Jacquelyn Ashley has been teaching piano lessons as a full time occupation for the past ten years in her home. In 1997 she started training and earned certification in the Suzuki Piano Method. She studied under Mary Craig Powell in Snowmass, CO, Columbus, OH, and Chicago, IL. She has taken pedagogy training, technique training, and injury avoidance workshops. She holds membership in several music teacher organizations such as The Piano Teachers Roundtable, SLAMTA, National Federation, Guild, Mid American Music Assoc., and The American Suzuki Assoc.
The Suzuki method is designed for the very young child, 3 ˝ years and up although it is successfully used for any age. It is a way of learning referred to as “the mother tongue” method, meaning the way a baby learns to speak. First, there is much repetition of small words, (MaMa, DaDa, etc.) which the baby hears over and over until they reproduce the sounds. It is followed by more words and phrases until they can speak fluently. When the child has been speaking for a little while and the parents have been reading to them for a time, letters are introduced and sounds are connected to the letters, strung together and made to form words and then sentences. This is when they begin reading.
In Suzuki, it is the same type of learning experience. The child listens to recordings of the pieces they will be learning. They are taught correct hand posture, the technique of dropping instead if pushing on the piano keys, curved fingers, flat wrists, along with intervals by sound. They are taught rhythm patterns and songs that they are familiar with until they can play many folk tunes such as Mary Had a Little Lamb, Go Tell Aunt Rhodie, London Bridge, Lightly Row and the like. All of this is done without benefit of reading the notes, causing them to learn to listen closely. Some refer to this stage as “playing by ear”. They begin looking at and recognizing patterns in music in a short time. Toward the end of the first book, they begin studying notes reading and theory. Mrs. Ashley uses supplementary material, theory workbooks, flash cards and computer games and drills to reinforce this learning process.
Mrs. Ashley began playing piano forty-two years ago and has continued her music education through the years, first at Hannibal LaGrange Baptist College, followed by Lindenwood College, Maryville University, St. Charles Community College and East Central College. She has studied piano, music theory, ear training, and pedagogy under Dr. Jennifer Lim for the past two and one half years.
It has always been of dream of Mrs. Ashley and her daughter, Ms. Nicole Hunt, to open a studio together and now that dream will be realized. In addition to her responsibilities as an instructor at her St. Peters Studio and at the new Wentzville location, she will also hold the position of director of the Academy of Music, Art and Education, offering a quality of cultural arts education to both children and adults.