"I really enjoyed the 'Music of Color' piano class. It's been a long, long time since I played any sort of music. Lessons were approachable for people of any skill. And, more important than what we learned, understanding how each of us learns and listens as an individual was the greatest takeaway of all that will help me continue to practice on my own." - David P., Summer 2022


"I had the opportunity to take two piano classes this summer with the JMU Music Academy, and they were both great! I love the group interaction, and Natalie is an amazing piano teacher and coach. She is an incredible listener, and she has creative and insightful ways to help each participant learn how to learn the piano to reach their goals. She makes it a safe space to grow, learn, and appreciate music together. I highly recommend it." - Emily Y., Summer 2022


"The five-week 'Music of Color' course was the first group music course I had been in since seventh grade. I have had lots of private lessons for guitar and piano over the past fifteen or so years and I didn't know what to expect. I was a little skeptical that much could be achieved with the instructor having to divide her time so much. It was far better than I had expected. Rather than focus on technique, it was more about encouraging us to think about what our goals are in making music, to be more open to experimentation and to see what other musical traditions can bring to our own playing with lots of good suggestions on ways to improvise. It was a great addition to my summer." - Zach P., Summer 2022

music-academy-testimonial-1.png"I initially signed up on a whim for the JMU Music Academy after seeing the Film Scores class. I thought it would be fun and worth a try. I hoped that it would help my stale and limited knowledge of piano blossom a bit. Since I work at JMU, the Friday afternoon class time was perfect. As we approached the first class I began to doubt my decision and grew nervous. Not five minutes inot the first class any apprehension and nerves totally faded away. Natalie's kind and patient personality combined with her practical approach to teaching piano made me realize I was going to enjoy the class and get more out of it than I had ever hoped. Not only have I learned the pieces from the class, I have learned simple and basic skills to apply as I move forward after the completion of the class. I hate to see it end, but I know my work on the piano and music understanding is only beginning because of the skills learned here. Thank you!" - Kristen H.


"After I retired, I decided to give piano another try, having a not-very-fulfilling or productive experience in my youth. I signed up for JMU Music Academy. What impressed me was how interested Natalie, our instructor, was in trying to figure out what my special abilities and interests were. I found myself enjoying and looking forward to class every week. Every class consisted of sight reading, playing melody with chords, and improvisation. There was something for everyone! Natalie has the unique gift of being able to inspire and motivate; her feedback always constructive and yet gentle. A whole new world has opened up to me, thanks to her." - Anne H., Retired JMU Professor Emeritusmusic-academy-testimonial-2.png


"I have been having so much fun playing! I am so thankful for the Music Academy virtual lessons. It has been very empowering. It's so nice to feel like I can play again! Thanks for all you've invested in teaching us!" - Cedar J., Virtual Participant, Fall 2020


"As a former piano student during childhood, JMU Music Academy offered a perfect fit to resume playing piano as an adult. After two semesters, including both in-person and virtual instruction, I was able to build immensely on my beginner foundation in sight reading, music theory, and technique. The instructor, Natalie Doughty, provided engaging lessons that were attainable yet challenging enough to keep me motivated to continue learning and playing. The group format also created a fun, welcoming environment to learn with and from peers. I highly recommend Music Academy as a solid foundation to jump right into the rewards of playing piano!" - April T., Virtual Participant, Fall 2020


"I registered for the class really not knowing what to expect and I don’t want it to finish! One of my interests was learning to play using chords and after just 12 weeks, I can play several songs using a guitar chord book at the piano.  In addition to refreshing my sight-reading skills, I learned that improvising is fun and anyone can do it!  It really was a creative, non-pressured environment and I learned more than I ever thought I would." - Janice G.


"I thoroughly enjoyed taking group piano lessons.  My wonderful teacher was very patient and kind!! It was also fun to interact with other people that I had not met before.  We became friends and we had a lot of fun.  I found myself looking forward to classes each week!" - Towana


"When I first started to play piano, I couldn't relax because I was so worried that I wasn't playing the music perfectly. I learned that it was okay to make those mistakes and that empowered me to play how I felt. With the warmup improv sessions, I gained the confidence to explore and experiment without worrying if I was playing "right." The greatest lesson that I learned in the JMU Music Academy has been to trust myself; trust that I know where I am on the keys and where I am in the music. I can never thank my instructor Natalie enough, and I cannot wait to play more! - Crystal I., Summer 2022


"My two semester participation in the piano classes of the JMU Music Academy were very rewarding. I rediscovered my long lost love of playing in an atmosphere that is professional and non-threatening.  I was amazed at the amount of information that was covered in a once-a-week class as well as the high quality of instruction." - Cynthia T.


"My experience with the adult piano course has met above and beyond my expectations! Learning the piano has always been on my bucket list and I’m so glad I finally took this step. I’ve learned so much in just a few short weeks. I went from not knowing how to read a single note to being able to actually read sheet music along with learning 3 different hand positions, chords, and musical terminology. I can’t believe I’m playing songs written from Chopin, Bach and Mozart! I enjoy my peaceful time practicing at home. I’ve always admired those musicians that can de-stress and get lost in their music. I can finally have that 'me' time!" - Patti C.


"I found the Music Academy group lessons to be fun, informative, and collaborative—we learn from and support each other!  As a result, I have regained my motivation to learn and play the piano, and I would unhesitatingly recommend the program to anyone, young or old, who aspires to develop their own musical interests!" - Steve P.

Anne's Testimonial
Susan's Testimonial
Cynthia's Testimonial
Libby's Testimonial
Hong's Testimonial

Music Academy

Natalie Doughty

Natalie Doughty
Piano Instructor/

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