With over 12 years at the Community School of Performing Arts, the Chun family continues to showcase their commitment to the Community School, arts education, and the Colburn community.
At the Community School of Performing Arts, we strive to create a nurturing environment to support students in their pursuit of musical excellence. In this student feature, the Community School highlights the Chun family, a dedicated Suzuki family who began their Colburn journey over 12 years ago in the Early Childhood Program. They are a testament to the strength of Colburn’s programming and faculty, but also of the incredible families that make up our community.
This interview has been edited for style, content, and clarity.
What was your initial experience at Colburn like for your family?
Kasey Chun: Our family’s Colburn journey started about 13 years ago, when our first son Isaac was born. We heard about the Early Childhood Program at Colburn and the rave reviews about the program and its director. As new parents, we were looking into various types of “Mommy-and-Me” classes. We opted to do music classes since music has proven to be so beneficial in child development. We did some research and compared various programs on specifically how the curriculum might affect a positive impact on our child’s musical as well as overall development. We also visited the facilities—and that’s when we knew that Colburn was the best place for us. Colburn’s Early Childhood Program was offering continuous classes from early infancy all the way through early grade school in the vibrant cultural center of downtown LA. The Community School was also offering transitional courses that would branch out to provide exploration into instrumental, vocal, drama/theatre, or dance studies. The convenience and comprehensive nature of the program truly added great value to Colburn.
Reminiscing back to the early years at Colburn, I think it was the sweetest but the hardest years for us. For new parents, the birthing, breastfeeding, potty training, child-rearing years can be really daunting. For our family, it ended up being all of it times four! We ended up with four kids with seven years in age gap amongst the oldest and youngest. Many of us look forward to the weekends where we can sleep in and stay in our pj’s or go out to brunch. Most of the Early Childhood classes start early Saturday or Sunday mornings, and we were commuting out to downtown LA from North Orange County at the time. Despite the challenges of getting up early on a weekend to make it to the 9:00 a.m. classes, we made it through because we hold a strong belief in the value of quality early childhood education.
We actually made it through nine continuous years of the 9:00 a.m. Early Childhood classes because we knew how much Colburn had and would continue to nurture and impact our four children. For us, it really was the Early Childhood Director, Ms. Martin who made a personal influence on my children. She was instrumental in creating positive impressions about music that will last a lifetime. She is absolutely the best educator—not only in music but also in Early Childhood education. If anyone were to peek into her classroom, they would see kind, warm, and sensitive teaching that truly raises awareness in children about their many senses, inner self, and their surroundings through the teaching and making of music. We can also truly thank her for guidance not only in the musical path, but also in the parenting journey. Along with Ms. Martin, our family was grateful to have met Mrs. Gamboa and Ms. Bori who also have brought so much joy to music learning and cheered us on to grow as a musical family. It really was the teachers who helped us to raise our children to be ready to learn a musical instrument from an early age.
Your children, Isaac, Victoria, Audrey, and Samuel all started in the Early Childhood Program. How did the program help them to prepare to move on to the Suzuki Program?
Kasey Chun: From our first-hand experience (times four), we can say that Colburn’s Early Childhood Program is a comprehensive music curriculum that has well-prepared our children to move onto instrumental studies in the Suzuki Program. As a baby, the Early Childhood Program trains them to listen carefully to identify and recognize a certain sound in relative relation to pitch, dynamics, and mood. The learning experience grows with the child as she or he matures, offering hands-on experiences utilizing various instruments like maracas, drums, gong, triangles, xylophones, recorder, and keyboard. This early exposure allows children in the Early Childhood Program to explore the multifaceted world of music in a truly unique immersive learning environment.
The children also used their voices to sing solfège, identifying and building on the pitch. The curriculum includes the Dalcroze classes which help to bring awareness to their body, rhythm, and movement into one. Ms. Izumi’s very meticulous training in Dalcroze guided them through clapping and moving through steady beats, rhythms, and dances. She plays beautiful live piano accompaniment as children move to find the beat and rhythm through minuets, jumping in and out of hula hoops, and tossing silk scarves.
These music educators have built a strong Early Childhood curriculum that really trained our children as babies, through the toddler years, and then as growing children, in ear training, matching pitch, rhythm studies, and basic music theory. We knew that with such strong music training from a young age and being in a familiar environment would prepare the children to take on instrument studies at the Colburn School in the Suzuki Program.
After participating in the Early Childhood Music Program, you all have been a part of the Suzuki Strings Program. What is your favorite part of the Suzuki Program? What has it taught you?
Isaac Chun, 13: My favorite part of the Suzuki Program was the contrasting music that is arranged in the Suzuki books and the chance to work with multiple teachers. The Suzuki Program has taught me different playing styles and the performance skills. Ms. Carey, Ms. Nancy, and Ms. Elizabeth each had their own ways to teach, and they were all beneficial to help you achieve the different skills or techniques. Sometimes, the wacky catchphrases and made-up lyrics really helped me remember the music. Most importantly, it’s taught me that repetition is the key!
Victoria Chun, 12: My favorite part of the Suzuki Violin was learning from different instructors as I moved up into different groups and meeting new people. Learning from many teachers really helped me see things in a new way every time. I really have learned so many things growing up as a Suzuki student. Ms. Shimizu has taught me the importance of rehearsals, while Dr. Can, my teacher, has taught me to focus on technique during rehearsals to ensure that I will not need to think twice about technique during a performance.
Audrey Chun, 9: My favorite part of the Suzuki Program are the group classes and moving up from one group to another. I’ve learned that I need to practice with the metronome.
Samuel Chun, 6: Seeing different friends and teachers is my favorite time. I learned how to play Etude, Etude Doubles, C major Scale, Perpetual Motion in D and G, Long Long Ago, O Come, May Song, Lightly Row, French Folk Song, Go Tell Aunt Rhody, and then my Twinkles.
Some of you have been at Colburn for over 12 years! That’s amazing! Do you have a favorite memory or experience at the school?
Isaac: While attending Colburn for 12 years, there were many things that have stayed with me over the years. One thing that I can still remember is the large art next to the elevator on the upper level of the Grand Building. Whenever I entered my classes for many of the early years, the art stuck with me. When I see that art, it still reminds me of the good times I had with my friends in Ms. Martin’s, Mrs. Gamboa’s, and Ms. Izumi’s class. Also, when I pass by the practice rooms, I still remember the time when Mrs. Bori helped me with sight-reading and ear training on the piano.
Victoria: Over the course of the 11 years I’ve attended the Colburn School, my favorite experience at the school was when I participated in the 2017 George Balanchine’s Nutcracker. One of my favorite memories at the Colburn school is walking down the practice room halls and hearing different styles of music orchestrating perfectly together.
Samuel: I liked it when I saw my cousin in Ms. Martin’s class when she was a baby. My favorite time was getting a cake pop from the Colburn Coffee Bar and playing with my friends and cousins. I really like hearing the trumpet sound in the parking garage.
Addressed to Victoria and Audrey: You also take dance as well as music. Do you find it difficult to study both art forms at the same time?
Audrey: No, I don’t find it hard. It’s because I’ve gotten used to practicing violin and dance. I love to dance, and I enjoy playing violin, so it makes it not so hard.
Victoria: I actually find studying both art forms to be beneficial to one another. Although they are different styles of art forms, I find it interesting to see how one is similar to the other and learning both helps me to be more expressive.
What are you most looking forward to at Colburn?
Isaac: I am looking forward to taking new classes and meeting new friends and teachers. In the future, I am looking forward to more intense cello lessons, ensemble playing, and orchestra.
Victoria: I really hope to gain more onstage experience by performing often. I am looking forward to the advanced dance classes and playing in the orchestra with my friends in the future.
Addressed to Kasey: What is one great thing about Colburn that people don’t see unless they are taking classes or working with a teacher?
Kasey: It’s true that there’re just so many great things about Colburn that people won’t know unless they’re actually taking a class or working with the amazing faculty. We have had the chance to partake in many classes in many departments at Colburn: Choir, Drama, Musical Theatre, Keyboard, Recorder, Ballet, Tap, Violin, Cello, Suzuki group classes, Cello Choir, Violin Ensemble, String Ensemble, and Music Theory. In each of these classes and departments, we saw and felt a sense of a community and a passion for the art form they were vested in. This community made up of faculty, students, and parents sharing enormous dedication to arts education is what distinguishes Colburn and makes it a truly remarkable place of learning. This place has been our second home for the last 12 years—and counting!
To all of the Chun family, thank you for your time! Any other thoughts or things you want to mention about your experience so far at Colburn?
Kasey: It was our pleasure to share our family’s story. We know that our family’s experience at Colburn is just one of the many great experiences felt by the families of Colburn. A dozen years at Colburn has definitely transformed our lives, and it has been and will continue to be an integral and vital part of our children’s journeys in music, dance, and art. The incredible faculty, the community, and the family experiences we have shared on the Colburn campus are the reasons why we are here. Thank you teachers and dear music friends for making Colburn what it means to families like ours. We look forward to seeing everyone back on campus soon and performing live again.
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Want to join the Suzuki Strings Program? The Fall 2021 deadline is January 15, 2021. Submit an inquiry today!
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