Long before her A-B-C, Laura Kahar was chanting her Do-Re-Mi.
At 3 years old, Laura knew she’d found a lifelong friend in piano. Armed with drive and natural talent, Laura took to music like a fish to water. She honed her skills and under the tutelage of Tess Hill became a master of piano and performance.
Growing up, Laura had planned to be an auditor. However, fate had other plans. With inspiration and instinct, ‘Music n Me’ was born.
Perfectly blending Laura’s love for teaching and piano, the humble studio of 5 quickly grew to a strong music school. With a thirst for education, and her extensive teaching experience, Laura has developed her own unique teaching philosophy: embracing encouragement and enjoyment in education. Laura wholeheartedly believes in the wonder of music: in the excitement of learning, the joy of progress, and the thrill of creating and enjoying your own art.
When was your first piano lesson?
Just after my 3rd birthday! My mum took me to a Yamaha centre to “take a look”. At the centre, I hopped on a piano stool, tinkled the keys and refused to leave unless she signed me up.
Do you have any favourite memories of your teachers?
My first private instructor back home in Indonesia ran her studio from her garage. She organised the most extravagant and large end-of-year recitals (she had hundreds of students). My sister would always cry or fall asleep before her performances!
The teacher that’s made the greatest impact in my life and career is Tess Hill. I call her my Fairy God Mother! I could write an essay for all my favourite memories of my time with Tess! Here are some..
- As a child – being taught how to tuck my thumb under. I can still hear her say, “Tuck the mouse in the house or the cats will get it”.
- As a teen – the year I was chosen to be MC at her annual Christmas Concert (big responsibility).
- As an adult – Accepting my ATMusA certification at the AMEB Annual Awards Night. Having Tess watch me accept this achievement was one of my proudest life moments. Tess took me all the way from the beginning until I made it!
Tell us a bit about your background and how you came to piano teaching as a profession.
Teaching is the serendipity in my life! No one would have seen this coming (me becoming a teacher). I was good at the piano… because I had a brilliant teacher and I put in the hard work. But by the time I was in my teens, I had a love hate relationship with piano. My high school was setup to take me to Melbourne University to study accounting and finance and be an auditor to work for the big 4.
Fate had other plans! I lost a poker game in my first year of uni and this was the beginning of my teaching adventures.
How many students do you generally teach a week and what ages/ranges?
I teach 100 students a week – ranging from 2.5 years old to 80 years old. I also mentor a teacher working at my school. It keeps me out of trouble!
What are your go-to winners for beginner repertoire?
Ahhh… so many! These are my go to’s for the beginners within the first 6 months:
· Pepperbox Music – Elissa Milne’s Emergency bundles (she released these during Covid last year).
· Piano Safari collection – Charlie Chipmunk, Zechariah Zebra, Outer Space, Crocodile in the Nile.
· Hal Leonard Student Piano Library – Party Cat, Mister Machine, Water Lily.
· Piano Adventures – My Invention.
· Little Gems – Falling Stars.
· The Classics – Chopsticks, Knuckle Song, Happy Birthday.
· The pieces I write for my beginners.
Are there any pieces that are your current favourites or new things you’ve found?
For beginners: I wrote a piece called The Black Hole, which has been huge hit!
For elementary: Spy by Samantha Coates (Blitz Rote), Evening Star by Daniel McFarlane, Thunder Showers and Lament by Paula Dreyer.
For intermediate: Over the Horizon by Daniel McFarlane and for the video game enthusiast there is Celeste Piano Collection by Lena Raine.
What music do you listen to in your down time?
All genres except for heavy metal, depending on my mood. Sunday is always jazz because I grew up with that in my household.
How has COVID-19 affected your studio/teaching?
I arrived back in Sydney from a cancelled F1 event in Melbourne (the beginning of the Covid scare in Australia), and had to set up a studio in my living room overnight. 10 weeks of lessons behind a screen! It was different, definitely not easy (especially group classes for 4/5 year olds!)… but our studio thrived. The whole experience was like having a newborn – you don’t know what you’re doing but you just do it.
For me personally, I experienced so much growth and expanded my curiosity. I was able to study with teachers in the US (something I wouldn’t have thought of doing pre-Covid) and even went back to University to do Music Production (again something I wouldn’t have imagined studying).
It’s tough times, but I think Covid-19 has given us a chance to find something new or interesting as our lives have been flipped upside down.
At the end of the teaching day what is your dinner winner? (Recipes get bonus points)
Cooking is not my forte, so when I do it’s either in a Thermo Mix or a Slow Cooker. This recipe is my go to – easy to prepare, super delicious and healthy!