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

NMSM Teacher Val.jpg

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

Christine Shin

New Mozart School of Music, 305 North California Avenue, Palo Alto, CA, 94301