Ever wanted to learn to sing or play the piano? So many of us do, but it’s often difficult to find the right teacher. Together met with Steffi Pacson, an artist who also has a passion for coaching, to learn a bit about her and her made-to-measure approach to music coaching.
What is your background?
So, I was born in Manila, the Philippines. When I was eight years old we moved to Queens, New York. We eventually moved to the east end of Long Island, New York. My passion for music started when I was 15 years old when I was asked to sing a country song for a musical in my high school. It was surprising to everyone – even to me – that I could sing.
“My passion for music started when I was 15 years old”
I was asked to be part of more theater shows and concerts at school and my passion for music started to blossom. During the learning process, I became very aware of the fact that I did not want to simply be a singer, but I wanted to be as independent as I possibly could be as an artist. I wanted to learn an instrument and I chose the piano. At 17 years old, I took the courage to ask a piano teacher to start teaching me Chopin and Erik Satie to prepare for a university audition as a music performance major.
After one year, I was able to learn Chopin Nocturne’s Opus 9 No. 1 in B flat minor and Erik Satie’s Gymnopédie No. 1. I absolutely do not know how I did it, because looking back now, after all these years, these were incredibly hard pieces. But I think by force of drive, passion, and inspiration, I was able to perform and memorize the pieces. I passed the audition and was accepted into Adelphi University’s music program as a music performance major in classical piano.
During the next 4 bachelor years, I put my absolute best into learning all the piano techniques that I could. In my journey, I had to become aware of my learning styles and deal with a lot of self-doubt and anxieties that come with learning an instrument. At the end of the day, it is like learning about yourself, because learning and playing an instrument is a mode of self-expression and self-expression is exercised through the exploration of oneself and finding a way to put words or performance to that.
“Playing an instrument is a mode of self-expression and requires an exploration of oneself”
During my university years, I started to learn how to write songs through membership and regular attendance at songwriting workshops held by the New York Songwriter Circle and the Nashville Songwriters Association International.
I graduated magna cum laude with the highest distinction from Adelphi University as a music performance major with a concentration on piano. Shortly after, I attended SAE, School of Audio Engineering in New York City.
After my studies, I was able to channel all my experience and studies to perform in concerts in New York, Luxembourg, London and Belgium.
What brought you to Brussels, other than beer and chocolate?
I came to Brussels for a musical collaboration, called SEY. We were playing concerts around Belgium. We were the first act to open the Nivelles Summer Festival 2018. After we disbanded, I decided to stay in Belgium because I loved the tight-knit musical community and the support that artists receive. I also love the open-mindedness of European culture and how Brussels is a city that connects people from so many different backgrounds.
What do you do now?
So, I am a music artist entrepreneur. I am also a piano coach, vocal coach, and artist coach. Due to my well-rounded experience as a pianist, performer, singer, songwriter, and recording engineer, I am able to understand music from all angles. And due to my intense immersion in these sectors, I am able to understand the psychological perspective in stepping into these roles. As a coach, I am able to communicate with my students on a human level the process of understanding oneself through learning an instrument through a structured way of learning.
You have a different teaching approach to most, how does it work?
My motto is this: “Bring out your potential, express your unique voice, and cultivate a love for your instrument through holistic and goal-oriented coaching”
I plan my courses in 10 sessions with an end goal in mind. The lessons are geared towards achieving this goal. Transparency is important to me, so I create and share a 10-session plan of action with my students. The plan of action is carefully planned, keeping in mind my students’ life outside of our sessions. The action plan is subject to change and is regularly updated depending on the student’s progress.
The whole idea of this concept is to have a structured approach to learning but at the same keeping in mind the human element of unexpected life events. In addition, seeing physical proof of progress (multiple versions of the 10 plan action plan) helps in building confidence in oneself.
“Bring out your potential, express your unique voice, and cultivate a love for your instrument through holistic and goal-oriented coaching”
What sort of level of student do you work with, is it mostly children or adults?
My courses are perfect for students of all ages. For kids, I am able to introduce them to a structured progress plan which is also a good model for them to follow outside of our music courses. This sets them up for good habits to follow through in their adolescence and eventually adult years. Through my holistic and goal-oriented approach, kids build confidence in themselves through progress which they see through their lesson plan. In addition, we have fun because it brings me joy to see them light up when they conquer a passage or a certain piece that they want to play.
Adults also enjoy my lessons because it is well-structured and goal-oriented. Due to my attentive, empathetic, and detail-oriented nature, they feel supported through their musical progress and trust me in being there to guide them in their understanding of themselves through learning their instrument, both vocal and piano. I have both beginner and intermediate-level students.
Semi-pro artists also trust me because they know that I understand the global overview of the artistic process. I am able to support them from every angle, whether that is on a technical level or a human level.
My teaching style is empathetic and compassionate but at the same time well structured. I encourage all my students to be present and be aware of themselves in their learning progress. This awareness also encourages steady results and confidence.
“My courses are perfect for students of all ages: kids, adults and semi-pros”
I am proud of my students and their progress. And it brings me joy to help them as pianists, vocalists, and artists. But above all, I feel honored to witness them blossom as individuals.
Do you yourself perform? And do you have any concerts planned?
As a music artist entrepreneur, yes I have concerts planned till the end of 2022. I have concerts in Hard Rock Cafe and Scotts Bar in Brussels. You can find all the info on my website: steffipacson.com