piano lesson

Q & A with Teacher Joshua - Voice/Piano/Trumpet Teacher


1.     Tell us about your musical and teaching background.

In middle school and high school, I was total band and choir nerd. I also performed in school and community musical theatre productions, took lessons, and participated in district and state competitions. I went to college at Oklahoma City University and studied Vocal Music Education. At OCU, I performed in band, operas, and musicals while learning classroom teaching and vocal methods for children, youth, and adults. I then moved to Baltimore, MD to study Voice Performance and Pedagogy at the Peabody Conservatory of Johns Hopkins University. There I continued to perform in operas while learning the pedagogy of teaching private lessons. I began teaching voice lessons to instrumentalists at Peabody and taught private lessons in Washington, D.C. After graduation, I moved to Dallas, TX where I began my performance and teaching career in earnest. I performed operas, major choral works, musicals, and concerts with companies all over North Texas and maintained a private voice studio. In all three states, I also directed adult, youth, and children’s choirs in Methodist, Lutheran, and Presbyterian churches. I am pleased with the balance I have struck between performing a wide variety of works around the country while teaching privately, chorally, and in classrooms in a number of settings.  

2.     How old were you when you started taking music lessons and which instrument did you start with?

I’ve been singing since I was a toddler and started playing trumpet in fifth grade. My first private lessons were in piano when I was eight years old. I began private trumpet and voice lessons in my freshman year of high school.

3.     When did you start taking music seriously and what inspired you to become a musician and music teacher?

I have always taken music seriously, but first I realized how important it was to my identity in middle school when the administration took away the students’ option to be a part of both choir and band in the same school year. I petitioned the principal to allow me to take both courses in lieu of another subject and she allowed it. When I began taking private lessons, I realized that music was the path for me. I honestly couldn’t envision myself doing anything else for a career, so I explored what a career in music entailed. I came to understand that teaching and performing go hand in hand and I now know that teaching makes me a better performer and vice versa.

4.     What do you hope to achieve in teaching students?

Music is my passion and it is my goal to pass that onto my students. Leading a student to their full potential as a musician is the best way to instill that passion in them and to ensure that they don’t lose it, regardless of whether music is an integral part of their career or not. By focusing on the fundamentals of music, music literacy, technique, and musicianship, my students develop self confidence and the ability to fully express what they wish to communicate through music.

5.     What do you love most about teaching?

I live for those “Eureka!” moments in teaching. Learning to sing or play an instrument takes time and certain concepts often need to be repeated quite a bit in a variety of ways. That moment where a concept clicks and a student suddenly realizes the incredible sounds or musical nuances they can make is amazing.  

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

I’ve found that the best deterrent for nerves when I have a performance coming up is to be super prepared. This involves starting to learn my music well ahead of time and spending time on it every single day, even if it’s only fifteen minutes on some days. As a singer, I often have to memorize full operas, including dozens of lines of dialogue or recitative. So engaging in smart practice methods and fully focusing on my music for a period everyday results in me being über prepared by the time a first rehearsal or performance arrives. Most of my students are incredibly busy with school, extracurricular activities, and work. But my “practice tip” is to make time every single day, even if you don’t think it’s long enough, to focus on your art and your music. Whether that’s silent studying or full on practicing, it will make all the difference when it comes to time to perform.

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

I love to cook, so I spend a lot of free time discovering new recipes or experimenting with old favorites. I also always have a good book on hand to settle into and a few Netflix shows for those evenings when I just want to chill. I just moved to California, so I'm already starting to explore all the new sights to see including beaches, hiking trails, and cute communities all around the Bay Area.

New Mozart Student Bartholomew Baker's 2nd Solo Recital

Our piano student Bartholomew Baker gave his 2nd solo piano recital at the beautiful Menlo Atherton Performing Arts Center on June 18th.

He performed pieces by Bach, Haydn, Beethoven, Chopin, Scriabin, Grieg, Rachmaninoff, Copland, Tchaikovsky, Lecuona, and his own compositions!  We couldn't be prouder! 

Bartholomew started with our Harmony Road program http://www.newmozartschool.com/why-harmony-road/ and now studies piano with Teacher Larisa.   He has received awards at the US Open Competition, as well as scholarships to attend the prestigious Interlochen Arts Camp. 

Student Highlight - Matias Santisteban

Matias with Teacher Valerie and Teacher Christine at the New Mozart Winter Recital 2017

Matias with Teacher Valerie and Teacher Christine at the New Mozart Winter Recital 2017

1 What is your name and how old are you?

My name is Matias Kiyoshi Santisteban and I am 7 years old.

2. How long have you been studying music and how old were you when you first started?

I have been studying piano since I was 4, so it has been 3 years now. Before that, I learned music since I was a baby with my family, and at a music program for little children when I lived in Pittsburgh since I was like one.

3. What instrument are you currently studying, and who is your teacher?

I am studying piano with Teacher Valerie. I was in Harmony Road with Teacher Christine and Teacher Lea before the private lessons.

4. What pieces are you currently working on?

"Ecossaise" by Johann Nepomuk Hummel, "A short story" by Heinrich Lichner, and I just started composing a new song.

5. How often do you practice?

I practice everyday... except if I am on vacation :). 

6. Why do you like studying music? 

 I like it because it's fun, I can make my own songs (the ones that I have in my head), I like to explore and discover new sounds and scales, I can play the songs I like, not only listen to them.

7. Tell us about your interests or accomplishments outside of music.  

I received the Peace Maker award at school. I like to learn and help others. I speak Spanish, English and a bit of Japanese. I like math, science, building my own spaceships with LEGO, houses for my toys with Magnatiles. I like sports... I like playing ping pong with my family, soccer with my friends, and I'm learning how to ski... it's a lot of fun,  I also like drawing and painting. The paintings of my class at school were selected this year to be displayed at the Mountain View City Hall Rotunda!

8. What do you want to be when you grow up?  

I want to be many things. I want to be a spaceship engineer at NASA, a software engineer, a music composer, an architect, and a teacher.

Questions to Matias' parents - Beatriz Maeireizo & Javier Santisteban:

1. What are you most proud of in regards to Matias' piano study?

We love to see Matias enjoying music so much. He practices with excitement, without even being asked to. Not only is he learning how to play the piano, but he is also composing, writing music, playing by ear the songs he hears everywhere.

2. Why do you think music education is important for children and why is it important for your family?

Although we are not professional musicians, we love music as it is the universal language of the heart. Our parents and grandparents nurtured this love for music in us since we were little, and we are passing it on.  Through music, we are happy to see that Matias has found another way to express himself and have fun.  By studying music, he is also learning some key skills that are so helpful in life such as discipline, perseverance, self-confidence, sensitivity, and even posture, just to name a few.  We believe that music helps us further develop problem solving and emotional skills.

3. There are many choices in music lessons; why did you choose New Mozart?

New Mozart is an amazing music school with teachers for every level and style. We love that New Mozart encourages children to enjoy music, and to be creative and have fun while learning. The teachers are fantastic, knowledgeable and caring. Their passion for music is contagious.  We also like the recitals, as an opportunity to see the kids' progress.  Recitals have helped Matias gain more confidence, and be more comfortable sharing in public. Most importantly, Matias loves to know that he is helping other children in need with his music (donations go to Escuela Caracol, Music in the Schools Foundation and Common Hope).