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New piano studio opens in Ogdensburg

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OGDENSBURG — With more than two decades of experience teaching piano to all ages, Christine M. Bookman has opened her first piano studio.

At Ms. B’s Piano Keys, 111 Main St., she offers private piano lessons to children and adults interested in learning to play classical, jazz and pop music or a combination of all three styles.

“There is no age limit,” Ms. Bookman said. “People say you can’t learn after age 11, but I have a friend with students as old as 90. If there’s a will to learn, you can.”

Ms. Bookman, who previously gave lessons at students’ homes, said she opened the city studio in March to bring students and teachers together.

The handicapped-accessible, 1,250-square-foot studio features a large piano room, a lab and a secluded waiting area. A computer wired to keyboards in the lab registers notes and offers feedback.

Ms. Bookman has studied under pianists who graduated from the Cincinnati Conservatory and Oberlin College in Ohio. She now studies under Eugenia M. Tsarov, a teacher at SUNY Potsdam’s Crane School of Music.

Ms. Bookman, who graduated with a degree in human development from Empire State College, Saratoga Springs, specializes in teaching autistic and developmentally challenged children.

“Out of the 25 students I teach, five have autism,” she said. “My degree helps me adapt to individual learning styles and allows me to play on their strengths and focus on their motivations.”

The most important aspect of learning to play the piano is for students to have fun and build self-esteem, Ms. Bookman said.

“There are so many benefits, especially neurologically,” she said. “It’s been proven that students who study piano do better in school.”

Ms. Bookman knows firsthand that learning to play piano should always be enjoyable.

“I started playing when I was 7, but quit when I was 12 because I hated it,” she said. “I started up again in high school when I began playing on my own. I guess you could say my philosophy is to show kids how fun playing piano can be. Also, to show children that their artistry is just as much about them as it is about the piece they are playing.”

Sessions by appointment are $80 per month. This summer, Ms. Bookman will offer six summer sessions for a total of $100.

She will hold a jazz workshop and piano recital called “Hollywood Night” this summer. A grand opening of the Ogdensburg studio is also in the works.

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