Q & A with Teacher Val - Cello/Violin Teacher & New Mozart Alum

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1. How old were you when you started playing violin/cello and which instrument did you start with?

I started playing the violin when I was in 4th grade at Fairmeadow Elementary School. I switched to cello because I realized I wanted to play an instrument that wasn’t as popular at the time.

2. When did you start taking music seriously and why did you decide to become a musician and music teacher?

I started taking music seriously in 5th grade when I started taking private lessons and joined Palo Alto Chamber Orchestra. From then I took everything music related seriously and ended up auditioning and joining many local orchestras while staying in my school’s music program as well. I didn’t decide I wanted to major in music until I was a junior in high school but I was a dedicated musician and making the choice wasn’t difficult.

3. Tell us about your musical and teaching background.

I grew up in Palo Alto, CA and attended JLS and Henry M. Gunn High School. During my years in Palo Alto schools, I was involved in orchestra and started taking lessons at New Mozart when I was in 7th grade. Growing up, I was in Palo Alto Chamber Orchestra from 5th-6th grade and was introduced to playing chamber music at a young age. I started with the Suzuki Method and went up to book 5 until switching to my first concerto and other repertoire. I then joined Golden State Youth Orchestra in 7th grade and made my way up to their highest group in 8th grade. I stayed there for three years and joined Peninsula Youth Orchestra from 11th-12th grade. During my junior year of high school, I was the only high schooler accepted into Stanford Symphony Orchestra and played with students on the college level.

While taking lessons at New Mozart and making music in the many community orchestras I was involved in, I gained insight on how much music can influence a person’s life. It was incredibly important for me to be involved in music because my life felt more fulfilled that way.

I have over 5 years of experience working with young children and have worked with pre-kinder, pre-first, and pre-second graders. I’ve also worked with music students of all ages in schools and summer programs.

5. What do you love most about teaching?

I love teaching because I love seeing growth. All children are like sponges and it’s amazing to see how vulnerable and accepting students are. When teaching, I find myself working to help the needs of my students individually. I’m always working to find the most effective way of teaching my students and do my best to cater to students of all needs. Teaching music is my way of sharing my love for music with the next generation.

6. You're a New Mozart alum now back here teaching the next generation. Can you tell us about your experience of studying at New Mozart?

My years of studying at New Mozart was my pathway to studying music education in college. I took lessons at New Mozart for 6 years and during those years I was introduced to teaching younger students since there was cello studio class at New Mozart. During my time at New Mozart, I was able to work with and see the different levels of students within my own studio and music school. This was so much fun and I continue to find enjoyment working with children of all ages in different settings.

New Mozart was such a supportive environment for my family and I and continues to be today.

7. Do you have a practice tip you want to share with our students?

Students should find some time in their day that’s dedicated to practicing. One tip for success I find the most useful would be scheduling individual days. It’s quick and easy and setting the routine early allows for days that are more productive.

8. What do you enjoy doing when you’re not teaching, practicing, or performing?

In my free time, I enjoy spending time with my family and the people I love. I’ve recently found myself reading and listening to more podcasts. I also love fashion and make up. Occasionally, I will find myself at the gym but most of the time I enjoy running outside and challenging myself to increase my time and distance.


Teacher Val is accepting cello and violin students of all ages. Call/email to schedule a trial lesson. 650 324 2373 | info@newmozartschool.com

Q & A with Teacher Diane, New Mozart's Distinguished Voice Teacher

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Teacher Diane has been teaching at New Mozart since 2004. She has been tireless in her commitment to her students over the years and many of her students have gone on to successful singing and performing careers.  

1. How old were you when you started singing?

I've been singing since I was a little kid. I started off singing along with Disney movies and my dad played opera and operetta for me and my sister to listen to. I was not all that great as a kid, then around fifth grade my voice just popped into soprano range which was a shock to my family who had always thought I didn't have high notes. I signed up for choir as a good "no homework" arts class in high school. 

2. When did you start taking voice seriously and why did you decide to become a professional musician?

I started taking voice lessons in high school. I loved choir and took it very seriously, but I didn't know anything about singing or what I needed in order to improve. My mom was the one who suggested trying out lessons. Singing as a soloist, I rediscovered my love of performing. I had been involved in ballet and acting as a child, but had given both up to focus on other activities. My singing got me back into theatre and from then on, it was all I wanted to do, all the time. 

3. What do you love most about teaching?

The best part is learning from my students. I think every teacher says that, but it's true. They bring in fantastic songs and come up with amazing ideas. They also inspire me to explore new works and new ideas on my own. Working with students is a little like practicing for six hours a day, and I love practicing. 

4. This is your 15th year teaching at New Mozart and you've had many accomplished students over the years.  Can you tell us about a few notable ones. 

There are way too many to list. I've had some amazing students! Some past students include:

Sharon Lita is an amazing singer and actress who is currently in the musical theater program at CAP21 in New York and appeared in Lizzie Borden at San Jose Stage last summer.

You can hear Angelina Wahler's voice as Deema in Nickelodeon's Bubble Guppies and as Fee in Harvey Beaks. You can hear her singing in character on Harvey Beaks. She will be attending a music and theater program in Montana next year. 

Michaela Stewart is a filmmaker and actress who is studying at the Harold Ramis Film School Chicago. 

Maddie Sykes performs in film and theater. She has appeared in Period Piece and The Weekend Detectives and the NY premiere of Horse Girls. 

Suzanne Guzzetta is an adult student who has sung leading roles at Lyric Theatre of San Jose and South Valley Civic Theatre. 

A couple current students who have noteworthy accomplishments:

Violet P. made her San Francisco Opera debut as a featured supernumerary (Young Chrysothemis) in Richard Strauss's Elektra.

Robert V. made his Palo Alto Players debut as Noodler the Pirate in Peter Pan and won third place in Musical Theater at the SFBAC NATS Festival. 

Ava E. placed in both Musical Theatre and CCM (pop) at the SFBAC NATS Festival and has launched a new youtube channel under her stage name. 

 5. Do you have a practice tip or tips you want to share with our students?

I think it's best to practice with a goal in mind. The best way to do this is by making sure to bring music to every single lesson, even if you already have your song memorized, so that you can write down the things you need to work on for next time. Then focus on those things in the practice room. Don't try to take on everything at once. Focus on one thing at a time. Break things down into goals you can reach and once you do, move onto the next one. 

6. What do you enjoy doing when you're not teaching, practicing, or performing?

When I'm not singing, I'm planning our yearly epic Halloween display. In 2017 we added a dragon. 

Q & A with Dr. Evelyn, New Mozart's Distinguished Piano Teacher

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1. When did you start playing the piano?

The piano in our house was a wedding gift to my parents. I was very eager to learn how to play it especially when I heard my older siblings play. The teacher in my hometown thought that 5 was a little too young, so I finally began to take lessons when I was 6.

2. Why did you decide to become a professional musician?

Being a professional musician has been a dream of mine for as long as I can remember. Music was a very serious hobby and a significant part of my life through my school years.

I studied Economics and Statistics in college but it did not make me happy. It took moving across the world to make my dream a reality and I have never looked back.

3. Tell us about your musical and educational background. 

I consider myself very lucky to have had some very special music teachers. Ms. Norma in my hometown Mumbai lit the initial spark and taught me how to love music. Dr. Nosikova at The University of Iowa guided me through both my B.M. and M.M. degrees. I completed my doctoral degree with Dr. Wang at Northwestern where she shaped me into a critical thinking, goal-oriented musician. These passionate and dedicated artists have influenced my approach to both music and life!

4. Can you share with our audience your experience in working with Child's Play Foundation in Goa?  How has that experience impacted you?

Child’s Play Foundation is a music charity in Goa, India that takes its inspiration from the El Sistema model in Venezuela. Music lessons and training are offered to students from challenged and underprivileged backgrounds. I observed lessons and worked with the teachers to improve the efficiency of their teaching methods. In addition we worked together on a chamber music festival and concert. The experience was unforgettable not only because of the beautiful location but also because of the warmth and friendliness of the teachers. Perhaps the most profound impact of this experience has been the realization of the tremendous positive effect of music in the lives of these children. Music education should be available to all and not just an elite few.

5. What do you love most about teaching?

I love the “aha” moments when my students finally understand a concept or have a musical breakthrough. It also delights me when they have worked hard and are proud to show me the progress they have made.

6. Do you have a practice tip you want to share with our students?

The most effective practice is thoughtful, consistent practice. However on days when motivation is lacking, it helps to promise yourself a little treat as a reward for practicing. This could be as simple as a piece of candy or some time watching your favorite television show.

7. What do you enjoy doing when you're not teaching, practicing, or performing?

I love going to museums and theatre productions whenever possible. I also have fun cooking a nice dinner for my friends and family!


Dr. Evelyn enjoys working with students of all ages and abilities and are accepting new students.  Contact the New Mozart office to schedule a trial or on-going lessons with her. 

Dr. Evelyn's Bio:

A wedding gift from her grandparents to her parents, the piano was the obvious instrument of choice for Dr. Evelyn. No one in her family, though, could have predicted that this gift would be the catalyst for a career in music that has included performances around the globe, from her home in Mumbai, India, to the Czech Republic, France, and the United States.

An avid chamber musician, she assisted renowned flutist and composer Gary Schocker in the 2014 world premier of several compositions at the National Flute Association conference in Chicago. Recent highlights include an appearance with violist Dr. Amanda Wilton at the 2016 American Viola Society Festival and a series of concerts in India with acclaimed British violinist Madeleine Mitchell in 2017.

Evelyn thoroughly enjoys teaching and has served as an instructor at Northwestern University, Chicago’s Merit School of Music and Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp in Michigan. In 2017 she joined forces with the students and faculty of Child’s Play (India) Foundation. She is very excited to join the New Mozart team.  

Evelyn completed her Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the Bienen School of Music at Northwestern University where she studied with Dr. Sylvia Wang as the recipient of a full scholarship. She also holds degrees from the University of Iowa and Mumbai University.