Here are the most frequently asked questions we have answered. Feel free to ask more via Email.
I would like my child to play an instrument, but I don’t want her to become a professional musician. What options do you offer to those who are not planning to devote their entire lives to music?
We offer a wide range of learning opportunities that do not assume that all students plan to pursue music as a career. In fact, those who want to become professional musicians would need to be enrolled in more than one weekly class.
Our teachers have been trained in the traditional, classical ways of musical study and have also studied contemporary methodologies. They can teach your child different genres of music, including classical, popular, folk, jazz and blues. We teach not only children but also their parents. Toddlers, accompanied by their Moms, can learn along with their parents, who can act as the children’s home music teachers. This helps the youngest children by introducing them to music early in a friendly environment.
How much time does it take to learn how to play?
Those, who want to study music in depth and play serious pieces by great composers, will devote years to their studies. Our instructors studied music for many, many years before getting their degrees.
If you would just like your child to get acquainted with an instrument, you can start by purchasing a 10-lesson package. Usually, our students enroll in one-to-one lessons and stay with us for several years. The most advanced students can pass annual exams and eventually earn a Certificate of Merit at the Music Teachers’ Association of California (after passing exams for ten levels) and apply to study music as a second major at a college or university.
Since any musician will be able to play piano at some level, we suggest that true beginners start by studying this instrument for at least six to eight months, unless they have already decided on their instrument of choice and are eager to begin immediately with the guitar, violin or other selection. The age requirement does apply to these cases. Beginning with the piano allows students to start to read music and develop their pitch and sense of rhythm very early-when they are 3.y.o.. The deeper one gets into music, the stronger one feels a desire to learn it.
Does it matter if my child takes group or private lessons?
Oh, yes, it does. For centuries, people have learned to play instruments individually. There is much more to learning to play music than just finding the correct notes, and students benefit from individual attention. Although our particular age-based grouping (ages 6-8, ages 8-10, ages 9-12, etc.) helps students learn music theory and basic instrument playing better than the grouping that is popular at some other learning centers (where six-year-olds are in the same group with twelve-year-olds), we must warn you that the quality of learning declines with an increasing a number of students.
Students, who take private lessons, will have an advantage, and it is important for more advanced students to receive this attention. In cases of students who are just beginning to learn the basics of music theory and playing, group lessons for six to eight students are still a good choice.
My budget doesn’t allow me to enroll my child in private lessons, and I don’t want her to take group lessons, but I still want her to be harmoniously educated and to learn to play music. What would you suggest I do?
We would suggest that you find a learning partner for your child and enroll the students in semiprivate (two students per class) lessons. The age difference between the children should be no more than 1-2 years. In these cases, both children will play the same pieces on two different instruments.
I have never been exposed to classical music. Why are most music schools so focused on teaching it?
First of all, the term “classical music” is too general. Why don’t we use the term “serious music” instead? The fundamentals of serious music are present in all kinds of music and this is part of why we teach it.
We want our students to be involved in Serious Music Making from birth. In fact, parents can take the Prenatal Music and Language class to give their children the advantage before they are even born. At our school, these classes start a process of learning as expectant couples sing and play nursery rhymes and they, together with their unborn yet babies, listen to music written by world renowned composers.
This continues when new parents attend classes together with their newborns. Parents don’t only sing nursery rhymes to their children, but also play the songs and bounce, wiggle, tickle, tap and clap, all modeling the actions they want their babies to copy. All of this is serious music! These classes are followed by preschool music classes and later lead to the “Mom & Me”/”Daddy & Me” program, where three-year-olds share their piano lessons with one of their parents.
Our five-year-old students, if they have never been exposed to any music but popular songs for children, start playing piano, guitar and violin using these familiar tunes. In a piano class, they will play accompaniment for those songs at the fourth lesson, then go on to play music by Mozart, Beethoven, Tchaykovsky and so on.
My son has just turned three, and I can see that it is possible to enroll him in a piano class with you. There are no other schools that offer such an opportunity. Why should I believe it’s going to work out?
At Trio school, we are fond of an idea that the motivation for learning starts with parents’ motivation for educating their loved ones. Please, notice that it’s a “Mom & Me”/”Daddy & Me”, not just “Me” class. Yes, our three-year-olds come for lessons together with one of their parents. The parent takes about 40% of lesson time, and in a fairly short period s/he will be ahead of their child.
While a parent is being taught, a child is not made to participate actively but is still encouraged to do some clapping, stomping, or drumming along with the parent’s playing. 60% of the lesson time is for working all together. The child is being taught, while a parent is observing and learning about how to coach a child at home. We don’t only use a grand piano in class, but also mini keyboards, tuned hand bells, drums, triangles and percussion instruments for teaching our youngest musicians. Usually, a parent and a child are enrolled in 45-minute-long lessons. When home, they use the video-recorded materials in order to practice productively. You are welcome to see our three-year-olds on YouTube.
Do your teachers feel comfortable teaching advanced students?
Yes, our teachers have University degrees and many years of experience. Larysa Yost, our CEO and piano teacher, has been teaching piano since 1973. Many of her students have graduated from music colleges to become teachers of music themselves. Our guitar teacher, Arina Burceva, is an accomplished performing musician, already known in the guitar world, who coaches students of all ages and levels and gives master classes to the most advanced students in the US and abroad. Our violin and voice teachers are also highly educated and well experienced.
Do you also teach adults? What methodology do you use for teaching very beginner adults?
Yes, we do teach adults of any age and level. We strongly encourage them to try our classes. Younger adults can learn very fast. For older adults, we recommend to choose the pace they want to learn at and proceed to their goal. They can use a slow pace that goes into the depths of music theory before actual playing on an instrument. Some adults may prefer the fast-paced, intensive teaching, with the theory coming along the music they want to play. We use both traditional and contemporary methods, adding the best elements of the Suzuki method, such as frequent recitals and reaching feasible results in class.
What method books do you use?
There are as many methods as there are students. We are strongly against the use of only one method, and we believe one-method book’s method hinders the learning process. We are after intensive methodologies, and we help our students get needed sheet music by dozens of famous composers from our school library, which is rich and can provide sheet music for any student’s level. About a hundred of names of method books authors would need to be listed in response to this question.
Your rates are lower than those of many schools in South Bay. Does it depend on the locations, the facilities you teach from, or do you have poor equipment?
Our school works form several facilities, and the main one is in the heart of Sunnyvale, at the intersection of Washington Ave and Murphy Ave, in the historical building that turned 100 years old together with the City of Sunnyvale in 2012. Several successful companies have their offices next to our school in this upscale building. We use a baby grand piano and an upright piano in the same classroom for teaching, as this is how it works in regular music schools in Europe, as well as several keyboards for group lessons, and mini keyboards for preschool music classes. Our preschool music program has a lot of percussion instruments for students to use and engage with. Our new students can rent keyboards for 2-3 weeks free of charge. We have several guitars, including the guitar made by Gil Carnal.
We don’t overprice our lessons because we want them to be affordable for any family.
I’ve bought a 61-key keyboard. Is it enough to start with?
Yes, you can start this way. Hopefully, in a month or two, you will purchase an 88- WEIGHTED key digital piano or an upright piano. You can also get an upright piano ree of charge on online. Keyboards are NOT real instruments, and your child would be limited in the learning opportunities if you don’t have at least a digital piano at home. Please, read an article about the instrument you need to have in our Blog section.
If I am not ready to enroll my child in lessons, but am considering several schools, what does your school offer in order to help me make a decision?
You have two options to choose from: to observe a lesson before enrolling ( but not all the teachers allow the observation, as not all the students want to have their lessons observed) or to purchase only ONE trial lesson at our school, which is best.
Hopefully, you will be impressed by our non-commercial approach and our professionalism.
We would strongly recommend that you open Materials for Parents on the BLOG page in order to learn more about how to help your child get exposed to music.
Why is math so important?
Math is one of the most important subjects we study in school. Not only can we use math in our day-to -day lives – everything from personal finance and taxes to cooking and home improvement – but it is incredibly important to a variety of specialty fields. Doctors use it to heal us, and scientists need mathematics to explain what they observe. Engineers use math to build all the structures we use every day and ensure that we are safe when we do so. Political scientists and economists use math to understand our behavior and the effects of our policies, and, of course, computer scientists use math to create the machines that we rely on every day.
Does math help students in other academic areas?
Yes! Math teaches us many important skills. We must learn these skills by engaging fully with the math, not just memorizing a few formulas. This means working out problems and understanding the hows and whys of the rules and formulas. This requires discipline and strategic thinking. Math helps develop our organizational and critical-thinking skills, and it also requires us to recognize patterns and follow logical steps. Math teaches us to be precise and instructs us in the art of correcting ourselves by finding and addressing our mistakes.
These skills help students of the “hard” and “soft” sciences as well as the humanities and art.
I’m just not good at math. Should I even bother trying?
Absolutely. Some people learn differently than others, and this appears to be especially true with math. There are many different teaching methodologies designed to help those who have struggled with math in the past. You are never too old to try again, and the moment when something finally “clicks” is very rewarding. At times study may be prove difficult, but this is just the time when we must persevere.
How are art and math related?
Art from sculpture to music relies on mathematics even when we can’t see it. Much of the symmetry and beauty that we can see and hear in art can be explained by mathematical patterns, and all artists need a sense of balance and rhythm in their works. Even art that is designed to be asymmetrical or unbalanced must take math into account, even unconsciously, in order to achieve the desired effects. In fact, it can be the carefully created lack of mathematical sense and logic that make a piece striking!
Is chess really still a popular game?
Yes. In fact, it is one of the most popular board games in the world. Chess is thought to have originated in India, but since then it has spread to thousands of cultures around the globe. People of all ages play chess at home, in parks, cafes, and clubs, and, of course, on their computers. There are a number of interesting variations on the traditional game of chess. This versatility has added to the game’s possibility.
What skills can I learn from chess?
Above all, chess teaches players to think strategically, logically, and creatively. We must always keep the effects of our moves in mind and consider the consequences of each decision. It requires us to try to conceal our own plans and discern what our opponent is thinking. Of course, all of our possible choices in chess are affected by the other player’s moves, so we must constantly adapt to these changes.
Of course, chess is also a lot of fun! Players have a great sense of satisfaction when a plan goes off well. Not only do we increase our chances of winning the game, but we show ourselves that we are capable of strategy and cunning.
Can chess help improve my thinking skills?
Yes. In fact, many doctors use chess as therapy for memory patients because it engages our brains so well. Particularly for young children, chess can create new connections in the brain that help us think creatively and quickly. People of all ages can sharpen their mental abilities by playing chess.
Chess requires us to exercise our ability to visualize future scenarios and react to hypothetical situations. The game also emphasizes the ability to evaluate not only the immediate consequences of an action, but a range of potential consequences. Practicing these skills over time will improve and sharpen your mind and enable you to apply your new abilities to your everyday life.
My children and I have never played chess before. Can we really benefit from playing at a basic level?
Anything that challenges our minds can improve our thinking skills. As with any subject, in chess you will learn more and get better with time. Children will learn especially quickly and there are variations of the game that are designed for very young children. By introducing children to these simpler games, parents and teachers can help them begin to develop their skills and learn to play by the rules. When they are a little more confident, children can be introduced to the full game and adults can challenge themselves by playing against more advanced opponents.
Using a computer to practice chess when an opponent is not available can be very useful, because most computer and internet chess games allow you to choose from several difficulty levels.
What kind of dancing do you teach?
Our dance instructor teaches creative movement and pre-ballet classes. Creative movement classes help get students moving to the rhythms of music in a playful way, learn how to express themselves through their body movements, and be able to control their movements more carefully. It is a great way for students to be introduced to dance and explore their creativity. It allows students to learn at the same time as they have fun.
Pre-ballet classes are great precursors to formal ballet lessons. These classes emphasize creativity and allow students to have fun, while at the same time they develop their motor skills. They learn more about dancing and increase their flexibility and fitness abilities.
Creative movement and pre-ballet both help children learn and grow, while also allowing them to have fun and engage in healthy activities that prepare them for more advanced study.
How do these classes help my child?
Creative movement and pre-ballet classes encourage students to be active, creative, social, and comfortable.They will also learn fundamentals of dance and rhythm, which sets a good foundation for future activities. Through dance, they are exposed to different cultural styles and traditions.
How old should my child be before I enroll her in a dance class?
Children as young as two years of age have taken our dance classes with great success. Every student is different, but our teacher has a great deal of experience working with young children.
What kind of qualifications does your dance teacher have?
Our dance teacher has over twenty years of professional dancing experience, and she has been teaching dance and fitness for more than ten years. She has been certified by the Institute of Cultural Programs in St. Petersburg, Russia, and has been trained in a variety of dance styles.
What kind of dancing has your instructor studied?
Our dance teacher has studied ballet, ballroom, jazz, hip hop, Latin American dancing, contemporary street dancing , folk dancing, and more!