Music Box New Westminster Music School Monthly Newsletter –
February 2016

Music Box Monthly

February 2016

Happy Valentines Day! We’ve had a lot of chocolate this weekend, I hope you have too ūüėČ

This February we’re getting to work¬†planning our June Recitals (Save the Dates:¬†June 21/22),¬†an extra exciting concert with the choir¬†Van Decca¬†(Date TBA) and looking forward to our¬†Spring Break Camps.

Below is an article first written for, but good for anywhere/anytime. Enjoy your week!

Vashti Fairbairn

Why play the Piano first? Why not the Flute? A parents guide to Private Music Lessons

Why consider some instruments at an earlier age over others? How does one assess if it is the right instrument?


Piano is the generally the most popular and successful instrument to start with from a young age. Most children can successfully begin at age 4 (this was me many years ago!) or 5. Occasionally, some children can begin as young as age 3.5 (lessons for ages 3-5 year olds generally incorporate a number of off the piano activities to reinforce piano skills in new and interesting ways. Instruments, colouring and movement may be incorporated depending on the teacher and needs of student). Skills to have mastered; Left/Right hands, recognize letters A-G (no need to be reading yet though), strong fingers with a high level of finger independence (how would you evaluate their fine motor skills? can they do up a button yet?). Piano is a great foundation for all instrument study, music reading is transferable to any instrument, the finger strength, rhythm and theory skills that piano study builds alone are irreplaceable.


Ukulele is a wonderful instrument for young children. Generally speaking, this instrument is best started at age 5 and can sometimes be started as early as age 4. Skills they should have mastered; Left/Right hands, be able to recognize letters A-G. Strong fingers, with good finger independence (though not as important as it is in Piano). Ukulele is also a wonderful instrument for children who would eventually like to move to Guitar. Do you have a child who loves to sing but not yet ready for voice lessons? Children can learn (mostly from example) to sing and accompany themselves at a young age. Take for example my daughter *gushing mother* who is 3.5 in this vid (*update: 4.5 now), she is not ready for voice lessons, but I am considering placing her in Ukulele lessons this Fall so she can have more fun singing along with herself (*update: she is in piano lessons now :))


Guitar is a great instrument to begin at age 6 or 7, (to note for petite children ‚Äď only with the right sized guitar ‚Äď please speak to an instructor about the best size for your sized child). At this age it is best to start on an acoustic guitar with nylon strings, then transitioning into steel strings or electric guitar if desired. Children must have strong fingers (much stronger than Ukulele to fret the notes) and be comfortable with developing calluses.

Flute or Clarinet

Flute is a wonderful great first wind instrument, best started at age 8. Children need time to develop lung capacity and grow their little bodies (holding instruments away from your body for extended periods of time is tiring!) so no earlier is recommended. A wonderful precursor to the flute or clarinet however is the Recorder, which is great to begin at age 6.


The Violin can be very successful at age 5 if the child shows an interest. Unlike the piano, the violin is not as initially gratifying to listen to¬†😉¬†However, this beautiful instrument is great for developing a keen sense of pitch and heightened listening as one must be diligent on each sound made being in tune. Fine motor skills must be well developed here for a small fingerboard, good wrist flexibility for careful bowing and acknowledgment that sometimes arms will get tired from holding the instrument. Thankfully violins come in a large assortment of sizes, all the way down to 1/16th of the original size, be sure your child is fitted properly and always playing the correct size. The violin is also a great precursor to the cello, which is best started at age 8 or 9.


Voice lessons are best started at age 8. Much like the Flute and Clarinet, time is needed to develop lung capacity and grow! However, lessons can sometimes be started as early as 6 years old with the right teacher who takes care to guide the voice gently with repertoire and technique that is age, voice maturity and range appropriate. Voice training has many benefits, but less known to point out are ‚Äď aiding in speech impediments, lisps, dealing with a new retainer or braces and finding a full voice for speeches or acting. To note ‚Äď voice lessons are a wonderful compliment to piano or guitar learning where one can eventually learn to accompany themselves while singing and can provide a sound theoretical base for the voice.


Private drum lessons at age 6-8¬†are great if there is strong interest shown. Aptitude for rhythm can be indicated very early on in life (perhaps a gift of a toy drum they love to sing and play with?) and generally speaking you may be able to tell if your child is naturally rhythmic much earlier than 8 years old. Things to look for ‚Äď strong coordination, beating beats on the kitchen table, love of dance, can clap (or tap, or beat on the table, etc) a steady beat, can clap back accurately what you clap, can clap along in time with music. However, the beauty of music training is ‚Äď these things we look for to see if there is a natural tonal or rhythmic ability with any instrument ‚Äď can all be developed with desire & study! Hooray!

-Vashti Fairbairn is a local New West music and piano teacher, owner of Music Box New Westminster’s Music Academy at the New Westminster River Market & a new Second location to serve you at 630 Carnarvon. You can learn more about raising your children musically at

-This post was first published on July 5th 2015 on


Reminder:Spring Break ‚Äď March 15-19th & 22-26th

No regular private lessons¬†‚Äď please note: Monday students still have lessons as normal.

Teacher of the Month 

Our teacher of the month for February is Ms. Ju Dee Ang! Ju Dee teaches Violin for children to adults.

Background: Too many degrees! BA in Mathematical Economics(!) and Music Brown University, Master of Music Indiana University, Doctor of Musical Arts University of Wisconsin.

Favourite Food: Crisp crusty crackly croissants that ooze butter. As all croissants should.

Favourite thing to do on the Weekend:¬†The one absolutely most wonderful thing we’ve done lately on a weekend was birdwatching at the Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary in Delta. First time we ever saw owls in the wild!

Fun Fact:¬†The one musical work I’ve performed the most times is Phantom of the Opera (70 times, in the pit orchestra). By the end I could play it all from memory (not anymore, phew).

Teaching Style/Philosophy: I follow a fairly organized method derived from my pedagogy training in graduate school, but I do adapt it to the needs of each student, particularly my adult students who often have favorite songs that they want to be able to play. I also really believe in having fun during lessons.

Ju Dee has ONE spot left on Mondays and is adding Wednesdays in April. We advise getting on the waitlist now for this wonderful teacher! 

Please welcome the 31 new students
who enrolled for private music lessons at MusicBox this January!
Sarah K
Sarah S


Current Private Lesson Students who refer others who successful enrol for lessons with us get = 1 free MONTH of lessons! Thank you to everyone this January who referred their friends. Our success is your success! 
*Immediate family members and members of the same household are not eligible for the referral program, but are eligible for 1 free private lesson registration fee. Please contact the office for details.* 

MUSIC FUN FACT: Your heart beat changes and mimics the music you listen to!
Sabrielle manning our Farmers Market booth on a rainy Saturday. Have you been to the Royal City Uptown Farmers Market yet? Next one is February 20th!
A young helper from a Mini Music class drawing names to win 2 free music lessons. Congratulations to Dylan & Janice!
Is YOUR Teacher Sold Out?
Teachers With Waiting Lists.

Many teachers have sold out. If you need a schedule change or would like to be added to a waiting list for a particular teacher, day or time, please contact any of our office manager Josee and she can add you to the waiting list. If you are not a student yet there are still limited lessons spots available. To inquire about openings for September send an e-mail to Or you can call the Carnarvon office 604-553-1176 Monday-Friday after 12pm or Saturday after 9am.

Angelica Kim¬†‚ÄĘ Flute & Piano – Fridays: Two¬†Spots Left. Saturdays: SOLD OUT

Daniel Cheung¬†‚ÄĘ Guitar – Mondays: ONE¬†Spot¬†Left. Fridays: Three¬†Spots Left. Saturday: Two Spots Left.

Ian James¬†‚ÄĘ Guitar & Drums – Tuesdays: ONE Spot¬†Left.

Ju Dee Ang¬†‚ÄĘ Violin¬†– Mondays: ONE¬†Spot Left. Wednesdays: Opening in April, get on waitlist now.

Mojca Slokan¬†‚ÄĘ Piano – Mondays: SOLD OUT.¬†Saturdays: Two Spots Left.

Nicole Dale¬†‚ÄĘ Voice & Piano – Mondays: ONE¬†Spot¬†Left. Saturdays: ONE Spot Left.

Christina Madarasz¬†‚ÄĘ Voice & Piano – Tuesdays: Two Spots Left. Wednesdays: ONE¬†Spot Left. Thursdays: SOLD OUT.

Lynn Yang¬†‚ÄĘ Piano & Voice – Tuesdays: Two Spots Left. Thursdays: Two Spots Left.

Sandra Fernandez¬†‚ÄĘ Voice & Piano –¬†Tuesdays: Three¬†Spots Left. Wednesdays: ONE¬†Spot¬†Left. Fridays: ONE¬†Spot¬†Left.

Steve Marshall¬†‚ÄĘ Guitar, Drums & Voice¬†– Wednesdays: ONE¬†Spot Left. Thursdays: ONE Spot Left.

Stefani Yap¬†‚ÄĘ Piano – Wednesdays: ONE¬†Spot¬†Left. Thursdays: ONE Spot Left.¬†Fridays: ONE Spot Left.

Samantha Perks¬†‚ÄĘ Piano –¬†Saturdays: SOLD OUT.

Taylor Hastings¬†‚ÄĘ Voice – Saturdays: ONE¬†Spot Left.

Did you read your newsletter this month?

Each month we pull the name of one of our students to win a prize. This month’s prize is a $25.00 gift certificate for any Music Box service or product.
This month’s winner is Anna Nikulina!
Congrats Anna & please contact the office to claim your prize.

Did you enjoy this December’s Picture Day?

Want to get your child’s picture taken for free by a professional photographer?

The next Picture day is coming in June and is open to all current Music Box Music Academy students! *Must be a CURRENT student to participate.

It’s easy to take the next step:

Lessons are first come, first serve
so contact us today to arrange your first lesson!

Or e-mail

2 Locations to Serve You in Downtown New Westminster!

630 Carnarvon street, New Westminster, BC
(Near the intersection of 6th and Carnarvon, just down from the Brick & Motar shop)

211-810 Quayside Drive, New Westminster, BC
(1 block from the Skytrain, at the New Westminster Quay, 2nd floor of the River Market)

Offering quality guitar, voice, ukulele, drums, flute and piano lessons in New Westminster.