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Music Therapy


Brenda's Teaching Education and Experience

Music Therapy in Teaching

Brenda's Teaching Philosophy

Testimonials from Brenda's Music Students

Vocal Instruction

Effortless Singing Instruction, Products and Workshops

Effortless Harmony Singing Instruction, Products and Workshops

Piano Instruction and Effortless Music Reading Products

Guitar Instruction

Other Music Instruction

Music Performance Opportunities for Students

Brenda's Teaching Education and Experience

Brenda Freed graduated from the University of Iowa with a BA in Music Education and Music Therapy in 1980 (completing her Masters in 1992). In 1980, she taught K-12 vocal music and general music classes in rural Iowa. During that time, she revived a music program that had been inactive by producing two grade-school musicals, spring and winter concerts for choirs grades 1-12, and took the high school choir members to large and small group contests where they did very well.   In 1982, she left public school teaching to pioneer the music therapy program at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics.  

In 1990, up to her ears in U of IA academia and music therapy, she left Iowa on a bicycle and pedaled 9,000 miles, touring Ontario and Nova Scotia, Canada, the East Coast and Southern U.S. before coming to a halt in Luckenbach, Texas in 1991. Since that time, while pursuing her singer/songwriter career, Brenda has been teaching guitar, piano and voice privately from Brenda Freed's Music Studio in the Texas Hill Country. After 19 years in Wimberley, in Wimberley, in 2010 Brenda moved her studio to Blanco, TX where she currently teaches. Brenda has students from Wimberley, Johnson City, Fredericksburg, Austin, San Antonio and Blanco.
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Music Therapy in Teaching

Music Therapy is an important part of Brenda's teaching.   Brenda’s ultimate goal for her students (age 4-84) is that they will enjoy music for the rest of their lives, while feeling good about themselves and what they are doing during the learning process.  Students often feel vulnerable when they are learning to sing or to play an instrument.   Brenda's music therapy background gives her the skills to help students deal constructively with whatever personal issues may arise during lessons, whether they are personal experiences from their past or just a need for self-confidence.
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Brenda's Teaching Philosophy

Brenda likes to enjoy her students so that everyone leaves her music studio feeling good.   She believes students are inspired to learn by playing or singing the style of music they enjoy. Brenda’s approach systematically teaches the fundamentals of music while students are playing what they enjoy at a level appropriate for them. Students are motivated by their own success.  Every student learns a solid foundation in music theory and rhythm presented in a way that is fun and unintimidating.  Brenda has, from experience, shown time and again that knowledge of fundamentals enables students to read and play music, and to perform at any level they choose, privately or in public.  She enjoys figuring out how to motivate students to want to learn.  For some, the answer is to encourage them to use their skills to compose or to write songs.   For others it is a small bribe: "It is amazing what some people will do for an M&M," she laughs.  Brenda teaches in the hope that all students will enjoy music for the rest of their lives, even if only able to listen at some time.

Unlike many others, Brenda teaches piano, guitar and voice.  She encourages vocal students to learn to accompany themselves on piano or guitar. Therefore, several of Brenda's students of all ages study more than one instrument with her at any given time.  In addition, sometimes a student’s first instrument is not necessarily their instrument of passion.  Brenda Freed’s Music Studio can be the one stop for exploring voice, piano and guitar.
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Testimonials from Brenda's Music Students

I really like the way Brenda lets me choose the songs I want to work on. She gives me that freedom and can still teach me what I need to know.
                            Elena Weinberg, Age 17, Voice, Guitar and Piano Student

I am impressed by the range of knowledge that Brenda has; be it piano, guitar, music theory or voice, she seems to have a mastery of it all. She also has the gift of being able to work comfortably with students of all ages.
                            Tracy Weinberg, Parent of Teenage Student

Brenda took me to a level I couldn't get to by myself.
                            Kathleen Taylor, Adult Voice Student

Brenda has restored my love of music.   I am so excited to have this passion for my piano emerging after so many years of not striking one key.  Brenda's enthusiasm and positive attitude have been the driving force behind my level of self-confidence!
                            Mary Wiley, Adult Piano Student

Brenda proved to me that anyone can learn to sing if they have the desire and the right teacher. She made it easy for someone with no musical background to learn to sing and play guitar. Using her own magic and years of teaching experience, she taught me the proper techniques to vocalize and play the guitar.
                            Russell Cox, Age: 40 something, Voice and Guitar Student

Brenda Freed's  Voice Lessons are Truly a Transformational Journey to bringing out the hidden voice.   Her methods encourage beautiful results ... Her attitude & approach is always positive ...Mix that with a bit of practice & you gain a beautiful resonant voice.  I've seen her vocal results transform many adults in our community.
                            Lucia (of FireHawk & Lucia), Adult Voice Student

I took lessons from Brenda for roughly eight years.   She is one of the most supportive people I have ever known.  Whether I was struggling through Twinkle Twinkle Little Star on the piano or performing my own original music at an open mic, Brenda offered positive feedback and always managed to phrase her constructive criticism in the least-soul-crushing way.   She never became angry when I hadn't practiced enough or forgot my songbooks, nor did she become frustrated when I was struggling with a piece of music.  She reinforced everything she said during lessons by writing it in a notebook for future reference.  Even now I occasionally get out those old notebooks and brush up on a few things.

Brenda is a good teacher because she knows her stuff and can relate it in an easy to understand way, whether you are ten or seventeen, but more important than what she teaches is the passion behind it.   I don't think I would still be playing music today, much less writing my own songs, if it weren't for Brenda's constant enthusiasm.   She really believes in her students and loves what she does.
                            Ellen Flocke, Age 19, Piano, Voice and Guitar Student

Brenda Freed is a fine music teacher:  she has the intuition to recognize what each student needs to progress, the musical knowledge to share what is needed, the patience to allow the student to work at an individual pace, and the good will and enthusiasm to rejoice with the student when skills are mastered.  I've thoroughly enjoyed working with her.
                            Betsy Harrison, Adult Voice Student

What can I say about Brenda Freed without sounding like I'm exaggerating?  Because this will sound like exaggerating... but it's true.  Brenda's the real music deal.  My bandmate and I heard her sing at a gig last year and were blown away by her beautiful vocals and stage presence and later thought we'd struck gold when we learned she teaches voice.  After just one lesson Mardi and I had the basics down to learn harmony singing for our original songs.  Brenda is great - an intuitive teacher and music lover, with a Masters in music to back up her natural music inclination.  Brenda Freed is a blessing and I can't wait for my next lesson with her to get her input on how best to sing a couple of new songs I've written.   THE TRUTH !!!
                            Jannie Funster, Adult Voice Student

I have been taking voice lessons from Brenda Freed for a year and a half.  I have never taken voice lessons before (and I was very nervous to do so) but I hoped that the lessons would help me become more verbally confident and flexible which they certainly have.  Brenda is a delightful teacher from the standpoint that she makes learning fun.  She is a supportive, compassionate and playful teacher and I recommend her highly to anyone, any age.

My daughter, (ages15 and 11) have also taken voice lessons from Brenda and have become noticeably more confident and outspoken to the family, to friends and to teachers.  Their singing voices have also become stronger, clearer and full.  I really enjoy the singing in the house. 
                            Tambra Nelson, Adult Voice and Piano Student and
                            Parent of youth studying Guitar Voice with Brenda

Lessons with Brenda have been amazing.  She is patient and professional with her students, expecting them to master the music they are playing.  The best moment for me was while I was watching my four year old play.  He had not mastered the art of interpreting written letters into significant meanings or words, yet there he was interpreting the musical notes into keys on the piano.  He transformed the written music into a song, on his own.  You could see his mind working.  It was amazing.
                            Kelly O'Connor, Parent of Boys (ages 4 and 8) Studying Piano
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Vocal Instruction

NATSOver the years, Brenda has always enjoyed honing her own voice by studying with a number of vocal teachers, each with their own unique styles and techniques.   So, Brenda has developed quite a unique style of teaching voice that can help singers with a variety of problems such as inaccurate pitch, inability to project, limited range, getting hoarse or shortness of breath.  In her vocal instruction, Brenda helps people find their own natural voices by using their "vocal instruments" correctly.  She teaches techniques that focus on proper breathing and tone placement.  Using these techniques, she teaches people to sing on pitch consistently, improve the quality of their tone and help them project their voices safely.  Students quickly build vocal stamina and increase their comfortable singing ranges under Brenda's instruction.  

I took voice lessons from Brenda Freed and improved dramatically. Even after the first lesson my family and friends could hear a difference. Brenda has the ability to pinpoint exactly what it is that needs improvement and the knowledge to be able to explain it in an understandable way. I have definitely grown as a musician from my lessons with Brenda Freed. She is a wonderful teacher, mentor, and inspiration.
                            Carley Wolf, Professional Singer/Songwriter, Multi-instrumentalist

Each student can practice with Effortless Singing with Brenda Freed – A Vocal Instruction Course, which includes breathing and vocal exercises designed to work out the voice consistently from the lower range to the upper range. The Effortless Singing products are applicable to anyone, male or female, who wants to learn to sing or improve their singing in some way. The vocal instruction presented is appropriate for any age or level of experience.  Brenda's voice is versatile and she enjoys a variety of musical styles so she is able to coach students in their choice of musical style.   She has taught several people to sing who were not able to match pitch beforehand.

The voice is such a personal thing, and personal issues often arise during the course of a voice lesson.  Brenda's background in music therapy and counseling provides her the unique skill to help students work through these issues while discovering and strengthening their voices.

Brenda is a wonderful vocal coach and she really brought me out of my shell.  In my very first session with her, she showed me how to breathe properly when singing, which completely changed my voice.  It was transformed from a weak, shy voice to a strong confident voice.  Her patience with me and continued training over a 2 year period changed my sound so dramatically that I now have the self-confidence to sing lead vocals instead of just staying in the background, only doing harmonies.

I will always be grateful to Brenda for her expertise, patience and intuitive training techniques used to make a “real” singer out of me.
                            Amy Cartee-Cox, adult student and performing musician

Brenda Freed's voice lessons are truly a transformational journey to bringing out the hidden voice.
                            Lucia of FireHawk & Lucia, adult voice student

Brenda encourages all voice students to learn an accompanying instrument, and she can teach them guitar or piano.  Therefore, many of her voice students also learn to accompany themselves while studying voice.

Brenda proved to me that anyone can learn to sing if they have the desire and the right teacher.  She made it easy for someone with no musical background to learn to sing and play guitar.  Using her own magic and years of teaching experience, she taught me the proper techniques to vocalize and play the guitar.
                            Russell Cox, adult voice and guitar student

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Effortless Singing Instruction, Products and Workshops

In 2008, Brenda released Effortless Singing with Brenda Freed – A Vocal Instruction Course Voice teachers, choral directors, and experienced as well as beginning singers find it beneficial.  The Effortless Singing with Brenda Freed 2 CD set is available through Brenda Freed’s Music Studio in Blanco, Texas, by Clicking Here to order, from Strait Music in Austin, Texas, and on-line at and on all major download and streaming sites such as iTunes and Amazon MP3

“I cannot tell you how much I enjoy the Effortless Singing CDs.  This has opened up a whole new area of my creative self.  I would not have considered trying out for the Hill Country Singers had I not studied with the CDs.” 
                            Katheran Acmorsoni, Student of Effortless Singing CD

“I really like your approach and your teaching style. This would be of use for the beginner to the pro. It's really good.  Good sound and everything. You nailed it.”
Terri Hendrix, Professional Singer/Songwriter,

“They are excellent CDs.  You put everything out there intelligently and clearly so the ideas and concepts are not difficult to comprehend.”                         
                            Eastside Flash, Musician, Recording Engineer

“I have been using "Effortless Singing" for almost a year now.  While I was pregnant I heard a lot about how important it was for me to sing to my baby and I am still hearing it.  Sadly, I had never felt good about my singing and I did not feel comfortable doing it.  When my son was born, I began to sing to him anyway.  When I started using "Effortless Singing" my experience of singing changed dramatically!  Brenda's instructions made singing physically feel better and I started to enjoy the way I sounded.  I have used singing in so many ways with my baby - from soothing him to sleep to teaching him to use his potty and say words.  I sing with him all the time!  He can ask for 'more' now and he often asks for more when I finish a song.  He also initiates the singing games we play.  Singing has become a reward that I can give him any time, effortlessly!”                             
                            Olathe MacIntyre, Mother, Scientist

My son, Dylan, and I love the Effortless Singing CDs.  He sings constantly these days, making up his own tunes and words.  It's very cool.                          
                            Betsy Vogt, Voice Student, Mother

Brenda is an experienced voice workshop teacher and panelist at festivals and conferences. Her workshops are practical for both experienced as well as "wannabe" singers, and feature group and individual singing and coaching.

Brenda was a Voice Workshop instructor at the Kerrville Folk Festival in 2007, 2010, 2011 and 2012. Her workshops focus on her "effortless singing techniques" and/or her "effortless harmony singing" techniques. In 2011 and 2012, over 60 people attended her Kerrville Folk Festival Workshops.

Brenda was also the voice wellness expert on a panel for Health and Wellness for Musicians at the Southwest Regional Folk Alliance (SWRFA) Conference in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012. At SWRFA, Brenda also provides complimentary 1:1 mini voice lessons to interested attendees.

For private voice instruction, corporate training, or festival and conference voice workshops and panels, please contact Brenda .
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Effortless Harmony Singing Instruction, Products and Workshops

Brenda has developed a technique for teaching harmony.  The technique is based on the exercises she uses in her vocal instruction.  She teaches harmony singing on an individual basis, but her harmony instruction works best when people wanting to harmonize with each other study together.

After just one lesson Mardi and I had the basics down to learn harmony singing for our original songs.
                            Jannie Funster, Adult Voice Student

In 2011, Brenda released Effortless Harmony Singing with Brenda Freed – A Vocal Harmony Instruction Course.  This product is beneficial for anyone, male or female, who wants to learn to sing vocal harmonies.  The instruction presented teaches the music theory behind basic harmony singing.  Opportunities to practice are provided.  The Effortless Harmony Singing with Brenda Freed 2 CD Set is available through Brenda Freed’s Music Studio in Blanco, Texas, by Clicking Here, at Strait Music in Austin, Texas, and on-line at and on all major download and streaming sites such as iTunes and Amazon MP3

I am very impressed, it is a great harmony teacher and you learn theory at the same time.  This is a LOT of information presented in a very logical manner.  I think you have hit a home run.                    
                            Thomas Chapmond

Along with voice workshops, Brenda is experienced in teaching harmony workshops.  Brenda taught vocal harmony at the 2010 and 2011 Kerrville Folk Festival Voice Workshop.  For more information on vocal harmony workshops, contact Brenda
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Piano Instruction and Effortless Music Reading Products

Brenda's years of experience teaching piano inspired her to develop a beginning piano course for elementary piano students of any age.  She found herself regularly writing supplementary material so that beginning students were actually learning to read the notes on the musical page; that is, associating a note in the music with a particular piano key, rather than with the finger with which they play it.  Brenda’s piano course is centered around Effortless Music Reading Measure Cards Set 1 that she self-published in 2009.  The measure cards are sold with or without a 16-page instructional booklet, and are designed to be used by teachers, music therapists, parents of smaller children, or in self-study by teenage or adult students.  The Effortless Music Reading Measure Cards Set 1 simultaneously teach note reading and rhythm reading in the context of a measure in Middle C hand position on the piano.  Each measure card has one measure of notes in 4/4 time with just the notes on one side, and with letter-counting on the other side.  There are four cards for each note: a whole note, 2 half notes, 4 quarter notes and 8 eighth notes.  Students who systematically study the measure cards move easily into sight-reading beginning piano literature.

Parents and students alike are amazed by how effortless it is to learn to read and play music using Brenda's method.  

I really like your approach.  The repetition of the notes along with the timing for the notes is perfect.
                            Thomas Chapmond, Beginning Piano Student

This is really great because it reinforces all of the elements together; note names and reading rhythm, and challenges the student by putting cards in random order.
                            Shawn Buller, Music Therapist

I am impressed with the simplicity and straight forwardness of your presentation of the fundamentals of music.
                            Dr. Mary Carol Warwick, Houston Community College

I love how your piano method learning is Quintuply-Enforced – saying the note as you see and play it; 1) eyes, 2) ears and 3) finger muscles all at once, 4) learning the note values from the start by saying the "ands", and 5) if the child sings the note on pitch as she plays it. How could anyone teach any other way?!!
                            Jannie Ernst, Mother of Young Piano Student

An indispensable aid for anyone wanting to learn to read music.  It is an easily comprehensible method that will take the beginner to the next level in no time.
                            Rustem Hayroudinoff, Concert Pianist,
                            Professor at the Royal Academy of Music, London, England

Because Brenda believes students are most inspired when playing music they like, she allows her piano students to study music in the style of their preference while introducing other styles as well.  Even though Brenda emphasizes learning to read music, Brenda's piano students are more than "paper trained”.  She encourages them to learn to play scales and to read and play chord symbols in preparation for the ultimate musical experiences of being able to compose, improvise and play by ear.  

The Effortless Music Reading Measure Cards Set 1 are available through Brenda Freed’s Music Studio in Blanco, Texas, by Clicking Here, at Strait Music in Austin, Texas, and on-line at  Brenda’s accompanying Effortless Piano Playing for Beginners book will be released in 2012.
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Guitar Instruction

Brenda teaches introductory and intermediate classical, folk, blues and lead guitar, depending on their music preferences, to students of all ages.  However, she encourages a classical guitar posture because she believes it makes correct hand position more natural and will better prepare students for playing in any style, whether sitting or standing.  Students learn chords that are incorporated into songs right away so the student feels an immediate sense of success. From the beginning, Brenda teaches students basic theory of why certain chords go together; knowledge that later helps them to figure out songs for themselves as well as to write their own songs.

Because of physical problems, I recently had to give up my favorite past time, the game of golf.  I had an old guitar and started taking lessons from Brenda. She not only got me playing the guitar in a short time, but also, I don't miss golf as much. I'm 80 years old, and when I finish a lesson I ALWAYS feel better than when we began. She is a FINE TEACHER and a Fine Person.
                            Julian Loe, Adult Guitar Student

We have never learned so much, so fast! 
                            Jim and Julie Barbe, Adult Guitar Students

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Other Music Instruction

As a performing singer/songwriter, Brenda plays bass and mandolin in addition to guitar and piano.  She teaches introductory bass and mandolin and coaches interested students in songwriting.
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Music Performance Opportunities for Students

Brenda produced annual student recitals for many years that were open to the public. Inspired to create more performance opportunities for her students, as well as to encourage other youth in the community, in 2003 she started a community service event called the Young Artist Performance Incubator (YAPI), a monthly "open mic" for youth aged 19 and under.  Many young performers from the Texas Hill Country had their first public performance at YAPI.  Some performed their own original music there, and some have gone on to perform to national audiences.  "YAPI open mic night provided me with the opportunity to perform for a receptive audience, which was crucial to my development as a musician," said Sahara Smith, Singer/Songwriter, who was runner-up in Garrison Keillor's 2004 Prairie Home Companion Young Artist Competition, and made her national network debut on David Letterman in 2010. Several of Brenda's guitar, piano and voice students, both young and old, have also gone on to perform on stage.
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