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Music with a Side of Smile
Posted on January 7th, 2018 
"What a beautiful smile," "Wow, what a nice smile," "I love your smile," "You're always so happy."
Emily Feinberg-Hosier standing next to a tree near a pond smiling brightly.
I feel so giddy inside when people say these things to me. I really only smile because I like to. It feels nice; my lips opening wide into my cheeks, all my straight and crooked teeth showing, my eyes getting all squinty- I like the way my muscles feel when it happens. And I REALLY like what it does to people. What does it do? It usually makes people smile back and act super nice and friendly. It's amazing how a smile makes us feel, and it's so easy to do! I use it all the time, and it's actually an essential part of my music lessons.
Young Student Enjoy his Piano Lesson
Think of it: your first voice lesson or piano lesson. You're excited, nervous, shy, anxious, and a million other emotions because you don't know what or who to expect. It's a brand new teacher you've never met before. Will they be nice? Are they boring? Are they going to make you play or sing something you don't like? What if their breath smells?- Okay, it's your lesson time. The student before you just walked out the door and it's your turn. Here you go...

"Hi! I'm Emily, how are you?!" says your new music teacher in a relatively high-pitched voice, with a GIGANTIC smile on her face. Phew, the nerves that went all the way up to your eyeballs start to go down as you automatically smile back, without even meaning to. See how easy?

There's nothing like mirror neurons to set the mood and help break down your barriers for your music lesson! Mirror neurons are these awesome particles that make us copy actions we see, like a yawn, a laugh, and what I'm talking about: Smiling 🙂😀😁! If there's ANYTHING I've learned from my years of teaching music education thus far, it's to show your happy face with a smile. When I smile, you smile. And that's science. Medical and science writer, Susan Perry explains it very clearly: "When you see someone smile, for example, your mirror neurons for smiling fire up, too, creating a sensation in your own mind of the feeling associated with smiling. You don’t have to think about what the other person intends by smiling. You experience the meaning immediately and effortlessly."

I like to think of smiles as invitations that say: "Go ahead, feel comfortable and be yourself!" With my smile, I aim to make my students feel reassured, encouraged, and safe. It relaxes them so that anything troubling them takes the backseat; at least for the duration of our lesson.

In my music lessons, I'm inviting you to share moments together and discover what you can accomplish when you're open and ready to go; no nerves or strings attached, just trust, ambition, and camaraderie. When my students smile, it tells me they're happy. They're liking what we're doing in our lessons, and they're progressing. Their smiles help me gage how far to go in each lesson, and they really fill me in on my students' interests.

I'll say it again, I really like smiling. I like showing how I feel with big, teeth-baring, ear-to-ear, genuine smiles. I don't care if you're the cashier at Walgreens or someone walking past me on the sidewalk; I'm gonna smile at ya. It's my way of saying, "Hello, I truly hope you're having a fantastic day, and if not, maybe this will cheer you up." And smiling goes both way; I loved being smiled at. Not in the creepy guy-trying-to-get-my-number-no-thanks-I'm-married kind of way, but in a friendly, small town kind of way that reassures me there are always nice people out there. All it takes is a smile.

There are also fake smiles. You know, those smiles you give the camera where you're trying your hardest to look natural and fabulous at the same time? But mark my words, if you give me a fake smile, I'll turn it into a real one, real quick, because I care. I 100% care. I'm pretty positive that's why I love teaching so much, and more specifically, why I love teaching students one-on-one. There's something about sharing a smile with my student, and then hearing them sing or play what we're working on. Immediately after a smile, it's like their confidence goes up a notch (or several notches depending on the moment attached to the smile) and they INSTANTLY do better. Having trouble hitting a note or playing that syncopated rhythm? Let's pause, figure out what we have to do to make it work, slap a "you got this" on there and flash a few smiles, then PRESTO! Musical success.

I'm not saying that smiles eliminate musical hardships. There will always be musical hardships as you progress, otherwise you wouldn't be progressing. What I am saying is that smiles, when given with caring intentions, help us open our minds and relax our psyche, allowing us to achieve more. Just try it! Next time you're out and about, smile at a passerby or if you need to start in your comfort zone, smile at a friend or family member. The results just might warm you up and make ya feel good. After all, "You're Never Fully Dressed Without A Smile."
Emily Hosier's Head Shot
By Emily Feinberg-Hosier
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Young Piano Student Smiling
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Mommies and Babies playing at a baby class.
Every library around the Palm Coast area also has these baby classes where they sing songs with movements, do little cute dances, and have toy stations and crafts afterwards for the kids to mingle.
Young Piano Student Working on Composition at Piano
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