My name is Leigh and I'm non-binary. This means I don't identify as a man, or a woman, but somewhere in between. I allow my identity to inform my practice and my profession. I am passionate about giving young people of color and gender-non-conforming people a place in classical music and in the world of playing cello. I am an advocate for playing music by composers from all walks of life, not just the "traditional" classical music written by cisgendered white men.
I spent six years teaching at the Philadelphia String Project, a program made for Philadelphia area students to learn how to play string instruments at an inexpensive rate. I always want to keep my lessons affordable because I think a quality musical education should be available to everyone.
I graduated from Temple University in May 2020, in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, with a bachelor's degree in cello performance. I miss making music with others. I am excited to get back out in the world and start making art. I am excited to see my students in person again. I am excited to meet you, too.
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I want to gauge your progress so far first. Have you ever had lessons before? Played in a school ensemble? Picking it up because you're interested? If you've played before I want to hear a scale and the last piece you worked on. If not, we start from scratch: bow holds, getting comfortable with the cello, and pizzicato. I prioritize comfortable technique, and I believe that students learn best through playing real music, so we will work on solo pieces as you learn technique.
I have taught privately for seven years and I have taught in classes for six. I worked at the Philadelphia String Project, held every Wednesday and Saturday at Temple University's Presser Hall, and learned pedagogy from my incredible mentors there and from my fantastic colleagues, other student at the Boyer College of Music and Dance.
30 minute lesson: $15
Hour lesson: $25
My mother is a flute teacher, so when I was in tenth grade, I decided to take after her. I asked my junior high school orchestra director if she had any students who might be interested in taking cello lessons with me, and she did.
I have worked with many different kinds of students. I started out with students from my suburban neighborhood and from my school district. I also privately taught a student with a learning disability. My classes at Philadelphia String Project were full of students from Philadelphia and the surrounding areas, some from lower-income households and some from higher-income households, with ages ranging from 5 to 13. While I try to treat my students equally no matter their backgrounds, I know that there are socioeconomic factors that may influence a student's access to many commodities, and I take that into account in teaching.
About a year ago I played a funeral with my mother and a violinist colleague. The funeral was for a friend of a friend of my mother's - not someone I knew personally. We had been playing trios when suddenly the massive crowd of people began to quiet down, and we assumed the funeral was about to begin. No. It was that awkward moment where everyone quiets down before an event because everyone else is quieting down and everyone looks around for nothing to break the silence. My mother nudged me and hissed, "PLAY!" I chose the Bach Sarabande from his Cello Suite number 3, and it was truly an emotional experience. I had never performed for a crowd that I knew was really listening to me - that I knew was acutely aware of what I was trying to convey. In many performances people will sit and enjoy the music, listen to the nice sounds. But these people were really hearing me. Everyone was there because they loved the man who had passed away. Everyone had a reason to listen to me, and despite the fact that everyone was hearing the same notes, no one had quite the same reaction or the same takeaway.
Don't settle. If you feel uncomfortable in someone's presence or don't like their teaching style, then you shouldn't work with them. Find whoever suits YOUR needs and be honest with them.
What do you want out of these lessons? Do you want to play for fun? Or are you considering playing professionally? What kind of music do you like? Do you like to improvise or do you want to have the music right there in front of you? What are you curious about? Concerned about? How much time do you have to practice? Do you have a private space to practice?