United Conservatory of Music - January 2020




STUDENTS OVER EGO Why Does UCM Have so Many Teachers?

When I was first learning music, I discovered very early that private instructors can be really hit-or-miss. That’s because I missed a lot. They weren’t bad teachers — in fact, most of my instructors were very talented musicians — but they rarely connected with me as a student. I have always learned best when I’m shown something, but unfortunately, most of my instructors insisted on telling me why I should or shouldn’t do something a certain way instead of showing me with their skills. I was a stubborn kid, so when instructors told me something rather than showed me, I would keep doing things my own way. This pattern ended up setting me back irreparably. I didn’t realize what a difference a good teacher would make until I met my first great instructor in my 20s. I’m a good violinist, but I’m nowhere near as skilled as I could have been had I found the right instructors earlier in my life. This is why I care so deeply about making sure our students at the United Conservatory of Music really click with their teachers. If you don’t connect with your instructor, it’s going to be hard to learn something, much less develop a passion for it. Connecting with your instructor is key in any subject. At UCM, we hire many different teachers, so if a student feels like they aren’t getting what they need from their current instructor, they can see if they work better with another instructor’s teaching style. Our teachers know from personal experience the importance of having a music instructor you really click with, so if a student wants to try a different teacher, there are no bruised egos or hurt feelings. Ultimately, our goal is to see students fall in love with music, no matter which teacher they end up choosing. “If you don’t connect with your instructor, it’s going to be hard to learn something, much less develop a passion for it.”

In some cases, a private lesson with an instructor might not be the best fit either, especially for younger musicians. Young children can have a really hard time focusing in private lessons, but music has been shown to help with childhood

development. This is why we’re introducing additional group classes, including our Little Shakers and Jr. Shakers children’s classes.

Younger kids need a basic, fun introduction to music, and we’ve found group lessons to be the best environment for that. We’ve created these new classes so kids of similar ages and abilities can be introduced to music together. The goal is to build a good foundation until they reach the point where they’re ready to graduate into private lessons. In addition to making sure students have access to the right teachers and the right lessons, my goal is to see that the rest of UMC is a welcoming environment. Our staff is friendly and dedicated to our mission of helping students of all ages develop the skills to enjoy music for a lifetime. At every level of the school, we seek to put our students’ needs first. I can’t go back and help myself, but by creating an uplifting environment with qualified staff and many talented teachers to work with, I can help my students today.

—Christopher Scherer

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Tips for National Clean Up Your Computer Month

Everyone relies on technology. Computers, laptops, tablets, and phones are staples of modern life. However, it’s easy for these devices to become cluttered with old photos, files, and general disorganization. Luckily, January is National Clean Up Your Computer Month and an excellent time to get your technology in order.

Imagine you’re navigating a vast airport on a busy Saturday, shouldering your way through crowds and struggling to hear the PA system over the clatter of 1,000 wheeled suitcases. Suddenly, you see a pig wearing a hot pink sweater waddling toward you on a leash. Do you stop in your tracks? Does your stress level drop? Do you laugh out loud when you see its pink nail polish? If you answered “yes” to any of the above, then you can sympathize with the passengers, pilots, flight attendants, and staff at the San Francisco International Airport. They get to enjoy visits from Lilou, the world’s first airport therapy pig, on a regular basis! As part of the Wag Brigade, the airport’s cadre of (mostly canine) therapy animals, Lilou wanders the airport with her humans, bringing joy, peace, and calm to everyone she meets. Lilou may be the only pig of her kind, but airport therapy animals have been a growing trend for the last few years. According to NPR, as of 2017, more than 30 airports across the U.S. employed therapy dogs, and these days, estimates land closer to 60. The San Jose and Denver airports have therapy cats, and the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport even offers passengers the chance to play with miniature horses before boarding their flights. Therapy dogs started appearing in U.S. airports after the 9/11 terror attacks, which changed American attitudes about flying. They did so well at helping passengers calm down that airports began implementing permanent programs. Some have pets on hand 24/7 to assist passengers, while others host animal visits every few weeks or months. These days, regular travelers have fallen hard for their local therapy animals, many of whom even have their own Instagram accounts and hashtags. So, the next time you’re traveling, keep an eye out for a friendly pup, cat, pig, or horse to pet. A bit of love from an animal just might improve your trip! MEET THE WORLD’S FIRST AIRPORT THERAPY PIG How Lilou and Animals Like Her Calm Stressed-Out Travelers


Over time, computer towers can become clogged with dust, which creates additional, unwanted heat within your computer. Regular cleanings will increase the lifespan of your computer and protect its essential components. Compressed air is great for removing most of the dust and other particulates. If the fans or filters are too dirty, you can remove them from the tower to clean them better. If you use water or liquid cleaning products on them, be sure they are completely dry before placing them back into your computer.


Naming and arranging the files on your computer in such a way that they’re easy for you to find can end up saving you a lot of time. Declutter your workspace by creating one file for pictures, one for Word documents, one for spreadsheets, and one for programs to eliminate the hassle of frantically searching for the files you need.


Be sure to back up your computer before you start deleting things. This acts as a safety net in case you delete something you didn’t mean to. Additionally, consider installing a second hard drive. The extra space can help with storing important

files without having to worry about how much room is left.


Any files you’ll never use again should be deleted. Likewise, any

programs you haven’t used in a while should be uninstalled. Check your hard drive for files that might be taking up unintended space on your computer. And remember to empty the recycling bin — it’s easy to

forget just how much goes in there.

2 • unitedconservatory.org

ESCAPE TO A WINTER WONDERLAND Chill Out in These Frosty Destinations Snow is magical and gorgeous — unless you have to commute in it. If you want to enjoy all the wonder that winter has to offer without the hassle, why not turn it into a vacation? Here are a few breathtaking, snow-covered destinations that any winter lover can enjoy. Above the city of Gyeongju, this ancient Buddhist temple has stood on the slopes of Tohamsan Mountain since the eighth century. Bulguksa, or “Temple of the Buddha Land,” is South Korea’s No. 1 UNESCOWorld Heritage Site, making it a popular attraction for domestic and international tourism. The crowds and school tours die down during the winter, however, which also happens to be when Bulguksa is at its most pristine. The iced-over lotus ponds and snow-dusted pagodas add to the sense of tranquility this site naturally exudes. If you want the feel of a ski trip to the Alps without the packed slopes and ritzy resorts, the Dolomites are just for you. Located in northeastern Italy, this stunning mountain range is home to some of the best skiing in Europe, as well as many historical sites. The secluded villages that dot the mountain valleys are an attraction in their own right, especially for the rustic cuisine you’ll find there. Don’t expect pasta though. This region is a melting pot of flavors from Austria, northern Italy, and the local Ladin people. Ricotta and sauerkraut pancakes, anyone? THE DOLOMITES, SOUTH TYROL, ITALY BULGUKSA TEMPLE, SOUTH KOREA


This is the one entry on this list that is best enjoyed during the summer

months, which is December– February in the Southern Hemisphere, because that’s when the freezing temperatures of the southernmost

continent are at their most hospitable. The Antarctic has

become an increasingly popular tourist destination, with cruises taking adventure seekers through the vast, untouched beauty of this far-flung destination. Some tourists even enjoy kayaking or cross-country skiing through this icy paradise.



Inspired by Epicurious


1 smoked ham hock

1 cup dried black-eyed peas

1 medium onion, diced

5–6 cups water

1 cup long-grain white rice

1 dried hot pepper, optional (arbol and Calabrian are great options)



Wash and sort peas.

2. In a saucepan, cover peas with water, discarding any that float. 3. Add pepper, ham hock, and onion. Gently boil and cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, until peas are just tender, about 90 minutes. At this point, you should have about 2 cups of liquid remaining. 4. Add rice, cover, drop heat to low, and simmer for 20 minutes, undisturbed. 5. Remove from heat and let steam for an additional 10 minutes, still covered. 6. Remove lid, fluff with a fork, and serve.

Solution on Page 4

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559.869.8263 www.unitedconservatory.org Mon-Fri: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sat-Sun: 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.


INSIDE 1 4747 North First Street, Ste. 185 Fresno, CA 93726

What Makes a Good Teacher?


Meet the World’s First Airport Therapy Pig Enter 2020 With an Organized Computer


Real Winter Wonderlands Hoppin’ John Tips to Establish a Family Media Use Plan


SCREEN-TIME STRATEGIES How to Set a Family Media Use Plan


With 24/7 media exposure from TVs, computers, and

smartphones, it feels like life is dominated by screens. Consider implementing a media use plan for your family so they don’t miss out on the real world.

Don’t shy away from warning your kids about what exists in the digital world. Explain to them that certain content isn’t age-appropriate, and teach them what movie and TV ratings mean. Remind them to be careful about what they put on the internet because anything they upload never really goes away. Teach them to be smart with their decisions. Connect with them on social media if it helps you keep an eye on things.



Limiting the time your children spend staring at a screen is good for their health. Try to keep screen- time usage to under two hours per day. Implement a rule for no screens at mealtimes, and keep all screens out of bedrooms at night. Keep track of the devices by having a communal charging dock in a shared area where you can make

Take an active role in what your children watch by co-viewing programs with them. You’ll have a better sense of what they’re seeing and can point them toward the programming that’s right for them. Look for educational media choices that teach good values. There are a lot of great educational opportunities on the internet, but there’s also a lot of room for negative exposure. If this is a concern, keep the family computer in a public part of your home so you can see what they’re accessing online. It’s important to educate your children about proper media health, but it’s even more important to encourage your kids to be healthy in other ways. Beyond the tips mentioned above, encourage them to play outdoors and read physical books so they can participate more actively in the real world.

sure everything is plugged in for the night.

4 • unitedconservatory.org

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Q. What do you feel are the benefits of a child studying music? A: I believe that music can be a great discipline for young students to take up; most every instrument can become a career or a lifelong skill. And it’s fun! Q: What is your favorite type of music? A: Besides classical music, my favorite type of music is definitely country music! Q: What do you like the most about teaching at UCM? A: The thing that I most like about teaching at the United Conservatory of Music is being among the faculty and staff as they are some of the most supportive individuals/coworkers I’ve ever met! Q. What are some things most people don’t know about you? A: Some things that most people don’t know about me are that I do tai chi and I’m a world traveler. I know that tai chi is associated with elderly people, but I find it really enjoyable because it helps slow things down for me and helps my posture. I say I’m a world traveler because I’ve been to six different countries! Q: What is your favorite thing about the piano? A: Shirley’s favorite thing about the piano is when she plays at home and we gather around as a family and sing the songs with her as she plays. It is fun to hear the sounds all together as she serves as the accompanist. Q: What do you like most about lessons and how long have you taken lessons here? A: Shirley’s favorite thing about the lessons is being able to get to the point of playing a song all the way through with perfection and hear the beautiful sound from start to finish. Greg is always so supportive of her practicing and learning the songs. Q: What is a favorite piece of yours that you’ve played? A: Shirley loves all the songs! Some that stand out to her are “The Dreydl Song” from her Piano Adventures book, and several from her binder, such as “Kumbayah,” “Alouette,” and “Minuet in G.” Of course, she also loves her recital piece, “Standing in the Need of Prayer.” Staff Spotlight: Elton

Q: What are some other hobbies or activities you participate in? A: Shirley is in the LIFE group at University High School, or UHS. It is a group of Christian students who come together to worship and spend time together once a week. She also participates in the Red Cross Club which brings in guest speakers to talk about pre-med topics. She enjoys working with the Interact Club, the on-campus service club. She is a member of the California Scholarship Federation as well. One of her favorite hobbies is dirt bike riding, especially at Hollister Hills. She also enjoys family trips to Magic Mountain. Q: Would you recommend UCM to friends/family? A: Shirley would “most definitely” recommend UCM to friends and family! It has a very fun and supportive atmosphere where you can work to master any instrument that you would like to play.

Elton was born and raised in Fresno, California. He began playing

the violin at the age of 10 and later decided to play the cello. Currently, he is a double major in history and cello performance at California State University, Fresno, where he is studying cello under the mentorship of Dr. Thomas Loewenheim. His previous teachers include Julie Alvarado and Leo Kim. Since then, Elton has studied and performed in masterclasses for Lynn Harrell, Tsuyoshi Tsutsumi, Emilio Colon, Thomas Landschoot, and Jonathan Ruck. He has also been a member of the Clovis North String Quartet and has performed as a soloist with the Clovis North Chamber Orchestra.

Q: What are things YOU like most about teaching? A: Some things that I really enjoy most about teaching are seeing the progress that my students make every week in their lesson and passing the traditions of music-making on to my students. Every time I see and hear my students play better than they did last week, even if it’s just playing one more note correctly, it always makes me happy because they are making progress. Being able to teach my students what I have been taught from my teachers is also something I really like because I am passing on teachings and musical traditions that are more than 100 years old! Q: How do you inspire student practice more? A: This is a really hard question as it’s not a “one size fits all” for every student. For me, I personally give my students multiple options of what piece or song they really want to work on (within reasonable capability) because you really learn a lot more when you are practicing something you enjoy or like. Not only do you learn more, but also you are more likely motivated to practice more because you simply enjoy a certain piece or song!

We loved seeing you all at the recitals! Everyone played fantastically!

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PLEASE WELCOME THE NEW STUDENTS WHO ENROLLED IN NOVEMBER Robin G., Liliane R., Ethan M., Eric V., Jackson B., Raelynn B., Savannah P., Makinley P., Kelson P., Laureli M., Jameson I., Lizette Z., Belle M., Cashlin C., Trinity R., Wang T., Shirin M., Zaria W., Amir W., Camille V., and Amelie B.

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