Sandy’s a terrific teacher. She’s got a wealth of knowledge, depth and breadth, and a way of passing it on that’s a great balance of teaching, asking, listening, pushing, pulling, cajoling, compassionate butt-kicking and fun.
I’m sure adult beginners are a something of a challenge in their own right, but in my case, I came to Sandy with 30 years of mostly one-on-one, oral-tradition study in world percussion, 10 years of training in improvisation, a few years of Dalcroze and more than a decade as a performer/educator. My chops were rusty and, with no “formal” musical training, I couldn’t read music, understood just enough about Western theory to be dangerous, and I couldn’t communicate very well with trained musicians. I wanted to play piano, learn how to read charts, get that grounding I wish I’d taken advantage of in middle school, and I needed encouragement to get back into music after many years off.
Sandy’s met me where I am, accommodating my knowledge and my ignorance. She’s patiently taught me stuff far below the level of some of her 9-year-old students without a lick of condescension while serving up ideas and material that meet my needs for a certain amount of complexity and sophistication. She’s paced things well through the adult challenge of sometimes-you-have-time-to-practice, sometimes-you-don’t and has intuited, listened and found different angles for teaching or solving a problem when a particular exercise, song or concept just wasn’t happening.
Most important, you get a sense that she’s deeply invested in you as a student. She’ll say, “I’m sad” if you won’t be able to play at the recital or make next week’s lesson, and you know she means it. One of Sandy’s gifts is that she teaches without abstraction—so much is about how you’re going to put what you’re learning to use playing music with others or performing solo. I’m getting everything I came for: an education in music theory, instrumental training and encouragement to become a musician again.Peter Hawes
One of my absolute favorite things is when I get a chance to play with Sandy at an open mic. It’s really fun and an honor to be on stage with her and a great learning experience and confidence booster. I look forward to playing with Sandy (and Ted Ervin) on stage again. I can only echo what other’s have said about building confidence and learning so much from both Sandy and Ted. One additional comment about playing with the band and having fun and all that.
What we’ve additionally learned is how to communicate with other band members while on stage. We’ve learned to support and communicate non-verbally while we’re in the middle of a song. That communication is key (especially when you’re playing a new song) or someone screws up mid-song.Chris Marlor
Played my guitar for 45 years or so alone in my room , always wanted to be in a band but figured that ship had sailed. Sandy coached me out of my dark little cave into the light of a gigging band. Bob Segar was right: “Rock n Roll never forgets”
Sandy’s experience, passion, musical knowledge and enthusiasm are incredible. She is an inspiring mentor and confidence booster. You will learn a lot about being a good musician and a better person.
I used to know the cool ‘bits’ of about 20 songs that I’d play over and over. Drove my family nuts playing and replaying the intro to Smoke on the Water. After working with Sandy for a couple of years I now know 40 or so songs beginning to end and found out I can sing in front of an audience both with a band and as a solo performer.
Learned how to chart music and Sandy gave me the guidance and confidence needed to unlock my abilities to actually start learning songs by ear and transcribing without needing tab or a score.Gary Leydon
I started playing guitar, singing and performing when I was in college, and had given it up for 40 years (hey, life happens) when I met Sandy at a backyard party. We got to talking and I made a decision right then and there that I was going to get back into music. What can I say? Sandy’s energy and “you can do this” attitude is infectious.
I’ve been taking voice lessons with Sandy for over a year now, and she has helped me in so many ways.
On the technical side, she gave me the exercises that have expanded my vocal range by almost an octave. She also helped me get rid of some vocal quirks that she identified – things that I wasn’t even aware of and were taking away from my sound.
Sandy has also helped me with song selection and technique for those songs, as I started to perform at the open mics that she runs. Those have been a great way to make connections and regularly play with some amazing musicians in the area.
Maybe most important of all, Sandy has helped me build the confidence I needed to start performing again. I’m a pretty laid back guy, and somehow I’ve ended up as the front man for a band that performs at local open mics (and will hopefully turn into more).Barry Felson
I could not sing when I first came to Sandy Connolly. I have worked with her for 6 years and am now in an elite singing group in my school called ‘Voices’. I also gained a life long friend in Sandy. She’s the sweetest and most hardworking women I have ever met. I wouldn’t be where I am today if I didn’t meet her.Madi Conklin
- I gained confidence in my stage presence.
- I learned how to sing harmonies.
- I learned how to cue my band mates throughout a song.
- I learned how to read and write a chart.
- I’ve come to really understand all of the organizing that goes into being a band member, and I’ve picked up organization and leadership skills from watching Sandy over the years.
- I’ve been exposed to different types of music I wouldn’t normally listen to, but have come to love.
It’s fun because they keep things moving!
When we learn a new song it’s never perfect at first- so Sandy gives each of us helpful, practical tips to work on for the next week. She will work on each song a little bit not to the point where you’re embarrassed, bored and want to leave. This way it keeps things moving and fun.
It’s a blast! It’s a low stress environment that allows each of us to work at her own pace.
It’s not just that the instruction is great (actually it’s superior) it’s that they really care and try to work with you, at your level where you are.
Every week we are given very clear specific goals to work on. I’ve gained so much confidence and I absolutely love it!
The camaraderie that develops between bandmates is one of the funnest things you can experience, it’s well worth every minute of effort we put into it.
One of my favorite things Is that we all take turns picking out a song that we would like to work on. That is what makes this program completely unique and different from other programs where they want you to learn their songs only. It’s like having a little kid learn to read – they’ll read faster if sometimes they can pick the book out!Jeannine Staltaro
I highly recommend Sandy Connolly as a music teacher. I took ukulele lessons from her for several years. She is patient, kind, wise, and very knowledgeable. She teaches music theory as well as actual playing of the instrument, so that I can often play chords to go with a melody, without ever seeing the music. If you would like to learn to play one of the instruments that she teaches, I would encourage you to contact her.Betty Freeborn