The old-school piano teacher—remember her? While there were many standouts, there were those who treated students to instruction that was as stale as the crystallized hard candy in their antique candy dishes. Repetition ruled over creativity. Edina’s Kaity Heart has listened to plenty of adults travel down those musical memory lanes, and she says too many former piano and music students jumped ship before they were able to really set sail.
Heart is committed to developing her own brand of piano, guitar, violin, voice and performance lessons through Heart’s Performing Arts, which opened in 2012, in hopes that clients continue to pursue their interest in music. “The goal in lessons is to have a good time,” she says. “Chances are, students are going to practice a lot more.” Heart and her fellow instructors work to relate to HPA’s more than 100 students, who range from 5 years old through adults, with most in the 5- to 18-year-old bracket. Instructors stay in tune with their students by staying on top of pop culture, music and even the trends in young adult literature.
Make no mistake, while adding elements of levity to the program is important to Heart, she is equally committed to hiring musically qualified instructors. Staff members have bachelor or master’s degrees in fine arts, a couple of them have performed domestically and abroad, and the vocal instructor had a run in the Minnesota Opera’s version of the The Magic Flute. In addition to experience, Heart hires instructors who successfully translate their know-how into lessons.
Heart’s experience includes earning a bachelor’s degree in fine arts from the University of Minnesota-Duluth, singing advertising jingles, serving as a Miss Minnesota talent coach, working as a backup performer with Elvis tribute artist Anthony Shore, and singing with Revolver and the Secret Agents. She was also a finalist during Minneapolis’ auditions to appear on NBC’s The Voice.
HPA’s job doesn’t end after teaching students how to play an instrument or vocalize. The studio helps students learn how to give solid auditions, put a lid on stage fright and give strong performances. It also schedules several performances throughout the year, including the highly anticipated Mall of America Holiday Music Festival. “We try our best to put on a good show,” Heart says. Amy Teitscheid’s two young daughters performed in the show. “Who knew such young girls could stand in front of three tiers in the rotunda, lined with people at the Mall of America like it was our living room, to sing their solos?” she notes. “We would have never believed it possible until we saw it.”
As any good performer knows, they can’t step on stage only cloaked in talent—the outfit/costume also plays a part. Wisely, Heart has cross-promoted HPA’s MOA appearances with clothes from Betsey Johnson’s boutique and, recently, Glitz Gowns. HPA performers wear clothing from the stores during the MOA event. “It’s another way to make it exciting and different,” Heart says.
HPA rates begin at $130 for four 30 minute in-home lessons. Some discounts are available. As of now, HPA doesn’t have a permanent location. Lessons are offered in students’ homes, and performance space is rented on an as-needed basis. Heart is considering securing space, but she’s in no rush. She finds value in growing her business “as organically as possible without pushing it,” she says. “This has been working so far.”