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 and 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.
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.