June 2017 Student of The Month

Purav performing at Casa Sandoval Nursing Home

Purav performing at Casa Sandoval Nursing Home

Our June "Student of the Month" is Purav Desai. Purav is a student of Teacher Alexandra at our Santa Clara location and has studied here for almost six years. Purav not only performs on the concert stage but also enjoys going into the community to play for others in venues such as nursing homes. In addition to his weekly private lessons, Purav is also a member in one of our many guitar ensembles.

How long have you been playing guitar?
7 years

Who is your teacher?
Alexandra & Mason

Where do you live?

What is your current piece?
A Musical Pastime by J. Rathgarber (book 6)

What is your favorite piece to play?
Vals Espanol from Suzuki Book 5

What has been the most difficult challenge you’ve had in lessons so far?
Improving my right hand technique

What advice can you give a new guitar student just starting lessons?
Learn how to practice efficiently so a student can improve exponentially. 

You recently did an outreach concert at a nursing home, what motivated you to go out and play in the community?
On the occasion of Memorial Day, I wanted to contribute, even if in a small way, to help bring some fun in the lives of people who've served our country with valor. 

Where was the nursing home located?
Casa Sandoval, 1200 Russell Way, Hayward, CA

Parent Spotlight: Sameer Desai


What made you choose the guitar for Purav's first instrument?
I'm a big fan of flamenco, & was always intrigued by the guitar's versatility in adding that extra zing in almost all musical genres. 

What advice would you give a new parent starting in our program?
The kid has to like the sound of guitar, otherwise it is very difficult to sustain his / her interest in the long run. It is also important to expose our kids to listening to different guitar styles. 

How did the parent education classes help with working with Purav at home?
They're most helpful in the initial stages to prevent our kids from forming bad playing habits. 

May 2017 Student of the Month


Our "Student of the Month" for May 2017 is the great Micah Montgomery. Micah is a very dedicated practicer, who has practiced everyday for almost two years straight - that is the kind of work ethic we like to see! 

Micah is also the first CCG student to win a $5.00 gift certificate to Jamba Juice for reaching 170 practice points in 4 weeks! Here you can read more about Micah, listen to him play, and hear from his mom as well.

Want to some Jamba Juice on CCG? Get your practice challenge chart here or at the school and get practicing!



Micah Montgomery

How old are you?

I'm 7 and a half.

Where do you live?

I live in San Jose, California.

How long have you been playing guitar for?

I have been playing guitar for 2 and a half years.

How often do you practice?

I practice every day. I almost reach to the point where I can get my two-year trophy!

What is your practice routine like?

First, I practice my techniques, like chromatic scales, slurs, arpeggios and reading. Next, I practice my new song. Then, I work on my review pieces.

What is your favorite piece to practice?

My favorite piece is always my new song, which is Vals Español.


Because it's fun to learn something new.

What is the most difficult thing you are working on right now?

The most difficult thing is getting my right arm and my right hand in a good position. And the point of contact.

Do you have any tips for other students on how to practice?

Practice every day. Listen to your mom and your teacher. And don't get into trouble. 

Micah's mom, Molly Montgomery got some questions too!

Micah is a very dedicated student and practicer. How do you get him to be so consistent and disciplined?

We set a routine after school. He knows he needs to practice before he can watch TV or play. At first, he wasn't practicing every day. But once he sees how fast he improves when he practices consistently, he is sold! He is also very goal oriented, so the trophies and Jamba Juice cards keep him motivated.

What made you all decide to take guitar lessons?

Micah was the one who wanted to learn guitar, because he really wanted to join the worship team at our church. We asked two of my friends who have their kids here and they all highly recommended it.

What value do you see in enrolling your kids in music classes?

Micah shows his interest in music early on, so we just want to make sure we provide the opportunity to nurture his love for music. It has helped him to become more focused, disciplined and challenged. 

Any things you like about CCG in particular?

We like CCG for its high quality instruction. Teachers not only teach the techniques but also teach kids how to appreciate music. Spring concert and recitals provide students a chance to perform. It's wonderful to see all the families come together to celebrate their kids. It's not just a guitar school; it's a community.

Music Lessons - Preparation and Confidence

Preparation and Confidence

Years ago, a young student came into the school and told one of our teachers they had a “rule” for their class. It seems the student didn’t want to practice clapping rhythms that day. Hilarious as it was to see a four-year old making rules for the class (innocently and politely, I should add), the great part was to hear the instructor cut right to the root of the issue. 

“Are you worried that you might not do a good job with the rhythms?” 

It seemed at the prior lesson the teacher, student and parent had worked hard on clapping some rhythmic patterns, but at home the parent and child had both forgotten how exactly to clap the rhythms and didn't successfully practice it that week at home. (Take notes and videos on your phones folks!). The braveness of this youngster to feel unprepared for the class but to still follow through is not a commonality. Often younger students who feel this way start to resist attending the lessons, which eventually turns into resistance towards practicing at home and even towards their music lessons at large. 

We all have pressure situations in our lives whether they be meetings with a boss, a pitch to potential clients, or a speech at a conference. Being a bit nervous or feeling the pressure in these circumstances is not a bad thing for most of us, it can often be turned into positive excitement. Being unprepared for these occasions, however, feels terrible: you still have the pressure, but in the back of your mind you know the outcome will not be ideal. For a younger student, going into their music class is the infantilization of our professional pressures. Even my high school students who play at an extremely high-level still admit they get nervous playing for me in their lessons.

This is one reason that the private music class presents a wonderful opportunity for our children. If they prepare well during the week, they learn that nerves are not an unhealthy thing as long as the work has been done. They develop confidence in their abilities, and a strong work ethic. This is another reason we love doing the student recitals at the school, aside from giving all the students a specific goal for the weeks leading up, it also teaches them how to deal with nerves. And the best way to deal with nerves: PREPARATION.

In closing, parents register their kids in music lessons for a plethora of reasons, similarly there are a plethora of benefits to studying an instrument, but the most important part taking classes whether they are for a beginner or expert is to practice. It seems obvious but try to get yourself or your kids in a routine of practicing everyday, even if it is just for a little bit at first. The results of consistency are amazing not just on their playing but again on their confidence, focus and work ethic!

April 2017 Student of The Month

Guitar Student of The Month - April 2017


For April, the CCG guitar student of the month is Christopher Winalski! A student at our Santa Clara Location. Chris takes lessons with teacher Tim and is a hardworking student who we are all very proud of! Congratulations Chris!

Q: How old are you?
10 years old

Q: How long have you been taking guitar lessons?
1.5 years

Q: Who is your teacher?
Tim Sherren

Q: What is your current piece?

Q What piece are you looking forward to playing?
Packington's Pound

Q: What is your favorite piece or skill that you have learned in lessons?
Waltz,   The slide


Q: What are your hobbies outside of music?
Violin, swimming, especially breaststroke

Q: What was the most difficult challenge you’ve had in lessons so far?
Grace notes

Q: What is your favorite food?
Pepperoni pizza and mint chocolate chip ice cream

Parent Spotlight

Q: Regarding guitar, what are you most proud of your child accomplishing? 

He has really taken to the guitar and likes it.  He practices daily and does not complain about it.  He understands that guitar is something we do every day 

Q: What advice would you give a new parent to Suzuki guitar? 

Practice every day.  Make it part of your lives. Don't practice too late when they're just plain tired, either.  

Q: Why did you decide to give your child a musical upbringing?

Music makes people smart and it's beautiful.  People who can play an instrument are special and can always contribute to others by playing their instrument.   It also gives kids something that to feel proud and special about.  

Q: What is your favorite Suzuki piece?

Allegretto from book 2

March 2017 Student of the Month

Guitar Student of The Month - March 2017

This month, CCG recognizes Simon Lee as the March 2017 Student of the Month. Simon is 9 years old and studies with Alexandra at our Santa Clara Location. We are proud of Simon's progress since he started at CCG a little over two years ago and there are no signs of slowing down! Don't miss the short interview with Simon's father, Xavier below. Congratulations Simon!

Simon Lee

Q: How old are you?
A: 9 years old
Q: How long have you been studying guitar?
A: 2.5 years
Q: Who is your teacher? 
A: Teacher Alexandra
Q: What advice would you give to a beginning guitar student? 
A: Listen to your teacher
Q: What piece are you looking forward to playing?  
A: Greensleeves
Q: What is your favorite thing about playing guitar? 
A: Making music
Q: What is your favorite food?  
A: Sushi
Q: What do you want to be when you grow up?  
A: Movie director
Q: What is your proudest guitar moment? 
A: Playing for my grandparents
Q: What is your favorite scale? 
A: Chromatic
Q: Who is your favorite Star Wars character?  
A: Chewbacca

Parent Spotlight - Xavier Lee

Q: Regarding guitar, what are you most proud of your child accomplishing? 
A: Persevering through the challenges and getting over the humps

Q: What advice would you give a new parent to Suzuki guitar? 
A: Make a habit of practice and have patience (not saying it's easy)

Q: Why did you decide to give your child a musical upbringing?
A: I wanted him to learn to play an instrument and create beautiful music

Q: Have you noticed a difference in your child's confidence level since starting guitar lessons?  
A: Yes, The recitals help, and he's performed at school functions

Q: What is your favorite Suzuki piece?  
A: So far, Waltz by Calatayud in book 2

Q: Which piece are you looking forward to?  
A: Waltz by Paganini in book 3




Guitarist David Russell at CCG

We have been very lucky over the past few years to have had some of the world's great guitarist come to CCG and offer a masterclass for dedicated students. On Sunday, February 26th our luck continued when we hosted the wonderful guitarist David Russell, who was so gracious to take time out of his busy tour schedule!

David Russell was born in Scotland but grew up in Spain, where he currently lives. One of the most accomplished classical guitarist of our times, he is frequently invited to perform in the world's major cities. In 2005, he was awarded a grammy for the "Best Instrumental Soloist Performance without Orchestra" for his CD Aire Latino.

You can learn more about David at: www.davidrussellguitar.com

The class was very motivating and insightful for the students. He was able to find something that would improve each students playing right away, and always had a clear intention to make the music more enjoyable for the audience whether it be by developing their tone production or making their phrasing more expressive. On top of all that he even played a piece for us!

It was nice to read these kind words on David's Facebook page a couple days later, "I got to hear some exceptionally talented young guitarists at the California Conservatory of Guitar in Silicon Valley. Congratulations to the teachers for their fabulous work!" 

We hope to see you all at the next class!

February 2017 Students of the Month

This month CCG recognizes siblings, Jayen, Nikhil, and Annika Agrawal as the February 2017 students of the month. They currently study with Chris Mann at our Redwood City location. Each of them started while still in pre-school and we are proud of their hard work and commitment to CCG over the years. At the end of the post, you can also check a short interview with their mother, Reena, on what it's like to have three children in our program and how she balances their practice time. 

Jayen Agrawal

Jayen Agrawal

Q: How old are you?
A: 10 years old
Q: How long have you been taking guitar lessons?
A: 4.5 years
Q: Who is your teacher?
A: Chris Mann
Q: What is your current piece?
A: Etude by F Sor
Q: What is your favorite piece or skill that you have learned in lessons?  
A: I like to do pull offs, hammer ons and grace notes.
Q: What are your hobbies outside of music?
A: I like swimming, skiing, sailing and cooking
Q: What was the most difficult challenge you’ve had in lessons so far?
A: I have been working on keeping my pinky (my "x") in when playing
Q: What is your favorite food?
A: Waffles, pancakes and eggs

Nikhil Agrawal

Nikhil Agrawal

Q: How old are you?
A: 8 years old
Q: How long have you been taking guitar lessons?
A: 4.5 years
Q: Who is your teacher?
A: Chris Mann
Q: What is your current piece?
A: Etude by N Coste
Q: What is your favorite piece or skill that you have learned in lessons?  
A: My favorite piece to play is Calliope
Q: What are your hobbies outside of music?
A: My hobbies are art, building, chess, skiing and riding my bike
Q: What was the most difficult challenge you’ve had in lessons so far?
A: My most difficult challenge is crossing the fretboard while alternating left-hand fingers
Q: What is your favorite food?
A: Pasta and sushi

Annika Agrawal

Annika Agrawal

Q: How old are you?
A: 6 years old
Q: How long have you been taking guitar lessons?
A: 3 years
Q: Who is your teacher?
A: Chris Mann
Q: What is your current piece?
A: Andante from Sonata 17 by N. Paganini
Q: What is your favorite piece or skill that you have learned in lessons?  
A: My favorite song to play is A Toye.
Q: What are your hobbies outside of music?  
A: I like to play soccer, golf, swimming and skiing.
Q: What was the most difficult challenge you’ve had in lessons so far?
A: I have been working on doing thumb circles at the same time as plucking.
Q: What is your favorite food?
A: Pasta!

Thank you to their mother Reena for the wonderful insight below!

Q: What is it like to have three kids in the program?
A: The good thing is the kids motivate each other and keep each other going.  It's easier on me because I only have to learn new material once, and it applies equally to the next two children.  It's also very efficient because CCG has been able to schedule their lesson consecutively which means only one trip a week.  And lastly it's been very surprising--they are such different children who have all picked the guitar and who all love it! 

Q: How do you balance their practice/home lesson time?
A: Practice in the mornings before school!  Between work and school, the kids and I all are tired at the end of the day.  Practicing in the morning is highly productive because the kids (and I, after a cup of coffee) are alert and focused.  We can accomplish our objectives in half the time compared to after school practices.  We save the longer practices for the weekends.

The Torres Guitar Project at CCG Sunday, February 12th

We are very excited to host the Torres Guitar project at the California Conservatory of Guitar in Santa Clara on Sunday, February 12th at 2:00 pm. The event is free and open to the public. Donations are accepted and encouraged, and all the proceeds will go to the performers who worked hard to make this happen. The performers, all San Francisco Conservatory of Music college and graduate students, will play on a newly completed replica of an 1888 Antonio de Torres guitar built by San Francisco master luthier Alan Perlman. If you ever wondered how a guitar is built, this is an excellent opportunity to learn from one of the best guitar builders in the world! Alan will talk about the process of making a guitar, and what goes into creating a replica of an instrument that costs more than $300,000!

Antonio Torres (1817-1892) is perhaps best known as the guitar luthier (stringed instrument maker) who helped develop and innovate what we know as the modern classical guitar. There have been many slight changes with aspects of the guitar such as the type of wood used for the top and the bracing used on the inside, but many luthiers around the world still use and follow Torre's design. Francisco Tarrega, whose pieces "Recuerdos de Alhambra" and "Capricho Arabe" are included in Suzuki Book 9, performed on guitars built by Antonio Torres in the 19th and early 20th century.

We hope to see all of you there for this special event!

When: Sunday, February 12th at 2:00 pm
Where: The California Conservatory of Guitar in Santa Clara. 
              2905 Stender Way, Unit 72 Santa Clara, CA 95054
Contact: info@thecaliforniaconservatory.com

Below is a program of what the performers will play. 

Capricho Árabe                         Francisco Tarrega (1852-1909)
Sonatina                        Federico Moreno Torroba (1891-1982)
    I. Allegretto
                Joseph Ompoc

Sueño Mazurka                                             Francisco Tarrega
Prelude in E major
Capricho Catalan                             Isaac Albéniz  (1860-1909)
Torre Bermeja
                Dariusz Lampkowski

Elegie                                    Johann Kaspar Mertz (1805-1856)
                Nathania Isnandar


Romance de los Pinos                           Federico Moreno Torroba
Manzanares el Real
Rumores de la Caleta            Isaac Albéniz  (arr. Christopher Parkening)
                 Brig Urias

Serenata Española                                      Joaquin Malats (1872-1912)
Reqeurdos de la Alhambra                                      Francisco Tarrega
                Jakob Sonnek

Sonata Eroica Op.150                  Mauro Giuliani (1781-1829)
                Bradly Pupa

Francisco_Tarrega Torres.jpg

Guitar Student of the Month January

Guitar Student of the Month


Our student of the month for January is Will Bettinger. Will is a 10 year old student from Mountain View who currently takes guitar lessons with Robert Miller at our Redwood City location. Will is a fabulous student who is consistently prepared for his lessons but shows even more promise because of his inherent love for the guitar. Right when Will began to take lessons Will’s parents started to expose him to recordings by great guitarists. Music is a language and only being exposed to it in lessons and practice is not enough to become fluent! Listen, listen, listen! He also had a very busy December performing at events like the Dickens Fair at Cow Palace in San Francisco and others throughout the Bay Area (more below).

A couple things will has done that would help other students:
1) He has a Spotify account which he adds artists and pieces that I suggest he listen to or that he finds on his own. We shared a Spotify playlist a while ago check it out here!

2) Will finds it is helpful to practice in the mornings and uses a great app called Brilli to stay on task!

"Brili helps kids succeed in their daily routines by combining visual schedules, chore chart, voice prompts and more into a wearable and mobile app game."


Q: How long have you been taking guitar lessons?

7 years

Q: What is your current piece?

Allegro Vivace by Mauro Giuliani

Q: What is your favorite piece or skill that you have learned in lessons?

I like doing bars in the left hand where you use one finger flat to cover lots of strings at the same time.

Q: What are your hobbies outside of music?

 I like to travel, play chess, do Taekwondo and play tennis.

Q: What was the most difficult challenge you’ve had in lessons so far?

Free strokes were hard when I first learned them.

Q: What is your favorite food?

Cheese burgers

Q: You recently did a lot of performing would you tell us about them?

I performed at the Dickens Fair, a Christmas party, a rest home, a church service, and a creche exhibit with my family in December.  One of my sisters plays the harp, two of my sisters play the violin, and my brother plays the cello.  We played Christmas music. In the Dickens Fair we had to wear costumes from London in the 1800's.  

Q: Do you have any advice for students who have upcoming performances?

My advice to students who are performing is not to look at the audience and you won't get as nervous.

Q:Whats your new year's resolution?

My resolution is to have more careful practice every day.


Masterclass Series at CCG

Since the start of The California Conservatory of Guitar, our goal has been not only to bring quality teaching to the students at CCG but also to bring world-class performers to teach master classes to the students at the school. What is a master class? A master class is essentially a private lesson, taught in public by a visiting concert artist. Since 2011 we have had over a dozen acclaimed guitarists at our Santa Clara location to work with the students. These artists include Rapahella Smits (twice!), Roland Dyens, Marcin Dylla, Benjamin Verdery, Zoran Dukic, Rupert Boyd, Simon Powis, Connie Sheu, Josinaldo Costa, Ian O'Sullivan,  Rene Izquierdo, Dieter Hennings and more. We will kick 2017 off with two exceptional artists coming to teach at CCG. On January 22nd, Rupert Boyd will be back for his second time, and on February 26th we are excited to announce that GRAMMY Award-winning classical guitarist David Russell will be stopping by CCG to teach some of the advanced students. Masterclasses at CCG are open to all the students, and we encourage everyone to come and watch, even if you aren't playing in the class. You can get a lot from watching, and masterclass teachers frequently address the audience to share inside tips and stories about their life. We look forward to seeing you at the next one! Take a look below at photos from some of the past masterclasses.

Redwood City Location

The California Conservatory of Guitar in Redwood City!


As many of our families and students know, we have been working hard to get our location in Redwood City up and running. It is a nice little spot on Woodside Rd. where we offer private guitar classes. As our location in Santa Clara has a ton of space we will continue to hold the group classes, ensembles and recitals there. Since traffic is much easier on the weekends people from up this way can supplement their private guitar classes with all that our community has to offer should they decide to!

Many of the students and families who used to have to drive up to an hour to be a part of our school are so happy 10 minutes from Palo Alto, Menlo Park, and Woodside! 

I have added a couple of photos of the lobby and some of the studios so those of you who won't be able to come up here can take a look!



Great Guitar Recital

Student Guitar Recital 


Congratulations to all of the families, students, and teachers for a successful recital this past Saturday. It was one of the best we have had yet! The playing was great from beginners to advanced students, and the place was full of supportive family and friends of the students. We have some short video clips and photos from the concert below. Please check them out. We are so glad that the guitar classes are paying off for all of the students at the school!

Preparing for the Recital

Guitar Recital Preparation

As we have discussed in our last post the California Conservatory of Guitar's semesterly recital is fast approaching! We will have six throughout the day on Saturday November 12th.

By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.
— Benjamin Franklin

The most important aspect of performing is the practice we put in - how we practice is how play.  So in the coming week leading up to the event, we all need to make sure the students are doing slow careful practice. We have discussed this in a prior post, "Productive Guitar Practice"

There a couple great, easy ways to build confidence leading up to the performance. The first is to play the piece all the way through for family members and friends as much as possible. One student at CCG actually performs at least three pieces for his mom and dad every Sunday - it is part of their family routine. Secondly, try to record the piece the kids are playing on your phone and look back on what could improve. Sometimes the camera lens is pressure in and of itself!

Our goal with the recitals is to help strengthen the community at CCG. It allows the young students to see the advanced ones, for all the teachers, parents and students to see the fruits of their labor and for families to meet! It is also a great way for the students to build confidence and to see that a diligent, prudent process will lead to a beautiful, polished product. 

See you the 12th!

Guitar Recital - Time to Show Those Classes Paid off!

Bay Area Guitar Student Recital

We feel very fortunate to be able to have formed a guitar community in the Bay Area. Our school is more than a place where busy parents can drop of their kids for a guitar lesson, but a place where parents and young guitar students can grow musically together both in their music class and at their guitar practice at home. 

One important part of our community is the student recital we hold each semester. The next one is November 12th, and we will be holding 6 throughout the day where guitar students from San Jose all the way up to Redwood City will come in and play a piece for other students, family and friends! 

Interested in guitar classes? Come in to see on of the recitals!

Let us know!

More with Music


Francesca Boerio is a student of Christopher Mallett and is one extraordinary player (you can see an excerpt of her playing below)!  We love to hear when students are doing more with music! We asked her to write a short passage about how she used the guitar for good. Check it out:

"On May 8, I held a guitar concert to raise funds for the Mexico Mission Trip. This is the 19th year St. Charles Parish has organized the Mexico Mission Trip. I have been a member of the St. Charles community since I was little so I am excited to go on the trip for my second time this year. On the Mexico Mission Trip, a group of 91 teens, interns, and adults drive down to Tijuana to build 3 houses for Mexican families in need. The guitar concert, held in San Carlos, raised funds to cover expenses which include transportation, food, building materials, and equipment. This year, I raised $3,500 from and in support of the concert. I asked two students from the California Conservatory of Guitar to also participate in the concert by playing a few pieces. My time at the California Conservatory of Guitar helped me greatly in preparation for the concert."



Spring Concert

The Spring Concert is one of our favorite traditions at The California Conservatory of Guitar. Each year CCG families from all over the Bay Area from San Jose all the way up to South San Francisco gather at the Santa Clara Convention Center for a truly special occasion. 

This year we started with 5 student ensembles who played a diverse set of music. Students in these ensembles meet as group on Saturdays throughout the year and are coached by our expert faculty. On top of performing at the Spring Concert, the groups perform at outreach events, open for international talent at concert series throughout the Bay, and have even been selected to perform for the Guitar Foundation of America’s annual convention. 

Up next, we had graduation. The Suzuki method is made up of nine books or levels, which offers the students repertoire that is continuously growing in difficulty both technically and musically. This year we had students graduating from every book! Such a hardworking, talented bunch. Congrats!

After intermission, the curtain opened, and we had about 120 guitarists from ages 4-18 all on the stage at once! We played selections from the Suzuki repertoire. It is quite a fun, grandiose affair. The kids love it, and it gives a chance for students young to old to get up and play.  

We are looking forward to next year!