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July Teacher of the Month: Lisa Kopelnik

This month, we interviewed Chief of Operations and QuaranTunes co-founder Lisa Kopelnik, who is from Oakland, California. She will be attending the University of Virginia as a Jefferson Scholar this fall. Lisa has been teaching piano ever since the beginning of QuaranTunes. After more than a year of the organization, we asked her to reflect on the fascinating journey and the work it took to build QuaranTunes, describe her passion for its mission, and share some thoughts on its future.

Check out the IGTV video below, which includes the interview and a video of Lisa playing Chopin Nocturne Op.9 No.2 in E-flat major. Scroll down to view the transcript of the interview.

Why did you join QuaranTunes?

Back in March of 2020, I started QuaranTunes with Julia simply because I believe so strongly in the mission that we created, which is to provide quality and accessible music and art education to as many people as we possibly can. I've been playing piano ever since I was a little kid and has provided me with a sense of calm gratitude and creativity that I can't find anywhere else. So I was so lucky and so excited to be able to share that with my students, I want to do the same students since March and April of 2020. And it has been such a joy, watching them grow and develop their own passions for piano and I think that that's what QuaranTunes has done on a large scale, it is allowed people to explore and try new things, whether that's a new cooking class or a piano class or violin or anything really. And it has allowed teachers like myself, high school students to explore teaching and to explore their own musical interests, and above all, in a time of desperate need for connection during the pandemic. QuaranTunes has provided a platform for people to connect, regardless of where you live, regardless of your background and I think that that's a beautiful thing and I think that's why I stuck with it because the passion, the music, and the connection.

How did you co-found QuaranTunes?

Building QuaranTunes was challenging but incredibly rewarding, and so much one, we made it easier is that we always have a team full of compassionate and excited people who are ready to do what it takes to build this organization and to build the community, what makes quarantine special and unique is that it is primarily high school students working on everything and developing ideas and plans for everything, which made it a fun environment and to work with and also it meant that none of us had experienced and we were all figuring everything out on along the way.

I remember in the beginning of the pandemic, I was answering emails from 7am to 11pm answering all sorts of questions that I hadn't even thought about we were doing everything that it took to spread the word, I would, you know, hanging posters around in the grocery stores and neighborhoods, I would text my friends be like, "Can you teach us, can you teach a singing class today?" You know, reach out to all sorts of family friends also post on different Facebook groups reach out to local media and, very importantly, schools, and then we were also handling all sorts of new protocol, how are we going to develop a curriculum.

So I was in charge of sort of building different lesson plans and templates for teachers also building protocols for teachers, for you know how are they going to apply we had to build a website, there was just so much going on and you know it was a lot of fun I think that that's why it worked because everyone was so passionate and so excited. I remember we would cheer when we would get like five new kids join. I remember one day we had like 30 new students join, which was so exciting and like the hugest deal for all of us. So I think that what the amount that we worked, the amount that I worked, you know, it totally was made up for by seeing how excited people were to join and how grateful people were for this existing.

After figuring out the smaller details, I was able to move to the bigger picture. This is the part where I find the most exciting and beautiful. QuaranTunes is constantly evolving and adding more and more to its vision, whether those be creative classes community classes, summer programs, winter programs master classes events, recitals and the instrument donation program and I wanted to speak about the instrument donation program because that was probably my most meaningful project is chief of operations. It was so exciting and beautiful to see these instruments finally being donated after a really long process of figuring out whose house was going to and who was donating and I remember we received this letter from someone who was a recipient of an instrument and he was talking about how meaningful it was for him to have this instrument in his house and to be able to hear music in his home again and I think that was so, so touching.

And of course, I'll never forget our first recital. That was so much fun for me and to see everyone's teachers, students and families be so excited to see how, how much progress the kids had made, that was a really beautiful moment and a incredibly rewarding one as well. Currently, as Chief of Operations, I'm working on all sorts of projects for their QuaranTunes vision, and I'm here as an ear and as a companion to all the board members and teachers who have their ideas about the organization and I create ways for us to develop them and to support them. I've been working a lot more on the operation side of things or squished into your books to improve user experience and also creating our board manual which is around 20 pages long and details how we want our board to operate. So that QuaranTunes is a long-lasting and sustainable organization for many many years to come.

Future of QuaranTunes?

I am so excited to see where QuaranTunes will go, and to see just how many more people we can reach, and how many more services we can create to help better the world. QuaranTunes is founded on love, passion community connection and I think that those things will always say the same and I'm so proud to have built this organization and to have, you know created lifelong friends because of it and to have created so many meaningful bonds with people because of it.

To learn more about our amazing community and teachers, check out more QuaranTunes blogs!

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