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Christie Peery Honors Her Mother's Piano Legacy

Christie Peery Honors Her Mother Legacy

To celebrate our #passdownsound campaign (one lucky entrant will win free online music lessons) we chatted with ArtistWorks piano instructor, Christie Peery, about how her mother passed down sound to her. Our conversation has been edited and paraphrased for clarity.

Q: When was music introduced in your life?

As long as I can remember! I often joke that I was introduced to piano from the womb, as my mother was pregnant with me when she gave her Carnegie Hall debut.

Q: When did you begin taking lessons?

I don’t remember a time when I didn’t want to play the piano. Age 5 is a good age to start kids and was when my mom began children in general. Playing piano was a part of our family and it wasn’t presented as an option.

Q: What was it like having a piano teacher as your mother?

It was just a part of my life as I was growing up! This was how my mother made her living, it was her career. She was on the faculty at Brigham Young University, and always had anywhere from 30-50 students studying under her. She taught non-stop, and I was always surrounded by piano.

I never got a regular lesson time, it was one of those things where I would do kitchen lessons while my mom was making dinner. I would get jealous that other kids got a reserved amount of time. I wanted to be put on the schedule and wait on the waiting bench with the other kids.

Q: It sounds like you took a natural interest in the piano, is that correct?

Yes -- definitely more so than my siblings. Out of any chore I had to do, practicing was my favorite.

Having students in the house and listening to music, I always knew what I wanted to learn next. The studio was right below my bedroom and I would hear piano all day. I would ask my mom if I could play that piece, and my mom would always say “yes” no matter how hard it was.

I couldn’t believe how fun it might be to play the songs other kids are playing.

Q: Your mother had a reputation for creating musical talents. What do you attribute that to?

People often believed my mother got all the naturally talented students, but it’s important to note that talent isn’t all that is needed to be musical. Improving with music is possible for anyone, so long as they have a good teacher. It was amazing to see the transformations my mother’s students had through time.

Q: So your mother was fortunate enough to teach many naturally talented students, and foster that talent in them?

Absolutely not! Out of 300 students, maybe 5 were exceptionally talented -- but many of them played as if they were, and you couldn’t have told the difference. My mom was a high-level teacher, holding a Bachelors and Masters from Julliard and a Doctorate from the Peabody Institute. That experience and education are what transformed her average students into talents.

Q: Your mother was notably an excellent teacher, but did she continue to perform as well?

Yes, my mother was an exceptional performer. Sometimes, those who play as well as she did no longer wish to teach beginners. Even if they do want to, they won’t remember how to help beginners learn fundamentals that they take for granted. My mother always retained her talent for breaking down physical and music elements, which is a lot of work and takes commitment.

Q: The way you talk about your mother’s teaching style reminds me of your ArtistWorks school, can you speak to that connection?

At ArtistWorks, my students have to go step by step and get the tools needed. Anyone who is willing to do this process can see results. Like my mother, I believe if you’re taught well, you’ll play like a natural.

It is very available on the piano to have that access to music -- to make beautiful sounds and connect with the music emotionally. I know that this is possible for any player willing to try.

Q:  On ArtistWorks, you teach your mother’s music method, is that right?

The method I teach online is called the Peery Method, named after my mother. I did what she did and distilled it even more, to make it accessible to even more people. In my work with the Peery method, I want to honor my mother and her legacy. She devoted her life to it and changed so many lives. I like to think I have done something positive in the name of it.

Q: How are your passing down sound to your own children, and to students around the world on ArtistWorks?

One of my favorite things about ArtistWorks is that I primarily teach adult players.

Children don’t always come to hear feedback, but the adults are better. The adults want to learn. The students on ArtistWorks always take my feedback seriously.

In terms of my own children, I have 4 -- my oldest is finishing their Freshman year of college, and my youngest is 11. I made all of my kids play piano, but none of them naturally wanted to do it. I made it required until the 9th grade.

Q: Did you expect your children to take more of an interest in it than they did?

That was my plan! I initially tried to make my oldest a competitor on the professional path, but it didn’t go well for either of us. I was forcing him, and he wasn’t falling in love with piano the way I did.

A few months ago, though, he did call me and say “I am so grateful for what you taught me. It helped me connect with people, and it’s such a stress reliever”. Now, in hindsight, he is happy he can play well and sees it as a gift in his life.

Christie Peery is a world-renowned piano player and lifelong instructor. Christie offers details and highly acclaimed piano lessons on ArtistWorks.com. If you’re serious about improving your piano playing, explore what lessons with Christie can offer.

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