McConnell's Music
McConnell's Music 

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McConnell’s Music

Mills River, North Carolina


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Special Testimonial Feature

I was in Julie McConnell's Piano I course at Haywood Community College back in the Fall of 2018. I'm writing this testimonial to express my appreciation for Julie introducing me to the instrument and for her guidance during that period of time. 
Long after I stopped studying with Julie I kept up with the Bastien book she introduced to us in class. I eventually completed the entirety of that book and moved on to the second Bastien for Adults book (currently working on the section regarding syncopation). 
My mother passed away from pancreatic cancer on January 28th of this year, and I was able to perform a song on the piano there in person during her memorial service. This is certainly not something I would have anticipated ever being able to do back when we first started up the class. 
The song I performed was a nice little number called "Ocean View". My mom very much enjoyed visiting the beach in Charleston, SC, but because of COVID we weren't able to get her there for one last visit. She had taken a fall in 2020 around Mother's Day and was stuck in the hospital behind closed walls since visitation rules were super strict. 
I used the recording app Julie had us use when recording songs for homework assignments, and then I placed it under some video of the ocean. I sent it to my mom while she was there in the hospital as a little Mother's Day gift, and also as something she could watch anytime she would like to virtually visit the beach. 
The song from the recording was the same that I played there during her service. 
Again, thanks so much Julie for having offered the course. Playing and practicing has been a welcome place of escape during times of hardship.
-Rick Lanning, Adult Student, Clyde, NC

“I called Bryan after fifteen years of not playing upright bass, due to a repetitive stress injury. In six months he had me up to speed to join another orchestra. He also unlocked my jazz soloing.  Bryan is a rare musician who can not only play many instruments well in many styles, but also teaches with great patience, care and humor.


The McConnells create many different opportunities to play and perform with others, whether it's in a master class or in one of their regular concerts or recitals. Thank you, Bryan and Julie, for helping me get back to the enjoyment of playing music again.”


-Nicole Weorriour, Adult Student, San Diego County






“As to Julie’s teaching... she has great command of the material as well as the ability to disseminate that information. Couple those skills with her kindness and your encouragement makes for a very welcoming learning environment - something that I have been craving.  Top all of that off with knowing that your instructor has awesome pipes, and I am eager to return to class each week.”


                  -Jeffrey Alspaugh, Adult Student, Maggie Valley, NC





“I would like to take this opportunity to let Julie and Bryan know how grateful we are for the time they spent teaching our son, Joseph, both guitar and chorus.  He learned a tremendous amount, and at the same time had an amazing time during those 3 years, always loving the concerts and shows you guys put together at the end of each session.  For we parents, it was wonderful to see how much fun the kids had whilst learning.


If you are considering the services of Julie and/or Bryan McConnell, I would highly recommend you do so.  They are both extremely devoted teachers, and beautiful people, inside and out.


Julie and Bryan, we are sure you will be as successful there are you were in San Diego.  North Carolina’s gain is most definitely our loss.”


-Jayne & Phil Summers, Parents, San Marcos, CA





“I’ve had a lot of musical training throughout my years. From taking piano and flute, then playing the French horn for years while in college. However, stepping into voice lessons in my 40’s helped to transform my life.


Julie, is not only a very accomplished singer and performer, she is an amazing vocal teacher. I went from not wanting anyone to hear me sing, even my own husband, to performing in front of a roomful of people. I have found a joy deep inside of me when I sing that I didn’t even know existed prior to Julie’s instruction.


I would highly recommend her because she makes learning the foundations of what it takes to sing fun and doable. She guides you every step of the way through her organization of your lessons and wonderful encouragement.”


-Wendy Retzer, Adult Student, Carlsbad, CA





Mr. McConnell was an awesome teacher to have to learn bass with for the first time. He made it so much fun, and I always looked forward to going to his lessons.”


-Chelsea Strayer, High School Student, San Marcos, CA





“I am currently in Julie’s Vocal Class at Haywood Community College and highly enjoy it.  I am very excited about studying voice with her, and learning more about how to improve my vocal performance. Julie is an excellent teacher: patient, positive, and encouraging. She explains things very clearly and simply, and as former English professor, I am impressed!


      -Bob Jordan, Adult Student, Maggie Valley, NC





“My grandson, Zachery, had Ms. McConnell as a piano teacher for two years. The knowledge-base, self-discipline, and love of music she offered him has allowed Zachery to not only be able to play the piano, but went on to play the oboe in the 8th grade advanced band by 6th grade.


Zachery went on to study the bass with Mr. McConnell, as well as percussion.  Because of Bryan’s superior guidance and mastery of the bass, Zachery was able to advance quickly on the bass in the middle school jazz band, and won auditions in marching band in percussion immediately as a high school freshman.”


-Susan Alvillar, Grandparent, Carlsbad, CA





Mrs. Julie is very compassionate and understanding.  She has inspired me to become not only a better musician but a better person as well, and has given me a strong work ethic and musical foundation that will last me the rest of my life.”


-Cassie Allen, High School Student, San Marcos, CA





“It is with great pleasure I recommend McConnell’s Music. My oldest daughter at age 7 was able to advance her musical skills through direct lessons from Mr. Bryan McConnell in his String Ensemble. Within 6 months she was able to read music well, and play the violin. She even performed a solo piece during a youth orchestra performance, as well as for patients recovering at the local hospital, again, in a matter of months.


I am a speech-language pathologist, and I have witnessed music programs improve individual’s communication skills and overall quality of life. I believe adding McConnell’s Music to any educational or rehabilitative program would add positive character traits and a sense of achievement to all its participants.”


-Katrina T. Hammel, Parent, San Marcos, CA





“My daughter was involved with the McConnell’s Music Chorus after school for several years – it was one of her absolute favorite activities!  During practices and performances, Julie was professional yet personable, firm with the students yet approachable and supportive, and always had the children deliver beautiful performances. 


Both of my children took private piano lessons from Julie for four years – in her classroom, at our home and/or at Julie’s home music studio.  They both loved these lessons, and they made tremendous progress in learning how to play the piano.  Both of my children have given several public performances, encouraged by Julie.  The lessons in our home gave me a chance to observe Julie’s teaching style, which is patient, firm, supportive and very effective.


In summary, I offer my absolutely highest recommendation for Julie.  She is an incredible teacher and wonderful person."


-Raymond Clark, Parent, San Marcos, CA





“Our daughter became interested in the bass in middle school.  The local music studio where she was taking some initial group lessons, recommended Bryan for private lessons. 


We got started, and he was absolutely the right person at the right time for our daughter.  His style, teaching methods, and personality were just what our daughter needed to really take on the bass, establish a solid foundation of fundamentals, and develop an appreciation of the beauty and challenges of playing this instrument. 


She has taken off with her music studies, and truly loves playing the bass!  We can honestly tie it all back to the influence and teaching of Bryan, when taking her first musical steps.”


-Jason Strayer, Parent, San Diego County





“We entrusted Julie with the musical instruction of our two daughters in her after-school chorus program.  With Julie’s guidance and leadership, our daughter’s performed in 6 absolutely wonderful shows.


In addition to the chorus, we enrolled our oldest into private piano lessons with Julie, for 18 months.  She went from zero skills to being able to read music, and play the piano in an assortment of concerts and recitals.  We are thankful for Julie’s positive teaching attitude, which enhanced our daughter’s passion for music, and her self-confidence.  She went on to enroll in the middle school band, and advanced quickly in the wind section, because of her previous musical education with Julie.


Julie is a master at connecting with her students, and her talents in teaching musical concepts is truly superior.  I recommend her highly to any parent or organization looking to entrust their children’s musical education.”


-Jennifer Manzanares, Parent, San Marcos, CA





“It’s been many years since I last played cello, and this past fall I had an incredible urge to pick it back up.  I was fortunate to find Bryan McConnell to help me reacquaint myself with cello fundamentals.  His temperament is great…low key, fun loving, and always striving to make playing music more than just the notes on the page.  He brings himself fully into the experience, and always checks in with me to make sure our goals are still aligned. 


Whether you want to become an accomplished performer, or simply someone who just loves the shear pleasure of making music, Bryan can meet you at your point of interest. I have made great strides in just a few months of lessons!  Thanks Bryan!”


-Elle Beddingfield, Adult Student, Mills River, NC





“My purpose in taking vocal lessons was to have a better understanding of music, and to improve my singing abilities, in hopes that I would be a greater asset to the church choir in which I sing.  With Julie’s wisdom, constant encouragement, and positive direction, she helped me to overcome personal fears and barriers I never even knew I had, things that were hindering me from accomplishing my best.


I was able to achieve far more than I ever anticipated!!  Julie made it so simple, FUN, and she helped me reach beyond even my own expectations!!!”


-Debbie Ball, Adult Student, Vista, CA





“Students who study with McConnell’s Music receive the musical training, inspiration, and opportunity to learn and perform at a very high level, and many of their students flock to our band program as 6th graders.  Not only that, many can read music and play an instrument already, due to the Guitar Ensemble and String Ensemble Bryan McConnell teaches, and the Show Choir Julie McConnell conducts. These students provide not only a strong knowledge base to the group at large, but they are strong role models for the other students who attend our school that have not had this type of music education.


McConnell’s Music also offers music scholarships, when possible, to many of our economically challenged students/families, and have a deep concern for the well being our community at large.  They have been a huge asset to our school and will be greatly missed.”


-Valerie Reeves, Teacher & Elective/Arts Department Chair - SMMS, San Marcos, CA





“I enjoyed Ms. Julie's encouraging style of teaching piano. She helped push me to be the best musician I could be in piano.” 


-Abby Murphy, Middle School Student, San Marcos, CA





“We appreciate the time, talent, and patience that Bryan shared with our daughter, Chelsea. He inspired her, and fueled the fire for her love of the bass that is still growing strongly today. Chelsea’s aspiration is to major in bass performance, and her ultimate goal is to one day be a member of the LA Philharmonic. Bryan was a very strong influence in Chelsea’s music career aspirations, as he taught her the basics, pushed her to be better, instilled confidence, and she had a lot of fun while doing so.”


-Sheila Strayer, Parent, San Diego County





“Thank you, Bryan and Julie, for the love, work, dedication and amazing teaching that you give to all your students, in particular my daughter, Alisa, for 2 years, who studied both in the Guitar Ensemble with Bryan, and chorus with Julie.


My daughter has been raised on tour and on stage with me, and music is in her blood. Her oldest brother is a professional guitarist for me as well. But she would not allow either of us to instruct her. In your tutelage I watched as Alisa became excited about music, and embraced her own talents because of you both. I trust you completely with such a very personal subject to our family.


You both exhibit passion in your teaching, and love for your students. Thank you for all you did for Alisa, and all the students here in San Marcos. My best wishes for the continued success of McConnell’s Music in North Carolina!”


-Amy Scruggs, Parent/Musician, San Diego County





“I am the mother of 6 children, 5 of whom have had the opportunity of participating in McConnell’s Music singing classes. From top to bottom I have been thoroughly impressed with Julie’s music curriculum, dedication to the students she teaches, and her professionalism. 


The love that Mrs. McConnell has for what she does truly came out for me when my daughter was participating in one of the after school chorus programs.  Julie secretly planned for we parents to join the children in singing one of the numbers.  She went to great lengths to hold rehearsals just for the parents.  I could tell that she really loved the kids, and wanted to give them a great experience when she “revealed” her secret to them…she was beaming.  It was a well-orchestrated concert that my daughter and I will always remember. 


We were sad to see Ms. Julie leave California. I would highly recommend her to anyone looking to add the magic of music to their educational experience.”


-Laura Seeman, Parent/Pianist, San Marcos, CA





"We would like to thank Julie and Bryan McConnell, for the time spent with the kids and adults here in our community.  They are both great music teachers, and care for everyone that comes across their path.


Our oldest daughter spent time with Bryan for a total of 3 years in guitar lessons and classes, our middle child took violin classes for a season, also with Bryan, and all 3 of our kids had Julie for general music in elementary school. Because of these great teachers, they have gone on to learn other musical instruments successfully. We are grateful to this day that we found McConnell’s Music. 


It's a loss for California, but a plus for North Carolina. They will be missed here, but not forgotten. The valuable time Bryan and Julie spent with our kids is priceless. I dare you try McConnell’s Music, as you will be surprised and amazed!"


-Steve and Alice Soloff, Parents, San Marcos, CA





Ms. Julie's flexibility in working with our hectic schedule allowed for a wonderful music learning environment for our daughter, both in piano and chorus with Julie.”


-Susan & Jason Murphy, Parents, San Marcos, CA





“We searched and searched for a good fit for our son, Miles.  The search was over with McConnell’s Music!  Not once did I have to plead with him to practice piano or get ready for lessons.  What a breath of fresh air! 


They really understand all personalities, and genuinely ooze the love of music.  It’s contagious!  We did not only find great teachers, but a caring, ’Musically Yours’ friendship.  We miss them so much!!”


-Kim Polany, Parent, San Marcos, CA





“Our two daughters were in Ms. McConnell’s chorus ensemble while in elementary and middle school.  In their words, “Ms. Julie makes performing fun and easy!”  They enjoyed the props, costuming, and choreography in which were incorporated into their singing experience.  Our daughters say Ms. McConnell’s suggestions and advice were positive, and enhanced their experience while on stage.


My daughters LOVE to sing, but have always been shy.  Thanks to Ms. Julie’s instruction, they now are comfortable singing in any performance setting.  This ability is very important to me as a mother, as I know it has so much to do with their self-confidence and self-esteem.


Thank you to Ms. Julie and Mr. Bryan, and their music studio, McConnell’s Music, for many wonderful musical years.  You will be greatly missed from Southern California!”


-Melissa Buz, Parent, San Diego County





"Julie put me at ease right away. Voice lessons helped me to expand my range, try out other music styles, and to feel more confident about performing in front of other people. Julie’s positive comments and extensive knowledge made it easy to learn, and a lot of fun!”


-Ann West, Adult Student, San Marcos, CA


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