March 2021
Read Polyrhythms and Life Lessons by Judy Tran

Polyrhythms and Life Lessons

April 2019

Teaching Children with Autism
by Naomi Hello, Director

As we near the end of tax season (and the end of CM exams) I hope everyone is enjoying the appearance of the sun again!

April is a time when the flowers are blooming and butterflies are gracing the skies!  

April is also Autism Awareness Month and I know many teachers including myself work with children who have autism.

I want to share just a couple basic tips I’ve learned from experience of how to share the joys of music with these wonderful children!

  • Be patient with their learning process and know that they are very intelligent in their own ways.
  • Many learn visually as opposed to aurally
  • OCD is also very common so it helps to be extremely structured in lesson time management and how you section pieces of music that are being learned
  • Many tend to have one thing or subject that they always revert back to, for example I have one students who loves goosebumps books so I try to incorporate those images or even the theme song into our lesson
  • Learning and drawing notation can be frustrating so using larger staves can be very helpful

I hope this is helpful for some of you and I hope that everyone will be able to enjoy the wonders of music!

March 2019

Michiko March letter for board

February 2019

Love, Laughter, and Little Boys:
What I’ve Learned from Trying to Teach my own Children
by Stephanie Doell Barrett, Treasurer

Happy February!
Happy Valentine’s Day!
Happy Month of Love!

I have two little boys at home, both of whom I have the immense privilege of teaching piano. My older son has been playing for two years, and my younger son has been playing for two months. We do a formal lesson in the studio once per week, then we diligently (and sometimes not-so-diligently) practice at home the rest of the week.

My two little boys have taught me so much about teaching. They have taught me patience. They have taught me how to slow down. And, they have taught me that sometimes, even after saying “it” 6,000 times, they still need to hear it one more time. However, I think the biggest lesson I’ve learned from them is to never-ever give up.

In the book Good to Great, Jim Collins discusses something he coined The Stockdale Paradox. It states, “You must retain faith that you will prevail in the end, regardless of the difficulties…. and, at the same time, you must confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.”

This seems to be a fairly accurate assessment of what a student needs to do to achieve mastery in any skill. It is impossible to guess the number of repetitions it will take to learn a new skill, but repetitions are what the student must do none-the-less. During this learning period, there will be many stumbles. Frustrations usually emerge, especially frustrations from an energetic, 6-year-old little boy. What I’ve learned is to have faith for both of us, and that has been the most transformative lesson for my teaching.


January 2019

Take Time for New Beginnings in 2019

by Angela Whitaker, Director

As we begin another New Year (where did 2018 go?), perhaps we should take time to think about new beginnings. We sometimes call them New Years’ Resolutions. These beginnings could be in our teaching studio using a new method or approach to learning, family relationships whether they’re one-on-one or group, or professional relationships. Personal new beginnings could include life style changes such as healthy eating habits, starting an exercise routine, renewed spiritual values, or any other aspect of our life.

Sometimes it’s more making time than taking time to develop relationships or friendships. There are many clichéd expressions such as “To have a friend, you have to be one;” “Strangers are just friends waiting to happen” is attributed to Rod McKuen and other people such as Napolean Bonaparte (according to the internet!). I’ve made many friends and acquaintances during my years in MTAC Pasadena Branch. These friendships have become very precious over the years, and each passing year offers the opportunity to begin new lifelong friendships.

In this New Year, I wish for all of you the joy of renewed friendships and the opportunity for the new beginnings in store as you develop new friends.


December 2018

Take Some Time for Mindfulness this Holiday Season

by Ruth Kasckow, Recording Secretary

During the holiday season we’re often so busy buying gifts, putting on recitals, playing music gigs, and taking care of others that we don’t have time to take care of ourselves. One way to take care of yourself is to add a little mindfulness to your holiday season.

What is mindfulness? One definition I like from UCLA’s Mindfulness Awareness Program is “Mindfulness is paying attention to our present moment experience with openness, curiosity, and a willingness to be with what is.”

Mindfulness can be practiced in many ways.

  • It may be a matter of simply pausing for a moment, taking a couple of breaths and paying attention to how you feel or what you’re doing at that moment, then moving forward.
  • It may take the form of being mindful or aware of what you’re doing in the present moment while you’re teaching a lesson, driving on the freeway, or performing in a concert.
  • It may take the form of establishing a mindfulness practice on a regular basis with the help of a class, books or apps.

One component of mindfulness which I find very helpful is being kind to oneself through loving kindness. It is especially important this time of year when we are pulled in so many directions. Loving kindness reminds us of the bonds and love we have that bind us together which makes life that much easier.

So this holiday season add a little mindfulness to your life and enjoy the holidays!

Resources that I find helpful:

Loving Kindness Meditation
App:  Headspace