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Learn to love music

Photo Credit: ESTACADA NEWS PHOTO: ISABEL GAUTSCHI - Fun is an important part of learning, Dinsdale says, and she strives to incorporate it into every lesson. Even with memorization. Dinsdale teaches students various ways to learn music from the tactile kinesthetic of playing, to creating a story for each part of the piece and giving the sections (sometimes silly) names, to playing the piece out of order and so on... For Dinsdale, truly learning music is much more engaged and involved than playing by rote.Jessica Burnett Dinsdale tells parents that if they walk in to pick up their child, and teacher and student are acting out a scene from “The Three Stooges,” the lesson is right on target.

Dinsdale’s teaching method includes singing with the students, throwing monthly performance-optional and parents-free parties and a creative approach to memorization that stores music in the body mentally, emotionally and physically.

So what is it, exactly, that she teaches?

Classical piano.

As a small child, Dinsdale fell instantly in love with the instrument the first time she heard her older sister play Bach.

“That was it,” she said. “I literally felt I was hit by lightning when I saw her playing.”

Dinsdale taught herself to read music and played for years before getting her first lesson.

She devoted herself to the piano. Really.

Dinsdale admits to doing things like practicing for four hours a day on four measures of Brahms or rehearsing 13 hours a day for big shows.

Photo Credit: ESTACADA NEWS PHOTO: ISABEL GAUTSCHI - Dinsdale has had a life-long love of piano. “The piano can absolutely be a friend for life, one of the most wonderful ones imaginable,” she said. “To have that beauty flowing through your fingers, there’s nothing like it. Also, apparently five parts of the brain are used simultaneously with classical music at the piano, unlike any other activity. Meanwhile, the hemispheres of the brain ‘balance’. It’s very good for any upset emotions, worry. One enters another world, basically, a beautiful world.”

While Dinsdale understands that not every student will fall for the piano with the same intensity that she did, she wants to make sure that every one of her students loves to play. Otherwise, what’s the point?

“I also believe in teaching through joy and consider building self-esteem an integral part of my job,” Dinsdale said. “I don’t tolerate any negativity from anyone in the studio, only mutual support, fun, progress.”

Fun is very important to Dinsdale, and she insists on incorporating it into every lesson.

It’s a story she’s heard all too often: adults who always liked the piano but lost motivation to learn through a strict and unyielding teacher.

“Most often they had a bad experience with a teacher, or even a parent or family member, and as a child, they don’t have the defenses to know the teacher was punitive or cruel, and how inappropriate and wrong that is,” Dinsdale said.

“They just were never nurtured at the piano, treated kindly, respectfully, had fun playing,” she continued.

Age though, in Dinsdale’s opinion, should never discourage someone from learning the piano.

“I firmly believe it can be done at any age, contrary to some of the old cultural ‘myths’ out there, where people think, ‘I’m too old, I should have started when I was younger, or stuck with it, and it’s too late...’ Them are fightin’ words to me, as it is absolutely untrue,” Dinsdale wrote in an email.

Dinsdale emphasized that she’s watched motivated adult students progress at rocket speed in their learning.

She gives her students reason to be motivated.

Dinsdale has her students rate prospective pieces on a scale of zero to 10, with zero being “hate it” and 10 being “love it.”

Students don’t learn anything they’ve rated below a nine except for a small period of time at the beginning of lessons when they are learning to read music.

“If you play what you love, you are going to play it extremely well, love to practice,” she said.

Photo Credit: ESTACADA NEWS PHOTO: ISABEL GAUTSCHI - Award-winning classical pianist Jessica Burnett Dinsdale recently moved to Estacada. She offers piano lessons to all ages.Dinsdale has performed extensively in the United Kingdom, the British West Indies (where she used to live) and in the United States.

She has a degree in piano performance and was privately taught by Madelon Petroff for a decade.

Dinsdale also has studied piano pedagogy and composition, dance, psychology and childhood development and enjoys composing music as well.

“I truly believe if people were nurtured, supported in this way, everyone has a musical language that is their own; something to say musically, they just don’t know it yet, or that it’s even possible!” she said of teaching composition.

Dinsdale’s album, “Pays des Reves,” which features recordings of her playing Scarlatti, Mozart, Schumann, Brahms and Chopin, debuted on National Public Radio, WGBH and was selected as one of the top 10 classical recordings of 1998 by the Oregonian.

Dinsdale just moved to Estacada to be closer to family after eight years in Boulder, Colo.

Her nieces went through the Estacada school system, and Dinsdale said she was impressed by the music departments in the Estacada schools.

“I’ve been loving Estacada, how supportive, close-knit, warm, authentic, talented everyone is. I’ve been loving the ‘peacefulness’ I feel here, the lack of stress. Talk about refreshing!” she wrote in an email.

She offers piano lessons for all ages.

If you would like to sign up, call Dinsdale at 503-630-2306 or at 503-866-6157 or send her an email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.



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