Piano Teacher Gives the Gift of Music

This is the article that ran in the Massapequa Observer:

By: Jennifer Fauci

According to Sara Chatalbash, she has been “drawn to the piano since she could reach it.”The Massapequa piano instructor, who graduated from New York’s Crane School of Music and is the owner of Chatalbash Lessons, is classically trained and has been playing piano for the past 20 years, starting out on her grandmother’s piano.

“What I love most about being a piano teacher is seeing the look on my students’ faces and their excitement when they accomplish something,” said Chatalbash. “Seeing the progress they make and listening to them play an entire song through that they couldn’t play a few weeks ago is incredibly rewarding.”​

Chatalbash believes it is extremely important to experience music from an early age. “Connecting with music in any way, whether it’s listening, writing or playing, benefits the soul and the mind,” she said. “Early training helps develop brain areas involved in language and reasoning, spatial intelligence (thinking necessary for mathematics and everyday life), creativity and empathy.”

If a love of music doesn’t begin at home, children first get the opportunity to pick up an instrument in school. Chatalbash said she is saddened by how low music education and the arts have been prioritized in school.

“I recommend that schools prioritize the arts, including music, by showing everyone the difference in grades between schools who have arts programs and those who don’t,” she said. “You can’t argue with numbers and if schools are so focused on getting test scores up, then the arts is a way to do it. It [music] teaches about other cultures, multitasking, discipline, memorization and performance.”

While music education has not been removed from the Massapequa school system curriculum, high school students need only one class credit in the arts for graduation.

“It’s really fallen to individuals to prioritize music education, which helps with academic success in science and math,” said Chatalbash. “Not all students want to play sports and having an outlet is something every student should be given. Having an arts program would also bring in opportunities to make money such as concerts, plays, parades, etc.”

Fortunately, Chatalbash is so passionate about her craft that she gives back whenever she can, including participating in the 10th annual Make Music New York festival, which will be marked by free, outdoor concerts throughout the city, as well as free piano lessons from Chatalbash.

“I love the Make Music festival and have been offering private piano lessons for almost as many years on Long Island,” said the four-time Reflections Music Composition Competition winner. “The festival explores global music genres and inspires many to learn to make music themselves.”

Chatalbash believes no one piano teacher is perfect for everyone, which along with the inspiration of the Make Music New York festival, leads her to offer a free lesson to new, prospective students.

“Finding the right piano instructor isn’t as simple as a web search. It’s a deeply personal relationship best committed to after finding the right match,” she said. “Music got me through my darkest hours when I was young and has continued to do so in my adult life. It is a way to express yourself and be in touch with your feelings. Self-esteem is directly tied to self-expression.”

While no tickets are required for Make Music New York, an appointment is required to schedule a free lesson with Chatalbash at www.chatalbashlessons.com. For more information on the festival, visit www.makemusicny.org.

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