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What Does the Burch School of Music Have to Offer to Piano Students?

Highly Educated Instructors

Dr. Holly Hughes:

  •    Bachelor of Music (Piano Pedagogy)

•    Master of Music (Music Theory)

•    Attended the Hochschule der Musik und darstellende Kunst, “Mozarteum” in Salzburg, Austria from 1977-1978

•    Doctor of Arts (Chamber Music Performance/Accompanying)

Mr. Russell Hughes:

•    Bachelor of Music (Piano Performance)

•    Master of Music (Piano Performance)

•    Attended the Hochschule der Musik und darstellende Kunst, “Mozarteum” in Salzburg, Austria from 1982-1983

Mr. Steven Lent:

•    Bachelor of Music Education

•    Minister of Music at First Christian Church, Mineral Wells, Texas

•    Has performed as a pianist and as a singer throughout the Southwestern USA

The Burch School of Music faculty brings years of experience teaching piano at a high level. Dr. Holly spent twenty years as a university professor before opening the Burch School of Music. Because of her academic background, she has structured her school much like a university setting. Mr. Russell has both a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in piano performance and has taught young and old alike during his teaching career. Mr. Lent has taught public school music, along with private and group piano instruction. He has also served in the music ministry of various churches.

Group Lessons for Beginners

The Burch School of Music teaches beginning students in a group setting. In the school’s digital piano lab, each student has his or her own piano to play during class. Beginning with group lessons has many advantages:

  • Children are social  beings by nature, and piano study can be a solitary pursuit. By meeting together once a week, they forge bonds of friendship while learning the basics.

  • Group classes meet for one hour per week – twice as long as most beginning private lessons

  • Group study is a proven winner. When extroverts and introverts come together in a classroom, the introverts are often swept up in the enthusiasm of the extrovert, while the extroverts become aware of the benefits for focused study. Many times when discussing an upcoming opportunity each personality type can influence the other, whether it be the fun of participating in a

festival or recital, or an appreciation for the elements of a particular piece. With one-on-one instruction, a teacher could find it challenging to duplicate a similar situation.

  • Charting everyone’s practice progress each week encourages students to maintain a consistent level of playing at home in order to keep up with the group. (We call this ‘friendly competition.’)

  • Group piano offers many opportunities for performance. Playing together lends a rhythmic stability that would otherwise be missing. Plus, making music with others is great fun.

  • In-class performances can assist students in coping with mistakes and with successes. They learn to listen and offer constructive criticism to their peers, helping them learn to listen more closely to their own playing. It also helps address any nervous jitters before an actual event.

  • Students learn many basics of music theory by working at the white board together, playing games, and participating in ear training assignments. Again, including these elements in a private lesson is often difficult to achieve. Learning these music theory basics are not as inviting in a one-on-one setting.

Monthly Group Classes for Students in Private Lessons

When a student graduates to private lessons in their third year of study, attendance at a monthly group lesson with other students of comparable age and ability becomes part of their schedule. These lessons often afford more time for theory study since the class is usually longer than the private lesson. These lessons are also used as performance classes, in addition to receiving important music history instruction about composers and performers.

Last group class for graduating seniors:
the traditional photo at the climbing tree


In addition to the local piano festivals offered by the Weatherford Music Teachers Association, the Burch School of Music strongly encourages participation in the annual Junior Festival, which is sponsored by the Texas Federation of Music Clubs, held each February in Fort Worth. Burch School of Music teachers are the only Weatherford teachers holding membership in the Texas Federation of Music Clubs, allowing their students to participate in this unique festival program. Most Burch School of Music students participate, and they learn about long-term goals as they try to earn a gold cup. The gold cup is awarded after three years of earning a Superior rating. With each three-year increment of Superior ratings, the gold cup increases in size, and the 60-point cup is quite large.

Hannah Baker holds her 60-point cup after receiving twelve years of Superior ratings. Other Junior Festival gold cups can be seen atop the red platform to the left.

Parent/Teacher Conferences

The last lesson of each semester is a parent/teacher conference where the teacher presents the parents with a report and synopsis outlining the semester’s accomplishments. Discussions at these conferences are vital in better understanding the needs of both the student and the parents in relation to the teacher’s expectations.

Summer Offerings

During the summer, our students are required to take a minimum of six private lessons during the nine weeks of instruction. They may take up to nine private lessons if they wish. A variety of camps is also included in the summer session. Most summers include a week-long music history camp for elementary-aged students, covering one of our classical heroes (Beethoven, Bach, Mozart, etc.) We offer art classes in the summer to develop drawing skills for budding artists. Sometimes a “Goin’ Country” camp is included on the roster, where students learn to chord by ear while playing with fiddlers and guitarists.

Students in the “Music Masters: Rachmaninoff” camp
paint an acrylic painting of a Russian landscape.

Debussy Camp – students are holding their art work,
including glass sun catchers and impressionist paintings.

Annual Awards Picnic

At the end of the spring semester, students attend the annual picnic in the backyard of the Burch School of Music to be recognized for various achievements throughout the year.
Before an audience that includes other students, parents, and friends, BSM students are called forward to receive Junior Festival certificates and gold cups, theory medals, WMTA Spring Solo and Pop festival trophies, and gift cards for practicing above the required minimum number of minutes.

Trophies, Ribbons, Medals, Plaques….
all ready to be handed out at the picnic.

7 Taking advantage shade_edited.jpg

Taking advantage of the shade on a warm May evening during the Awards Picnic.

Additionally, Burch School of Music Students Join Other Local Studios in These Activities:

•    Annual studio recitals
•    Fall and Spring Theory Tests through Texas Music Teachers Association (TMTA)
•    Fall Solo Festival through Weatherford Music Teachers Association (WMTA)
•    Fall Hymn Festival through WMTA
•    Pianothon, Annual Fundraiser for WMTA at a local restaurant in Weatherford.
•    Weatherford Music Festival at Heritage Park
•    Spring Masterclass through WMTA
•    Spring Solo Festival through WMTA
•    Spring Pop Festival through WMTA
•    Annual Ensemble Team participation at TMTA State convention in June.
•    Other TMTA Contests: Essay writing, Music Composition, Performance Contest
•    Local Concerto Competition sponsored by the Fort Worth Civic Orchestra
•    Spring Fort Worth Music Teachers Solo Contest

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