Category Archives: Uncategorized

Educational and Affordable Oklahoma Getaways

Everyone deserves to get away now and then. Not only are vacations fun and relaxing, traveling is also a wonderful way to help your children gain new skills while also offering them fantastic, immersive educational opportunities. Therefore, you simply must plan a summer vacation this year.

Many of you may be thinking that vacation is out of the question. After all, tight budgets can definitely make travel seem impossible, and few vacation days make things even more difficult. However, by staying close to home and using a little bit of creativity, you may be able to do more exploring than you think.

There are plenty of great, inexpensive things to see right here in the state of Oklahoma. Below are my top 3 Oklahoma cities for a quick vacation.

#1: Lawton, Oklahoma

Lawton is a great place to spend a few days. Hotel rooms are super affordable, but we much prefer tent camping at Lake Elmer Thomas Recreation Area at Fort Sill. The campground is home to an awesome lake and beach, and includes two super fun water slides.

No matter where you stay, you will definitely want to visit the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge, where you will almost certainly get to observe buffalo as they meander across the fields. This refuge also includes an interesting museum on the buffalo as well as plenty of grounds to explore.  Be sure to drive to the top of Mt. Scott for some awesome views!

Of course, no trip to the Lawton area is complete without a stop in Medicine Park. This adorable town has a rich history as a “cobblestone resort community”, and offers tons of great boutique shopping as well as some terrific eats.

#2: Weatherford, Oklahoma

Weatherford is another great place to see! Its most interesting attraction is the Stanford Air and Space Museum, which is incredibly engaging and educational. This museum is perfect for the space lovers in your life, but is still fun for the rest of the family for sure.

You’ll also find the Oklahoma Heartland Museum in this cute little town. This attraction has an enormous collection of artifacts, and the volunteers running the museum are a wealth of knowledge. Be sure to brush up on Oklahoma history before you visit in order to give the kids something to relate to while going through the museum.

Finally, you might want to make a stop at Wind Energy Park to see the giant base of a wind turbine up close and learn some cool facts about wind energy. While I wouldn’t recommend going out of your way to see this, it is worthwhile if you happen to be in the area already.

#3: Ponca City, Oklahoma

Last on the list is Ponca City. There are actually a surprising number of things to see and do in this city.

One of my favorites is the Pioneer Woman Museum, which focuses on the life of American women during the mid- to late-1800s. Not many museums make a point of focusing on women, so this one is pretty neat.

A second great option is Standing Bear Museum and Education Center, which focuses on educating the public about Native American culture. It is definitely a very nice attraction for expanding upon this topic.

Other options include the Conoco Museum and the Marland Estate, both of which come highly recommended.

As you can see, there are tons of great vacation destinations right here in Oklahoma. This means that you can take an inexpensive and short vacation this summer after all. Go ahead and start planning so you can get out there and start your roadschooling adventures!

Want something to do even closer to home? Join one of the awesome classes here at The Loop! Check our calendar for details.

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Summer Nature Crafts for Creative Explorers

Summer is a great time to be a kid. The sun shines nearly every day, and the green grass and leaves are great for enhancing outdoor fun.

Generally speaking, kids will automatically reach for these natural materials when creating outdoors and nudging is not at all necessary. That said, it’s fun to get creative with your kids from time to time, and providing suggestions on how to use the natural materials they did is the perfect way to go about this.

Wondering what kinds of suggestions to make to your kiddos? Try these fun nature craft ideas!

Fairy Houses

Fairies are some of the very best mythical creatures out there. After all, what could be more magical than tiny flying people who live in the woods?

Of course, these tiny people do need places to live. Why not help them out by using the things you find in nature to build houses for them?

Rocks, sticks, and leaves can all be used to build walls, roofs, and furniture. Add finishing touches using acorn caps, flowers, and small things found around your own house, and you’ll have a home fit for a fairy king (or queen).

Rock Painting

Kids love rocks. Most kids collect rocks at some point in their lives, and many are reluctant to let go of their collections. Instead of displaying a collection of ordinary stones, why not make them into something colorful and pretty?

Take your paints, brushes, and creativity outside for the afternoon and help your child paint their rock collection. They’ll remember this day for years to come, and they’ll be left with an incredible souvenir to boot.

Nature Crown

Begin this activity by taking a nature walk. Have your child collect items they find pretty or interesting and return home with your haul in tow.

Once home, cut a strip of paper to fit around your child’s head and hand it to them. Instruct your young artist to arrange the findings from your walk on the strip of paper. When the items are arranged to your child’s liking, help them glue the decorations down. Staple the paper to create a crown shape, and place it on the head of your tiny nature explorer.

Shell Necklaces

If you visit the beach this summer, you will more than likely return home with a shell collection. Don’t toss them out! Instead, make some fun, colorful jewelry that your kids will want to wear everywhere.

Begin by rolling a ball of clay. Flatten the clay slightly and press a shell into the oval it forms. Using a straw, make a hole at the top of the clay shape and allow the creation to dry. Once dry, put a piece of string through the hole in the clay and wear as a necklace or bracelet.

Want to get even more creative this summer? Why not join one of our many creative classes? Pretend Drama Club, Let’s Get Sculpting, and music lessons are all fabulous options!

Why Kids Need Chores

Homeschooling is an enormous task. Not only are you responsible for the upbringing of a decent human being, you must also provide them with a decent education. Fortunately, this can be done in a variety of ways and most families find something that works quite well for them.

That said, many families get so wrapped up in giving their little ones academic lessons, they forget to take advantage of the fact that their children are at home and can be involved in the day-to-day household work and errands. This is too bad, because hands-on helping experiences are an important part of growing up, and one we are losing all too quickly.

For this reason, it’s generally a good idea to make housework a part of your homeschool day. By doing this, you will ensure the children are helping around the house on a regular basis and that the process doesn’t get brushed aside and deemed “unimportant”. Besides, a little help around the house is always a good thing for the busy homeschool mom or dad, right?

But why is it so important to involve your children in the household chores? After all, they’re bound to learn how to do laundry and wash dishes when they move out, and it’s so time-consuming to teach little ones to do these things.

Well, let’s take a look at what your child receives in return for his or her efforts.

Self Confidence

When your child learns a new skill or is thanked for a job well done, their sense of self confidence and self worth will grow tremendously. Because self confidence is so important in so many ways, this is a major benefit to having the kids help out daily.

Sense of Purpose

A child who works to help keep his or her home in tip-top shape is very aware of the fact that they are part of a team. By giving the child a specific set of responsibilities, you also give them a sense of purpose and belonging.

Respect

Respect is important in all areas of our lives.

  1. We must respect our belongings and the belongings of others.
  2. Respect for our space is a must.
  3. And, of course, respect for those who earn it is a biggie.

Involving children in household tasks helps them develop a sense of respect for their living environment, giving them an understanding of the importance of caring for their home.

Responsibility and Good Work Ethic

While some people are naturally more responsible and driven than others, you can encourage these qualities by expecting your children to complete their chores well and on time. Setting these expectations early on, communicating them well, and sticking to them will help instill good work ethic in your little helpers from the get-go.

Life Skills

As we said before, your kids are going to learn how to care for a house at some point. However, teaching your kids to fold clothes and sweep floors now will mean they are old pros by the time they have to care for a house of their own. This will make the process of moving out much less stressful.

Of course, these are just a few of the reasons to involve your children in household tasks. Looking for suggestions on how to get your kids involved in the chores without a fight? Consider attending Miss Cielja’s Empathetic Communication classes here at The Loop to learn how to create healthy relationships with your children through understanding and clear communication.

 

Summer Reading Fun!

Whether you’ve made the decision to take a break for schooling for the summer or go ahead and continue lessons throughout the season, reading should be a big part of your summer. After all, everyone knows that reading is a great way to gather new knowledge, explore the world, and even improve writing skills.

That said, reading should never ever be a chore, especially during the summer when kids should be having fun. Fortunately there are tons of ways to make reading fun. One of the best ways is through reading rewards programs, many of which just so happen to take place in the summer.

Wondering where you can sign your kiddos up to win cool prizes in exchange for fun summer reading? Try these options.

Metropolitan Library System Summer Reading Program

Perhaps the most well known option in the OKC metro area, the MLS Reading Program is a great place to start. Badges are earned each time a child reaches a milestone. These milestones include 5, 10, 20, and 30 hours of reading. In order to win prizes, participants must read a total of at least 10 hours at which point they earn a free book. Children who read 20 hours receive two books, and those who read 30 hours will have a book donated to a needy child in their honor.

Pioneer Library System Summer Reading Program

This program is very similar to the MLS program, and is likely more convenient for Norman resident. The prizes and goals do tend to vary from year to year, so we will have to wait and see what the details happen to be for 2018.

OKC Dodgers Summer Reading Program

The OKC Dodgers have teamed up with Sonic to offer an awesome summer reading program that baseball fans will adore. Every participant will win two tickets to a Dodgers game for each month long segment they complete. They will also be entered to win the VIP treatment at a Dodgers game.

The goal of this particular program is to read 20 minutes a day for 5 days each week, so it’s pretty easy to keep up with.

Half Price Books Summer Reading Program

Think your kiddo can read for 15 minutes a day all summer long? If so, you should definitely participate in the Half Price Books Summer Reading Program. By reading a total 300 minutes in June and July, you child can earn a $5 HPB gift card to spend however they wish.

Chuck E Cheese Reading Rewards

Okay, so this program isn’t really a summer-only program, but it is tons of fun. We especially like this one because it allows you to set your own goals, meaning it can be tweaked for each child. Simply print this chart, check a box each day that your child meets his or her reading goal, and take the completed log to Chuck E. Cheese for ten free tokens.

Barnes and Noble Summer Reading for Kids

If you’re not a fan of logging reading minutes, you might prefer the Barnes and Noble reading program. This one requires participants to read a total of 8 books. Once those books are read, the child will be presented with a free brand new book to take home and read. Super simple and super fun!

We love reading, and we know your family probably loves it as well. Why not make it even more fun by lining one of these awesome programs?

Strum Into a Passion for Music with Cory

Who are you? Tell me a bit about yourself.

“I’m a guitarist in Oklahoma City. I teach guitar lessons in the OKC area and own and operate GuitarLessonsOKC. My credentials include a Bachelor’s degree in Guitar Performance from the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma as well as an M.A. in Leadership emphasizing business management. In addition to my education, I have also played around the country with various artist that include Grammy award winners a country music hall of famers.”

View More: http://twosticksphotography.pass.us/corymoon2015

What classes do you offer at The Loop?

“Private guitar, private piano, private ukulele, and occasionally group guitar and/or piano.”

When did you find your passion for music and playing the guitar?

“I have always wanted to play the guitar since I was small, I bought my first guitar at sixteen and have been playing since then.”

View More: http://twosticksphotography.pass.us/corymoon2015

What was it that triggered that passion?

“I got ahold of my dad’s tape collection in the late 80’s when I was very young. I listened to all sorts of stuff from The Cars to Chuck Berry to Iron Maiden. I fell in love with rock music at a very young age.”

What is you favorite thing about playing guitar?

“The flow. When you experience the flow of an activity of your passion, there really isn’t anything that compares.”

View More: http://twosticksphotography.pass.us/corymoon2015

What do you hope the community gains from your classes?

“Lots of kids who are passionate about the guitar and music.”

What would you tell someone who was considering joining your classes?

“Do it! Music is a gift that keeps on giving.”

Would you or your child be interested in learning to play the guitar? If so, contact Cory for more information today!

Explore and Express Through Art with Sandra Pruitt

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Who are you? Tell me a bit about yourself.

“I am just someone that loves making pictures. I got into art a lot later in life than I wanted. I played around a bit as a child, but thought that things need to be perfect. Now, I know better!”

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What classes do you offer at The Loop?

“Art classes! Explore the World Through Art, Great Works of Art, ceramics, and who knows what else in the future.”

When did you find your passion for art?

“I’ve loved art from afar for my entire life. I was in my 20s before I really began studying and experimenting with art. I was a perfectionist as a kid, so I never really thought I could do anything art-wise. I thought it had to be perfect to be good. Now, I let myself be me.”

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What was it that triggered that passion?

“Art is fun! There are so many different mediums, types, and ways to express yourself that, honestly, there is something for everyone. What you make doesn’t need to be “perfect” or a great work of art. It just needs to be something that you enjoyed making.”

What is you favorite thing about art?

“Did I mention it is ridiculously fun? I absolutely love trying new mediums and styles. I find new favorites all the time.”

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What do you hope the community gains from your classes?

“Confidence. I had a student once that came to get his artwork from me. He asked me ‘What did you want with this piece of junk?’ I told him that I thought it was wonderful and had used his art in an art show. He paused, stood up a bit straighter, and smiled. He continues to paint to this day. He told me he never would have painted again if it had not been for that day.

Understanding. My hope is that by focusing on art and cultures from around the world, it helps to educate and create more understanding about how other live.

Curiosity. Hopefully, working with a variety of mediums and techniques will whet your appetite to try more and more art forms.”

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What would you tell someone who was considering joining your classes?

“It is not about making something that looks like mine or anyone else’s. It is about you trying something new, learning about a new place or culture, and above all having fun making your artwork.”

Find info on Sandra’s classes on our calendar page and join in the fun right away!

Making Money as a Homeschool Parent

For many parents, the idea of homeschooling is wonderful, but seems to be out of reach. The vast majority of these families simply cannot imagine a way to make ends meet without both parents working. Others are single parents and must work hard in order to care for their children.

That said, there are ways around this problem. Some parents choose to leave their kids with a sitter during the day and do school work at night. However, more and more parents are finding ways to work from home, meaning they can set their own hours, homeschooling when it’s most convenient to them and working while the kids sleep or amuse themselves.

Are you wishing you could find such a gig? Whether you’re trying to contribute a small amount to your family’s current income or you want to make a full-time income, there is something out there for you.

Here are a few of our favorite work at home ideas for homeschooling parents.

Writing

Do you have a way with words? If so, writing might be just the job for you.

There are many ways to make money while writing. Many choose to start their own blog, working hard to grow their readership and making money from ad revenue, affiliate links, and memberships. Meanwhile, some writers prefer to write blog posts for other websites and businesses through websites such as Blogmutt, getting paid per post or per word. Still others go the old fashioned route and write books both in print and in eBook form.

Check out all your options and figure out what works for you, but go in knowing that this isn’t a way to make tons of money right of the bat.

Babysitting

If you’re planning to be home with your kids, why not add a few more into the mix and make some money while you’re at it? There are always parents looking for in-home child care.

Legally, you can keep a friend’s kids for up to 15 hours per week in your own home without becoming a licensed daycare facility. Alternatively, you could go to the child’s home to babysit and work as a nanny which does not require any special certifications.

Amazon FBA

By now we all know that Amazon is here to stay. Have you ever thought about getting in on the enormous amount of money made through this website each day?

Amazon FBA is an awesome way to make some money while staying with the kids. Simply source low priced items at local stores or source wholesale products, send them in to Amazon, and watch the money roll in. Of course, there is a bit of a learning curve involved, but there are plenty of websites out there to help you get started.

Teaching

Of course, staying home with your kids means you’ll be teaching them, but you could choose to add a few paying students to your line up too.

VIP Kid is a great agency that gives eager individuals the opportunity to teach Chinese children English. Tutoring local kids is also an option, as is teaching a special skill such as playing piano or dancing. In fact, The Loop is an ideal facility for teaching just such classes.

Think about your strengths and use those to your advantage, you may have more other offer than you realize.

These are just a few of the great ways you can make money while staying home with the kids. Need more ideas? Simply run a quick web search and you’re sure to find plenty of great information.

Want to start teaching for The Loop? Hoping to get involved in the homeschooling community? We’d love to hear from you! Please contact us today.

Find Your Rhythm with Stephen Henesian

Who are you? Tell me a bit about yourself.

“I’m Stephen Henesian. I’m 28, married, and have one child. We moved here from California beginning of 2017. I graduated from Sonoma State University in 2015 with my B.S in Finance. I currently work at Ford Audio Video in Oklahoma City in purchasing.

I’ve been a musician for most of my life. My family is very musical. My siblings and my Dad all play guitar, and my mom has taken a few years of piano lessons. Since we’re Armenian and go to the Armenian Orthodox Apostolic Church, my family has been playing Middle Eastern music for around 40 years. The band has always been my Grandma Ronnie on keyboard, my Grandpa Aram on clarinet, and my Dad used to play Alto Sax, but now plays the Oud (My dad was in the jazz and pep bands at Santa Clara University during the late 60s/early 70s and played Alto Sax), and a close family friend played doumbek. My parents actually met because my family was playing on-stage at a church function, and my Dad saw my Mom in the crowd.

I started taking piano lessons at 7 years old, and started in Band in 5th grade in percussion. I thought that you had to either be in choir, orchestra, or band, so I chose percussion because I didn’t want to learn how to play a wind instrument. I played percussion in band all the way from 5th grade to high school, and on and off in college, as a non-music major.

My Dad got me a drum set when I was in 6th grade, and I started to learn how to play the drum set, which is still at my parent’s house today. I was also learning how to play doumbek at the same time on an metal doumbek. The first time I remember playing doumbek was at St. Andrew’s Armenian Church in Cupertino, CA.

Every year, we played around 2-3 times for the various Food Fairs/Bazaars. We have also played for Arabic belly dancers a couple of times. We have been doing that every year until I left CA for Oklahoma at the end of 2016. I’ve gone between playing Middle Eastern rhythms on full drum set to playing doumbek, and back and forth many times.”

What events do you offer at The Loop?

“I offer a free drum circle to the community every other Sunday from 1-3 PM. I am not interested in using it to earn money, unless I have to. It is facilitated in a structured fashion that is different to other groups. Everyone has a chance to play a rhythm that they want, if it has a solid downbeat that can help keep us all on the same page. Everyone also has a chance to play a solo during every round. During the rounds, I call out everyone’s name, and they have several phrases to solo, while we all quiet down to hear their solo.”

 When did you find your passion for drumming?

“I think I found my passion for drumming around Middle School. I was always a nerdy kid, and found my real joy in music. When I was in High School Band, I marched in drumline for the Fall season of parades, and football games, then another set of drumline competition in the Spring season. Having music tremendously helped me get through school. Playing in pep band during football games was sort of like a drum circle. We brought the old set of drums, and toy instruments, then played around and switched instruments every song. Sometimes, I was on a drum, or I was wailing away on a cowbell or shaker playing a Beatles tune.”

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What was it that triggered that passion?

“I guess just the feeling of having somewhere to belong with like-minded individuals who enjoyed drumming and whom also were striving to get better and better every day at drumming.”

What is your favorite thing about drumming?

“My favorite thing about drumming is that it is an activity that is incredibly fun and enjoyable that connects all of us to each other at a deep emotional level while escaping from the woes of society. It can be said that drumming is like an active meditation, because there is no more room for thoughts in your mind when everyone is in the groove and playing together.”

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What do you hope the community gains from your classes?

“I hope the community gains an appreciation for the positive impact that music can have upon you. Even though it is a no-stress environment, and completely open to beginners, I hope that people are interested in progressing and expanding their musical abilities and talents. I know that most people just want to come and jam, and aren’t too interested in becoming a more skilled and well-rounded musician, but I hope to stir that in people.I encourage getting out of the comfort zone of the drum that they brought with them, and pick up someone else’s drum and the different toy instruments that are available to play.

I’ve also found that it brings like-minded individuals together. At our class on April 15, two students met and learned that one of the students’ husband works with the other student at the same hospital. Two other students connected because of the mutual professional work that they do.

One of my goals is to grow the Norman/OKC ethnic drumming community and provide more events for people to get out and play.”

What would you tell someone who was considering joining your events?

“It doesn’t matter if you’re a beginner, or an experienced musician, this drum circle is an environment where you can come in and learn as much as you want, and have fun at the same time. The goal is to have fun, but I also encourage people to learn about and experience different instruments and music from different cultures.”

Want to join this amazing drum circle? Check out our calendar for upcoming meetings and come on out for a fun, social event you’re sure to love!

Effective Communication in Homeschooling

Do you clash with your child? Do you find they are constantly ignoring what you say? Do you struggle to understand their actions? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you and your child are likely struggling with ineffective communication.

This may sound silly. After all, you are very clear when giving your child instructions and you don’t make unreasonable demands. However, the trouble is usually not that you don’t speak to your child, but rather that you don’t always listen and respond empathetically.

Let’s break this down a bit.

Children are People

You see, children are people just like you and me. They have thoughts and feelings, and they want to be heard. All too often however, they are pushed to the side, punished for expressing themselves in the only ways they know how, and not taught better ways to communicate their emotions.

As the child grows older, they become more and more frustrated with their inability to communicate. Different children develop different ways of coping, but many of these methods will make the child appear to be naughty or out of line.

How this Affects Homeschooling

Obviously, this cycle is never a good thing to have going on in your family. However, because homeschooling families spend so much more time with their children, they tend to notice the effects much more acutely.

In fact, parent/child relationships that suffer from poor communication can make schooling almost impossible. A child who doesn’t receive emotional validation is more likely to resist school assignments. A student who isn’t listened to may not want to listen to anyone else.

Obviously, this leads to a completely unproductive school schedule. Additionally, because such behavior usually results in punishment and negative reaction from their parent(s), the student may begin to associate learning with punishment, leading them to believe they hate learning.

What Can You Do?

Obviously, no parent wants their child to avoid learning. After all, learning new things is what makes life interesting and helps propel us forward. Therefore, avoiding this situation is key, especially for homeschooling parents who are striving to instill a love of learning in their children.

So what can you do? Well, the first step is to listen to your child. Validate their feelings, use their ideas, and include their interests in their schooling. Instead of demanding certain things of your child, try discussing why you’d like certain things done and why other things are necessary. Giving the child a “why” will likely motivate them to get things done. These simple changes in the way you assign schoolwork to your child could make a world of difference.

Of course, this just barely scratches the surface of what poor communication can mean for your family and how you can work to turn things around. Therefore, if you and your child are really struggling in this area, you may want to sign up for an Empathetic Communication class here at The Loop.

This class helps people learn ideal ways to communicate and show empathy in all of their relationships. It’s perfect for any adult who feels they are experiencing a communication barrier with anyone they spend time with.

To enroll, contact us today!

Express Through Music with Gus Weaver

Who are you? Tell me a bit about yourself.

“I’m a violinist/violist performing and teaching in the Norman and OKC Metro area.  I enjoy teaching because I have the opportunity to share what I’ve learned in a positive way.  It is exciting to make a connection with students and observe their progress.

I have always enjoyed singing and playing music, and I began playing the violin in an afterschool program in Palm Bay, Florida when I was 9 years old. Since then I’ve played in youth, amateur, and professional orchestras in Florida, Indiana, Oregon, Idaho, Texas, and Oklahoma. I earned my Bachelor of Music from Idaho State University with Chung Park and Keum Hwa Cha and my Master of Music from the University of Oklahoma with Hal Grossman.  Now I play in the Amarillo (Texas) and Fort Smith (Arkansas) Symphony Orchestras, as well as in Mariachi Orgullo de America (OKC metro area).  I also have my own violin duet, Norman Classical Strings.  We play for weddings, parties, and other family events.

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What classes do you offer at The Loop?

“For students ages 8 and up, I offer private violin and viola lessons.  I also offer beginning violin classes one semester a year or so, depending on interest.”

What was it that triggered your passion?

“I sang with my mother when I was young and have always enjoyed music.  When afterschool classes were offered in 3rd grade, something sparked my interest and I signed up.  I find that listening to music enriches my life, and playing music enriches my life while enriching the lives of others.”

What is you favorite thing about music?

“I appreciate the expressive quality of music.  It can express concepts and feelings that can only inadequately be put into words.  I also appreciate the ambiguity of music, especially instrumental music.  I can make it mean anything I want it to mean at the time.  It is also mysterious, like dance; it is gone as soon as it is created.  It cannot be grasped, yet it can change those who hear it.”

What do you hope the community gains from your classes?

“I hope to spark an interest in music and help students gain basic playing skills so that they can enjoy and appreciate it.”

What would you tell someone who was considering joining your music classes?

“Whatever is attracting you to play is worth investigating in a beginning class or private lesson.  We never know what will be revealed to us until we explore it.  It is worth the time, dedication, and financial investment.  Just as in sports, regular practice and perseverance in learning skills will help you use those skills to express yourself while performing music.”

Would you like to join Gus’ classes? Contact him at j_a_weaver@hotmail.com.