Andrew and Amanda Welch are getting used to being at home again.
After spending the last several years in the lifestyle of touring musicians in Nashville, they moved back to Sapulpa to be close to family.
“It’s been great having family dinners, again,” Amanda says.
And Amanda is bringing a new business she began in Music City with her to Sapulpa: a piano school.
She started by working in a studio in 2007, and in 2012 she formed Welch School of Piano, where she began teaching piano to children as young as three years old.
“Music has always been a part of my family,” she says. “We played together, and sang together. I have a classical education, and attended ORU on a music scholarship. My mother said, ‘you’re going to play music as long as you have these scholarships to pay for school,’” and though at first she wasn’t sure if it would become a profession, “later I began to see I have a passion for it, and this is what I want to do.”
Andrew is originally from Poteau, and they met on a music mission trip. “We had to audition for this trip. They take about 30 kids from all over Oklahoma, and they attend a training camp, and then spend three weeks doing performances on a regular basis.”
She says there were strict rules against dating on the trip, but afterward, their relationship grew from that experience they shared.
She said the mission trip not only introduced her to her husband, but it was great to make a connection with “all these other kids who just loved music,” and it taught her values that would serve her well later: “The importance of practicing, and bringing a level of excellence to everything we do,” she said.
That same level of excellence is what she brings to the studio, but in a way that is flexible enough to work with young preschoolers. “I just love working with kids that age,” she says. While most parents might wonder how she can get a three-year-old to sit long enough for a half-hour piano lesson, she says the answer is “we don’t just sit! We do table time, where we learn notes and do what we call ‘music math,’ but we do games, too! It’s more than enough to hold their attention for the lesson.”
Welch says that she sees her lessons as helpful to developing skills that are critical for young children. She says many of these kids go from her classes into their schools with advanced fine motor skills, and an ability to learn new things more quickly. “They’re beginning to learn to read music, which is just like reading words—left to right, top to bottom.”
“I want my students to have as much performance experience as we can give them.” Four recitals a year (during a normal year), including a costume recital in the fall when they can dress up for the music they’ve chosen and a holiday recital that they perform in their pajamas. “We have cookies and milk after that one, it’s a lot of fun, a lot,” she says. They also have a Valentine’s recital at a nursing home in February. She says the seniors “love having the children over—they’ll sing along if they know the songs…they just love it.” Finally, she wraps up the season with a classically-oriented concert in May that she calls a big “celebration of what we accomplished that year.”
Welch says she currently has several spots to fill, and anyone who’s interested can learn more information at welchschoolofpiano.com
She says that regardless of how long her students are with her, she wants to leave them with lessons that will remain forever. “I want there to always be a love of music, that they can always have that, whether they go on to become a doctor, or lawyer, or whatever!”