New to Music

Q: What are some benefits for my kids to learn music?

A: Most schooling focuses on teaching language, math, and critical thinking, which is ruled by the left side of the brain. Learning music will help children develop one’s creativity, functioned by the right hemisphere. As a music educator for over 40 years, I have witnessed many young students growing up with music who are very creative. I believe playing an instrument is the most beneficial activity for students especially, those who can start at age 6 or 7. Once they begin to practice an instrument, moving fingers to touch keys of the Piano or press strings of the Violin everyday, they start to get a regular stimulation on their fingertips, which boosts brainpower. Within several months, you will see your child making unusual improvements in:

  • Intuitive understanding
  • Better coordination
  • Higher confidence
  • Sharper timing control
  • Delight discovery
  • Responsible behavior
  • Joyful collaboration

There are much more benefits you will see. Don’t forget to share with other parents!

Q: I don’t want my kids to be professional musicians. Do they need music lessons?

A: All students need to take language, math, and science in school, yet not everyone will become a writer or engineer. Learning music is to help youngsters develop their right brain, which will lead to intuition, imagination, and creativity. Intuition is one of the most important human being's capabilities, yet is hardly nurtured by many other activities besides music. Our educational goal is not aimed at how many students will become professional musicians, but to assist them in obtaining a sharper mind and more relaxing mood. No matter what careers they will choose in the future, music will bring them a lifetime of happiness.

Q: I’m not sure if my kid is interested. Should I try?

A: If you do believe music can benefit your child in a unique way, please try. Respecting one’s parents is the first step of a child’s education. As a parent, you are the default teacher by nature. Some parents are apt to listen to their children instead. However, a child’s interest is often just a whim, and can shift at any time. Taking lessons to learn an instrument is a serious commitment that requires investment and effort. Your child is not mature enough for making such a decision yet. I suggest that you encourage your loved one and make him/her understand the commitment, and come to the next step.

Q: My kids already have many activities. What should I do?

A: Playing music strengthens one’s listening ability, which allegedly improves one’s learning capability. According to the theory of Chinese medicine, the ear, kidney, and brains are inter-related and are all represented by Water––one of the Five Elements in our body. When the auditory sense becomes sharper, the brains become stronger, too. By performing in a group setting, the student is required to fully engage his/her fingers, eyes, and mind as it is imperative to listen to his own music as well as the others’, while watching the conductor of the orchestra. Hence his/her physical coordination and cognitive processes are both intensely demanded. There is nothing as rich and intuitive as making music, one of the most motivating, safe, and inexpensive activities. I have seen many students growing up with very limited after-school activities but music. They are extremely smart as their intrinsic potentials have the chance to be highly developed.

Q: What are benefits for group lessons?

A: Children need playmates. Learning together and growing up together make practice much easier and fun. Friendly competition among a group of young students leads to greater achievements for everyone. In addition, the kids help each other and in their own ways straighten out some key issues the teachers sometimes have a hard time to work through. When learning becomes a little competitive later, these boys and girls have the precious opportunities to develop their positive attitude toward others. What should they do if someone is stronger with certain skills? What should they do with those slow in the class? These benefits are not available from private lessons. Group lessons can also bring:

  • Peer interaction
  • Shared joy and love in friendship
  • Social relationship beyond the classes
  • Confidence and enthusiasm when practicing and performing with friends
  • Interestingly, group lessons project a social environment, in which students exhibit their IQ and EQ in an early stage. Those who develop their personality positively early on benefit more from life in the long run.

Q: How do I know if my child has a good teacher?

A: After watching a group of students playing a piece of music, a teacher points out each one's problem, shows how to correct the problem properly and how to make an improvement quickly. Every student understands the instruction immediately and pays great respect to the teacher. This is an ideal instructor with an efficient classroom manner. Most college graduates majoring in music can teach one-on-one lessons without much difficulty, but not many can handle group lessons smoothly and successfully. There is no glory and fame that drives our instructors' egos. To know how well an instructor is, not only would you better visit her/his class, but also watch her/his students' performance, listening to their tone quality, musical expressions, and penetrating sound power. As a principal, I always try to present the best faculty members in our school. To me, a good teacher means honesty, clear language expression, appropriate demonstration skills, loving heart, unwavering responsibility, fluent English, and fair collaborations with others.

Q: Why do we have to come to SJCC for the class?

A: Holding all our music classes in SJCC is because of a health concern. The classrooms in the Music Department are acoustically built, maximizing noise reductions and sound reflections. When learning an instrument at the beginning, students almost always make a lot of noise, especially string instruments. When an orchestra plays together, the woodwinds, brass and percussion instruments can be very noisy. This noise could potentially be harmful to the ears. Youngsters shouldn't have any problem if they play in a hall without acoustic device for a few years. Yet most our students come every week for 10 years or longer. For the sake of their lifetime health, it is worth you to come to the college.

For Beginners

Q: Why do my kids need an orientation?

A: After the online registration, you will be scheduled for an orientation. The purpose of the orientation is to check if your child is apt to learn the instrument you picked. Students have different advantages. Some are keen on intonation, while others on rhythm. 70-80% children are fine with what they'd like to try, yet 20-30% do not thrive in the category they choose. When learning an instrument that does not suit the student, kids get frustrated, especially when they see their peers advance. We should avoid such situations as it is unhealthy for their physical and mental development. Our music education program needs to be responsible for all students and parents not only in the beginning, but also in the future. Therefore, we request everyone to take the orientation before starting her/his lessons.

Q: Should I buy or rent an instrument?

A: If you'd like to try a few weeks, even a few months, you can rent an instrument. If you decide to continue learning, it'd be better to buy one. Typically it saves more money to purchase than to rent in the long run. If you learn a Chinese instrument, you can either purchase or rent from Aimusic School. You can convert a rental to a purchase. The rental fee will be applied towards the purchase, which is priced very reasonably for the quality as our instruments are hand-picked by the experts. Later when you'd like to buy a better instrument from Aimusic, you can trade-in the previous one. The School is a nonprofit organization and provides a convenient service for parents and students.

Q: How do I take care of my instrument?

A: Protecting your instrument is the first lesson I give to all students. It is the best to think of the instrument as how you would treat a baby — never leave it alone when it's out of the case. Once you finish a session of practice, please set the instrument back into its case, and be sure to lock or zip the case, and then put the case close to a wall. Even when you take a five-minute break, dont leave the instrument on the floor, chair, or lean it against a wall or table. Please complete the setting of the instrument into and locking/zipping the case in one motion. Do not leave the instrument inside the case without locking or zipping. In my last 20 years teaching in the Bay Area, I saw more than one parent that broke the instrument because the child did not lock the case. When the parent lifted up the case in a hurry, the instrument rolled out and broke. I would also advise that you wipe your instrument clean after practice. Keeping a piece of velvet cloth in the case is a good idea. Taking care of the instrument is imperative, no matter if the instrument is new or old, purchase or rental.