Music with Malia Takes Group Class Approach

New Studio Looks to Make Piano Lessons More Accessible and Affordable

“I can do more,” said Malia Maurer. “I can offer more to this community, and that’s what I really want to do.” Maurer’s affinity for children is evident as her 5-month-old son, Nolan, plays on her lap and she speaks with a soft, cheerful tone while describing the adventure of opening her downtown music studio.

Upon walking into Music with Malia, you’ll notice walls decorated with a variety of instruments and a large floor space. One wall boasts several keyboards, which are as large as some of the children that will be playing them. In Maurer’s group piano classes, students practice their talents on electric keyboards fitted with headphones. “Kids do really well when they’re working around their peers,” said music teacher, Melissa Axell. While piano instruction typically takes place one-on-one, Maurer offers group classes of four students, who learn, play, and then perform together at the end of each year at the Center Stage Theater.

At age 6, Maurer began playing piano and continued to study a variety of instruments, culminating in a bachelor’s degree in ethnomusicology. As a member of UCSB’s Middle Eastern Ensemble, she played the ney, a wind instrument not common in Western society. Maurer’s conglomerate of interests is mirrored in her teaching style. Classes are taught using a variety of musical genres, depending on the students’ preferences.

After 12 years of teaching lessons in private homes, a move to a downtown studio allows for business growth in conjunction with a reduction in cost for the students, Maurer explained. “I want to be present for people who might not have the opportunity,” she said. Group piano classes are 45 minutes long and cost $30 per student. Maurer said that she and her team have found that group lessons and performances enable students to be more confident and passionate about their music. The studio has attracted about 50 students, but it can accommodate up to 100 and hopes to one day offer a class taught in Spanish.

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