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Former California Conservatory of Guitar Flourishes as Conservatory of Music

The well-respected California Conservatory of Guitar, founded in Santa Clara in May of 2011, reopened as the California Conservatory of Music with a ribbon cutting ceremony and reception attended by Santa Clara Mayor Lisa Gillmor on Oct. 30, 2017. Now, nine months later, the conservatory has grown and is flourishing thanks to its broader musical focus.

“We broadened our offering, adding piano, violin, cello and voice,” said conservatory co-director Robert Miller. “We listened to our families and what they want and need and try to provide that. Families wanted their children to study different instruments at the same location.”

Since its reopening, enrollment of children and adults has grown to more than 325 students in Santa Clara and about 150 students in the conservatory’s Redwood City location, which opened in 2016 for the convenience of students from that part of the Peninsula.

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“Families like us because we now have multiple instruments. We have a full administrative staff and are dedicated to quickly help with scheduling problems. We have a great group of stable, dedicated teachers who are university trained,” said Miller. “We use fun practice challenges to motivate students.”

With the points challenge, students who earn a certain number of practice points in one month earn a Jamba Juice gift card. Recently, the conservatory developed a practice app that automatically tells how many days in a row a student has practiced. Students, who can even see how much their peers are practicing, get a trophy for practicing 100 days in a row.

“Our vision is to offer first-rate instruction and to build a community that has dedicated teachers,” said Miller. “Having teachers who are performers provides students with more than private lessons. It provides opportunities to participate in community events and performances. The teachers really motivate students to practice and build a relationship with music in their lives.”

Miller met conservatory co-director Christopher Mallett in 2009 while teaching at the Longay Conservatory of Guitar. There, they worked closely with the great master of guitar pedagogy Frank Longay, a Los Gatos resident, who co-founded the Suzuki Method for the guitar.

After Longay unexpectedly passed away in 2011, Longay’s family encouraged Miller and Mallett to keep Longay’s music legacy alive by founding the California Conservatory of Guitar. Mountain View resident Suzanne Bettinger’s 12-year-old son has been taking classical guitar with Miller almost from the beginning.

“Robert Miller took my son’s love for classical guitar and really guided him on a journey that will last a lifetime,” said Bettinger. “Mr. Miller and the other teachers are also incredible performers and give the students many opportunities to attend concerts within the community as well as perform on their own.”

“My son has gained confidence in his ability to tackle hard pieces and perform for an audience and has developed a work ethic as he learns to manage his time to allow for practice,” continued Bettinger. “But most of all, he has learned to love music and recognize its healing and inspirational impact on his life.”

For information about the California Conservatory of Music, 2905 Stender Way, Unit 72, Santa Clara, and 950 Woodside Rd., Unit 2, Redwood City, visit www.thecaliforniaconservatory.com.

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