Jy Gronner, owner Palisades Music School. Photo by Westside People
Jy Gronner taught piano for 20 years before she discovered Simply Music, a method that changed everything.
At her newly expanded Palisades Music School, formerly The Piano Studio, Gronner and a small staff of teachers offer everything from classical to blues piano with the ability to improvise and accompany all under the Simply Music brand.
“Simply Music really is a holistic approach,” Gronner said. “People who think they don’t have a good ear actually do. They just haven’t learned the skill of translating it back out again. People who say they aren’t musical and “failed” at piano as kids actually find they catch on much faster than they expected.”
The method, developed by Australian Neil Moore, begins with the premise that everyone is deeply and profoundly musical. Everyone has rhythm in speech and even walking down the sidewalk. It taps into our brain’s natural ability to follow patterns and rhythm.
For a generation of piano teachers, Simply Music represents a revolution in music training much like it does for the conservatory-trained Gronner. Piano lessons have among the highest failure rate of any taught subject. Most people who take lessons never acquire the ability to just sit down and play. And this was a way to change that.
Similar to the way we learn to speak as a child, Simply Music begins with a “playing-based approach” that has students playing 35-50 songs by memory after the first year. Some of the company’s promotional material feature young children belting out blues riffs.
“In the beginning we temporarily delay the reading, which I think is natural if you think about how we learn language as a child,” Gronner said. “We learn to read and spell years after we’ve learned to use the instruments of our mouth and voice to make sounds.”
Gronner became a Simply Music instructor about 10 years ago in Marin County where she established a studio with 250 students. She relocated to Pacific Palisades about two years ago. Her Palisades Music School is a family affair, now including nephew Guy as a teacher. At the time of our interview, the school was moving into a larger space in the 881 Alma Real building.
“I know the kids can’t wait to get here,” she said. “They run in and hug me because they are so happy to be here. And a lot of the adults too say it’s a highlight of their lives to be able to express themselves musically,” Gronner said. “Our ultimate goal is to maximize the likelihood of students acquiring and retaining music as a lifelong companion.”