Thank you to all who came out to support our youth in our Shout for Joy concert! Students loved having the opportunity to sing with a full live band and perform for an attentive audience. Every performance that passes allows the growth of confidence in our students…confidence as performers and confidence as they navigate their way through their years of youth into young adulthood. The courage students call upon as they perform extends way beyond music, and we are so honored to encourage this kind of growth in our students. Below are a few moments from our showcase rehearsal and performance. Enjoy!









AJ’s Music Factory vocal students are preparing to bring you SHOUT FOR JOY, a showcase of songs filled with hope and joy to uplift your spirits. Vocalists will bring you this showcase backed by a full live band for an incredible musical experience. All are welcome!

When: Sunday, April 17th @ 4:00

Where: Family  of Christ Lutheran Church (2020 Coulter Blvd, Chanhassen, MN)

Who: You!! All are invited!

What: In lieu of a reception, we ask that all participants and attendants bring a donation for the local food shelf.


See you at the show!



We are gearing up for our SUMMER MUSICAL OLYMPICS CAMPS coming up this August! Preparations are already being made to create a CREATIVE and FUN learning opportunity for students. We will be coinciding our camps this year’s summer olympics in Rio in August.

Musical Olympics Camp is for beginners ages 6-11 with 0-2 years of training as students will be learning or re-enforcing beginning musical concepts through games and activities. Camp runs 4 days from Monday through Thursday, 2 hours each day and are held at AJ’s Music Factory in Woodbury. Tuition for camp is $125 and will be deducted from your credit card within 24 hours of registration. Tuition is non-refundable.  Spots are limited so act quickly! To register, click HERE and select the day/time of your choosing. 

Camps available:

August 1-4 from 10:00-12:00

August 8-11 from 10:00-12:00

My fellow pedagog Joy Morin in Ohio created an incredibly creative and action-packed olympics camp of which I will be using some of her awesome ideas. Check out a few images below to get a preview of just a few of our upcoming activities!

Summer Olympics 5

Summer Olympics 6

Summer Olympics 7



  • Students develop musical skills in a fun, safe, no-pressure environment
  • Learn valuable lessons in cooperation, collaboration and teamwork
  • Creative projects, activities and games encourage students to step out of the typical learning box
  • Enhance leadership skills as older students naturally help to nurture the younger ones
  • Students enjoy something different than the normal routine and continue to get creative brains revved up
  • Self-esteem and Confidence are gained from belonging, learning and contributing
  • (MOST OF ALL!) Students work on social skills and long-lasting friendships that help to foster their interest in musical learning


We are gearing up for summer at AJ’s Music Factory! We are offering a couple different opportunities for summer musical experiences. No matter which option you choose, we guarantee your child will have a FUN and CREATIVE time at AJ’s Music Factory!

You can register for summer session here: REGISTRATION


  • 6 30-minute lessons
  • Instruction offered in piano, voice, guitar or ukulele
  • Summer session runs June 16 through August 19
  • Flexible scheduling between student and instructor to suit summer needs
  • Tuition is $160/session which includes all lessons and start-up book and materials
  • To Register, click HERE. To learn more about the 6-Week Summer Trial Session, click HERE.



  • Music Olympics for ages 6-11 (minimum 4 students per class required). All levels may attend camp and will even work for beginners with no formal training.
    • August 1st-4th from 10:00-12:00
    • August 8th-11th from 10:00-12:00
  • Camp tuition is $125/camp which includes all materials and daily snacks
  • To Register, click HERE. To learn more about Musical Olympics Camps, click HERE.

This is Grace. Grace is an 8th grader that loves current pop music. Her most recent request was to learn “Wildest Dreams” by Taylor Swift. We believe in meeting our students in the middle. Yes, you can play pop music, and how can we learn from this? Turns out, we can learn a GREAT DEAL!

Some concepts taught in the context of pop music include the following:

  • key signature
  • time signature
  • rhythmic patterns
  • melodic ideas and motifs
  • chord progressions
  • harmonic and melodic intervals within phrases
  • phrase structure
  • articulation
  • dynamics

Grace’s playing grew quick momentum when we started learning her favorite pop tunes along with standard piano repertoire. Peek a student’s interest, and they will be more than excited to sit down and practice their piano lesson.


Summer Lessons


Give music lessons a try this summer at AJ’s Music Factory! We are offering an introductory 6-week session to new students this summer to experience the joy of music lessons.

What? Six 30-minute private lessons with instructor.

Voice or piano lessons – Andrea Zimmerman, instructor.
Guitar or ukulele lessons – Michael Zimmerman, instructor.

When? Summer session runs June 12th through August 5th. Choose 6 lesson times within this very flexible session that work for your summer schedule.

Why? Try an instrument on – see if it fits! This is a trial offer to allow your student to experience an instrument without a large commitment. Piano students do not need a piano at home to start up, though they will progress at a quicker pace if they have access to a piano/keyboard to practice. Guitar and Ukulele students will need their own instruments. Contact us if you need recommendations.

How Much? Tuition for this 6-week trial session is $175 which includes a start-up book and other lesson materials or music.

Where? AJ’s Music Factory is located inside Delmonico Dance Studios. We are to the left of “Posh Pooch.”

Delmonico Dance Studios
650 Commerce Drive, Suite 100
Woodbury, MN 55125

How? Click HERE to register for lessons. We will be in touch to solidify details. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact Andrea at or 612.275.1895.

We look forward to meeting you and creating wonderful music together!

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Tis the season for busyness to take over….especially for our youth who are finishing up school for the next couple weeks with tests and projects. After the hard work of our holiday recitals was complete, AJ’s Music Factory piano students participated in a creative adventure of arranging Jingle Bells based upon ideas from their recital pieces. We wanted to let creativity flow in a fun, stress-free environment to enjoy the music this time of year when all seems to get a bit hectic.

During the week of the recital, students were presented with a lead sheet for Jingle Bells in the key of C Major with the assignment to come back with it comfortably learned for the next lesson. For some younger students this was the first time being given a lead sheet, so this offered a learning opportunity for reading this form of written music (melody line written out with chord symbols on top). Upon arrival to their lesson last week, they worked hard on creating their own version of Jingle Bells. As a starting ground we looked at their recital piece to analyze how the composer had arranged the piece. What was the chord structure? Did they use an intro? An outro? If so, what did they do to make it interesting? How did the left hand move? Where was the melody placed? What rhythm is used? What time signature is this song? So on and so forth we went. We then used these ideas to meld together each student’s original Jingle Bells.

Most students went home to finish the piece, and then they sent a video back with their final arrangement. Extra bonus: some of them even have their beautiful Christmas tree in the background of their video! Some points I found interesting through this assignment:

  • Students become VERY motivated when they know they are going to be put on YouTube and the AJ’s Music Factory blog. They all wanted to put their best musical step forward to present their work.
  • Students love being able to create. Instinctively students are creative beings, and as educators it is our responsibility to nurture this instinct and not allow it to be set to the wayside. Creativity is highly encouraged at our studio.
  • Students found great pride in their arrangements. Every. Single. One. I was amazed by the ownership students took of their pieces. By the end of the lesson they were beaming with what they had accomplished.

Video taping students offers a lesson all on it’s own as students can see both their strengths and weaknesses. As a teacher I can remind a student 50 times that their fourth finger needs to be curved, strengthened, etc, but it’s amazing how quickly they want to change it once they SEE it. Watching the video also allows for us to catch all the wonderful strengths in their playing and how far they have come in their musical training.

Final shout out to Wendy Stevens of for creating this activity and to Leila Viss of Viss Piano Studio in Colorado for reminding us of this awesome idea!!

Enjoy a few of our Jingle Bells arrangements in the video below and have a wonderful holiday season!!




christmas-recital pic

We had two wonderful recitals this past weekend where the students showcased their musical selections. From beginners with just a couple months of lessons to seasoned students, all performed beautifully to the best of their abilities. AJ’s Music Factory offers multiple performance opportunities throughout the year to help students grow in confidence as musicians and performers. With each performance that passes, student’s become more at ease with being on stage and entertaining others with their musical gifts.

Recitals hold great value for students as a motivator being that there is a specific goal in mind. Students work diligently to create a polished performance to showcase to relatives and peers of the studio, and they also get the opportunity to hear more advanced musicians or become inspiration for the up and coming pupils. Performances also provide a great sense of pride and accomplishment that fuels students to continue progressing forward in their musical studies.

Watch this video for a bit of holiday musical cheer!

We’ve been in a hustle and bustle at AJ’s Music Factory preparing our songs for our upcoming Christmas Recital. As a nice break from the prepping, this week many students are also learning about improvising within the bounds of selected rhythms. Andrea and Trevor Dow of Teach Piano Today created and released this wonderfully festive activity called Santa’s Workshop Improv, and my students are loving it!  Check out Naomi’s progress in this week’s lesson in the video below. I love watching her confidence excel quickly in this activity and the proud high-five of greatness at the end! Enjoy!

Two summers ago I was beyond fortunate to attend the 88 Creative Keys Camp ( in Denver, CO where I studied under the tutelage of keyboard pedagogy masters Bradley Sowash ( and Leila Viss ( These two are pioneering the way for piano teachers to embrace improvisation and creativity in a new era of piano lesson instruction. I left this camp empowered to touch on aspects of improvisation and creative freedom at the keyboard in every lesson I gave to my students. Growing up I had always wanted to sit down and play by ear, but I was never taught this in my lessons and didn’t know where to begin on my own. I now prioritize the balance of eye playing and ear playing instruction equally for my students to progress as well-rounded musicians and players.

In July 2015 I attended the National Keyboard Pedagogy Conference (NCKP) outside of Chicago where I had the pleasure of sitting in on Forrest Kinney’s sessions (  Forrest is another pedagog paving the way in improvisation and arranging. In this first video, Marin and I used an example out of Forrest’s Pattern Play Book 1 improvising in the Eb Blues. Marin starts out only using the right hand on the blues scale while I handle the chords and bass line. Leila and Bradley had introduced me to the app iRealPro where I found the backing track arrangement to Ray Charles’ “What’d I Say,” a 12-bar blues tune with the typical I-IV-V progression.  Originally in the key of E, we transposed it to the key of Eb with the tap of a button in the app.

Later in Marin’s lesson we approached the song with her playing the bass line along with chords in the right hand. Marin has been studying chords in lessons for the past couple years, so handling this was not a stretch for her in the lesson. Many students will take some time to bring in the ease of chord voicing. In the middle of this video Marin runs the Eb blues scale up and down in the right hand while coordinating with the bass line. We start this process to ease her into improvising while continuing the bass line.

Marin’s assignment for the next week was to come back with the ability to hold down the left hand bass line while improvising in the right which she handles quite well. In time these activities become more and more a part of student’s playing. Since starting improvisation lessons, Marin has composed multiple pieces on her own and thoroughly enjoys sitting down at the piano with creative freedom. My joy as an instructor is in bringing these skills to my students in their formative years when playing off the page can become just as normal as playing by reading notes.

Bradley and Leila hold camps for students and teachers in improvisation and creativity annually. I cannot stress the gratitude that I hold for these two as they started me down this path as an instructor, and now I can’t get enough of it! Leila is also the author of The iPad Piano Studio which is an outstanding resource for teachers wanting to advance lessons by using the latest technology. They are both a wealth of information, and I highly suggest researching all of their creative avenues, especially if you are a music instructor. If you don’t know where to start, check out and for some great teaching motivation and creative ideas.

At AJ’s Music Factory we take pride in allowing our students to be engulfed in the enjoyment of music and will continue to research ways to make lessons relevant in a quickly ever-changing world.