“My parents both taught piano,” says Amy van der Linde, whose father also taught math at Bennington College in Vermont. “When I was 6, they opened a summer piano camp in our house. I started teaching at age 9.” The camp, called Summer Sonatina, became so popular that the family moved, seven years later, into a 42-room mansion, previously a convent. “We had 26 pianos for 50 students,” she says. “Everyone practiced for one hour, three times a day.” Management of the camp and of the family household followed the Positive Discipline model of parenting, based on research by Alfred Adler and Rudolf Dreikurs. “Children need encouragement like a plant needs water,” van der Linde expounds. She shared teaching duties with her four siblings and their parents at the camp through her college years at the University of Vermont.
Afterwards, she served two years in the Peace Corps in Morocco, then worked 13 years managing a homeless shelter in Boston. She returned to teaching after a 17-year absence in 1996, when she opened a piano studio in Manhattan. “I devised games to help students learn,” she says. Van der Linde got married, and three months after the birth of daughter Darwin in 2006, the family moved to Eugene. “New York kids are stressed out,” she explains. She currently gives piano lessons in her home studio. Also a certified Positive Discipline Parenting Educator since 2009, she will offer a free introductory parenting class this fall. Find details at amyvanderlinde.com. Her own kids Darwin and Tycho are in fifth and first grade at Camas Ridge Elementary. Back in Bennington, Summer Sonatina has spawned Winter Sonata, a piano camp for adults.