Friday, November 28, 2014

Performance Practice: The Young Performer

This article was previously published in New Mozart News in 2009.  In light of the upcoming New Mozart Winter Student Concerts, we thought you might find this article helpful.

By Christine E. Shin 

The claim that public speaking tops death as the greatest human fear led Jerry Seinfeld to say, “So if you go to a funeral, you’re better off in the casket than giving the eulogy.”

Now consider how much more terrifying the public performance of music must be—hundreds of eyes and ears trained on a single person as he or she makes a complex instrument speak in what amounts to a foreign language. Sounds like enough to make anyone prefer the casket!

But then there are those musicians—we’ve all known them—for whom performing is a joy, whose “butterflies” flutter out of excitement rather than a desire to migrate far, far away from the stage. Performance is the fulfillment of the central purpose of music—the emotional communication between people—and so is an essential part of being a complete musician.

So how can we give our children the gift of that joyous performance experience rather than the fearful and painful one that is all too common? 

Some tips:

1. Perform early, perform often. Children whose first public performance is in the late elementary or middle school years (or, heaven forfend, even later) are much more likely to struggle with performance anxiety issues than those who performed frequently at an early age, before the developing mind has had a chance to build its wall of objections too high. It’s like learning a language early: the child never has a chance to realize it’s hard.

2. Start small. Carnegie can wait. Playing for gathered brother and sisters or cousins or neighbors is an excellent bridge experience to the recital stage. The child can have greater confidence that the audience wishes her well when she knows every one of them personally.

3. Know that the audience is on your side. It’s true, you know—audiences do not wish performers ill, especially student performers. They want the performers to have a good experience. Ninety percent of all errors will go unnoticed; the rest will be forgiven. Reminding young people that audiences are rooting for them, not against them, can be very helpful. Parents can also ask children to be aware of their own judgments when they are in the audience. When children realize that they themselves are supportive listeners, they will be more likely to assume the same from their own audiences.

4. Perfection is for robots. The demand for perfection is the kiss of death for any hope of enjoyment in performance. Concert careers have been destroyed by the insane pressure to produce 100% unblemished musical performances time and time again. Let kids know that beauty does not require flawlessness, and that it is silly to consider a performance with a few wrong notes to be a failure.

5. Apply the 5-to-1 principle. When commenting on a child’s practicing, try to meet or exceed a 5-to-1 ratio of positive comments to corrections. Insist that the child do the same for herself—especially after a performance. Who among us hasn’t stomped off stage after a lovely performance grousing about this or that mistake we made? Stop the child in her tracks with, “Hold it! First I want to hear five things that went beautifully. Then you can talk about the mistake.”

6. Breathing. The recitalist stands in the wings, looking at the bright stage and open piano—and it begins. A squirt of adrenaline gets the heart pumping faster and he begins to breathe fast and shallow. Not the best way to enter the flow state! He can’t directly control his heart rate or adrenal function, but he can control his breathing, which in turn can moderate the rest of the response. Teach the child to take in deep, slow, measured breaths. The rush of oxygen calms the alarm response and allows the body to settle into a more relaxed, focused mode.

7. Think positively! Easier said than done, perhaps, but the power of positive thinking is a well-established boon for performers of all types. If you expect to fail, you are more likely to do so. Help children to develop positive “self-talk” prior to performing.

8. Visualization. Closely tied to positive thinking is visualization. Encourage children to visualize the entire performance situation from beginning to end, in real time. This allows them to anticipate the sights and sounds of the event, and—even more importantly—to picture things going well.

9. Encourage “flow.” Performers should make a conscious effort to enter what psychologist Dr. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi has called a “flow state” during practice and performance. In a flow state, external worries drop away—including obsessions over making errors— allowing the performer to become at one with the music. The more a performer can enter the flow of the music itself, the less aware or concerned he or she will be about the audience. Some performers are so good at this that they startle slightly at the sound of applause after the final chord!

10. Preparation. Nothing beats the jitters and ensures good performance like adequate preparation. Help your child to recognize and treasure the “second nature” feeling of performing something that he or she knows well. The feeling of mastery will also facilitate the “flow state”—making the young performer at one with the music and increasing the odds of joyful performance.

Performance is the culmination of musical experience, the joining of the hearts of composer and listener through the skill and soul of the performer. It’s a profound kind of communication, but it should be fun as well. There’s a reason they call it “playing,” after all. 

© Christine E. Shin. All Rights Reserved.

WANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR PUBLICATION OR WEB SITE? You can, as long as you include this complete blurb with it:   Music educator Christine E. Shin has extensive training in classical music and early music education theories. She is current chair of the Palo Alto branch of the National Guild of Piano Teachers and director of the New Mozart School of Music in Palo Alto, California (

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Winter Recital Is Coming Up! [Dec 6 & 7]


All sessions are held at Foothill College's Appreciation Hall.
Scroll down for directions and ticket info.

Come celebrate the holiday season in the company of our talented young musicians! 

Our students' music will lift your spirits.  This is a family event and everyone is invited!

Attn. Performers:  
  1. Check here to see if you're registered for the recital.
  2. You will be performing in your teacher assigned session.

Saturday, December 6 

Sanctuary, First Baptist Church 
(305 N. California Avenue Palo Alto, CA 94301)

12/6, Saturday, [Concert 1] 10 am

  • Students of Teacher Simon
  • Students of Teacher Patrick
  • Students of Teacher Robert

12/6, Saturday, [Concert 2] 12 pm

  • Harmony Road II - IV Students (of Teachers: Lea, Sarah, & Alicia)
  • Students of Teacher Lea

12/6, Saturday, [Concert 3] 2 pm *Accompanist available

  • Students of Teacher Jenn

12/6, Saturday, [Concert 4] 4 pm *Accompanist available

  • Students of Teacher Olga
  • Students of Teacher Sarah
  • Students of Teacher Irina

12/6, Saturday, [Concert 5] 6 pm

  • Students of Teacher Alexander
  • Students of Teacher Thomas
  • Students of Teacher Paul

Sunday, Dec. 7 

Appreciation Hall, Foothill College 
(12345 El Monte Road Los Altos Hills, CA 94022)

12/7, Sunday, [Concert 6] 10 am

  • Students of Teacher Alicia
  • Students of Teacher Tatyana
  • Harmony Road II - IV Students of Teacher Christine

12/7, Sunday, [Concert 7] 12 pm *Accompanist available

  • Students of Teacher Turi
  • Students of Teacher Michele

12/7, Sunday, [Concert 8] 2 pm *Accompanist available

  • Students of Teacher Diane
  • Students of Teacher Irene

12/7, Sunday, [Concert 9] 4 pm

  • Students of Teacher Larry
  • Students of Teacher Robbie
  • Students of Teacher Larisa
  • Students of Teacher Ella

12/7, Sunday. [Concert 10] 6 pm
  • Students of Teacher Vincent


Directions to Foothill College (Appreciation Hall)
12345 El Monte Rd., Lost Altos Hills, CA 94022

Go here for the campus map.

From I-280, take El Monte Road west; immediately bear right to enter the Foothill College campus, then turn right once again on the one-way loop road around the campus.

The first parking lot (Lot 1) on your right will be the shortest walk, there are steep stairs up the hill to the theater. For a longer but nearly level walk, continue driving around the loop road to Lot 6.

Appreciation Hall (building 1500 on the campus map) is located across the Smithwick Theater. Parking rules are enforced at all times; please bring $3 for the parking-permit vending machines located in each lot.

New Mozart School of Music
305 N. California Avenue Palo Alto, CA 94301
Find us on the web @

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!!

New Mozart is closed from Wednesday, Nov. 26 - Sunday, Nov. 

We hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving with your family and friends! Don't forget to eat, drink, and be thankful!! :)  

We will see you back on Monday, Dec. 1!

New Mozart School of Music
305 N. California Avenue Palo Alto, CA 94301
Find us on the web @

Monday, October 27, 2014

Congratulations to New Mozart's Exceptional Students!

We did it again this year!  Here is a list of our accomplished voice, violin, & piano students who won prestigious awards in the past couple of months. 


  • Bartholomew Baker (piano)

CARNEGIE HALL Royal Conservatory Achievement Award Winner:

  • Level 10: Bartholomew Baker (piano)

NATS SINGING FESTIVAL WINNERS (voice students from Teacher Diane's Studio):
  • 1st PlaceArt Song 1.2 (age 10-13): Angela Wahler 
  • 1st Place, Musical Theatre 13.1 (age 16-17): Angelina Wahler
  • 2nd Place, Art Song 2.1(age 14-15): Leo Jergovic
  • 3rd Place, Musical Theatre 11.2 (age 10-13): Charlotte Macrae 
  • 3rd Place, Musical Theatre 12.2 (age 14-15): Leo Jergovic
  • 4th Place, Art Song 1.2 (age 10-13): Zoe Lo 

ASTA CERTIFICATE WINNERS (violin students from Teacher Michele's Studio):
  • Level 3: Sama Zaki (w/honors)
  • Level 7: Chloe Chang
  • Level 8: Marvin Li
  • Level 9: Nicolas Diaz-Wahl

CERTIFICATE OF MERIT WINNERS (piano students from Teacher Irina's Studio):
  • Level 2: Ella Leppert
  • Level 2: Artis Lay 
  • Level 4: Samantha Breen-Tsang
  • Level 6: Nicholas Nhien
  • Level 7: Brian Blair

New Mozart School of Music
305 N. California Avenue Palo Alto, CA 94301
Find us on the web @

Friday, October 24, 2014

Q & A With Our Guitar Teacher - Thomas

Teacher Thomas with his student Rohan

1.  How old were you when you started playing the guitar?

     I was about 9 years old when I started playing the guitar seriously. But I have been experimenting with music since I could remember. I remember taking music boxes and trying to make them harmonize with one another.

2.  Why did you choose guitar and not another instrument?

     Well, originally I was a violinist for 7 years but when I heard the sound of the guitar I immediately fell in love with the sonority of the instrument. I was amazed by the instruments capabilities from J.S Bach to bop. The swiss pianist Alfred Cortot once said “An artist has three lives. The first is a love of the instrument, the second is when one understands the value of music and the third is artistry.” So at the end of the day, the guitar is just the instrument I choose to express myself with.

3.  Can you tell us when you knew that you would become a professional musician?  

     You know, now that I'm thinking about it, it was not a really profound moment per say. I was with my aunt driving in Noe Valley when I was about 13 and “So What” by Miles Davis was playing. I remember that when he started that trumpet solo with only two notes I felt that I had been hit with a bag of bricks. I remember thinking that this is what I want to do for the rest of my life.

4.  Tell us about your musical & educational background.  

     I first started studying music on the east coast in Baltimore when I went to an arts high school. I was really fortunate to have such great teachers and mentors at such an early age. I then decided to attend the San Francisco Conservatory of Music where I studied under David Tanenbaum to complete my B.A. After this I made the decision to move to France where I studied with Judicael Perroy in Paris and then at the Haute Ecole des Arts du Rhin with my mentor Alexis Muzarakis. My years in France had an enormous impact not just as a performer and musician but also as an educator of music. I consider myself extremely lucky to have had such great examples of teachers and musicians.

5.  What do you love most of about teaching?

     After playing music for almost twenty years, I still am so amazed by the simple mechanics of music.  Because of the vibration of a string, we can be moved to tears. As a teacher, when I find that spark in a student that ignites excitement and they become so overwhelmed with happiness to do that one thing, for me, this is the best part. I think that along with continuing progress from the student, these are the reasons why we teach.

6.  How do you approach teaching music to your students? 

     Because music is at the same time very personal yet also a language spoken throughout the whole world, I try to find something in every student that sparks an interest in them.  It could be Classical music or Pop music or really anything. While at the same time teaching the technique and base of music to enable a student to function in the world of music.

7.  Tell us one practice tip that you want to share.

     Slow practicing! It really enables students to focus more on the problem at hand. This can be really tedious for students and I often hear that it takes to much time, but on the contrary it is extremely time efficient and can eliminate many future problems.

8.  What are some things you enjoy doing when you're not practicing, performing, or teaching?

     Often the case now, I unfortunately don’t have a lot of down time because I am preparing for concerts or teaching. But, when I do find one of those rare moments, I very much enjoy gourmet coffee. I, like many other, LOVE great food. Also, language is another interest that I am always trying to further.


Teacher Thomas is accepting new students.  Contact the New Mozart Office to schedule a complimentary trial lesson. 

New Mozart School of Music
305 N. California Avenue Palo Alto, CA 94301
Email us:
Visit us on the web:

Thursday, August 21, 2014

*NEW* Meet Our Distinguished Flute/Saxophone Teacher - Barbara

New Mozart is proud to introduce our distinguished new flute/saxophone faculty - Teacher Barbara.  

She brings her years of extensive musical and teaching experience to our students at New Mozart.  She has worked with young flute and saxophone students to university students and orchestras.  

Give us a call to schedule a complimentary 15 minute consultation session with Teacher Barbara.  650-324-2373

Want to find out about Teacher Barbara?  

Read her short bio here:

Teacher Barbara is a multi-instrumentalist who loves sharing her passion for music with all ages!  She began playing flute & organ at age 7, and added saxes at age 15. Barbara has a M.A. in Music Composition and has performed in every solo & ensemble format imaginable for over 40 years.   Her teaching approach aims to develop proper technique through scales and exercises, while delving deeper into musicianship through learning solo pieces.  She enjoys playing side-by-side with students to help them model phrasing and intonation, and has a keen sense of how posture can aid in sound production.  

Barbara has taught beginning flute to groups in after-school programs (Los Gatos), is flute/sax coach for Russell Middle School (Milpitas), led the San Jose State University Flute Choir in concert, as well as San Jose Youth Symphony’s  “Avant” Flute Choir in rehearsals and summer camp concert.  She recently played in San Jose Musical Theater’s production of the Wizard of Oz, and has the privilege of joining the masterful world-fusion group “Sitar Power” when they expand in orchestration.

And if you want to find out more, here is the complete bio:

Barbara is committed to bringing concepts of music to youth and adults that may help them with work and learning processes in their lives.  She served as the Director of San Jose Jazz’s Get Jazzed!, an education program funded by the City of San Jose and the National Endowment of the Arts.  This live performance program employed top-flight musicians to present concerts in schools to 20,000 San Jose students during her 4-year tenure.   

In the adult education category, Teacher Barbara collaborates with Music and Management, based out of the Royal Academy of Music in London, presenting orchestral interactive concerts to worldwide corporate audiences.  As such, she has first-hand experience with the model of music production serving as powerful inspiration for any team effort in other business disciplines. 

Recipient of the 2009 Music award from the National League of American Pen Women, she has contributed to 20 CD projects, composing songs and arrangements for Grammy Award winning musicians as well as the Skywalker Orchestra.  Other credits include CD and performance projects with members of the Seattle Symphony, San Francisco Symphony, Tower of Power, and the San Jose Chamber Orchestra, and the Choral Project.

Barbara's clients have included Fisher Price and Mattel for whom she has created original music and sound for countless toys, including some of her most playful clients: Elmo, Winnie-the-Pooh, and the Cookie Monster.  

Barbara served as Conductor/Artistic Director for the Ohlone Symphonic Pops Orchestra, staff Orchestrator for Opera San Jose, faculty member at the School of Music and Dance at San Jose State University, and holds a M.A. in Music Composition from San Jose State University.

Barbara has studied both classical (opera), and jazz voice production, most notably with Dominique Eade, head of New England Conservatory’s vocal jazz program. She has taught voice privately and led group studies through community choirs at churches in the south bay area for 10 years. 

Beginning flute at the age of 7, Barbara has vast experience in preparation and performance for the symphonic or jazz setting.  Along with teaching instrumental technique, her approach is to guide a student to develop well-rounded musicianship knowledge through learning pieces of music.  She has led both the San Jose State Flute Choir, and the San Jose Youth Symphony Avant Flute choir, in concert.   

She has also studied with renowned jazz pianist Don Haas and enjoys teaching a chordal approach for more advanced pianists.   Barbara holds a M.A. in Music Composition from San Jose State University.  Her string arrangements have twice been performed at Carnegie Hall, backing live performances by famed artists such as Sting, Cheryl Crow, Billy Joel, and James Taylor.  She enjoys cross-genre music creation for both live and recorded performance and is a Grammy Voting member by virtue of artistic collaborations on 20 CD projects.  

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Come & Make Music With Us! It's Not Too Late to Register!

New Mozart Students & Teachers in Action

Call us @ 650 324 2373
Email us @


Hope you're enjoying this beautiful summer weather! :) 

It's hard to believe that there is less than a month left to the summer vacation for most of our Peninsula school students.  

Our office has been busy getting returning and new students registered.  

Speaking of which..., have you had a chance to register for music lessons yet?  

If you haven't, we understand.  You are probably busy getting your (your child's) fall schedule in order and haven't even had the time to think about music lessons till now.  But better late than never.  Especially when it comes to learning music. :) 

So..., we wanted to let you know that  many of our teachers for private lessons still have a few spaces left in their schedule.  

Our super fun & highly acclaimed group classes like Toddler Tunes (ages 2-3), Music In Me (ages 3-4), and Harmony Road (K-2nd) still have some room left as well.

Give us a call & we can get you all set up to start making music. 

Why Should You Enroll Your Child in Music Lessons?

1.  It's FUN! 

Have you heard anyone say that he really hates music?  Everyone loves music!  

And just imagine how much more special it would feel to be able to play or sing.  There is no better gift to give your child, for that matter yourself, than music lessons.  The musical skills they will learn at New Mozart will last a life time.  

2.  Did you know that researches have shown that children who take music lessons do much better academically?  So it's not only fun but it brings this amazing added benefit as well.  

Why Is New Mozart the Best Choice?

1.  Over 500 students think so! Our reputation for providing the highest quality music lessons & classes have allowed us to become the largest music studio in Palo Alto.  And some of our families come from as far away as Berkeley, Fremont & Los Gatos!

2.  Highly qualified teachers who know how to make learning fun. We get a ton of resumes throughout the year from many excellent music teachers who want to work at New Mozart.  We carefully screen our teachers and only select a few experienced teachers that have shown excellent musicianship skills AND the ability to make learning fun. 

3.  Ability to schedule two or more children at the same time.  This will save you a lot of hours in driving!

We've Made Registering Really Easy Too!

You have 3 convenient options:  

1.  Call us & register by PHONE (650 324 2373) 
2.  Fill out the online registration form.
3.  Stop by the office & register on-site. 

Check out our programs listed below & register today or...  for those of you who have more questions,  give us a call.  Let us know how we can help. 


All Instruments (Ages 4-99) 

Piano, Violin, Viola, Cello, Flute, Guitar, & Voice

"I am a professional, classically trained singer who has performed regularly at the New York Metropolitan Opera for the past 10 years...I have spent a lot of time in music classes for my young daughters, and The New Mozart School of Music is absolutely unique in its approach to teaching music to young children...We are so fortunate to have this amazing school in our community." -Malin Fritz Walrod 

Internationally Acclaimed Group Piano Program for Ages 2 - 7

Toddler Tunes (Ages 2-3)
Music In Me (Ages 3-4)
Harmony Road (K-2nd)

"I loved that Abi made so much progress on learning the keyboard, even though she was having so much fun she didn't even notice she was learning. She went from 'hunt and peck' to playing with five fingers on both hands (at age 3)!" - Andrea C., Abigail's mom


We look forward to making music with you soon!  Please let us know how we can help.

Musically yours,

The New Mozart Office Team
New Mozart School of Music
305 N. California Avenue Palo Alto, CA 94301
Email us:
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