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Congratulations to all of RMS’s students who participated in the 3rd International Young Muse International Competition! Representing our studio was Madison Au, Kazuma Hakushi, Ariana Hosseini, and Danielle Hon.

Danielle H. took home FIRST PLACE in the Elementary II Division, and Ariana H. took home FOURTH PLACE in the Elementary I Division. Both girls will be representing Regina’s Music Studio at Carnegie Hall on September 30, 2017.

All four of these students are part of RMS’s Accelerated Learning Program. To find out more, please visit our “Current Students” page under “Accelerated Learning Program.”

Bravo tutti, students!

Congratulations, ABRSM Candidates!

We would like to extend a warm congratulations to the following students for passing their ABRSM Examinations!
Caroline Wang (Grade 3, passed with distinction)
Sydney Lee (Grade 3, passed with distinction)
Troy Elsner (Grade 2, passed with merit)
Ariana Hosseini (Grade 1, passed with distinction)
All students passed with high scores (distinction requiring a score of at least 130 points and above, and merit requiring a score of at least 120.) A special congratulations goes to Sydney Lee and Ariana Hosseini, who scored one of the top two scores in all of Southern California in their grade category and have been invited to perform at the High Scorer’s Concert tomorrow in Santa Monica. Bravissimo, girls!
Students who participate in ABRSM undergo rigorous training with hour-lessons twice per week, lesson and performance classes, ear training and aural skills classes, and more. These kids have worked incredibly hard and their work has paid off!
Caroline Wang and Troy Elsner have been Ms. Regina’s students for two and a half years, Sydney Lee has been Ms. Regina’s student for one and a half years, and Ariana Hosseini has been studying piano with Ms. Regina for ten months.
Congratulations, everyone!

How to Practice Anything

DSC08656Is it possible to practice at the piano without making mistakes?

The answer is yes.

Some of the replies I’ve heard to my ridiculous answer include:

“But, how?! HOW, Ms. Regina? Is there some kind of secret sorcery I don’t know about the piano? Do I wave my magic wand and all of a sudden, my fingers know what to do?”

“NO. WAY. I don’t believe it. I refuse to believe it.”

“Why can’t I make mistakes? I won’t be able to LEARN if I don’t make mistakes!”

But here’s a serious question for you: why do we allow ourselves to make mistakes—really? Do we expect our children to fail their academic classes “a few times” before they learn from their mistakes and score good grades on their report cards? Do we learn how to drive a car by getting in the car and hoping for the best, rather than learning step-by-step how to properly drive it? And even if we do make mistakes, do we continue to repeat the mistake, or do we pinpoint the error and fix it immediately? If a child brings home a math test and it contains mistakes, would you expect the child to figure out what the mistakes are and fix it for next time? Or would you encourage him or her to just “do it again and try harder”? Is “trying harder” constructive feedback?

In the words of Craig Richey (MM Juilliard School of Music) and Mary Jo Pagano (DMA Manhattan School of Music), “Practicing is the act of forming habits. So imagine that practice is sacred time in which you are in control of whether or not you will foster good habits, which lead to great results, or bad habits, which lead to frustration, lack of productivity, and slow progress, if any. With every element of every passage (i.e.: notes, rhythms, phrasing, tone, dynamics, pedaling, expression, interpretation), the student is programming exactly what he or she wants.”

This is called practicing to perform. Rather than practicing “notes first”, or “rhythm first”, it is always a smart thing to learn everything together as a collective idea. The idea of processing every element of music all at once can be overwhelming; hence, we frequently practice difficult passages hands separately first, and then hands together. We also practice slowly in order to allow our brains to control our fingers, rather than our fingers playing by chance and hoping for the best. As Richey stated, “The magic secret to all of this is tempo.” It really is that simple! There is always a tempo at which you can accomplish successfully exactly what you are focusing on at the moment.

While practicing, students should practice with INTENTION. This means beginning a practice session knowing what he or she will practice—that is, which piece(s), which section(s), and what mistake(s). Be sure to set reasonable, achievable goals! Imagine throwing a ball into a waste basket five times in a row. If you stand next to the basket, you will easily make it in and quickly become bored. If you stand too far, you may only make it in once, or not at all. This becomes frustrating. The key is to find the spot between “boredom” and “frustration”—and that is the reasonable goal!

Specifically in piano playing, every intention during practice you have requires a specific “gesture.” Your level of awareness to the gesture coupled with deep listening will ultimately grant you the highest level and accuracy of playing. When we practice to perform, students avoid making mistakes, do not play a note until they are 100% certain the note will come out correctly, and pay careful attention to every detail in a piece. Therefore, this enables the possibility of a high-leveled performance. Rather than making a mistake and fixing it, it is better to play at a slow tempo and play correctly from the beginning.

Playing with “no mistakes” not only refers to playing the correct notes—it also refers to every element tied in with that note. Is the phrase played musically? Is the rhythm correct? Is the tempo at a reasonable speed? Are my dynamics shaping the line? Is my fingering accurate? These are some examples of things that can go “missing” while drilling for “no mistakes”—think beyond just the notes themselves!

While this information may sound like it could only apply to higher-leveled pieces (i.e.: students learning Schubert, Chopin, Bach, Beethoven, etc.), the “level of awareness” factor begins from the very first lesson; hence, I encourage all students to apply this method to their practice time—that includes students learning from Piano Adventures, Piano Town, Music for Little Mozarts, Music Tree, and more.

I encourage all students to step out of their comfort zone while practicing and attempt to make zero mistakes during their practice time. Even if the tempo he or she takes is slow, that is 100% fine! They will be actively learning and listening to the accuracy and sound quality that he or she creates. When a student plays a passage ten times, and fumbles the first nine times and finally gets it correct on the tenth time, he or she still has a 90% chance of making the same mistake the next time. Work for a practice section that is small enough (don’t go further than that section!) and slow enough (don’t play faster than the original practice tempo!) that is accurate 100% of the time. Try to NOT play a note until you know YOU WILL BE CORRECT.

And lastly—make sure you congratulate yourself when you have finally achieved accuracy to the point where you are confident that you will almost never fumble at that section!SUMMARY OF HOW TO PRACTICE:

1) Set reasonable goals! Concentrate on one problem at a time. Rather than “timing” practice sessions, set a number of goals (i.e.: three goals) and achieve them—that way, your practice session is done once you’ve completed those goals.

2) Practice at a tempo slow enough for your brain to communicate with your fingers on exactly which notes to play AND how to play them! When practicing, you learn:

a) VISUALLY (seeing sheet music, hands, keys)

b) AUDIBLY (hearing correct notes, shaping/phrasing, dissonance/consonance)

c) ANALYTICALLY (analyzing chords, patterns, fingering, dynamics, phrasing), and

d) KINESTHETICALLY (muscle memory)

*kinesthetic learning is one of the most important reasons on why not to make

mistakes while practicing—you could be teaching your muscles how to memorize

the WRONG thing!)

3) Be confident in your playing—when you are practicing a section, make sure you are honest with yourself: do you feel confident that you will always play that section accurately? If not, play again, slowly, and be confident while playing those passages.

4) Always actively listen to the sound quality that is produced. Breathing is totally encouraged!

5) Avoid making mistakes—if you’re making mistakes, your goals may not be concise enough, or you may be playing too quickly! Feel free to adjust or simplify your goals (slower? smaller section? just tap rhythm? just play intervals? etc.)

REMEMBER—practicing is brain training. If you can nail down practicing the piano, you will learn everything else in life with ease!

Best of luck!

-Ms. Regina

July 2016

Spring 2016 Student Recital is ALMOST HERE!

IMG_9700Hey, readers! Here’s a quick note that our Spring 2016 Student Recital is
quickly approaching! Check out the bottom for details!

WHO: You, your family, and our wonderful performers!
WHAT: RMS’s Spring 2016 Student Recital
WHERE: South Pasadena Public Library Community Room (1100 Oxley Street, South Pasadena, CA 91030)
WHEN: Saturday, May 28, 2016 @ 1:00pm
COST: It’s FREE to the public! (We accept donations either before or after the concert as well!)

Can’t wait to see you all!IMG_0081

New Student Video!

Happy Friday, everyone! Check out our video of one of our eight year old students, Natalie, playing Flaneur by Elissa Milne, from her very popular jazz series “Little Peppers”!


Flaneur, by Elissa Milne (Regina’s Music Studio)A year ago, this little girl, a transfer student, couldn’t read notes. She had bad posture and tense arms. I’m so proud of her today; this is one of her favorite pieces (in progress.)Flaneur, by Elissa Milne

Posted by Regina Ngo on Thursday, September 10, 2015

Congratulations to ABRSM Students!

huge congratulations to the following students for passing their ABRSM Exams!

  • Parker Gooden (Grade 1) — Distinction
  • Troy Singh Elsner (Grade 1) — Distinction
  • Sydney Lee (Grade 2) — Distinction
  • Elizabeth Lai (Grade 3) — Distinction

All of the students listed above scored in the top percentile of ABRSM test takers in their Grade categories, and have been invited to perform at the High Scorers’ Concert. Come listen to them perform on Saturday, December 5th, 2015 @ 4:00-6:00pm. The location will be at the Steinway Gallery Pasadena, 150 E Colorado Blvd, Suite 101, Pasadena, CA 91105.

Bravissimo, students!!


Parker Gooden, Grade 1


Troy Elsner, Grade 1


Sydney Lee, Grade 2


Elizabeth Lai, Grade 3

June Update: Regina’s Music Studio

Dear friends and families,

So much has been happening at Regina’s Music Studio that it’s been nearly impossible for me to set aside time to update the blog! Here’s what’s been going on. 🙂

We just had a very, very successful student recital! Almost all students performed, and we had a record # of attendees at the Steinway Gallery in Pasadena, CA. There were many first time new students who played wonderfully, as well as many veteran students who came and performed with drastic improvements. Ms. Andrea and I are so proud of all of you! We will have photos uploaded very, very soon.

So what’s next? Well, a few things…

  • I am going to be on concert tour in Europe for the month, so all lessons will be taught by Ms. Andrea! I will be touring in Austria and Italy, in big cities like Vienna, Salzburg, Florence, Venice, and Padua. It is a very exciting time, and I can’t wait to share my performing adventures with all of you. 🙂 The schedule will remain the same for all of you, so don’t worry!
  • I will be introducing a student corner soon, with journal entries from students from the studio. They will fill you in on their piano journeys and let you know how their adventure is going!
  • I will begin featuring a student of the month. These are students that work exceptionally hard and show vast improvements. Here at RMS, where our youngest student is 3 and our oldest is 70, there are students from all walks of life who want to share their journey with you. 🙂
  • Ms. Andrea and I are in the works of doing pop up concerts. This means that every few months, we will perform some repertoire we have been working on for the students, because we are looking to inspire and motivate you and your children. What better way than to have the instructors perform?
  • I am working on setting up performance classes. What this means is that students can come into the studio once or twice a month to play for each other in a positive environment with constructive feedback and peer encouragement. It will have a casual, laid back atmosphere, and also provide an opportunity for the children to get to know one another.
  • I am working on setting up ensemble classes. Piano can be such a lonely instrument, and I have brought up the idea of having students play in pairs or in groups with a few of you, and the general consensus is that it’s a great idea! We will be offering duet classes very soon, and trio classes after RMS gets an additional piano for the studio. 🙂

So there you have it, everyone! RMS is busy, busy, busy, but we are all setting out to do massive, wonderful things. Thank you for being part of the family!


Ms. Regina

April Update: Welcome, Ms. Andrea!

Hello Families!

I’m extremely excited to welcome a new substitute instructor to the studio! Andrea Choi, a fellow colleague of mine from The University of Southern California, will be joining the RMS family starting in May. Ms. Andrea has worked with students of all ages and levels, and specializes in teaching beginning piano to children from ages 2—10 as well as advanced leveled high school students. I will be adding her biography and teaching philosophy to the studio website very soon, and it will be accessible under the tab “About the Instructors” at

You may contact her with any questions you may have by emailing and writing “ATTN: Ms. Andrea” in the subject line.

I am very excited to have Ms. Andrea as part of the RMS family, and I’m very confident that you will be, too! Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions or comments.


Ms. Regina

Studio of the Year? You’re Kidding!

Hi families!

I would like to share an exciting update to all of you: Regina’s Music Studio has officially been voted the #1 Best Business of South Pasadena for Musical Instruments and Teachers! This ranking is based on the honest reviews found on Yelp, as well as the way that RMS instructs their students.

We were given this title because of our commitment to the community and our belief that music lessons in South Pasadena should be accessible to those who seek it. Our studio is unique and different because we have students who are as young as 2 and as old as 70–and we always find the right method and approach in teaching them to fulfill their highest potential.

To read the official press release, click on this link: press-release

Thank you for this amazing, amazing honor!2014


Ms. Regina

Regina’s Music Studio

New Year, New Resolutions (PIANO Resolutions?)

Dear Families,

Happy New Year! This is always such an exciting time–it gives us a moment to reflect on our choices in 2014, and to think about what we can do better in 2015. Which brings me to the topic of…

New Year’s Resolutions.

These can almost quite certainly be a joke to all of us, because we break most of the ones we make, but this can be a healthy activity to teach your children about making goals and sticking with them.

Every week, I always have one student come in and say, “Eh, I meant to get around to the piano, but I got distracted…” Over the course of December, I began experimenting with the idea of practice charts, and what kind of impact they would have on student productivity. When I ask students if they always complete school homework, they almost always say, “Yes–I have to!” When I asked them what the difference between school homework and piano homework was, most of the responses I get are a sheepish, “Nothing…really….” But what one student said this winter changed my perspective on practicing.


Lee, at this time 9 years old, learning his five-finger scales.

This student said to me (and not in an ill manner), “Well, we don’t have anything to turn in. If you forget to do your homework at school, you have nothing to turn in, and the teacher gets mad, and then your parents get mad, and then your report card gets bad. If we forget to practice, it doesn’t matter as much, I guess, because there’s no physical thing to show you that we did it or didn’t do it.”

Geez, he had a point. Not having something to turn in creates an accountability issue, because there isn’t anything physical to prove whether a student practiced or not. So the following week, I began drawing practice charts in some of the students’ practice notebooks, and mapped out their goals and the time it would take to complete those goals. “What do you want to get done in this piece?” I asked. Some said, “I want to finish this by next week!” Others said, “I reaaaaally want to get to the cool part of this one.”

Goals are different for every child and I help the students realize what goals are wise to set, and which are a little too easy or too difficult to obtain in a one week time frame. This is why not every child will practice for the same amount of time. It depends on their schedule, other extracurricular activities, parents’ schedules (sometimes), and, honestly, what they want out of piano lessons. Some kids want to be able to play movie music–great! Others really want to “get good” at playing Bach and Beethoven. The amount of time that each student practices simply isn’t going to be the same.

Which brings me to my newest “invention” for RMS: Practice Charts. After the month long experiment, almost all of the students showed consistent progress in their pieces. All because they had something to turn in! It blew my mind, to be honest.

So, parents, here is the newly designed practice chart for your eager learner! You can download and print the PDF here. It is also available under the Students tab as “Practice Chart Print-Out.”

Piano Practice Chart

The piano practice chart, available for download.

Owl incentive sticker charts. Students can redeem these for prizes!

Owl incentive sticker charts. Students can redeem these for prizes!

TIP: For super-duper effectiveness on using this practice chart, pair this chart with their sticker incentive charts they they bring home every week. If they’re able to practice every day, they can put stickers on their charts to turn in for awesome new prizes from the prize box.

Happy New Year, and have a musical month!


Ms. R