Your Lessons Are About To Receive An Exciting Upgrade!

Your Lessons Are About To Receive An Exciting Upgrade!

What began in March 2020 as my desire to provide a little normalcy and hope for my community in response to a state-wide pandemic shelter in place lockdown order is evolving into a full-time dream come true. I am committed to the idea that life's challenges should not prohibit access to the activities we all love and the education we all want. Over the past 6 months, Pickering Performing Arts & Entertainment has doubled in student enrollment, providing private lessons online and in-person at my home studio. I am beyond grateful and, frankly, crazy surprised by all that has happened! I want to thank you for being a part of this amazing, creative journey. We're just getting started!

Two Challenges

Starting and growing a performing arts & entertainment academy during a pandemic is a fascinating experience. While most things have been extremely positive, there are two challenges I've wrestled with, as have some of my burgeoning artists and their families.

Challenge 1: Ongoing inspiration and self-motivation for students to practice in between lessons. The struggle can be real!

We know that consistent practicing of good habits produces progress. And while we all have fun during our lessons together, self-directed practice in between lessons can be less appealing. 

Challenge 2: Building a growing community and providing opportunities to engage with one another during a pandemic. 

While most of us have quite rapidly and unexpectedly become unwitting Zoom Experts, working, learning, and interacting virtually, we long for community and human connection and interaction. The performing arts and entertainment is a world of human interaction, culture, innovation, and relationships. Under non-pandemic conditions we would be gathering in classes, putting on live shows, hanging out at my home socializing, playing games, and singing songs. I do believe the days of togetherness will return, but for now, we need other options.

Time to Level Up: Introducing Tonara

While considering the challenges before us, I've been researching potential solutions, or better yet, opportunities for overcoming obstacles. The opportunity that I am most excited about is a FREE TO YOU music education app called Tonara. (

Tonara is the proud recipient of the "Best Tools For Schools" award, presented by SBO Magazine at the annual NAMM show. This achievement is a reflection of all we do to empower music teachers and engage music students.

Tonara's mission is to provide a fun and engaging solution to the challenges I've (we've) been wrestling with. 

With Tonara, I Can: 

Create Smart Assignments 

  • Send my students assignments with compare recordings, videos, voice notes and textual notes. 

Track Progress 

  • Track my students’ weekly, monthly, and yearly progress. Set goals and watch my students. 

Motivate Practice 

  • Tonara’s music practice app hears students play and gives personal and real-time feedback! 

Stay Connected 

  • And with one-on-one and group messaging available, I can keep your students updated and engaged.

With Tonara, Students Gain: 

Engaging Lessons 

  • Connection, engagement, and community via groups, games, and more.

Track Progress 

  • With Tonara's chat features, students can Stay in touch with me and fellow students. 

Motivation for self-directed practicing

  • Earn points and climb the leaderboard as students practice and keep track of your own progress. 

Real-time feedback 

  • Tonara's patent AI technology listens to how students are playing and can give you feedback on fluency.

Tonara isn't designed to replace any of the one-on-one work that I am doing with students, but instead to complement what's been done during our time together in between lessons. All online students will continue lessons with Zoom - no changes there. It's also a way for students to stay in touch with me, get to know other students, help to motivate and encourage one another, and (IMHO) to give them something better to do on their screens than watch Tik Tok! (Arabella is in constant Tik Tok from-the-waist-up-arms-flailing dance mode. You know what I mean!

Next Steps 

Over the next week, I will be preparing to get all of us up and running with Tonara. I am currently learning the teacher side of the app. It's very intuitive and highly capable. I have no doubt that together we'll have questions and probably hit a few speed bumps. I've been encouraged that in addition to a great number of tutorial videos available online, Tonara also provides fantastic customer service.

The app is free and is available for Mac and PC platforms via your preferred App Store. They also have a Youtube channel that contains numerous helpful videos. I have links for their website, Youtube channel, and other helps below. When you have a moment, please take a little time to check any or all of these out.

And please reach out to me with any questions or concerns! My email is and the school phone is 720-767-3627

My Next Steps

I will be creating Tonara accounts for all of my students. I will email account information, login, and initial passwords to each family. I will also be uploading and creating lesson and other content for us to engage with! I truly believe that offering this solution will provide a fun, engaging, and effective upgrade to our experience together!

Your Next Steps

Download the Tonara App to your iPad, Tablet, and/or Smart Phone. Log in to your student's account with the information I will send and activate your account. Watch for in-app alerts for new assignments, announcements, games, groups, and additional lessons and community resources.


Tonara's Main Website

A Video Tour of the Tonara App for Parents and Students (by music teacher Nicole Douglas) (10:31)

Apple App Store: Tonara

Google Play App Store: Tonara

Tonara Youtube Channel

What Students Experience With Tonara Video (1:44)

Our Future's So Bright We Have To Wear Shades!

I love to teach! I love our time together making dreams come true. I hope that your experience with Pickering Performing Arts (& me) is as much a bright spot in your life as it is in mine. We need all the "wins" we can create and get during this challenging time in our world. 

I am working on other exciting things for us that I will be sharing in the weeks to come. In the meantime, please reach out to me if I can be of help or service. I'm looking forward to seeing you again soon!

"Music can change lives because music can change people" - Bono

All the best,

Michael Pickering

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