MYC Continues to the Next Generation: Mother and Daughter Team Hit the High Note in Teaching

Meet Emma and Carrie Bailey, mother and daughter MYC Teachers based in Ottawa, ON, in the suburban neighbourhood known as Riverside South. Carrie, a veteran MYC teacher, brought up her family the ‘MYC Way’ and now her eldest daughter, Emma, is 17 and on the cusp of taking her level 9 RCM piano exam, all the while teaching MYC classes for the past year. We asked them what it was like to work together and what they have both learned about teaching and running a successful studio.

Carrie, how did you hear about MYC and when and where did you begin teaching it?

I first heard of MYC in 1998 when I was working as a Worship Pastor in Moose Jaw, SK.  My mom loved to go to the local Music Festival in Watrous and mentioned that she could tell when a MYC student would be playing as they weren't as nervous when they performed and consistently played with such great timing.  She encouraged me to check out the program and see if it was something that I'd be interested in teaching.  A few years later, after we had moved to Ottawa, ON and I was pregnant with our second child I checked it out.  It had even more to offer than I originally thought and after taking my training with Roxanne McGahey I started teaching my first classes in Fall 2002.

Emma, you obviously know about MYC from your mother, but what made you want to become a teacher?

As a child I loved taking MYC. There were ups and downs, as there is in music, but I always wanted to come back to the piano at the end of the day. Music was - and is - a big part of my family, and I couldn't help but love it. And so I probably shouldn't have been quite so surprised when, as I went through RCM, my mom began to bring up the possibility of me becoming a teacher. Maybe because she saw how much I loved the program, or maybe because she wanted an easy substitute teacher for classes - either way, she planted that idea in my head fairly early on. At first I was hesitant, because it felt like such a massive thing to undertake, but my mom was always there. She started involving me in the classes again and have me act as a pseudo parent for students whose parent's couldn't make the class. As I got older my love for both children and the program itself increased. I guess a part of me wants to give other kids the same experience with music that I had - and I'm incredibly lucky to have been able to have such an easy transition from student to teacher, with my mom's help.

What systems do you put in place to ensure a happy working and mother/daughter relationship?

Carrie: We have never really put in official systems as we work together (except that Emma is now the official cleaner of the studio - yay me!) I think having a good mother/daughter relationship to begin with makes a big difference.  We talk about our successes and our struggles and everything else in between with each other.  I can pass my experience onto her - giving her helpful hints and things that have worked for me in the past.   Her openness to learn from me, and my ability to allow her to do things the way she feels most natural (even if they're not the way I do them) makes our working together successful and our relationship even stronger.

Emma, what have you learned about teaching and/or running a studio from your mother?

I had only worked with children before becoming an MYC teacher, and so jumping into an environment where I not only had to teach kids, but parents as well, was a bit of a learning curve. I know I wouldn't have experience the success I have, had I not had my mom to lean on. I was new at this, but with every turn, I had a mom there who was never lacking an answer. She's taught me so many things, like how to think on my feet, how to appeal to both parents and children, and above all- cheesy as it may sound- to have confidence in myself. I didn't ever realize how much effort went into running a studio or teaching until I had to experience it first hand, and if nothing else, that experience has given me a new understanding and respect for anyone and everyone who engages in the profession.

Carrie, what have you learned about teaching and/or running a studio from your daughter?

When I look back and realize that I've been teaching privately and/or MYC for the past 26 years I can see that sometimes it can become routine.  Having Emma as a younger teacher in the studio has me examine why I teach certain things the way I do and even why I approach situations the way I do.  As I mentor her I am explaining myself and this makes me a better teacher.  I also see Emma's joy as she finishes a night of teaching - talking about how the classes went, breakthroughs with specific students, etc.  This just helps remind me why I do what I do and why we, as music teachers, are some of the luckiest professionals out there!

What is your advice to other family members working together in the same business, or specifically to mother/daughter teams in MYC?

Carrie: The privilege to have my daughter teaching in my studio with me is amazing!  To have seen her walk through the MYC program and then private lessons - all her piano exams - and see the love of music grow in her is something I am so proud of.  Teaching together gives us a unique relationship of being co-workers.  There are times where the 'mom' comes out in me and I have to remember that we both have ideas, strategies and even teaching styles that are our own.  And although she is my daughter, she is my teaching equal.  So our advice, treasure the experience of working with your mom or daughter.  Don't take each other for granted and always lift up the other - in private and in public.

Emma, do you see yourself teaching MYC in the future, either full or part time?

There was a time I was absolutely terrified of teaching. Now, it's one of the highlights of my week. I hope I never get tired of seeing children and parents learn together, and seeing the pride on kids faces as they progress - and going off of what I've heard from other MYC teachers, I don't think I will. I've always loved working with kids, and MYC is a fantastic way to utilize that, while showing them how fun music can be and giving them the tools to pursue it later on. While I don't think I'll ever be a full-time teacher, I don't ever want to leave this behind. I plan to continue teaching part-time for as long as possible and I'll always be grateful for the experiences I've had because of this Music for Young Children.

Check out Carrie and Emma's profile.
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