Student of the Month Award Recipients
Mr. Esteban, Elizabeth's piano instructor, writes "Elizabeth has been studying piano with San Marino Music Center since summer, 2016. In that time, Elizabeth has progressed enormously. She is currently at level 4 in her piano books and becoming more comfortable with the advanced rhythms and melodies presented. Her sight-reading is constantly improving and her musicality is growing more and more nuanced. You can easily tell Elizabeth truly enjoys playing the piano and her enthusiasm is contagious. It is a pleasure to be her teacher. Keep up the good work Elizabeth!"
Congratulations from all of us at San Marino Music Center!
Ms Annmarie, Jessica's piano instructor, writes "Jessica has been working very hard the past few months and has shown huge improvements in her timing as well as theory knowledge. She also increased her practice time at home and has stayed consistent with it. That alone was a huge step for her and demonstrates her maturing as a student and as a person. Her steady progress and accomplishments have made her Student of the Month-I'm very proud of her!"
Well done! Congratulations from all of us at San Marino Music Center!
Here at the Center, parents ask numerous questions about how to approach music lessons with their child. Questions like:
“How often/long should a student practice?”
“Is it okay to learn more than one instrument at a time?”
“I want to put my child in music lessons, but what instrument should I start with?”
are all very commonplace in our line of work. Often, these questions lead to conversations about the parents own musical experiences growing up. In these conversations, a reoccurring theme tends to surface. Time and again, the parent will often regretfully divulge: “I should have stuck with it.” (the second most common being “I wish I’d had the opportunity to learn an instrument”)
Nearly as prevalent is the dogmatic belief that after you reach a certain age, you’ve “missed the boat” on learning an instrument. Well, we are here to inform you that’s not the case. In our years of experience, we have found that yes-you CAN “teach an old dog new tricks”! Music boasts a great deal of benefits for any student at any age! Amongst those benefits are:
- Learning to play an instrument is great exercise for the adult brain.
- Learning to play an instrument will enhance emotional well-being.
- Musicians are less susceptible to brain degeneration.
- Music helps ease pain and anxiety in patients recovering from surgery.
- Music can help persons cope with mental health
From a more practical standpoint, learning an instrument will bring an element of fun into anyone’s busy life. With the daily responsibilities of work & family, it’s important to sprinkle in fun activities like music to keep our minds and hearts engaged. And, if you are learning the same instrument as your child, it will better equip you to be able to help them practice at home. But, don’t take our word for it. Here is what some of our own adult students have to say about their experiences:
Violin student, Ericka Shindele:
“I grew up taking piano lessons and still play to this day (far less than I wish I did!) I have always loved the violin and wanted to play and truly just decided one day to start lessons. I knew it was a much different instrument than the piano and would take persistence, but I’m so glad I had the courage to just make the call and set up some lessons. As a professional actor I think it is very important to be versatile. Already being a singer and having played the piano, I wanted to find a way to be even more diverse.
The most challenging aspect has been making the time, both for my weekly lesson and practicing at home. As an adult, I have jobs, inconsistent schedules, or “life” that pops up and I have to deal with on the day I’m supposed to take my lesson (or practice at home). I try to make my lessons a priority and I even try to set a practice schedule at home. Even if it’s just 15 mins a day.
If you’re considering lessons for yourself, JUST GO FOR IT. There is no time like the present and no one but you can take that step. I’m so glad I did. Don’t make it something bigger than just trying it out. If it’s not for you, then you tried it! Great! If you find out it IS for you - how wonderful!”
A parent shares his thoughts on guitar lessons:
“I used to play piano as a kid and have missed being able to play an instrument. Since my kids are in lessons back to back to back, it was easy to schedule lessons for myself while I wait for them. I started taking guitar lessons because I’d always been curious about guitar and wanted to see if I had a knack for it. I don't, but I really enjoy playing. The most challenging aspect has been taking the 10-15 minutes a day to practice. Although, it has been a good excuse to carve out some time for myself, which is difficult when you're a parent. All in all, I think picking up a new instrument is a great way for adults to shake things up in a healthy way. Taking class at the same time as your kids makes it easy to fit in to a busy schedule.”
Piano student, Karl Curran:
“I had previously taken lessons for a few years. I remember it was so much fun and intellectually challenging. One day I thought to myself that if I didn’t take up music again, I would regret it. So, I decided to return to piano. For me, music is a way of reducing stress and there is nothing like expanding the education which incurs mental stimulation and growth. I am 51 and music lessons have given me a certain amount of self-confidence as I am achieving at each lesson. It’s incredible.
Finding time to practice can be challenging when you have a busy life. But I find its mind over matter. Instead of watching TV, later in the evening, I sit at the piano for a while. But the challenge is when you are tired or have something on your mind. To anyone who wants to start, I’d say that if you can make the time, the rest will fall into place!”
A ukulele student shares her story:
“I’m not sure when I first heard a Ukulele being played, but I knew instantly that I loved the sound. I got a ukulele as a gift, but it still took me about 3 years to take ukulele lessons. For some reason, taking the first step to learn an instrument was daunting to me, perhaps it was because I was an adult. In retrospect, I realized learning something new as an adult requires some sort of courage: most adults use the set of skills they have already learned and practiced, rather than acquire new ones.
One day, out of the blue, I decided it was time to take the first step toward learning to play the Ukulele. I contacted San Marino Music Center to take lessons. I wanted to take lessons from professionals rather than learning it from a YouTube video because I wanted to learn it systemically, plus I learn better from a teacher in person.
It’s been only a few months since I started learning to play the ukulele, but I really enjoy the practice that it takes. Practicing daily is challenging, however, I also realized that the time I practice the ukulele is a rare opportunity for me to shut down everything else in my life and only focus on the present. It relaxes me. I’m sure that it is a type of self-care: for me, a great one.
Because I have experienced such positive aspects while learning my instrument, I have greatly encouraged my friends and family to take up an instrument of their choice and learn it. The only difficulty is taking the first step. However, what follows is joy and appreciation of music.”
Angela Marino:“My daughter takes guitar lessons at San Marino Music Center. I would play solitaire on my phone while I waited for her during the lesson. It finally dawned on me that taking lessons for myself would be more fun than solitaire. I played piano for about two years when I was in Middle School, so piano was the instrument that I was drawn to. I used to regret that I did not continue lessons as a child. I felt I missed my opportunity. Now I realize that it's not too late and I enjoy playing now more than I did when I was younger. In addition to that, another reason I started music lessons is I was starting to feel the effects of an aging brain: memory loss, inability to focus, etc. I have definitely felt an improvement in my brain health since I’ve started with the lessons. That, and the fact that it's just lots of fun, keeps me motivated to continue. One of the challenges I’ve experienced is getting my hands to work together. I remember it being much easier when I was younger. Esteban (my piano teacher) has given me lots of different practice techniques to get my hands working together. Also, finding the time during the week to practice is the most challenging things. I simply accept the fact that the progress is slow, however, I appreciate my time at the piano in a way I wasn't capable of when I was younger. To any adult considering to start or resume music lessons, I would encourage them to start at any age. It's a great way to unplug, exercise the brain and restore the spirit!" ”
“My children are taking lessons at SMMC and I had wanted to take lessons for some time. I figured I would take lessons while they took theirs because if I didn’t do it now, I probably never would! In addition to that, I chose to take music lessons because music has been a big part of my life. My favorite songs revolve around big guitars and frantic drums so I wanted to learn to play some of that. Taking the lessons has been humbling and I have so much more appreciation for people who are good players and songwriters.
Although my progress has been slow and I can’t practice as much as I’d like, I’m happy that I can actually play some of my favorite songs (not as well as the original of course!). I started with zero experience, so the fact that what I play sort of sounds like a song is good for me! As a 46 year old, I’ve come to learn that it’s never too late to learn new skills. If keeps you curious and open minded. My instructors have been great and have opened me up to things involving music theory, classical and jazz techniques. It’s great to learn both the technical as well as the artful/creative aspects of music. My music lessons are one of the highlights of my week!
The most challenging aspect has been finding the time to practice. With work and family life, it’s been difficult to get in as much practice as I would like. But, even if I can squeezr in 15 minutes, I try to find the time. To anyone considering to start, I’d say it’s fun and challenging to pick up a new instrument, no matter how old you are. I’d hate to just fall into middle age and continue the same routines. In some ways, it’s good to be child-like and try to learn a new skill and see what sort of wonderful sounds you can create!”
Thank you to all our wonderful adult students who took the time to share their story. Quite literally, you guys ROCK!