wouldn’t have gotten in without CHMA.
Through my lessons with Derek, I learned how to play piano but more than that I learned songwriting techniques, how to record my own music, and became a better musician. Prepping for recitals taught me songs I wanted to learn but also performance skills and how to practice. In addition, the prep that Derek did with me for my audition for Berklee helped me feel prepared. Because the CHMA lesson method is student focused and flexible, I got to take control of my music education and learn what I wanted.
If your goal/your child’s goal is to pursue music professionally, it’s really important to have a teacher who will help round out your education while encouraging growth. For all the songwriting lessons and recording sessions, I also learned proper piano techniques and tricks from the more conventional side of the lessons. I am successful at Berklee because I was given such a good music education from CHMA, and because I was encouraged to pursue my dreams by my teachers and was supported as I did so.