Dustin Sanders, a 24-year-old Sparks piano teacher, knows that the best way to nurture the talent of budding young pianists is to keep their interest.
"Some teachers are strict about sticking to a classical method," he said. "But kids love Disney songs, and those can be challenging too, so they're still learning what they need to."
"I am classically trained but I'm more interested in my students learning to play substantial pieces, whatever it may be," he said. "Even songs from Sesame Street can be a challenge."
The point, Sanders stressed, is to make sure the kids are having a good time.
"A lot of kids don't like hard things," he said. "I'll give them fun songs to play, but I'll also pretty good at simplifying things."
Sanders, who graduated from Hereford High School in 2005, started taking piano lessons when he was 12 years old. When his instructor noticed his talent, he was recommended for master classes with Reynaldo Reyes, who now teaches at Towson University.
"He was fantastic to work with," Sanders said.
He started teaching his own students in 2004, at age 17, when word got around about his talent at a country club where he worked.
Now, Sanders teaches about 30 students at his studio, located in the 1700-block of Glencoe Road in Sparks.
"I hope to eventually expand and have some other studios set up with strong teachers," he said. "But I'm in no rush."