PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. — An accomplished Bay Area music teacher is taking her love of music beyond the ivory keys. The tune is changing slightly, now that all lessons and recitals have gone virtual.
Eileen Mattioli of Mattioli Music Studio has been teaching piano and accordion for 65 years.
"Music is the soul of your life,” said Mattioli.
She's taught thousands of students over the last six decades; three generations in some families. Her students range in age from four to their nineties.
Fifteen-year-old McKinley Davis is one of Mattioli's students, she's been playing piano for nine years.
"It helps me better myself as a person, it teaches me strong discipline," said McKinley.
Mattioli's students describe her as a role model.
"This is not like work to me," said Mattioli.
Mattioli said she started teaching McKinley's cousin at age seven. Before that, she taught their grandmother.
"Grandma, she gave up her lessons so that we could take lessons — so she couldn’t afford for all three of us to go," Latoya McCormick said referring to her and her brother.
Mattioli teaches families and becomes part of the family.
"She means so much, it was necessary for her to be at my wedding," said McCormick who returned from her honeymoon just days ago.
The cousins say Mattioli is more than a music teacher.
"She gave me confidence," said McCormick. "She gave me, I can’t even put it into words what she means, she’s everything.”
"I can tell that she really loves her students and she really wants to see the best for us almost like a family member," said Davis.
Students are now striving for the best, virtually. Lessons are online.
"It’s different but it’s better because I now have the parents involved because they have to set up the equipment and I get to talk to them,” said Mattioli.
"I wouldn’t say it was really much of a change because I’m still doing the same thing, it’s just that I’m not face to face,” said Davis.
The annual recital was virtual, too, which was a first for Mattioli.
"It worked out even better because the students didn’t tape their songs until they were perfect," said Mattioli.
"So, this was like a perfect recital except for a few little glitches."
While the show must go on, music is more of an inspiration.
"It truly is a universal language and across cultures, across genders, whatever, music speaks volumes and it touches you and it does so much more than give you a tune."
The cousins have changed their tune over the years. They say at first, they didn't like taking lessons.
Now, Latoya teaches music and still performs and McKinley looks forward to playing.
"They’re wonderful, I’m proud of all my students," said Mattioli.
"I think it’s wonderful, and I don’t ever want to stop.”
Other student success stories include musicians playing for Joan Jett and in military bands.
Mattioli also had the honor of hosting Liberace, he considered purchasing her home that had a musical-note shaped swimming pool.