The Silicon Valley Voice

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Strings Are Strummed at California Conservatory of Guitar»s Open House

“When I first started playing guitar, I had to remember to keep my wrists high and not to keep my elbow in or out,” says Micah Montgomery, 6. “Now I have to remember to keep my thumb out.”

Montgomery has been studying guitar for one year at The California Conservatory of Guitar, based in Santa Clara. At the music school’s open house on Jan. 16, Montgomery performed a soothing guitar melody, “A Toye.”

“Our goal is to open up our doors to families so they could meet [my co-director Christopher Mallett] and myself,” says Robert Miller, co-director of the school. “We want families to learn more about our program. A prerequisite at our school is that before a kid starts, the parents come to take three classes on their own and practice on their child’s bed. We lend them the guitar…This helps the parent be a good home teacher and it helps the kid be excited about the instrument. What’s also important is that parents attend the lessons and help their kids practice at home. It’s a great way for parents to bond with their kids.”


Anjali Morales’s two children, Mira,11, and Nikhil, 9, also performed at the open house. Morales’s husband took the three classes to meet the school’s requirement.

“My husband and I have both played the guitar,” Anjali says. “I think those three lessons my husband had to take were good because it taught him to be a more active participant in the children’s lessons and it taught him how to teach the children.”

Learners who are 10 years-old or younger will be taught using the school’s Suzuki method.

“The basic concept of the Suzuki method is that it teaches music as if it were a language,” Miller explains. “There are a few important components children go through in language acquisition. You don’t learn to read the language before you know how to speak it. Students here don’t learn to read music until they have a strong fundamental understanding of the technique and of their instrument.”

Miller feels the inherent value of music education is that it gives both children and adults a healthy and positive way of being creative and expressive.

“One of our goals is to help kids gain a strong sense of self and work ethics through music performance, through playing music with others,” he says. “Our program is more than just a place where kids come for a music class, go home, practice and then come back next week. They also supplement their private classes with recitals and group recitals. We offer anyone who’s interested in our program a free 50 minute class. Adults are also welcome to participate in recitals. But for group classes and ensembles right now, it’s only for the kids.”

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