Oprah could take lessons from Valarie Kasmir.
She's a dynamic personality with a knack for high-energy entertainment, centered on learning while building self-esteem. She's also a music entrepreneur who teaches and entertains throughout Lake Norman.
Kasmir's enthusiasm for her work is apparent to her students.
"I like what I do and it shows. The children know. ... I love it," she said.
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She describes herself as, "a bubble, just a bubble. Oprah, just turned up 10 notches."
Soon after relocating to Cornelius from Canton, Ohio, in 2000, Kasmir founded Lessons On The Lake Music Art Center. Offering piano, guitar and violin lessons, vocal coaching, digital recording, preschool and after-school programs, Kasmir juggles nearly 60 students at the Davidson facility, while preparing to host summer camps and creating music programs.
"I'm busy during the summer," she said, shrugging.
Most important to Kasmir, she said, is when the teacher feels a musical connection with her students. Calling her lessons an innovative concept, Kasmir conducts classes of 4-8 youngsters simultaneously at her music center, creating a concert-like atmosphere.
"My class usually consists of eight keyboards, and I have eight kids in here at one time," Kasmir said.
It is more like a band.
"That's exactly what happens," she said. "I have one side of the students playing one part and the (other) students playing one part."
Unlike traditional piano lessons where students keep time with a metronome, Kasmir's students perform basic notes along with a soundtrack.
"I feel people want more entertaining things that will enhance them education-wise," said Kasmir of her teaching style. "They are playing some music. They feel the rhythm."
Kasmir's instructional style may stem from anxious youthful moments she spent practicing piano, starting at age 6. Often, she said, her basic chords were accompanied by a backbeat of emotion. Her early lessons were not always fun or entertaining. But through the influence of jazz - her father owned a record store in Canton - Kasmir's passion for music intensified while attending Bennett College, where she earned a bachelor's degree in music education. Later, she received a master's degree in instruction and supervision from Ashland University.
Married to Walter Kasmir for 16 years and mother to 15-year-old daughter, London, Kasmir spent two years in Cornelius and moved to Mooresville in 2002. Contracted with Davidson Parks and Recreation and Cornelius Parks, Art, Recreation and Culture, Kasmir said she will focus week-long summer camps on "Piano Presto," a program that introduces rhythmic notation by emphasizing dexterity - and fun.
Kasmir said any camper with no musical experience will gain enough knowledge to "play several simple songs."
In the next few years, Kasmir, among other projects, will work to expand her programs for the Internet and is developing concepts for children's music books. Kasmir credited her husband for his support. Without him, Kasmir said, she doubts she would have gambled on starting her own business. Previously, she taught in public school systems in Ohio and North Carolina for 12 years.
"I loved teaching, but I wanted to have more," said Kasmir. "I wanted to have my own (business), and my husband brought it up."
Walter Kasmir said he believed in his wife's concept of interactive group lessons. With a lot of personality.
Oprah could probably use a few lessons from Valarie Kasmir.