How it Began
The Studio was established in 1987, starting in a one-bedroom apartment in Benicia, which is why Miss Nancy started out offering lessons in her student’s homes. Soon it became obvious that making “house calls” was needed in her busy community and the beginning years were spent teaching exclusively in students homes around Benicia, Vallejo, and American Canyon.
It wasn’t long before Miss Nancy’s name began spreading around the local private schools, such as St. Vincent’s and St. Catherine’s Catholic Schools in Vallejo and St. Dominic’s Catholic School in Benicia. In the early 90’s, the Studio began attracting so many new students through “word of mouth” that Miss Nancy decided to devote all of her time and attention to building a solid reputation as a “tough yet tender” teacher and developing quality lesson plans based on the MTAC’s Certificate of Merit curriculum that she was raised with, while making the learning fun & exciting for her students.
1990's, The Early Years
In the early years, Recitals were held at a local assisted living community known as Westlake Gold Country House. They have a beautiful baby grand piano in front of a fireplace, and the residents were very appreciative of the music and enjoyed watching the children as they progressed over the years. In 1992, the Studio moved into a rented 1-bedroom Victorian home in the Heritage District of Vallejo and we began holding Annual Christmas Recitals at the JFK Library in Vallejo, where they have a very nice baby grand piano on stage in their Joseph Room. This is when students began giving regular, but smaller “community service performances” at Westlake, which are now held at Merrill Gardens Northbay (who bought Westlake in the early ‘00’s).
As the Studio started growing, Miss Nancy designed supplemental worksheets for her students to use in their rhythm & theory study, which are to be included in Miss Nancy’s upcoming publication of “The Piano Strategy Guide”. Tests were also developed to monitor the student’s progress through the various method books and in the mid-90’s, students began setting Semester Goals and Miss Nancy began preparing bi-annual Progress Reports.
Soon it became evident that Miss Nancy’s energy, enthusiasm and love for the piano were contagious, because her students were making amazing progress. Miss Nancy wanted to personally reward her students who were practicing regularly and completing their work, so the Student Incentive Program was developed in the late 90’s and has evolved in itself from giving out Pokemon trading cards to the current reward of $5 Gift Cards for every 5,000 points earned. The Incentive Program is such a success that several students now belong to the “100k Club”, which is for those who have earned over 100,000 Incentive Program points.
2000 - 2009
By the early 00’s, the students were doing so well with performances that the Studio decided to implement a Trophy Program to recognize the outstanding efforts and performance achievements of the students, along with an Annual Award Ceremony that is held one month after the Annual Recital. This has also evolved from simple performance trophies to the current multi-categorical “Audience Choice Awards”, as well as Promotion Medals, the History Maker Awards and the Practice Rank Awards. In addition, entertainment was added to the Award Ceremony in the mid-00’s and we now hold a “Family Talent Show” at each Award Ceremony, where students can showcase their ensemble talents by performing with family or friends.
In 2000, the Studio organized a field trip to see an exclusive private showing of Fantasia 2000 at a theater in Vallejo. The students were then assigned to write a paragraph about their current Recital song. The paragraphs were so wonderfully & imaginatively written that we decided to print them in the program for the Annual Recital … and now the Studio is very proud to publish a Keepsake Program Booklet for each Annual Recital that includes a page for each student with their bio and their “paragraph”. In 2011, we added “Applause Comments” to the student program pages in which family members can express their pride and appreciation for the student’s talents … then in 2013, we started adding pictures of the students.
Also in the early 2000’s, Miss Nancy began developing the first Studio website which has evolved over the years and has been completely maintained by Miss Nancy. During the summer of 2013, a new website was developed by AlamoWeb Solutions to provide a new look and to create a website that would be easier to use for her music students and parents.
In late 2000, the first “Student Christmas CD” was produced in a local recording studio and subsequent “Annual Recital CDs” were recorded live. During the process, Miss Nancy realized she could do much of the CD work herself with just a little training on the software being used. So, recording equipment and software were acquired and the Studio began producing the first Student Christmas CD’s in 2005.
In 2002, the Studio organized another field trip - this time to see Stomp! in San Francisco. We got an excellent group rate and went to a matinee performance. The students had a terrific time and even the parents were “tapping the street signs” on their way back to their cars. In 2012, the Studio attempted to organize another field trip to see it when Stomp! finally came back to SF … but unfortunately, the production company cancelled the performance due to low ticket sales. So, we’ll keep watching for Stomp! to come back again and in the meantime, the Studio still shows clips from Stomp! videos at some of the Rhythm Workshops.
By 2003, the Studio was providing piano instruction to 42 students, so Miss Nancy purchased a 3-bedroom home in Vallejo to accommodate all the studio activities. In addition to teaching, performances, and recording CDs, the Studio began offering Rhythm Workshops several times throughout the year, using a large collection of percussion instruments.
In early 2004, the studio’s calendar and lesson plans were “restructured” to follow the usual school year (August through May), and as part of the restructure plan, the Annual Recital was moved from Christmas to Springtime ... and from the library to the Fetterly Playhouse for the Arts (a very nice community theater in Vallejo, with stage, lights, sound, and a very artsy atmosphere). That was also the year that the Annual Student Christmas CD was born. Miss Nancy then began videotaping the student performances and DVDs were produced up until 2007, when we began uploading the videos to YouTube and offering them for viewing in the Student Gallery on the Studio website.
Then in early Fall of 2006, Miss Nancy had some serious health conditions. During this difficult time, her students were amazingly loyal and remained with the Studio, practicing faithfully & taking the initiative to be ready for the Annual Christmas CD as well as the 2007 Annual Recital. Not a single student left the Studio, which was a huge blessing in itself … however, due to the lost income and the beginning of the “housing crisis”, the Studio’s 3-bedroom home was lost to foreclosure. The Studio & Miss Nancy first moved to a rented 3-bedroom Vallejo home in 2007, and then in 2009 moved to the 2-bedroom duplex in Fairfield where we have been ever since.
Since being in our new home, the Studio has continued to grow and evolve. In 2011, the students got together and decided to sell their Annual Christmas CD to raise money for the Marine Corps Toys for Tots program. To make a long story short, the Studio obtained copyright permission, the students performed an outdoor concert at the Woodcreek Plaza’s “A Day With Santa” event, and they raised over $1,200 in CD sales! The Fairfield Daily Republic picked up the story and interviewed several students, once at the Studio while the recording was taking place, and again at the concert, putting student’s pictures in the paper with both articles. And when all was said & done, the students had a terrific time shopping as a group with the $1,200 for the toys to give to the Marine Corps program. It was a wonderful Christmas experience for the students!
In 2012, the Studio expanded its promotions and offerings to include a Preschooler Program and an Independent Study Program. We also began offering Master Classes twice each semester to students wanting to “get serious” about the piano and really understand music in depth. And we broke into the Social Media, creating profiles on sites such as Facebook, as well as sites such as Betterfly, Linked-In, and Yelp.
In 2013, the week-long Summer Practice Boot Camp was introduced, which challenges the students to accelerate their practice during the summer and teaches them “training methods” and “practice methods” that can be used to get the most result out of less practice. The “Final Boot Camp Challenge Presentation” was performed in August at a smashingly successful outdoor concert on the Studio’s large lawn.
In late 2013, the Studio Music Clubs (Boomwackers Music Club, Writing & Arranging Music Club, and the Silent Movie Music Club) and small Parlor Gatherings will soon be introduced. The Studio has also become a vendor this year with Visions in Education in order to serve the local home-schooling community.
Coming up in 2014, Hegarty Piano Studio will begin offering lessons in Placerville and the surrounding area. We aren't leaving Solano County just yet ... but Miss Nancy is starting to take the necessary steps to move up to El Dorado County over the next few years to be closer to her aging Mom. For the time being, Miss Nancy will continue to offer full services in Solano County and will commute back and forth, which she's already doing now.
The Studio is always evolving … and as I hope you can see from our past evolution that we will have some exciting things coming up in our future! Come on and join us on the journey!