Musikal Journeys: The Story of Lauren Haley
I was first introduced to Lauren Haley and her phenomenal work through Greg Childress, the host of The Music Educator Podcast, as we were both interviewed on his show last Spring! Lauren’s book title, Kids Aren’t Lazy, immediately caught my eye. Yes, I thought, someone else who truly believes in children’s’potential the way I do!! After we got in touch, Lauren was nice enough to send me a copy of her new book, which I read enthusiastically during the past summer holiday. To my amazement, there was not a single thing written that I wouldn’t wholeheartedly agree with. In fact, I broke my “no writing in books rule” to fill my copy with post-its, underline marks, and ‘YES!’ inscriptions in the margins. Kids Aren’t Lazy is a FABULOUS, clear, concise, and inspiring book I would recommend to every music teacher and parent who hopes to enjoy the journey of music-learning with their child. Lauren is a persuasive advocate for effective, positive communication and habits, a critical message that we can all hear again and again because it is SO important. She also views studio parents as absolutely vital in a child’s musical development, something I can’t stress enough in my own studio and to other teachers who may be just starting out. As they say, “Team Work Makes the Dream Work!”
I was curious to hear more about Lauren’s musical background and life, so we asked her to participate in our Musikal Journeys series. In our Q&A interview, Lauren shares thoughts about her childhood, life balance, teaching, advice for young teachers and ends with a few of her favorite things!
Without further ado, here is Lauren’s inspiring Musikal Journey! We hope you enjoy! Cheers, Samantha
Author of Kids Aren’t Lazy, Teacher & Violinist/Violist
Where were you born? Edina, MN
Where do you currently live? Houston, TX
Job & Instrument? Violinist, speaker, and author of Kids Aren’t Lazy: Developing Motivation & Talent Through Music. Founder of Lauren Haley Studios, a school for young musicians located in the Sugar Land Art Center & Gallery.
Dog's name? Winston! Or Winnie, most of the time.
Every journey has a beginning. Tell us about yours!
When I was 4 or 5, my parents took me to see a high school performance of Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf. Looking up at the stage, I fell completely in love with the violin and absolutely begged for one! My parents initially gave me a cello, but I traded it to my brother (who now goes by the nickname “Cello”) so I could play violin. Along the way, I studied piano, viola, and voice, and graduated from the Eastman School of Music with a degree in Violin Performance.
Did your journey have any unexpected turns or interruptions?
Definitely! When I first started writing, one of my mentors told me not to bother with something like Kids Aren’t Lazy because “parents don’t read.” In speaking with other performers, authors, and teachers, I found that so many of us have experienced moments like that. While it’s important to listen to feedback, I encourage artists to remember that not everyone is able to see potential in unfinished works. Find the people who can.
Daily life as an author, teacher, performer, wife, friend, and dog parent is demanding, and we all want to prevent burnout and unnecessary stress! How do you foster a healthy work-life balance in your life?
Achieving balance is definitely still a work-in-progress for me! I try to be as available as possible for my studio families, so I’ve found it’s important to set up communication boundaries. For example, I ask my studio families to email me rather than text, especially after normal business hours.
A few years ago, I established a teaching studio in the Sugar Land Art Center & Gallery. The artists at SLACG inspire me and I enjoy having a dedicated work space away from home.
Congratulations on publishing "Kids Aren't Lazy" -- tell us about why you decided to write this book and what it's about.
Thank you! When I first started teaching, I had a student whom we’ll call Maria. Every week, Maria’s father would come to her lesson and repeat, “I know Maria is smart, I know she could be talented, the problem is just that Maria is lazy!”
Maria, just six years old at the time, had all the potential in the world! I wrote Kids Aren’t Lazy to give even the busiest families, like Maria’s, resources and strategies for developing both motivation and talent through musical studies.
Why is parental involvement so critical for the musical success of children (regardless of methodology!)
Parents ask me this often, and some feel that they don’t yet know enough about music to be helpful. I tell them that no Beethoven, Einstein, or Picasso could teach their child more than they can. Parents have a unique opportunity to shape their family’s relationship with creativity and musical perseverance. When parents foster a positive approach to developing artistry, children are far more likely to embrace the learning process.
Every note, technique, essay, science project, and performance a family tackles together presents the opportunity for children to develop meaningful learning skills that will guide them through their life’s adventures. This makes parents the most important teachers a child will ever have.
Tell us briefly about your thoughts on effective communication between a parent and child.
Ahh, it’s tough to be brief on this one—it’s a huge theme throughout Kids Aren’t Lazy! Let me just say that effective communication maintains positive relationships while developing new skills. It models the thought processes parents would like children to use down the road in independent practice, and it takes into consideration nonverbal signals (fatigued body language or unintentional gasps at wrong notes, for example) as well.
What three things would you say to someone beginning a teaching career?
Establish a clear studio policy, especially with regard to attendance. It’s easy to set healthy boundaries and maintain relationships when everyone shares lesson expectations.
Aim for consistent parental involvement. In helping parents discover how to support young musicians at home, you magnify your impact as a teacher.
Take at least one day off per week. Being well-rested helps you look forward to every lesson!
How do you practice wellness in your own life? (food, exercise, etc.)
I love barre classes and weight-training. It’s definitely tricky to eat well when you finish work at 10 pm, so I’m lucky in that my husband always has dinner ready for me when I eventually make it home!
What's one thing (perhaps a ritual) you do every day that you might recommend to others?
Musically—scales and arpeggios!
In my home life, my morning routine that helps me be successful without making too many decisions before I’m really awake! I always make the bed, take Winnie for a walk, and then get my practice, writing, and exercise done first thing.
What role did music play in your family life growing up? Do you believe this made a lasting impression on who you are today?
Absolutely! My parents filled my childhood with music and celebrated every milestone (from Twinkle to Tchaikovsky!). My father plays French Horn and my mother plays piano (both just for fun). I’m lucky to have a particularly close relationship with them, and music played no small role in developing that.
My grandmother, Elvira, was also in on the game — she would constantly ask me to play her favorite piece, usually whatever I was learning to play. It was only recently that I realized how many “favorites” she had! The best thing in the world to me is seeing my studio families grow closer to each other as they pursue music now too.
JUST FOR FUN:
Favorite 5 foods:
Favorite composer: Tchaikovsky (forever)!
Favorite 3 books: The Last Lecture (Randy Pausch and Jeffrey Zaslow), Violin Dreams (Arnold Steinhardt), and Teaching Genius: Dorothy Delay and the Making of a Musician (Barbara Lourie Sand). These books shaped my approach to musicianship and teaching.
On your bucketlist to travel! Iceland! I’ve never been, and it just seems like the most magical place!
3 things you couldn't live without! Winnie, my husband Jake, and my violin. (Don’t tell my viola.)
Favorite key: B Major (thanks, Brahms!)
Lauren Haley Studios Website
Click through below to explore her book on Amazon.com (a MUST-READ)