6 Ways To Help Your Child Practice At Home


Whether you have a musical background or not, there are a few key ideas that can help your child practice at home.

  1. Be aware of what your child needs to practice

When you know what your child is working on and what their homework is (so to speak), you’re better equipped to help. Ask the music teacher what your child needs to focus on this week: was a new topic or skill covered in lessons? Does your student need to review something from a few weeks ago? Its always a great idea to either sit in on the lesson to see how things are going or to at least drop in for the last couple minutes to check in.

2. Create an inviting practice space

You don’t have to have an entire room in your house dedicated as a music room--most of us don’t have that kind of square footage! What can work is if you have an inviting place for your child to practice their music. Nobody will feel like playing the piano if there’s no lamp nearby or if the bench is currently holding stacks of magazines. Tidy up the place where your family keeps instruments and outfit that space with plenty of light, pencils and erasers, and a music stand (if needed). Offer a cubby or storage bin for keeping practice books and sheet music, too.  Most of all, be sure to keep this space free of distractions (like the Xbox or siblings) during practice time.

3. Show your child how to structure practice time.

“I don’t know what to practice!” is the battle cry of many children who either honestly can’t remember what they’re supposed to do at home or kids who just don’t want to practice. Combat this common complaint head-on by asking your music teacher for suggestions on how to structure a practice session. Typically, students will need to do a warm-up (which could be a song or some scales), review specific techniques or musical selections from the previous lesson, and work on something new. At the end of the practice session, encourage your child to play whatever they want whether that’s a favorite song they’ve played a hundred times or inventing something new just for the fun of it. It’s always best to end on a positive note!  

Your direct involvement with practice sessions depends on your child’s age and maturity level, but always having a to-do list from your teacher will help keep the goals on track!

4. Practice regularly

In order to do anything well, you need to practice. Whether you aim for three practice sessions in between lessons or ask your child to provide you with “some dinner music” while you’re getting the meal ready, find a sense of regularity that can work with your family’s schedule.  Remember to encourage the good things you hear coming out of the practice room!

5. Don’t make this a chore

Don’t withhold other “fun” activities like playing outside, bringing out the Legos, or sitting down with the Xbox “until you’ve practiced.” This makes the other activities look like they contain all of the fun when playing music is supposed to be a fun activity itself! If you treat other activities like rewards, your child will feel more angst towards music practice.  

6. Practice Rewards

We have some great practice point systems and rewards at CCM to help motivate our students! Please talk to our teachers and our staff about these options. They have helped so many kids get motivated!


You want your child to enjoy their lessons, and a large part of that comes from finding the right teacher. If your child has fun at their lessons and feels like they’re making progress, they’ll be more motivated to practice at home. Our music school can match you with the right teacher for your child’s learning style. Not already a piano, guitar, violin, cello, piano or voice student at CCM? Contact us today to see how we can help your child have fun making music!

Preparing for your Recital Performance

Recital Preparation 

In our last blog post on practice tips, we discussed the importance of consistent practice and listening to music. If you didn’t have a chance to read it, you should check it out here! “Making the Most of Your Music Lessons”

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

Preparation is the most crucial part of having a successful performance. This is of course true whether you are going to play Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star or an advanced Concerto.

February 2019 Student of the Month - Abigail Hsiung

Congratulations to CCM’s February 2019 Student of the Month Abigail Hsiung! Abigail is a 5-year-old piano student of teacher Lawrence and takes music lessons at CCM’s Santa Clara location. Abigail, along with many other CCM students participate in our practice challenges so they can work towards earning stickers, ribbons, medals, and even trophies.

January 2019 Student(s) of the Month - Jack and Elle Davisson

We are excited to kick off the New Year with CCM’s first Student(s) of the Month of 2019. Congratulations to Jack and Elle Davisson who have been CCM students now for eight years. Jack and Elle have extensively traveled the U.S. performing in concerts and competitions. They were recently featured on NPR’s hit show “From the Top” in December where they performed as the Davisson Duo. Take a listen here! Jack and Elle take guitar lessons with CCM co-director Chris Mallett at the The California Conservatory of Music’s Redwood City location.

Student(s) of the Month - Jack and Elle Davisson

Q: What is your name?

A: Jack davisson
Elle davisson

Q: How old are you?
A: Jack: I turned fourteen this month
Elle: I recently turned 11

Q: How long have you been taking guitar lessons?
A: Jack: I have been taking lessons for 8.5 years
Elle: I have been taking lessons for 7 years

Q: Who is your teacher?
A: Chris Mallett

Q: What pieces are you currently working on?
A: Jack: A sonata by Ginastera, some Albeniz, some Villa Lobos
Elle: Songe Capricorne by Dyens, some Villa Lobos, some Scarlatti

Q: Can you tell us a memorable experience you have had playing together as the Davisson Duo?
A: The Davisson Duo was recently featured on NPR's from the top. We travelled all the way to Maine to record that show. That whole experience was very new, very different and very memorable.

Q: What are some of the festivals/competitions you have participated in?

  • Guitar foundation of america youth competition (solo and ensemble)

  • Junior Bach festival

  • Columbus state university guitar symposium & competition

  • Indiana international guitar festival & competition

  • Boston guitar fest

  • United States international music competition

  • Sierra Nevada classical guitar festival & competition

  • SF Bay Area classical guitar festival & competition

Q: What is your favorite piece that you have played so far?
A: Jack: Tarantelle by Johann Kasper Mertz
Elle: Evocacion by Jose Luis Merlin

Q: What are some of your hobbies outside of music?
A: Jack: Soccer, tennis, ping pong, anything that involves kicking or hitting a ball, reading, building with my hands like ceramics and woodworking
Elle: Reading, reading, and reading, soccer and tae kwon do, jewelry-making, painting and playing with computer or high-tech gizmos

Q: You both have done extensive outreach in the community. How do you feel it has impacted you as a musician and a person?
A: Community outreach helps you to remember that there is more to music than just practicing and competing. Playing at a retirement community for example makes you realize that it's possible to give real joy through music. It makes all the practicing and hard work feel more important.

Q: What is your favorite food?
A: Jack: Mexican, asian, italian. I like it all.
Elle: Ice cream

Q: Do you have a pet?
A: We have a very sensitive, very delicate little german shepherd. She weighs 70 pounds, barks viciously and has a habit of charging other dogs. But she's really just a softie and super sweet under all that.

Parent Spotlight: Monica Davisson

Q: Regarding guitar, what are you most proud of your jack and elle accomplishing?
A: I am most proud of the fact that jack and elle have practiced every day since july 7, 2012. We celebrate every july 7th in grand style. July 7th is also my wedding anniversary. Sadly, the wedding anniversary is often overshadowed by the guitar anniversary.

Q: What advice would you give to a new parent starting at CCM?
A: Think of musical education with your children as a long, long-distance journey. Take it slowly, expect the terrain to change often, enjoy the scenic moments, brave the less scenic ones and learn to move around the road-blocks. Don't be discouraged if it seems all uphill. Learning a musical instrument is hard work and children are not hardwired to work hard. But the rewards are indeed immeasurable and the occasions when they get to celebrate their musical efforts are truly sublime.

Making the Most of Music Lessons

Making the Most of Music Lessons

It should go without saying that one of the most crucial part of a music student’s success is the quality and consistency of their practice at home. So we at The California Conservatory of Music want to be sure to give you all some great practice tips!

There are so many similarities between learning a language and learning music. Numerous studies exist that demonstrate a link between music education and increased verbal skills and an increased ability to learn languages later in life. (Check out this article if interested) When you take the fundamental components that go into language acquisition and apply them to music education, you get some really simple yet powerful strategies for great music practice.  


We all learned our mother tongue by being in an environment where it was spoken and then constantly trying to mimic the sounds we heard in our surrounding. Consistency with respect to practice is no secret - every music teacher everywhere will tell their students to practice piano or guitar or whatever everyday. And you should! The issue of course is time and motivation. Here are a couple ideas to help make this easier:

  1. Try to practice at the same time everyday. Make it a routine. Some students do it before they go to school, some do it after dinner, but the point is to try to help your child develop regularity. To make it a habit

  2. A little goes a long way. When students first start out, 10 minutes can be enough. If you only have 5 minutes, then just play for 5 minutes. The point here is to fight the all or nothing mentality.

  3. Awards work and they help create habits. We have had students getting practice points, awards, and certificates for their hard work for years to great success. Please talk to our office staff or your teacher about our practice challenges to get one started!


Just like the “mother tongue” idea mentioned above, listening to music consistently will help students develop their vocabulary. When babies start learning a language, the first sounds they hear are called phonemes. There are about 150 that are used in around 6500 languages, and English uses 49. When the brain starts to realize it only needs to recognize combinations of those 49, it starts only focusing on these, which is why its harder to learn languages later in life.

What’s your point?

Younger kids are often only played “baby music” or let’s say, at the risk of sounding pretentious, simple music. This quickly starts to limit their capacity to recognize pitch, harmony and more complicated rhythms. Classical music are great options for students’ ears to take in more complex harmonies, pitch structures and rhythms among other things. If you don’t know what to listen to, just put on a playlist on Spotify or Apple music. You can just let it play it in the background at home and in the car. “Ok Google play some classical music” works too! More advanced students should listen to pieces they are working on to get ideas from mature artists on phrasing and expression. Imagine a writer who didn’t read or a painter who didn’t see! Listen to music people!

The next component that’s super crucial in effective practice and also a part of language acquisition is is the idea of repetition, but we will talk about this more in our next post.

Key Points:

  1. Successful music students practice on a daily basis. Try to make it a habit. Routines and rewards can be super helpful in making this easier!

  2. Listen to classical music - it’s a beautiful treasure and it will help develop your ear!

Student of the Month - Shanaya Gupta

Congratulations to CCM’s December 2018 Student of the Month Shanaya Gupta. Shanaya has been taking guitar lessons at CCM for two years and hasn’t looked back since. She is a dedicated student who practices, and as you will read below, she is well aware of how important daily practice is. We are so proud of her hard work and look forward to watching her grow as a musician.

CCM November 2018 Student(s) of the Month - Ella and Nathan Montalbo

Congratulations to the California Conservatory of Music’s November 2018 student(s) of the month, Ella and Nathan Montalbo. They both sounded fantastic at the CCM student recitals on the weekend of 11/10 and 11/11 at the Mountain View Center for Performing Arts. Ella takes violin lessons with Teacher Wenfei, and Nathan takes piano lessons with Teacher Lawrence at CCM’s Santa Clara location. Keep up the excellent work, and we look forward to hearing both of you at the next recital!

Ella standing next to Georges Braque’s painting titled “Violin and Palette”

Ella standing next to Georges Braque’s painting titled “Violin and Palette”

Ella Montalbo - Violin

Q: What is your name?
A: Ella Montalbo (Isabella Louise Montalbo).
Q: How old are you?
A: 12 years old.
Q: Who is your teacher?
A: Ms. Judy.
Q: What advice would you give to a violin student just starting out?
A: Have fun, enjoy the music, and practice as much as you can.
Q: What piece are you looking forward to playing someday?
A: Studio Ghibi songs, mostly the Totoro theme song and "Always With Me" from Spirited Away.
Q: What is your favorite thing about playing the violin?
A: Playing the vibrato and i also love how soothing it sounds.
Q: What is your favorite food?
A: Mac n' Cheese (yum!)
Q: Do you have any pets?
A: No, but I wish I did.
Q: What do you want to be when you grow up?
A: I want to be a neurologist and a part-time violin teacher.

Nathan standing next to Georges Braque’s painting titled “Piano and Mandola”

Nathan standing next to Georges Braque’s painting titled “Piano and Mandola”

Nathan Montalbo - Piano

Q: What is your name?
A: Nathan (Nathaniel Joseph P. Montalbo)
Q: Who is your teacher?
A: Teacher Lawrence.
Q: What advice would you give to a piano student just starting out?
A: "Try to multitask on both hands."
Q: What piece are you looking forward to playing someday?
A: Flight of the Bumblebee.
Q: What is your favorite thing about playing the piano?
A: Moving my fingers.
Q: What is your favorite food?
A: Burgers and fries.
Q: Do you have any pets?
A: No.
Q: What do you want to be when you grow up?
A software engineer.

Parent Spotlight: Maria Azita “Chi” Prijoles

Q: Regarding the violin and piano, what are you most proud of your children accomplishing? 
A: I am proud of the efforts they put in learning music. They have been learning their pieces independently since they’re 6 years old. Music is very valuable to both of them.
Q: What advice would you give a new parent starting in the program? 
A: Make sure that the kids have an interest in learning the music and build a positive experience from there. I have seen too many parents push kids just so that they’ll learn to play an instrument. Music has to be first and foremost fun, especially for a young child. 
Q: Why did you decide to give your children a musical upbringing?
A: I play the piano myself and I am glad that both of my kids expressed an interest in learning the piano and violin. The ability to play music is a gift that lasts a lifetime. The benefits that it brings truly makes it a gift that will keep on giving. 

CCM Fall 2018 Recitals

Congratulations to everyone who participated in the CCM Fall 2018 recital last weekend. We are so proud of how hard all of our students worked and how much confidence they showed by getting up on stage to perform in front of a huge audience. We had a record amount of students perform in 13 recitals over the span of two days. Special thanks to all the staff at the Mountain View Center for Performing Arts for helping us keep the recitals running smooth. The venue was absolutely perfect and we couldn't be happier. We had students from both our Santa Clara location and Redwood City location perform on a variety of instruments including piano, violin, guitar, cello, and voice. We still have several months before our next set of recitals in March and students are already in their lessons working hard for the next one! Below are some photos from the recital.

Time to show your music skills!

We are really excited for our upcoming student recitals this coming weekend at The Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts. It should be a fantastic time filled with beautiful music. These events are such a wonderful chance for our hardworking students to show off their hard work, listen to others play, and for families to enjoy their children’s performances. 

Composer of the Month: Franz Schubert

Have you been considering signing yourself or your child up for music lessons in the Bay Area? Whether you’re in Santa Clara, Redwood City, or anywhere in between, you’re best bet is to take music lessons from The California Conservatory of Music. Contact us to enroll in music lessons today!