November 2017 Student of the Month - Aanya Hariharan

Aanya performing at the CCM Santa Clara recital October 29th

Aanya performing at the CCM Santa Clara recital October 29th

Aanya post performance bow

Aanya post performance bow

Student Spotlight: Aanya Hariharan

We would like to congratulate our November 2017 student of the month Aanya Hariharan. Aanya takes piano lessons with teacher Briana at CCM's Santa Clara location. We are excited to see Aanya's rapid progress and she recently performed in her first CCM recital on Sunday, October 29th. Don't forget to check out her mother, Bhargavi's parent spotlight below!

How old are you?
I am 9 years old.

Who is your teacher?
My piano teacher is Miss Briana.

What advice would you give to a pianist just starting out?
My advice I would give to a pianist just starting out is enjoy the piece you play and know that is always okay to make mistakes.

What pieces are you currently working on?
The pieces I am currently working on are Half-time show and The Juggler.

What is your favorite piece to play on the piano?
My favorite piece to play on the piano is Happy Birthday to you!

What is your favorite food?
My favorite food is pizza.

What other activities do you enjoy doing?
Other activities I enjoy doing are ice skating, tennis, music, and dance.

What do you want to be when you grow up?
I would like to be a famous designer who designs famous people's clothes.

Parent spotlight: Bhargavi

Why did you decide to give your child a musical upbringing?
Music has always been a part of our family and I have loved music since childhood and I wanted to share that with my kids. I wanted them to learn something that they can own it and use it to engage themselves during their free time. Music is also known to calm our nerves and with all the stress that they may undergo in their life, I wanted them to be able to play something for themselves and enjoy it when needed. 

What advice do you have for parents just starting out at CCM?
Initially, when they are young they may not enjoy especially with the daily practice routine but keep up with the program and encourage your child. Have something nice to say to them when they practice at home. Eventually you will see your child's musical journey blossom and they will start enjoying it.

What's it like for you to have two kids in the program? 

I have both my kids aged 9 and 15 in this program. My son has been with CCM for over 8 years now (since 2nd grade) and I have seen his passion for music blossomed through the Suzuki program and he really enjoys playing guitar. 

I love the Suzuki program as I feel connected and involved with my child's musical journey and I am able to help them when they practice at home which is an added advantage. The one-on-one lessons, the weekend group classes, the group concerts and the parental involvement have helped them to play better, be self motivated and enjoy music, and be more confident of themselves. The discipline and the daily practice routine has also transferred to other areas of their life. Both my kid's teachers Chris (Guitar) and Briana (Piano) have been fantastic in developing a well-rounded musician and my heartfelt thanks to them and I would highly recommend to other new parents who are in search of a good music school and teacher. 

CCM 2017 Fall Recitals

On October 29th we presented our bi-annual student recital held at CCM Santa Clara. Over 200 students from both our Redwood City and Santa Clara locations performed in what was easily our biggest recital day yet! Over the course of the day, we held eight student recitals from 10:00 am to 8:00 pm. Families and friends packed in to watch their children perform on stage what they had been preparing for the past couple of months.

Students of all ages played throughout the day, and we even had several 3-year-olds perform for their first time. If a student is new to the program and hasn't learned a complete piece yet, our instructors still encourage them to go out on stage to bow and demonstrate their four steps with the guitar to show the beginnings of their musical journey. Walking out on stage in front of an audience, even if not playing a piece of music, will help build confidence for future performances. 

This year, we added a new adult recital and had over a dozen of our adult students participate performing pieces that ranged from J.S. Bach to Villa-Lobos. 

Thank you to everyone who helped make this recital a memorable experience, and we look forward to the next one!

Effective practice

Get the Most out of your Music Lessons

All instruments come with their own inherent difficulties. Beginning music students often have difficulty with intonation on the violin or cello, stretching out the fingers for leaps on the piano or fretting the notes on the guitar. What doesn’t change, regardless of the instrument you choose for your music lessons is the approach you should take towards practice. 

With student recitals approaching at the end of the month, here are some great tips on how to make your practice as effective as possible:

Slow Practice

Make sure you play through your pieces at a very slow tempo. When you work in this way, it is easy to play without tension in your hands or arms and gives you time to visualize the movements and music. It also reveals when and where you may be relying too heavily on muscle memory. 

If you learn something slowly, you forget it slowly.
— Itzhak Perlman

Repetition 

Our brains are wired to learn through repetition. It is very helpful to break pieces down into smaller sections or passages and practice these a few times. Make sure you do this slowly and with a clear mind! For younger students, playing a game or rolling a die really helps them do repetitions without losing theory focus. Older students can switch up the sections they are practicing and cycle back through them multiple times. 

Isolation

Spot practice: as mentioned above, all instruments have their own inherent difficulties but pieces do too! Make sure you spend extra time with the parts of the piece that cause you the most difficulty!

October 2017 Student of the Month Meran Brito

Congratulations to CCM's October student of the month Meran Brito. Meran has been a student at the California Conservatory of Music in Santa Clara since the beginning and has loved guitar since his first lesson. Meran is a hardworking student who always comes to his lesson prepared and excited to learn something new! He is currently working towards his one-year challenge. Don't forget to check out his mother, Deepika's parent spotlight below as well as an excerpt of Meran playing Joao Pernambuco's Sound of Bells from Suzuki Book 6. Keep up the great work Meran!

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Student of the Month: Meran Brito

How old are you? 13
How long have you been playing guitar? 7 years
Who is your teacher? Chris Mallett
What advice would you give to a guitarist just starting out? Get a concept of the whole piece before starting to learn it section by section.
 

What pieces are you currently working on? Sonata by Dominico Cimarosa
What is your favorite piece to play on guitar? Prelude by Bach and Sound of Bells
What is your favorite food? I like all food.
What are some of your hobbies outside the guitar? I play tennis
Do you have any pets? Yes, a rescue dog named Jooney
What do you want to be when you grow up? I want to be a scientist and invent the first working time machine.
Are there any past performances that stand out to you the most? The talent show in 5th grade, I played Sueno, which I thought was a pretty challenging piece at the time.

Parent Spotlight: Deepika

Why did you decide to give your child a musical upbringing?
Music facilitates all round learning for kids. It enhances skills that children need in other areas, since it involves more than fingers playing the instrument. The child has to tap into multiple skill sets simultaneously when learning, I think that's important for brain development.

What advice do you have for parents just starting out at CCM?
I think initially it's easy to get caught up in wanting your child to do their best and push them to work harder at practice. It works better if you take a step back, and let them take the lead in their musical education.

How has guitar impacted your child's life?
Meran started playing guitar at 6. I chose the instrument for him, because I love the sound of guitar. I was prepared for him to say that he didn't like the instrument and want to try something else. I was pleasantly surprised when he really took to it. It's given Meran a strong focus on doing something positive that he enjoys. He loves playing the guitar. He's very committed to furthering his music education and practices often on his own accord.

Zak Werdegar - Strumming for Vets Fundraiser

For the past two years, CCM student Zak Werdegar has been volunteering his time each week teaching guitar to war veterans at the Menlo Park division of Palo Alto VA Hospital. The guitars that the veterans currently use are close to unplayable, and Zak wanted to set out and raise money to get new instruments for them. You can check out Zak's fantastic promotional video below and can donate to his gofundme page here: https://www.gofundme.com/music-therapy-for-war-veterans

Everyone at the California Conservatory is incredibly proud of the work Zak is doing in the community and look forward to hearing the veterans play on their new instruments!

In the video, Zak is performing a movement from Andrew York's piece, Equations of Beauty.  Zak currently studies with Brad Pupa at our Redwood City location.

September 2017 Students of the Month

Congratulations to the September 2017 Students of the month Suvan and Asha Agarwal. Suvan and Asha study guitar at CCM's Santa Clara location. Suvan and Asha have both been studying guitar for most of their lives and it shows each time they come to their lessons and perform on stage. Keep up the amazing work!

Asha and Suvan Students of the Month.jpeg

Asha Agarwal

Q: How old are you?  
A: 12 years old
Q: How long have you been playing guitar?  
A: 9 years
Q: Who is your teacher?
A: Chris Mallett
Q: What pieces are you currently working on?
A: Adelita and Lagrima by Francisco Tarrega and Tarantelle by Johann Kaspar Mertz
Q: What is your favorite piece to play on guitar?
A: Tarantelle
Q: What is your favorite food?  
A: Seafood
Q: What are some of your hobbies outside the guitar?  
A: Competitive swimming, reading, sailing, and hanging out with friends.
Q: Do you have any pets?  
A: We have 6 chickens. 
Q: What do you want to be when you grow up?  
A: Wildlife biologist
Q: Are there any past performances that stand out to you the most?  
A: I performed in a talent show in front of my whole middle school.  It was a little scary, but I did really well.

Suvan Agarwal

Q: What is your name? 
A: Suvan Agarwal
Q: How old are you?
A: 16 years old
Q: Who is your guitar teacher?
A: Alexandra
Q: How long have you been playing guitar?
A: 11 1/2 years
Q: What pieces are you working on? 
A: Tarantelle by Mertz, Capriccio by Mertz, Allegro, BWV 998 by Bach, 3 Pieces for Guitar by Carlos Chavez
Q: What is your favorite food?
A: Japanese food
Q: What do you love most about playing guitar?
A: I love the sound of the music, and the satisfaction of playing a piece right.
Q: Who are your top 3 favorite guitarists?
A: John Williams, Pepe Romero, Xavier Jara
Q: What do you plan to major in college?
A: Classical Guitar and maybe either engineering or history
Q: Tell us about any performances/masterclasses you have coming up.
A: I have a masterclass with Xavier Jara in February, the Junior Bach festival audition in January, and a recital in October.
Q: What advice would you give to a guitarist looking to improve quickly and take their playing to the next level? 
A: I would say watch lots of performances on Youtube and in real life, and do a lot of slow practice while focusing on the left hand.
Q: What is the most challenging aspect of being a guitarist?
A: The hardest part of being a guitarist is worrying about your nails, and being nervous before a performance.
Q: What is the most rewarding aspect of being a musician? 
A: The best part of being a musician is feeling satisfied after performing well.
Q: Who is your favorite composer? 
A: My favorite composers are J.S. Bach and Joaquin Rodrigo.
Q: What do you like to do when you’re not playing the guitar?
A: I like to cook, eat, watch movies, and hang out with friends.
Q: Where do you see guitar taking you in the future?
A: I hope to study guitar in college and become a guitar performer/teacher.

 

Diana Kunze, Parent Spotlight

Q: Regarding guitar, what are you most proud of Suvan accomplishing?  
A: I am very proud of Suvan for putting so much time and effort into his playing.  He works really hard on his pieces and spends at least 2 hours a day practicing, but not at my urging.  He wants to be a better guitarist and knows that practice is the only way to make that happen and I am proud that he understands that.  
Q: What are you most proud of Asha accomplishing?
A: I am proud of Asha for becoming a really confident guitar player. She loves learning new pieces and she never complains about something being "too difficult"  Her confidence makes her thrive and she always wants a challenge.  Sometimes she will sight read a new piece on her own so she can surprise her teacher.  She heard her brother playing one of her (and his) current pieces, Tarantelle and she decided she also wanted to learn it.  It is probably the most difficult piece she has ever had, but she sight read most of it and surprised Chris.  I am also proud of her for always wanting to do better in her guitar playing.
Q: You've been a part of this school and community for many years now. Can you talk a bit about what that experience has been like for you?  
A: I've always felt that the conservatory has had a very supportive environment and it's never felt competitive.  The kids and parents always support each other.  AndI feel very fortunate to have seen so many talented kids come through the conservatory.  I have watched Suvan, Asha, and many other kids grow up at the conservatory and they've all become amazing guitarists.  I can't help but feel lucky to be a part of such a community.  I also feel lucky to have met so many wonderful parents at the school, some of whom I've known for our whole 11 1/2 years.  We went from talking about kindergarten to now discussing high school classes and college!   
Q: Why did you decide to give your children a musical upbringing?
A: I have always loved music and I wanted to share that with my kids.  I don't think people are born musicians, but I think everyone can become one and I wanted that for them.  I think once you learn music, you don't lose that knowledge and that's special. 
Q: How has guitar impacted Suvan's life? 
A: Guitar has taught Suvan an extremely valuable lesson.  When Suvan started at 4, I had no expectations.-I just wanted him to learn an instrument.   Suvan didn't like practicing when he was very young and it became so bad in middle school that I pulled him out of guitar for a year.  Over that year, he started to realize that he missed playing guitar and asked to start lessons again.  This "break" made him appreciate his ability and made him want to be a better guitarist.  Playing guitar has become his passion and he practices for 2-3 hours a day now.  Guitar has taught him that perseverance and hard work really does make a difference and that is something that he can apply to everything.  
Q: How has guitar impacted Asha's life?
A: Guitar has been a part of most of Asha's life.  As with anything you practice, the more you do, the better you get and she doesn't take that for granted.  Growing up playing guitar taught her that valuable lesson and she has applied that philosophy not only to guitar, but to her school work and competitive swimming. 
Q: What is your favorite piece so far? Fugue from BWV 998. 
A: I never get tired of hearing this piece.

Welcome to our new site!

We are thrilled to welcome you to the California Conservatory of Music's new website!

For the past six years, as The California Conservatory of Guitar, we have brought top-notch guitar education to the Bay Area through private lessons, ensemble classes, group and theory courses, concerts, and visiting artists. As guitarists and educators, it has been a great pleasure to reach so many of our goals with the school: Many of our students have developed a lifelong passion for music; have developed confidence, work ethic, and creativity through music; and have achieved so many distinguished accomplishments, such as college admissions, competition prizes, and performance invitations.  

As musicians, Chris and I have always been driven to collaborate with other instrumentalists: singers, violinists, pianists, etc. It helps one's imagination thrive to hear the other timbres and resonance of these instruments, challenging us not just as guitarists, but as musicians as well. We feel that having more instrumental diversity at the school will help to create an even more dynamic musical experience for the entire community!

We would love to hear your thoughts or concerns as we transition. In the works is a grand reopening - the Mayor of Santa Clara may even join us!

August 2017 Student of the Month

CCM Guitar August Student of the Month.png

CCM's student of the month for August is Safiya Tran. Safiya is a student of Kevin Ayers at our Santa Clara location. She is currently in book three of the Suzuki guitar method, and in addition to her private lessons, Safiya is a member of one of CCM's guitar ensembles. Don't miss the Parent Spotlight below where we asked her father Hoang a few questions as well. Keep up the great work Safiya!

Student of the Month: Safiya Tran

Q:What is your name?
A: Safiya Tran

 

Q: How old are you?
A: 10 years old

Q: How long have you been studying guitar?
A: Since I was five

Q: Who is your teacher?
A: I started with teacher Mason and now my teacher is Kevin. 

Q: What advice would you give to a guitar student just starting out?
A: The main thing is to have fun. Also listen to your teacher, practice and try your best. 

Q: What piece are you looking forward to playing?
A: Waltz Allegro in Suzuki book 5 because it sounds nice. 

Q: What is your favorite thing about playing guitar?
A: It's fun and you get to create your own way of playing music. 

Q: What is your favorite food?
A: Chocolate. But I like most things except for cauliflower, blue cheese and some types of fish.  

Q: What do you want to be when you grow up?
A: I am not sure but I want to be able to work with people or animals. 

Q: What is your proudest guitar moment?
A: Everytime I finish a new piece. 

Parent Spotlight: Hoang Tran

Q: Regarding guitar, what are you most proud of your child accomplishing? 
A: I am most proud of Safiya developing an appreciation and enjoyment for guitar/music. She thoroughly enjoys many aspects of music and playing an instrument has allowed her to have a different perspective compared to singing, dancing etc.

Q: What advice would you give a new parent to Suzuki guitar? 
A: Make sure you and your child both enjoy the process. Be patient, pace yourself, learn and have fun. For me, it was an opportunity to spend time and accomplish something with my daughter. Over time we have developed a nice balance between learning and enjoying. 

Q: Why did you decide to give your child a musical background?
A: I am just happy and blessed to be able to give my daughter the opportunity to gain a musical background, something missing from my youth.  I feel it is a learning experience that she can build upon and enjoy for the rest of her life.  

Q: What is your favorite Suzuki piece?
A: The repertoire of pieces are all new and exciting for us, so my favorite piece is the one we currently work on.

July 2017 Student of the Month

For July we are shining the spotlight on CCM student Alex Youn who is off to start his undergraduate studies at Harvard this fall! We are very proud of his hard work. It was great to ask him some questions about his experience with music over the years, and how he thinks it shaped him. He was also nice enough to share his college essay with us, which he wrote about guitar!

 

How old were you when you started guitar?
I first became interested in playing guitar when my grandfather bought me a toy ukulele from a Hawaiian souvenir shop when I was 5 years old. After hearing me play my own renditions of “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” and other songs, my mother decided to enroll me into guitar lessons.

What drew you to taking classes at CCM?
Before joining CCM, I first studied at the Longay Conservatory and the Northern California School of Music. I later transitioned to taking private lessons at my house, and although I learned a lot in those experiences, I did miss the structure and community of a guitar school/conservatory. At that point in my guitar career, CCM provided me exactly what I wanted and more. Quite honestly, joining CCM was one of the best decisions I could have made. The incredible knowledge and support of teachers and the inspiring level of talent amongst students across the board are really second to none.

What are some of your favorite memories with the guitar? Most proud moments?
My favorite memory with guitar, as in the most formative experience I’ve had with guitar, has got to be the 6 weeks I spent at Interlochen Arts Camp during the summer before my freshman year of high school. Before then, playing guitar was burdensome, as I considered daily practices as merely items to check off my daily to-do list. However, Interlochen and the artistic prodigies I met there inspired me to use music as a medium of communication to simply tell a story and express personal emotion in a unique, musical manner. In short, I discovered an intimate relationship with music and guitar that I will certainly cherish forever.

How do you think your musical education has influenced your character over the years?
Over the years, through my experiences with guitar, music has most importantly taught me to remain humble, to be patient, and to think creatively. Music truly is the universal language that has the tremendous ability to connect individuals and bridge communities, and as a musician, I have learned to not take advantage of that power but to instead treat that responsibility of creating music with due respect.

Any recommendations for other students?
Be honest with yourself. We’re all pulled in a variety of directions, and in the midst of that frenzy, I learned that in trying to keep every plate spinning, I had to reflect on how important guitar is for me. Since I profoundly valued music and my experience with guitar, I had to ensure that the work I put in during practices and lessons corresponded with my desire to improve as a musician. If playing guitar ever feels like a chore, I would recommend to stop and reflect on why you even started playing in the first place. Hopefully, you’ll find the same enthusiasm for music you had when you first picked up guitar. But, at the end of the day, just have fun. Play songs you enjoy listening to. Find creative ways to practice. Take ownership of what kind of musician and person you aspire to be.
 

COLLEGE ESSAY

“We’re still going,” I reassured my mother, as blood welled up through the deep slit that streaked across my fingernail. I’d spent fourteen years filing my nails to achieve the perfect tone and the last six months polishing my repertoire to win this classical guitar competition. Amongst the bustling commotion of tardy passengers in the San Jose Airport, I stood in silence and tried to adjust my expectations. After a flight to Dallas and a trip to the local 24-hour CVS, the clock read 3:00 AM, while I delicately dabbed droplets of Krazy Glue along my nail. Only my mother’s undulating breath and the buzz of the motel lamplight broke the early morning tranquility. Five hours later, as I stepped onstage with clammy hands and a racing heart, a distant memory emerged: being alone.

Unlike most other campers, only two factors—parental persuasion and the possibility of a forgone opportunity—spurred me to attend Interlochen Summer Camp. I wasn’t the next Shostakovich or Angelou or Leibovitz; I never considered myself a true artist or felt especially invigorated when I played guitar. At Interlochen, though, my peers composed multi-movement symphonies in the woods, perfected exotic accents in the shower, and crafted poetry in the cafeteria. Stripped of all familiarity and thrust into a world I initially failed to understand, I asked myself, “How much do the arts really mean to me?”Honestly, at that time, not much.

From day one, I regarded this contrast as an alienating disadvantage. Loneliness led to depression until, on the verge of quitting, I stopped calling home and began to write. One sitting turned into hours, hours into a daily routine. Flipping through my dense journal, I read between the lines and began to see how I had created my own isolation. The genuine artistic passion of others wasn’t a legitimate reason to estrange myself; rather, it was an invitation to see how far music could take me. Gradually, my hours of practicing seemed less tedious, my conversations with campers less forced, being at Interlochen more meaningful. Those six weeks in the Michigan wilderness taught me to be comfortable in my vulnerability, to revel in the unknown.

So, as I stepped onstage at the 15th Annual Texas Guitar Competition three years later, I quelled my nerves by recalling how I could embrace doubt, leave “what’s going to happen?” unanswered, and still be okay. My split nail wasn’t an excuse to quit; it was a ticket to see what I was made of. As before every performance, I sat down, prayed a Hail Mary, took a deep breath, and let my fingers fly. Maybe my Krazy-glued nail helped me focus more on the sound I produced. Perhaps it compromised my tone. I’ll never know—causality is ambiguous like that—but I went home encouraged by the third-place trophy I’d earned and even happier that I hadn’t let a broken nail break me.

The desire to express myself, especially when I can’t find the right words, has always drawn me to classical guitar, which has grown into much more than just a hobby. There’s something about “Danza Brasilera” by Jorge Morel that always makes me groove. There’s something about “Romance” by Johann Kaspar Mertz that gives me all the feels. But, if a “groove” and “the feels” were all I got from playing guitar, I would’ve quit long ago. I can always replace something that brings me joy but never something that has shaped me into who I am. I feel privileged to practice my craft every day because of what it has given me: the knowledge of who I am and a glimpse of who I can be—whether alone or with a broken nail.

June 2017 Student of the Month

Guitar 2017 June Student of the Month

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?
Fremont 

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 the 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. 

Music Lessons - Preparation and Confidence

Music Lessons - Preparation and Confidence

Preparation and Confidence

Years ago, a young student came to 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 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 a beginner or expert is to practice. It seems obvious but try to get yourself or your kids into a routine of practicing every day, even if it is just for a little bit at first. The results of consistency are amazing not just for their playing but also on their confidence, focus and work ethic!

May 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.

Why?
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. 

Parent Spotlight: Molly Montgomery

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.

April 2017 Student of the Month

Christopher Winalski.jpeg

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?
Nonesuch

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

Simon Lee - The California Conservatory of Music Santa Clara

This month, CCM 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 CCM 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

February 2017 Students of the Month

This month CCM 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 CCM 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. 

Jay+SOTM.jpg

Jay:
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

Annika.jpeg

Annika:
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!

Nik.jpeg

Nik:
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

 

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.
 

Creating a Musical Environment at Home

Creating a Musical Environment at Home

At The California Conservatory of Music, a large portion of our student body is made up of students who learn guitar with the Suzuki Method, sometimes referred to the “Mother-tongue approach” to music education. There are many aspects of this approach that differentiate it from other methodologies: parental involvement, delayed development of music reading, the simplistic, step-by-step sequence in which early pieces are taught, the use of games to motivate the student in their practice, and the fact that the students all are expected to listen to recordings of their repertoire. 

While it is hard to place a hierarchy of importance on these facets, the one that is most applicable to all guitar students is the last one. In fact, it would be better to go further and not just listen to recordings of one’s own repertoire but to classical music at large. Some reading this will correctly think that this is an obvious statement but would also be surprised with a number of students who do not listen to classical music at all! It is not a coincidence that student’s who play with artistry and expression from a very young age also listen to classical music and attend concerts often. One of the most important parts of language acquisition is immersion, and it is important for us to simulate this when approaching a child’s music education. By consistently listening to recordings or attending concerts of great composers, and performing artists, students are inundated with a melodic and harmonic vocabulary, a sense of phrasing and articulation, and hopefully above all, moved by the experience. 

In the end, parents want their children to study music for many reasons, but one would hope that one reason is for them to develop a love for music. The best way to further this outside of lessons is to create a musical environment at home by playing music in the background while cooking or eating dinner, while reading or while relaxing. Music streaming companies like Apple Music, Spotify, and Pandora make this extremely easy. You can access them from your computer, smartphone, smart TV or through a device like Roku. 

I’ve started a Spotify playlist and Pandora station to help you all with this!

The California Conservatory of Music Spotify Playlist

Pepe Romero Radio Pandora

Here is a list of some great guitarists to listen to:

David Russell, Marcin Dylla, the Assad Brothers, Roland Dyens, Eliot Fisk, or Pepe Romero.

Last but not least, concerts are very motivating for kids. Here are some local guitar series:

South Bay Guitar Society

Peninsula Guitar Series

Omni Guitar Foundation