By Gus Herrera
Neighborhood Music School Inc. is the result of Carolyn Iga’s life-long passion for music and education. With over 30 years of teaching experience and two master’s degrees, Iga is truly a musical expert.
Prior to opening the school in 2007, Iga taught privately on the side, before her clientele grew to a point where something had to give, “I had 45 students of my own. I had been in church ministry for a long time, I had a full-time job, people would ask me to teach them piano, but I just didn’t have enough time,” said Iga.
Eventually she decided to take a leap and the business was born, receiving its name from its humble beginnings, “I started out of my house … I actually went door to door in my neighborhood and said, ‘hey I’m teaching piano,’ and that’s how that started, teaching out of my home. It was Carolyn Iga’s Neighborhood Music School.”
Today the business has grown from Iga’s home into a musical hub in the heart of Arcadia, a 10-room practice facility and music store.
What distinguishes Neighborhood Music School is their professional and passionate staff. The majority of the teachers have a master’s or doctorate in music and/or education, and are able to teach in a multitude of languages including: Cantonese, French, German, Italian, Hungarian, Japanese, Korean, Mandarin, Russian, Spanish, and Tagalog.
The school offers group and individual lessons in voice, guitar, drums, violin, viola, cello, double bass, flute, saxophone, clarinet, trumpet, trombone, tuba, and ukulele.
Programs are open to all levels, from small children, to high schoolers preparing for college auditions, to curious adults.
With such a specialized staff, made up of professionals who love what they do, students are able to come in and try several instruments until they discover their most comfortable fit, “they usually have something in mind, but we have so many different teachers we can say, ‘Oh hey you want to try this instrument, you want to try the flute?’” revealed Iga. “Because we have two really good flute teachers, kids have come in not knowing that they liked flute, but then they got sucked in and they’re good now, there’s one that stuck with it for about seven years … it’s because the teachers are so passionate and so good at their skill that they are able to get the kids very invested.”
Iga emphasized the fact that classes taught at Neighborhood Music School are not just about playing the instrument, but more importantly, there is an educational component involved. Curriculums include ear-training, music theory, note-reading, and even a little music history.
They also offer composition classes, Jazz improvisation lessons, Mommy & Me classes, a summer camp, and a new music technology and composition class, where students will learn how to compose music for film and video games, taught by award-winning composer David Orr, whose credits include the “Call of Duty” video game and HBO shows.
Neighborhood Music School’s store has a great selection for musicians of all levels, with high-end instruments from some of the industry’s biggest names (Bach, Becker, D’Addario, Gretsch, Ibanez, Peak, Sabian, and Yamaha, to name a few), to more basic and affordable options. There is a rent-to-own program for those parents seeking a low-risk investment, where you pay $10 to $20 a month for nine months, after which you own the instrument.
They have all wide variety of musical accessories/supplies, sheet music, band and orchestra books, and also offer repair services. If they do not have what you are looking for, they can place special orders. Furthermore, they offer a price match program, “if you can find it online and we have it, then we can match the price. We want to be convenient for our local customers,” say Iga. Neighborhood Music School students and local high school/middle school students also receive a discount (with proper ID).
Neighborhood Music School is located at 25 S. First Ave. in Arcadia.
For more information, call (626) 254-9525 or visit www.NeighborhoodMusic.net.