Interview with our guitar teacher, Christian Gillett

How did you begin your musical studies?

I began learning electric guitar when I was 12, but had always wanted to play from a very young age when my dad would play Pink Floyd albums really loud on the stereo. I always had a fascination with the instrument, even trying to build my own one out of cereal boxes and elastic bands when I was about 5 years old.

What’s your favourite instrument?

I go through cycles of instruments that I love. Pianos sound beautiful, even with the most simple chords. Harps and glockenspiels have a natural brightness to them, and cellos have such a range of emotion, even within singular notes. Right now I’m fascinated by the marimba, but I guess I always come back to the guitar, as it is so versatile.

What is your favourite age group to teach and why?

I am most experienced teaching teenagers. I enjoy that age range most, as I can see myself in them, with the drive to stand out from other kids at school, and to do something that is not only ‘cool’, but rewarding too. Since moving to Hong Kong I have started expanding my age range, and I now get excited by the challenges of teaching older children, and adults as I have to adapt my lessons to cater for each student individually.

The Winner of the 2016 Summer Photo Contest is Andrew P.!

Thank you to all who submitted practicing photos for this year’s contest. Our three judges have chosen a winner, despite the difficulty for choosing. 

This year’s winner is… Andrew P.! Here’s what the judges had to say about Andrew’s practice photo:

"I think Andrew was soaring to new heights this summer, minions below (and on his violin) with a lovely bow hand and fierce focus!!! His picture is my favorite!” - Mrs. Lisa Barca-Hall, Violin (California, USA)
"I love not only the Andrew's setup but admire his focus on the bow staying on the highway.  The background is pretty cool too!” - Mr. Aaron Lofaro, Strings Teacher and Orchestral Conductor (Connecticut, USA)
"I love his hand positions and his look of intense concentration.  I love how the flowers on his shirt blend in with the flowers on the balcony in juxtaposition with the buildings in the background." - Mr. Philip Ventre, Orchestral & Band Conductor (Connecticut, USA)

A very huge thank you to all our judges this year. Your support for the students of Best Music is undying across the continents!

Here are some of the other entries on the contest:

Introducing Music Therapy for Children at Best Music Academy

We are pleased to introduce Music Therapy for Children at Best Music Academy. Our music therapy sessions offers the opportunity for children to build better focus, self-control, and social skills.

The music therapy sessions are specifically designed to encourage children to interact with other members of the therapy group by using a wide range of instruments and musical sounds. The unique bond developed with the group members are strengthened with the aid of our qualified therapist.

What is Music Therapy?

Music therapy is a creative art therapy that uses music therapeutically to address physical, psychological, cognitive and social functioning for participants. Over time, some of the simplest goal are achieved within unexpected moments.

The Benefits

Music therapy can help your child enhance their self-awareness and those of their surroundings, congenital functions, learning, concentration, and attention span. Our music therapy sessions will also help to develop self-control, develop coping and relaxation skills, emotional personal and social expressions, and resolve personal conflicts. One of our goals is to help your child become more focused, more relaxed, and more sociable.

Our Therapist: Ms. Kanice

After graduating from the University of Hong Kong with degrees in both Music & German, Kanice furthered her music career by returning to the U.K. to complete a M.A. Music Therapy program at Roehampton University.

During her two-year training, Kanice gained experience by working with people with special needs (e.g. autistic spectrum disorder, psychotic depression and learning disabilities), ranging from ages of young children to adults. In September 2015, Kanice became a U.K. registered Music Therapist.

Kanice believes the use of musical improvisation can stimulate imagination, encouraging expressions and enabling the exchanges of a wide variety of emotions. In addition to being Best Music’s Music Therapy specialist, Ms. Kanice is also a violin and piano instructor at our school. 

Our first Best Music Hero - The Tee Family!

We have launched Best Music Heroes to reward our students and their families for their unstoppable support and loyalty for our Music School. A few months have passed and now we have found our first Hero of our School, the Tee Family! We're truly delighted and we wish the best for them and looking forward to spend more time with them! On this special occasion we've asked the family, Therese and David to tell us a bit more about on children's progress in music and how it effects their daily life.  

Why did you choose to let your Children learn music?

What's life without music!? It was never a question of if our children were going to learn music, but which instruments would they learn and which one would be first!

We grew up with very musical backgrounds and loved all genres of music and dance. As parents, we hear about how learning a musical instrument can boost academic achievement, stimulate parts of the brain that help with emotional development, lowers stress, develops discipline and a strong work ethic...we wanted all that for our children. But more importantly, we wanted them to know that they could create music, engage others around them, and to appreciate what music has to offer. You always hear that people wish they played an instrument; no one ever has regrets about learning an instrument. We are blessed to have the children as a part of the BMA community where they can be encouraged to explore and create in a supportive environment. 

Which benefits did you observe in your children after they started to learn music?

The sense of joy, pride and accomplishment that we see on Brianna and Alanna's faces are priceless. Our eldest daughter, Brianna, who started violin at BMA at 5.5 and is now 8, is dedicated to her practice sessions because she can see that she is making progress as the weeks and months go by. To have that discipline in putting in time from your daily life to learn something that really is quite challenging, is admirable in a young child from whom its really quite challenging! Her younger sister, Alanna, always hummed along to the Suzuki pieces whenever her big sister practiced. Now that she is also playing the violin, you can tell that she has really developed her aural skills just by listening to her older sister play! The familiarity of the songs really makes her feel like it's something that she can also accomplish.

The BMA recitals are a showcase of the culmination of all their hard work. It has really boosted their self-confidence by being on stage. They don't get stage fright and know with confidence that they have put in the time and effort to get to share their favourite piece with family and friends. That sense of confidence is priceless!

What was your most memorable experience at Best Music?

We very clearly remember the challenges of learning a string instrument with Brianna when she started. It was at the start of Suzuki violin book 2, and Brianna was really pushing the boundaries and really did not want to practice, let alone practice daily. We thought it was a phase that would never end! But with patience and guidance, and a safe, loving, and nurturing environment created by Charliah, we managed to overcome and Brianna really understands the value of practice today! We say "we" because we as parents really didn't think we could get through it either but there's light at the end of the tunnel! The inspiration and encouragement and attentiveness to helping the children learn to really love and appreciate music is something special that Charliah helps to encourage. She knows that each child can play an instrument and really holds them to a high standard knowing that they can! And through that, the children are able to gain confidence in knowing that they can play!

What were your most memorable moments as a parent learning a music instrument alongside your children?

We know that by learning alongside our children, that our girls really appreciate the time and effort we put in with encouraging them during practice. They respect that we are learning something alongside of them instead of being just a bystander. To know that they have the emotional support and guidance at home really makes a difference in how they approach their practice sessions. Practices are also time for us to get to know our children and to be an active part of their learning and development. It may not feel like the most special or well spent family time for some, but any time we spend with our kids is special and should be appreciated. We hope that our children will remember these special times and the mini recitals that we get to enjoy at home will certainly be remembered by all!

Interview with Ms. Kanice Hoi Ling Kwan

How did you begin your musical studies? 

I was 3 when I had my first ever piano lesson. I fell asleep when I was waiting for my sister to finish her piano lesson; mom saw that and thought it was a good idea for me to start some piano lessons instead of sleeping my life away!

What’s your favourite instrument? 

I never do have a favourite instrument because I want to master all instruments in the world one day haha! I am a pianist, violist, organist and singer myself. It is unfair if I pick one as my favourite I guess.

What is your favourite age group to teach and why? 

Again, it is difficult to pick a favourite. I love teaching all different age groups as everyone’s unique, each student and I have very different “sparks” in the lessons. Young children are full of curiosity, they give very genuine responses to whatever they hear, play and touch. This genuineness motivates me to teach them with huge passion!

Interview with Mrs. Suzanna Sitomer

How did you begin your musical studies?

I began my musical studies at age 6 one the flute. unfortunately for everyone around me, I never made a real sound on the thing the whole year. I begged my parents to switch to violin, but they told me I couldn't quit just because it was difficult. Even though I didn't learn much on the flute, I learned the discipline of persisting at something when it is difficult.  I promised my parents I would not switch instruments any more, that violin was the one for me. After a year of group classes, I started taking private lessons, and the rest is history. I kept my promise to never switch, though I did add the viola, cello, trumpet and voice to my skill set.

What’s your favourite instrument?

I love my violin, but I really love the cello. In fact, if I had it all to do over again, I would have played cello. Except for the fact that it is really bulky, and I used public trans an average of 4 times per day in secondary school. I might have learned to drive earlier, or arranged a car pool, but knowing then what I know now, I would definitely choose cello.

How many characters does the percussion family have?

Musical instruments are awesome! For me, I like them all! If you only like one or two instruments, I challenge you to listen more and find more characters of instrument :D I am sure that you will fall in love with it.

What is your favourite age group to teach and why?

I love beginners, at any age, because when they are really keyed in, they make such tremendous progress, and they are like sponges, soaking up everything that I tell them. I also like these students because I get the chance to teach children all the good habits I want them to have, and I don't have to correct any bad habits (like bow holds and flat wrists, tsk tsk!) left over from earlier learning.