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Instructor Spotlight: Andrea Mathews

1. How long have you been teaching at Garden Street?

I started in September 2015.

2. What is your favorite thing about Garden Street?

Many different reasons: I am able to teach both dance and music. The teacher's here are absolutely amazing. They were so welcoming when we moved here. The students and parents are the same way. My daughter dances here and all of the girls welcomed her into the company with open arms. Instead of competing against each other they support each other...a team.

3. What initially drew you to singing and playing piano/guitar?

My grandfather had a beautiful voice and whistled like Bing Crosby. He would dance around with me in his living room to Cab Driver by The Mills Brothers. This is one of my earliest memories as a child and where my love for music stemmed from. I was quite shy when I was younger until I discovered musical theater and a director that did not give up on love for musical theater and performing soon morphed into writing music.

4. Are you practicing any other instruments right now?

Not right now. When I am not lesson planning, choreographing or performing...I write. I love writing music. This past year I have focused on two projects: I wrote a musical with a musician friend of mine and we are currently finishing up my album. Both are exciting and it keeps me quite busy.

5. Where are you from and why did you move to the area?

My daughter and I moved here from Michigan. I have always wanted to move to the NYC area and now I am able to share this experience with my daughter. I don't think it can get any better.

6. What advice do you have for students for practicing at home?

I know practicing is hard to do and it feels like work so think of it work! Working toward something you really want can be fun. You can see and hear when someone is practicing. My favorite aspect of being a teacher is to recognize when a student is improving or when a student reaches a certain goal or level. It feels even better when you, as the student, reach that personal goal.

7. What advice do you have for anyone who is thinking about taking music lessons?

I say go for it. There is no time but now. You are never to young or to old to begin dance or music. It is another form of expression that can open an entire new creative outlet. I was extremely shy as a child. Music, dance and my wonderful director growing up helped me break out of that shell. Music lessons, dance lessons, acting lessons can do so much more than help one grow as an artist...they can help one grow as an individual as well.

8. What is your teaching philosophy?

Have fun! I want my students to enjoy music, enjoy dance, enjoy acting. I don't want it to feel forced or to feel like a chore. I want them to be excited to come to class or lessons.

9. What would you do if you were not a musician?

Oh my...that is hard to even think not play music. Yikes! I also have an interior design degree. I would probably be designing spaces, sets for film or theater or weddings/events. I enjoy it but my heart belongs to music and dance.

10. What is one interesting or unexpected fact about you that most students do not know?

I am quite an open book. I would say that most of my music students don't know that I teach dance and perform musical theater and my dance students don't know that I teach music.

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