Student Of The Month, November 2021

November Student Of The Month

Viola student, Layla Luo

Layla has been taking lessons with SMMC since March 2013! She started with piano lessons, later added the viola and is currently enrolled with both instruments. Layla comes from a very musical family. Her sister Connie currently takes piano lessons at SMMC. Layla’s cousins, Lex and Sasha, formerly took piano, guitar and drum lessons at SMMC. When the pandemic began in March 2020, Layla’s mom took quick action and kept her enrolled with the online lesson format. This format has worked particularly well for Layla and her sister who have remained online students to this day.

Layla and her viola

Since a young age, Layla has always been a very mature and poised student. Although frustration and fussy behavior can be common in young music students, Layla has been an exception. She has always risen to the musical challenge in front of her and put her best foot forward.

In Her Teachers Words

Layla is currently studying with SMMC instructor Mr. Armin Mariano. Mr. Armin holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Viola Performance and a Certificate in Music Education from Carnegie Mellon University. He writes:

“Layla has been making amazing progress since she started taking viola lessons. In our first few lessons she learned the pieces very quickly which allowed us to learn many new techniques and skills. Some of the amazing things she’s learned recently is how to shift on the viola and being able to play 3 octave scales. We’ve also been working on developing a vibrato and being able to use it in our pieces.

Layla has a great attitude and doesn’t show any frustration during our lessons and consistently practices the new pieces even though they are challenging. We are beginning to work on intermediate level repertoire. This includes a few Viola Concertos and also some of the Bach Cello Suites transcribed for Viola. These pieces incorporate all of the techniques we learned from previous pieces. In doing so, Layla has to think and keep track of many different things while playing.

I am amazed at her progress and her discipline when learning new pieces. She is a great student to have and I want to congratulate her on learning and being able to play these difficult pieces. Great job Layla!”

Layla performs the first half of a Bach Cello Prelude during her online music lesson.

In Layla’s Words

How long have you been playing your instrument and what do you like most about playing it?

“Four years ago, I decided that I wanted to participate in the musical program at school, and I chose to play the viola. What a wonderful idea it was! I was extremely enthusiastic to learn a new instrument in addition to the piano. Each year, playing became more and more enjoyable, leading this passion of mine to where I am now. There are numerous reasons why I am so fond of playing the viola, but most importantly, it is a creative, delightful way to express melodies, each containing various colorful expressions all brought into my heart.”

How do you make time to practice in your busy schedule?

“Having an increasingly busier schedule each year, I still make sure I have time to practice the viola. Always, I get over my top priorities and daily tasks first, then practice in my free time.”

What do you like about the piece you chose to perform in the video?

“I am pleased that I got to play the first movement of the Bach Cello Suite. The lower and upper voices in the piece connect harmoniously with the serene mood. Moreover, this piece is from the Baroque Period when the composers did not write specific dynamic markings. This allows me to fill in my own dynamics and emotions – all from my perceptions of the music.”

What do you like to do in your down time?

“In my down time, I watch YouTube videos. I especially like watching how others play the music I am currently working on. That aside, my interests also go to “Twosetviolin” (a classical music channel). They are a duo of talented musicians. Contrasting many channels where musical youtubers focus only on playing, Twosetviolin explores other topics as well, making their audience more fascinated.”

Thank you for sharing Layla!

We’d like to take the time to acknowledge Layla’s mom Vikki. Thank you for your support and patronage to the Center and for all your efforts in supporting Layla & Connie in their musical journey. SMMC is proud to be the learning place for such musically gifted children. Congratulations Layla and we cannot wait to see what the future holds for you!

Meet The Instructor

Mr. Armin Mariano

Armin Mariano began studying violin at age 7. Five years later, he switched to viola because of its warm rich tone. He graduated from Los Angeles County High School for the Arts (LACHSA) and decided to major in music. He was awarded a scholarship to attend Carnegie Mellon University and earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Viola Performance, and Certificate in Music Education. Armin has been an active performer and music teacher since 2009. He teaches both violin/viola and piano to students of all ages. Throughout his studies, Armin has developed a passion for teaching. Students get individualized lesson plans based on their different strengths. He focuses on developing basic musical skills using fun and creative ideas.

Mr. Armin is available on Mondays, Wednesday, Thursdays and Fridays. To self book a trial Violin, Viola or Piano lesson with Mr. Armin, click the button below!

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