If you are immersed in the piano teaching world (like I am), you are sure to recognize the name Andrea Dow. But even if you don’t have any interest in piano pedagogy, you can’t help being impressed with this ambitious, creative woman.
Not only do Andrea and her husband Trevor run a very successful piano education website, Teach Piano Today, and publish their own method books, WunderKeys, but they are also the proud, busy parents of two happy, accomplished daughters.
Today I’d like to shine the spotlight on Andrea, who is unquestionably an inspiring mom in my books. By the end of this article I’m certain you’ll understand why I wanted to feature Andrea and what a tremendous human being she is. I found her brilliant and intelligent, insightful and eloquent, confident and driven. In short, she is someone I look up to and would love to be more like! And trust me: you don’t need to run a piano studio to understand why I say that.
A Career in Musical Education
Music has played a major role in Andrea’s life since she was a toddler. Even before she learned to play the piano at five years old, she remembers sitting on her grandma’s lap listening to her play the piano. (I have similar memories with my grandma so I can relate!) As Andrea got older, she accompanied her grandma to the symphony and opera through her teen years.
At sixteen years old, Andrea started teaching the piano, which was a perfect fit since she loved music and was great with kids. By the time she completed her Bachelor of Music, she had more students than she could handle with a rapidly growing waitlist.
At this point she began adding more teachers to her team, ultimately hiring seven teachers to teach over 300 students in a commercial space! But everything changed when one of her student’s parents reached out to them with a suggestion: “Your curriculum should be online.”
WunderKeys Method Books
Andrea and Trevor had long been unsatisfied with the available method books, noting that student after student quit piano lessons because “they were frustrated, or because they lost interest, or because they had taken lessons for several years and still couldn’t read music.”
This was unacceptable but also fixable to the Dows. Hence, they set out to create “engaging, pedagogically sound resources.” They put their heads together to develop a new piano method book series for preschool children up to intermediate piano players.
I can personally attest to how engaging these books are compared to other method books. As Andrea explains, they are “imaginative, often story-based, visually appealing, and are designed to be frustration-free with careful pedagogical choices.” So not only are they engaging for young kids, but also effective learning tools.
Piano teachers all around the world have recognized the value of these self-published books. In fact, WunderKeys is the largest music publishing community on Facebook! Reviews talk about how much more fun they have teaching with WunderKeys, how happy the students are using them, and how the material successfully teaches fundamental music concepts.
Andrea related how exciting it is when their newly released books hit the top spot on the “Amazon Hot New Releases” list. Clearly people have embraced WunderKeys, even after using the same method books for generations.
When COVID forced piano students to switch to online lessons last year, many people started using virtual platforms like Zoom. The Dows saw this as an opportunity and started The WunderKeys World Tour.
This has been a positive experience for Andrea who enjoys “virtually visiting over 50 studios all over the world where I get to listen to the students of these studios perform my music live on Zoom.” She explained how rewarding it is to witness these children playing the music she helped create. “It really doesn’t get much better than that,” she told me.
Teach Piano Today
Scrolling through their website Teach Piano Today, you’ll find all sorts of resources and materials to make life easier for busy piano teachers. From worksheets to games, sight reading activities to sheet music, photo props to theory games, Andrea and Trevor have thought of everything!
As a piano teacher myself, I encounter all sorts of challenges, ranging from composing sensitive emails to motivating students to practice. I, for one, often find myself exhausting my own ideas and looking online for tips. And I’m obviously not the only one who has discovered their website.
Every time I attend piano teaching conferences or even smaller gatherings of piano teachers, someone is bound to mention Andrea and Trevor Dow. This is because of the great wealth of piano teaching resources and the rich community they’ve created online. The couple has truly put the internet to good use in the best way place through their piano teaching website.
What’s impressive is that Andrea and Trevor do absolutely everything themselves from their family’s kitchen table. Every time someone reaches out, either Andrea or Trevor personally responds since they don’t have any assistants, bots, or employees. As Andrea explains, “Everything anyone sees from us we created from scratch.”
I also find it amazing that they generously give away many of their resources for free. For the past seven years they’ve spent 25 hours a week “creating beautiful and useful printable resources for piano teachers that we then just give away for free.” According to Andrea, this is because they are “motivated by making a difference and leaving our mark on the world.” They genuinely want to help piano students thrive.
Introducing the Dow Family
Andrea lives on the West Coast of Canada with her husband Trevor, daughters Lexi and Halle, and two dogs. They love spending time outdoors as a family. Extended family is also a big part of their lives; both sets of parents live within five minutes of their home. This means that they see them almost every day!
The couple met as sixteen year olds auditioning for their high school musical, “The Pirates of Penzance”. Andrea related, “The moment I heard him sing, it was love at first sight – and I think the same was true on his part!” They began dating shortly after and later got married in 2004. Subsequently they built their first home, backpacked through Europe, and got pregnant with their first daughter Lexi.
When Lexi was born, Andrea “quickly realized that what [she] thought was ‘busy’ before a baby was no comparison to what it was like with a baby.” She talked about something every mother can relate to: how much a first child instantly changes your life as suddenly everything you do is for baby.
In those early days, Trevor worked as an elementary school teacher and Andrea taught piano lessons in the evenings after he got home. On top of all that, they also ran the thriving music school I mentioned earlier.
When their second daughter, Halle, was born a few years later, Andrea and Trevor actively sought out ways to be more present and available for their children. Trevor left his teaching job and together they worked on a blog where they shared online resources for piano teachers, work that could be done from home with their young daughters.
Eventually they sold the music school so they could focus on developing WunderKeys, a “very successful piano method book series used by thousands of piano teachers all around the world,” as Andrea describes it.
Fast forward to today and both of the Dow girls are in their early teen years. Although Andrea had been warned these years would be a nightmare, she says fondly, “So far they’ve been a dream!” She attributes this to deliberate parenting choices to set up situations where their daughters can thrive and experience success.
“I really believe that children who are confident are children who are happy,” she told me. By the way, you’ll notice she employs this mindset in her music education materials as well.
While Andrea and Trevor are clearly “devoted to the arts,” they have actively encouraged athletic activities for their daughters. They recognize the importance of sports, especially for girls, because it teaches purpose and confidence.
Andrea wrote to me, “We’ve taught them to not shy away from hard work or from experiences that may make them feel nervous, and we’ve never even hinted at the fact that the boys that they race against or play hockey with have any sort of advantage over them. Our girls are fearless as a result.” I was so impressed with this perspective!
I learned that Lexi is a “high-performance middle-distance runner who holds several provincial records in British Columbia and Halle is a competitive Highland Dancer who also plays ice hockey.” Additionally, both girls participate in every sports team at their school. How awesome is that?
You really can’t talk about Andrea without talking about Trevor. The couple works side-by-side with the kids often underfoot. In her words, “We spend 24 hours a day together now (literally). We exercise together, we work together, and we spend any teeny bits of free time we have together. We are a team in every sense of the word both in our career and as parents.”
The Dows deeply believe in the vital role that music plays in life, especially for children. Hence they are committed to taking the boring out of piano lessons to make music more accessible to children. WunderKeys has proved to do just that and they are always hearing about how their work helps children engage with music.
According to Andrea, they are united in their objectives and “function as one big brain.” After 23 years together, they’ve become masters at teamwork and combining their unique strengths perfectly. Andrea said, “WunderKeys is a 50/50 blend of our two sets of skills and we just couldn’t do it without each other.” I admire how much they lean on each other and work together!
Fellow fans of WunderKeys know that Andrea has a quirky sense of humor. For instance, the materials on Teach Piano Today and WunderKeys are filled with silly characters, goofy challenges, and unique, brightly colored graphics.
This fun-loving character trait exhibited in her professional life affects Andrea’s personal relationships as well. She said, “We resort to humor, rather than frustration or anger when it gets tough. We don’t take too many things seriously. We are quick to laugh and slow to get angry.” I could use more of that in my life for sure!
As a result of their parents’ flexible schedules, the Dow girls have grown up with access to both parents all of the time. Trevor and Andrea never have to miss the first day of school, greeting the girls when they get off the bus, field trips, or concerts. Although this requires sacrifice and working late into the night, it is totally worth it for them to be there for their children!
Another advantage of their flexible career choice is the opportunity to travel since they can work from anywhere. Their 14 year old daughter Lexi has already visited Europe six times, more than most adults! Andrea explains that they “strongly believe in the value of showing our girls the world and exposing them to different cultures. Those travel experiences have really shaped who our children are… [and] enriches our own experiences.”
I respect this commitment to travel despite the challenges of navigating international airports with children and all of their gear!
With that said, Andrea has worked hard to develop flexibility and patience. Working from home means “it’s impossible to not be interrupted” since she’s “working two feet away from [her] kid who is spilling milk all over the kitchen counter.” She’s learned to be understanding and multitask efficiently with a “stop-start-stop-start approach to working.”
Keeping her kids’ lives predictable, stable, and filled with love doesn’t come without sacrifices behind the scenes. She told me that their schedules don’t permit for things like for “me-time,” individual hobbies, scheduled date nights, and budgeting or meal planning.
She’s ok with that because she’s “comfortable in the knowledge that we’re building something that is so meaningful with our work, we’re raising children who feel supported and empowered, and we’re doing it all together as a very strong family unit.” As someone who tends to second guess herself, I find this confidence and perspective very motivating. I love the way she recognizes the value of her work and accepts the costs, knowing it’s worth it.
Andrea and Trevor sometimes joke that their life would be a great subject of a reality TV show because of how much they juggle between kids, work, house maintenance, pet care, and fitness. She said they often quote Michael Scott from The Office and say, “Somehow I manage!” In her words, “We may be collapsing into bed at 2 am, but it all gets done and (usually) with a few good laughs along the way.”
“Being A Mom Is Simply Who I Am”
Andrea really had so much wisdom to share; I just loved everything she had to say if you can’t tell. But her comments regarding motherhood were especially memorable and insightful. This is likely because of her extensive experience with young children; she figures that over the years she taught nearly one hundred kids in private weekly lessons before even having her own kids.
When I brought up the topic of motherhood, Andrea responded, “I learned that being a Mom doesn’t mean losing yourself. To me, being a Mom is simply who I am.” She went on to explain that she doesn’t feel like she needs to have her own personal time or space because “there isn’t a clear division between ‘Mom’ and ‘Andrea.’”
While she acknowledged that this isn’t how everyone sees it, it’s what works for her. It sounds like she truly cherishes time with her children and values her role as their mom. I could relate to what she shared next: “I know that I will have time alone later in life and I know how fleeting these years with my kids are. I just want to soak it all up and fill that time with good memories as that’s what makes me happiest.”
Andrea reflected that her perspective on parenting has been shaped by her own parents. She shared that her parents are amazing role models who have both battled cancer. They’ve taught her about “what really matters and the ability to see the bigger picture.” As a result, she doesn’t worry about little things.
Another glimpse into her parenting style comes through one of their family mantras: “Being right isn’t worth the fight.” Andrea and Trevor teach this by example. In their house, “mistakes are not really a big deal.” They are quick to apologize, which fosters an environment of honesty and openness. What a wonderful way to teach their daughters that they are all learning and growing together!
Can’t Do Without Items
Despite their busy schedules, the Dow family prioritizes eating dinner together every single night. Andrea says this wouldn’t happen without her Instant Pot and air fryer so she listed both of those as two of her favorite products! I know many of my readers feel the same way about these life-saving appliances.
On a similar note, she describes her Roomba and iMop as her team of robots that keep her house clean even when she doesn’t have time to do housework. If you don’t already know, the Roomba vacuums your floors independently and even empties on its own while the iMop gets under obstacles to scrub your floors faster than a conventional mop. She calls them “the two small appliances I didn’t know I needed but now could not live without.”
And while she doesn’t have much spare time, Andrea does make it a point to read on her Kindle in the hot tub every night for 30 minutes. All day long she looks forward to that so her Kindle is certainly one of her “can’t do without items.”
To Learn More
I hope that this article has convinced you to learn more about Andrea Dow and support her work. If you’re involved in music education at all, you’ll be doing yourself a favor by checking out her websites www.wunderkeys.com and www.teachpianotoday.com. There you’ll find loads of lesson activities, games, and several collections of piano books. You can even sign up for emails so that these resources will be delivered straight to your inbox. Also, check them out on social media @TeachPianoToday where they describe themselves as lovers of “all things quirky, fun, and happy!”