As much as she loves music and teaching, Julia Powell initially didn’t want to combine the two into a career.
“I was worried that it would burn me out on music if I taught in public schools all day long,” she said. “I didn’t want to hate my passion.”
Now she’s found a way to follow it without the burnout. Through her business, Accent Studio, Powell offers piano lessons to students of all ages in their homes.
“I love doing the one-on-one teaching,” she said. “It’s so great because I can tailor to each student’s learning.”
Powell grew up in El Dorado and, like all her siblings, was required to start taking piano lessons at age 5 from her grandmother, Martha Francis.
“She was the local piano teacher in Eureka,” she said. Her grandfather, Henry, was the church organist.
She started playing the harp as well, at age 12, eventually performing with the Wichita Youth Symphony and other groups. Powell earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in business education from Friends University and Emporia State University, respectively.
She taught piano full-time in Kansas before returning to this area to teach business and computer courses in Wichita public schools for eight years, while still teaching a half-dozen piano students on the side.
Last fall, she and her husband “thought it was time to resume my studio,” but with the twist of providing the lessons in students’ homes. Currently, she has 27 students.
Convenience for the student isn’t the only benefit, Powell said. They get to learn on their own instrument, and in the same environment they will practice in later.
“I’m also able to tell if their piano needs tuning,” she said. “That can make a difference with a kid.”
Powell has taught a student as young as 3 years old. She thinks 7 or 8 is an ideal age to start the piano, although “every kid is different.”
She also enjoys teaching adults, including those in their retirement years.
“It’s a great way for them to keep their brains active,” she said. “It’s a lot of fun.”
Adults generally take piano lessons for different reasons than children, she noted.
“A lot of times, adults want to do it because they have a certain piece they liked growing up, or took lessons as kids. It’s on their bucket list,” she said.
“Usually their goal is personal pleasure. Whereas a lot of times for kids, it’s because they see the value of musical education early on.”
Powell teaches from beginners up to to advanced students.
“I love to teach the beginners mostly because everything is so exciting to them,” she said. “But I enjoy the advanced as well because there’s so much that goes into music, and I love the study of music.”
Her lessons generally run 30 minutes for kids; 45 for adults.
So far, she hasn’t been able to put her skills on her other instrument to work.
“There’s not a huge calling for harp teachers.”