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New piano studio opens in the city

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After more than two decades of teaching piano to adults and children in their homes, Christine M. Bookman has opened a lesson space of her own.

At Ms. B’s Piano Keys, 111 Main St., Ogdensburg, Ms. Bookman offers private one-on-one piano lessons to young children and adults learning to play classical, jazz and pop or a combination of the three styles.

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

Ms. Bookman said she opened the city studio in March hoping it would bring students and teachers together.

The handicapped-accessible, 1,250 square-foot studio features a large piano room, lab and 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 is now studying under Eugenia Tsarob, a teacher at SUNY Potsdam’s Crane School of Music.

Ms. Bookman, who also holds a degree in human development from SUNY Empire State College, 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 having fun and building 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 first hand that learning to play piano should always be an enjoyable experience.

“I started playing when I was seven, 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 be offering six sessions for $100. She is also planning a jazz workshop and piano recital called “Hollywood Night” this summer. A grand opening date for the studio will be announced.

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