Sometimes I get overwhelmed by the amount of research out there on every imaginable topic. With just as much research to prove one side right, there seem to be just as much evidence to prove the opposite is true. So my faith in the performing arts really comes back to my fundamental need to express, and my own experience of how it has shaped me to become who I am today.
Linda Morgan, editor with ParentMap and author of the book Beyond Smart says “acting and drama can helps kids develop emotionally and academically.” It makes simple logical sense. In acting, students work on memorization of lines, timing and following cues. It also improv their public speaking skills. The material present can lead students to learn about history and authors while having fun at the same time. Furthermore, acting helps students develop better understanding of human emotions, and their abilities to connect, interact and collaborate with other individuals. It helps build confidence in the students in a fun and positive atmosphere.
In today's obese culture of fattening foods and overweight children and adults, any opportunity we have to foster a healthier, exercise based lifestyle in our next generation is a plus. Dance is one of the ways students can enjoy exercise in a fun and team building environment. It also carries similar benefits acting classes has when it comes to helping student build emotional understanding and of student's confidence. But beyond the obvious physical benefits of dance, Massachusetts Institute of Technology student's after-school program uses dance to improve math skills. This is just one of the many programs out there that believe dance and music has a direct benefit for student's development in mathematics.
Music is probably one of the most studied discipline when it comes to its correlations to academic benefits. The Mozart effect was one of the best known that links listening to classical music can benefit infants brain development. A 2005 University of North Carolina at Greensboro also report that several academic studies have found overall increases in test scores across academic disciplines for those who are in music programs or play a musical instrument.
All performing arts carry the same fundamental idea of building confidence, and we want to help students achieve their full potential here at PopRock Academy in Alhambra.
PopRock Academy is conveniently centrally located in the West San Gabriel Valley. We are 5 to 10 minutes away from Pasadena and San Marino to our north, San Gabriel, Temple City and Arcadia to our east and Monterey Park and Rosemead to our south. Stop by our studio to find out more about what we have to offer.
By Paul Kwo
There is a saying that it takes 10,000 hours to be the master of anything.
Granted most people coming to piano lessons are not trying to become grandmasters of the instrument. They just want to be able to play the piano and play it well enough to entertain themselves. So how many hours does it really take to learn the piano?
Piano is probably one of the most difficult, if not the most difficult instrument to learn. Granted that every instrument has its own challenges, but the piano presents one of the toughest simply for the fact that aside from vocal music, there's more music written for piano than anything else. There are so much variety of music that one can learn, it's simply mind boggling.
I'll break it down for you.
A typical student (between age 8 to 12 taking an average of 30 to 45 minutes of lesson the first year) in a year can learn to play a simple song consist primarily of one note at a time between the two hands, with an occasional chord. Basically by the end of the year, a student should be able to play a relatively simple version of Happy Birthday to you where both hands may occasionally play one one in each hand simultaneously.
Then during the second year, most student should move to 45 minutes to 1 hour private lesson. By the end of the year, they should be able to play something a little more challenging where the two hands may have different things going on at the same time. An easy folk song or a simplified rendition of a pop song with easy accompaniment should be accomplishable.
Then on the third year, a student whose been taking 1 hour lesson should be able to play simple Bach pieces and do some basic fake book music with chords going on in one hand and melody in the other.
By the forth year, a student then should be able to play an easy Beethoven Sonatina or other pieces in that level of difficulty, and read medium difficulty pop music.
So at the very least, a student really needs 4 years to be able to play basic Classical pieces and do a descent job faking a pop song or reading a simpler version of one. But of course some students practice more and some are just more naturally gifted in playing the piano. But for most people after 4 years of piano, you should have enough basic skills to keep you entertained as long as you keep on doing it. But if you stop playing, chances are you will slowly forget most of what you have learned unless if you have taken over 10 years of piano. Then you can afford a few years of non-practice.
Paul Kwo teaches piano as well as voice and runs PopRock Academy in Alhambra, CA, near San Marino and South Pasadena in the San Gabriel Valley.
By Paul Kwo
A few months ago during a worship service, the associate pastor of the church in Culver City where I am the choir and Praise Band director turned to our guest accompanist and asked her to play the song happy birthday in celebration of the church's birthday. The accompanist who has a Bachelor degree in piano performance from a well-known American university jumped up off the piano bench, turned to me and said, “I don't know how to play Happy Birthday.”
It may be trivial but the truth is, just because you know how to play Classical music doesn't mean you know how to play any music. I have encountered many parents who have the notion that if their child learns Classical music, they would then be able to perform any type of music. This is absolutely false. Many Classically trained music teachers shun Pop music, refusing to teach their students the proper skills to perform. The truth of the reality is that many of these music teachers actually cannot perform Pop or Jazz or any other non Classical music and so they refuse to teach them, and deflecting from their own inadequacies by calling them lesser art form.
CLASSICAL, JAZZ & CONTEMPORARY
Every genre deserves its respect. It cannot be assumed that one is easier or superior to another. They are simply different. Surely within each genre we have great works and lesser works. But to cross genre and make sweeping generalization that one is automatically better than the other is simply a stereotype. Every genre requires hard work to learn and to master.
I had many students make mistakes or cannot perform a specific passage a certain way turn and say to me, 'that's what I chose to do.' Surely music is subjective and ultimately it is what the artist wants to present that matters. But a choice implies that the individual had the ability to do it either way and chose to do it one way over the other. In order for a Classical musician say they chose Classical music over the others, they must be able to actually perform the other genres. Chances are they can't. They may still claim they prefer listening to Classical music, but they certainly didn't choose to perform Classical music. They only know how to perform Classical music. They chose to study only Classical music. But they didn't chose to not perform Jazz or Contemporary. They simply don't know how to; they chose not to have train in it.
There is nothing wrong with not training in other genres. Many great musicians are only trained in one genre and became a specialist. But even more great musicians were trained in multiple disciplines. In a world that's increasingly global, where the competition is increasingly fierce, specialists are loosing out on many potential gigs because they simply cannot compete with others who are more versatile and well-rounded. Certainly not everyone wants to become a professional musician. Many simply want to enjoy the process of learning music. But I can easily name a handful of scenarios in a person's life where he or she may need more than just classical music skills. And it's simply a shame for anyone to spend ten plus years of their life to learn something, only to find themselves in a situation where they can't even do the most basic of thing like perform Happy Birthday.
So whether your goal is to play for yourself in the comfort of your home in Alhambra, or play some local church gigs in the San Gabriel Valley, or to become a world class musicians, the question really remains: Do you want to be the professionally trained musician who cannot play Happy Birthday on demand?
By Paul Kwo
No one can guarantee stardom.
But a career in entertainment is not the same as a desire to become a star. There are an enormous amount of people working in the entertainment business, and more specifically as performers who are not famous stars. They work on a regular basis as working actors, dancers and musicians at a wide variety of gigs, making a good sustainable living.
The road to becoming a performer or even working in the entertainment business is full of challenges. It is fun and exciting, but filled with obstacles to overcome. But with hard work and consistency, it is an achievable goal.
Being in Alhambra in the San Gabriel Valley, competing with the best of the best in the world in Los Angeles, the quality of talent is the highest in the world. It doesn't get any harder than this in Los Angeles. So to be competitive, it is vital to keep up our training and keep up our chops in whatever area it is that we are interested in working in. Every new skill puts us at an advantage over other people who are competing for the same jobs.
Whether it is in music, acting or dance, a good network of people is important. As a former coach of mine, Joe Hacker, always said, “Nobody does it alone in this industry.” It is vital that we acknowledge that we need to build up a good support team for ourselves. It isn't just knowing people who can get you work, but also know people who will give you the emotional support that you need to keep you going. We all need people to keep encouraging us as this industry is ruthless and will tear people down without the proper perspective.
With solid continual training and a good network of people in our mix, it is just a numbers game. Keep putting the numbers out there and eventually someone will bit. Something will happen. A career as a performer is a business, not a job. Every performer needs to understand what their brand is, what their business and sell that product with consistency. Keep tugging at it little by little until people start to take the bait. Eventually something will happen, and things will pile on and it will gain momentum.
Finally the career is a rollercoaster ride. It will have its ups and downs. It is not a continual climb upwards. There is no corporate ladder to climb. It is just a journey that requires patience and flexibility. It requires an adaptive spirit so that you can navigate the turmoils from the enormous amounts of rejections. And even the biggest stars can and will fall. It is all a matter of preparing ourselves for the times when we do fall so that we can get back up and pick ourselves up again and again. It is through this perseverance that performers shine through the rubble and become stars in their own right, and recognized among our peers.
PopRock Academy serves the San Gabriel Valley. We are located in the city of Alhambra, conveniently located near San Marino, South Pasadena, San Gabriel, Temple City, Arcadia, Monterey Park, Rosemead, El Monte, Highland Park, Eagle Rock, Montebello, Monorovia, Altadena and downtown Los Angeles.
by Steven Flores
Dance can do more for the human body than one might think. Yes, some only call dance a hobby, however, have you ever looked at the benefits of dance and how it can promote fitness and health in your life?
Dancing works the cardiovascular muscles which help the health of your heart. The intricacies of motion build lean muscle that articulate the ability to balance and mind/ body coordination during day to day tasks. Studies show that stretching on weekly (if not daily) bases decrees joint pain, muscle inflammation, and ligament issues up to 85% (danceformedicine.org). In fact, dancing can help in taking the pain away all together.
One of my students who is a victim of tendonitious in her hip flexor and is suffering from a pinch nerve in her lower back stated that her pain had significantly decreased within 4 weeks of taking dance class.
Dance has not only proven to be a great medicine and motivator for exercise but also enhances the mind. Studies show that people who dance have a better chance of sustaining memory and can multitask more easily. Unlike any exercise machine or class where it’s dealing with a repeated motion (like running) and not much power from the brain; dance, on the other hand, asks just as much of the brain as it does the body. Schools around the county have added dance to the physical education curriculum for that very reason. Dance builds the brain, self confidence and improves overall focus in students, "Getting a beat going in your body can get you out of a disorganized fog," says Karen Bradley, professor of dance at the University of Maryland. Rhythm, body, and motion take a single focus which not only improve your health but are valuable in your everyday life.
Ten Reasons To Participate
Dance keeps both the body and the brain active, vital for people of every age
Dance offers a way to improve strength and flexibility, which helps keep muscles and joints healthy
Choosing to start a new hobby can help you meet new people and make friends with people who have similar interests
Dance helps you learn about your body, improving your posture and balance
Taking time out in the day to partake in a hobby can help to reduce stress levels
Dance can offer insight into other cultures, either through the dance style itself or meeting new people
Dance can led to new career opportunities, or help build vital communications skills needed in every profession
Participating in dance can help increase your self esteem and confidence through mastering new skills
Dance offers a creative outlet for people to express their personalities in a safe environment
Dance is a fun way to open up new possibilities, keep healthy and enjoy yourself
What if I make mistakes when taking my first class?
One of the biggest concerns of a beginner dancer is that everyone is watching them and noting their mistakes.
Good news! People are usually not watching beginners. They are usually watching the more advanced dancers for tips to improve their own dancing. They understand making mistakes is part and parcel of learning to dance and are far more likely to congratulate you for your efforts. They've been where you are. So relax, have fun and dance for your self!
PopRock Academy service the San Gabriel Valley area. We are conveniently located in Alhambra, near San Marino and South Pasadena to the north, San Gabriel, Temple City and Arcadia to the east, Rosemead, Monterey Park to the South and downtown Los Angeles to the west.