KAMERIN MCDONALD MUSIC LESSONS
singing | piano | guitar | music theory | more!
Who I Am
I'm a classically trained, queer-identified singer and songwriter who lives and works in Oakland. When I’m not teaching, I’m working on my own music! I’m currently working on my second album (here’s my first, plus a recently released single). Also, I am working with a collaborator to found a choir for trans/queer identified folks and allies — auditions will be in February 2019! I have a Bachelor's degree in Music from Wesleyan University, and a Master's degree in Music Composition from Mills College. I perform regularly in the Bay Area as a solo artist and occasionally as part of a duo (Ghost Lore). So far, I've had the honor of performing and/or collaborating with Kronos Quartet, inkBoat Physical Theater and Dance Company, Degenerate Ensemble, William Winant Percussion Ensemble… and others!
What I Offer
I currently teach private lessons in voice, piano, and/or guitar to students of all ages in Oakland, Alameda, and Fremont. Depending on students’ age, experience level, and goals, the curriculum that I provide and my approach to our lessons will vary. In general, however, I offer a few different types of lessons:
Piano (12 and under):
I’ll use age appropriate lesson (song) and theory (writing) books to cover all of the bases — reading musical notation, ear training, technique and coordination, and foundational music theory. Once they have a solid beginner’s grasp on this material, I will then expand our material to include the jazz-based approach (using chords, tabs, and making room for more creative interpretation, i.e. working together to write short songs, or learn the riffs to their favorite pop songs).
For students 10 and up, we will focus first and foremost on developing healthy vocal techniques through a series of age-appropriate exercises and warm ups. (Bad habits, if not corrected early, result in long term vocal damage!) We will use the solfeggi system and the basics of music notation ad theory. I’ll will provide age appropriate repertoire from primarily folk, pop, and jazz genres.
Piano/voice or guitar/voice
For students age 12 and up, I offer slightly longer lessons, with a dual focus on voice and another instrument. We’ll divide our lesson time equally between the two subjects, and once the student has mastered a few basics of each instrument we will begin learning self accompaniment (singing and playing at the same time). In this style of lesson, the primary focus will be on technique-building drills and exercises and a music theory informed, chord-based approach.
Guitar or piano (12 and up)
For either instrument, I can teach students to read tab-style notation, chord-style/strumming only, traditional notation, or all of the above! If you’re not sure what you’d like, I’ll work with you to figure out what would be the best approach.
My Teaching Philosophy
I grew up taking classical piano and hating it! I started at 6, and quit at 13 because I just wasn’t interested in the material I was being assigned. Luckily, I discovered and fell in love with jazz piano and songwriting in college, and have been committed to music ever since. While I regret having missed out on the years in between, I wouldn’t change the way things happened; the re-discovery of music taught me that a commitment driven by interest is much stronger than one of obligation.
As a teacher, my approach is very much informed by my own experiences with music lessons. My primary goal is to keep my students (I currently have over 30!) enrolled, engaged, and enjoying their lessons. Learning an instrument is certainly a serious commitment, but it’s also important to “play”. I believe that the ideal learning environment is one that finds the balance between discipline and playfulness, structure and creative exploration, focus and humor. It is important to me that my students feel excited about the music we’re working on, and whenever possible and appropriate, I give them a say in what that music is.
"I can't say enough good things about Kam. Our lessons together are one of the highlights of my week, and have been one of the most important personal development investments I've made into myself because, when you can sing, you can always make your own sunshine. Singing is one of those things that is incredibly difficult to learn by watching because so much of the technique is not visible externally. What I like most about my lessons with Kam is the valuable personal feedback. Kam gives me real-time specific guidance and visuals to help me trigger the right muscles and right mindset. Every time Kam gives me new tips or discovers a new area of growth potential, I feel as if a whole new world of excitement opens up. 100% would recommend." - Kevin (25)
Before we met Kamerin, my [9 year old] daughter has been learning Piano else where for more than 2 years and lost her interest in music. It is after starting to learn music again with Kamerin, that spark to learn music returned to my daughter. [They] helped my daughter regain her confidence in music and helped her in completing her first CM exam successfully. We are glad to have known Kamerin, the best music teacher my kids ever had. My Son (6 yr) old was also Kamerin's student for a year, and he just loves to go to [their] class." - Janaki
"I have been taking vocal lessons from Kam for a little over a year. Out of the many vocal coaches I have worked with, Kam has by far been the best, most pleasant, fun, and easiest coach to work with. Kam has a wealth of vocal knowledge, patience, and they make an effort to understand my vocal strengths and limitations. Because of Kam, I've been able to increase my range and improve my vocal technique and confidence. I appreciate how they make an effort to learn my favorite songs, and suggest other great and fun songs to work on. Their class is sincerely one of the highlights of my week! Thanks, Kam!" - Rheanne, 30