In the Key of Fun

(First published in the January 17, 2019 issue of City Pages)

Wausau Conservatory of Music launches recreational group piano lessons – aiming at a wider audience by making them fun



Mike Fischer will soon start teaching group piano lessons, aimed at making music lessons fun and non-intimidating.

Many people remember taking traditional piano lessons as a kid. Often times folks wish they hadn’t stopped taking those lessons and want to pick it back up to be able to play a song they know on the radio or just to be able to play “Happy Birthday” at their next party.

Or, maybe they have always wanted to learn to play the piano and just never have had the chance to do so for a variety of reasons.

Enter the Recreational Music Making class at the Wausau Conservatory of Music. The class is aimed at having fun, creating an overall shorter time commitment for lessons and keeping the tone of the classes upbeat and stress-free. All while in a group setting, a sharp contrast from traditional piano lessons. “We at the Conservatory have very strong programs of traditional and jazz – the way most people think of piano lessons,” says faculty artist and piano teacher Mike Fischer. “Recreational Music Making is the idea that you are learning all the same things as traditional lessons in a little different way.”

Recreational Music Making classes start the first week of February and will be held in the piano studio at the Conservatory. Currently, the Conservatory has four sections of the newly formed Recreational Music Making scheduled, three for adults and one for children. Classes meet weekly for 45-minutes at various times throughout the week.

The studio has eight full-sized electric pianos for the students to play on and since it’s a group setting, having varied levels of skills isn’t going to be an issue, says Fischer. Students will also help pick the songs they play and will have accompaniment for that full band sound. “Advanced students may play with both hands while those just learning may only be playing what they know with their right hand. Nobody is judging, you move at your own pace,” he says.

Recreational Music Making is also designed to be a smaller time commitment. It’s eight weeks, with the option to continue on, Fischer says.

Participants could have the option of switching to private lessons if they want, or might even decide another instrument would be better for them. “One of the great things at the Conservatory is that if piano still isn’t your cup of tea, and you really want to play the flute, we can easily introduce you to a great flute teacher.”

One of the things that makes the Recreational Music Making so unique is you can sign up for it with a friend or significant other and Fischer’s goal is to make the class fun and low key and he hopes to laugh a lot with his students. “With traditional piano lessons, typically one of the first things we ask is ‘what do you have to practice on?’” he says. That’s not the case with Recreational Music Making. “That’s not a requirement and there’s no homework. If you just came to classes, that’s acceptable, and that’s a little different philosophy.”

The Wausau Conservatory of Music will be having an open house on Jan. 27. Interested students can come to that event or can get more information on Recreational Music Making by visiting their website at: or by calling 845-6279. They are located at: 404 Seymour Street.