What students say about the Conservatory
We talked to the following students about their experiences studying at the El Paso Conservatory of Music:
What is your favorite part about studying at the Conservatory?
In what ways do you think private lessons at the Conservatory have helped you become better at your instrument?
In what ways do you think music skills classes at the Conservatory have helped you get better at music?
Does studying music affect any of your classes at school? If so, how?
If you had a friend who was thinking about taking lessons at the Conservatory, what would you tell them about it?
Christian M., who has studied voice privately with Prentice Loftin for three years and takes classes in the Pre-College Program. Christian also performs with the Jazz Ensemble and studies jazz guitar privately with Mack Goldsbury.
Tulasi G., who has been studying piano privately with Dr. Zeke Meza for a year, and is also enrolled in sightsinging, private theory, and performance class.
Sophie R., who comes to the Conservatory from Alamogordo to study violin with Stephanie Song and participate in the Pre-College Certificate Program.
Monica C., who is in her third year at the Conservatory in the Pre-College Certificate Program studying voice with Yvonne Marmolejo, and also sings with the Young Ladies Choir.
Caleb V., who is in the Pre-College Certificate Program and has been studying piano for a year and half with Dr. Meza.
Carol D., who studies violin privately with Stephanie Song, and is in her third year of participation in the Pre-College Certificate Program.
Natalie C. is in her fourth year of the Pre-College Certificate Program, and studies voice privately with Prentice Loftin.
Garrett T. studies viola privately with Mary Moran, and also participates in the Pre-College Certificate Program
Christian M.: The level of the curriculum. It’s just a lot more professional and they really go into depth on things. You come out learning more than you would at a school or in other private lessons. They really are college prep classes. I also love the dynamics of the jazz ensemble, it’s so free and we can do almost whatever we want. I like the improvisation. He [Mack Goldsbury] gives us a lead sheet and we can take it from there. He lets each instrument take a solo. I’ve never done anything like it. I’m a lot more creative now with my improvisations and soloing over chords and coming up with different melodies.
Tulasi G.: They push me pretty hard. I came in only playing Haydn, and now Dr. Meza is throwing me into a Rachmaninoff prelude, so it’s pushing me to become better. I like the challenge.
Sophie R.: It gives me an opportunity to learn more about music, where normally I wouldn’t be able to. There isn’t anything like the Conservatory where I live, so it gives me a chance to learn. I really like the performance class because I can practice to perform in front of other people.
Monica C.: My favorite part is that I’m improving and becoming a better musician. I like my voice lessons the best—singing is my favorite part of everything.
Caleb V.: I love the teachers, they’re very good. They relate to the students and they make sure that nobody struggles. And they all have a sense of humor. Performance class is my favorite class by far. I love to perform and I like to hear other people perform. Getting criticism from others is helpful too. But private lessons are my absolute favorite thing.
Carol D.: I like the music, the music is fun. I like performance class best and that you get to perform in front of other kids. It really gets the nerves away from you.
Natalie C.: I really like the performance classes because it gets you prepared. If you want to go into music, you get to do a lot of performing and get used to standing in front of people. It gives you more confidence.
Garrett T.: I’m learning all the stuff that I haven’t learned yet, and in classes, I like learning all the things that I don’t get in lessons. I really like the performance class. I like being able to play for other students and hear how they play, and I also like hearing how everyone progresses and critiquing them.
Christian M.: With singing, Mr. Loftin MAKES you sing. He pushes you to the potential that he sees. He’ll correct your posture, whatever you need to correct. It’s one-on-one training and is much more in-depth than in school choir. He’s been an opera singer and he knows what to look for. Mack Goldbury’s first instrument isn’t the guitar but it helps a lot. If I’m having trouble with the melody or rhythm we’ll go over it. He gives me jazz theory lessons about progressions and chord structure.
Tulasi G.: My sightreading is really improving. I also take theory privately with Dr. Meza, so that helps with memorizing pieces. I’m also learning lots of different styles of pieces.
Sophie R.: Right now I’m working on the Mendelssohn Concerto. It’s more difficult and different than stuff I’ve worked on before. It has a lot of things going on, so many components that it takes a lot of time to learn. In lessons we take it apart bit by bit, working through little parts at a time, and then we start putting it together. I’ve learned how to single out a section and practice it over and over again, and then piece it together with the other parts.
Monica C.: We sing all kinds of music, German, French, everything. We vocalize, we sing different kinds of music, we learn languages and how to sing them, and we train our voice. Right now I’m working on German and some French songs.
Caleb V.: The quality of the lessons is so good. Dr. Meza paces me in lessons, so I have to learn a lot of music in a certain amount of time. It pushes me. It helps a lot with technique and with how to practice.
Carol D.: Because it gives me more practice time, and I get professional help. Right now we’re working on solos and all-region music. We work on intonation. Intonation is really hard, but I think I’m getting a lot better.
Natalie C.: I like it because it’s one-on-one time with your teacher, and they work especially with your own voice, and train you based on how your voice works.
Garrett T.: The biggest thing is that it’s helped my technique. It’s also helped me learn about ways to practice. Instead of practicing over and over again in the hope you eventually get it right, you learn how to be more efficient with what you do.
Christian M.: I read a lot better. I read music, period! I had had piano before coming here but read very little music. Sightreading class is really fast, and everyone is thinking at the same time. We all read and sing at the same time, so if you mess up, you immediately see what’s going on and what you did wrong.
Tulasi G.: Sightreading is so much easier. I can incorporate that when I’m learning a piece. There are also a lot more complicated rhythms in my pieces, and I know how to figure those out. Performance class is really great because you get a chance to play for other students and get feedback from them and from the teacher, and you get to hear the other students play too.
Sophie R.: I like that you can practice in front of an audience and get used to being nervous in the performance class. I’m in sightreading 3, and we’re learning solfege and dictation. Dictation is when [Mr. Loftin] plays a series of notes, or sings a tune in solfege, and you have to write it out yourself—you don’t see the written music first. Right now in theory, we’re talking about chord progressions and figured basses. The sightreading class helps when you’re learning new pieces.
Monica C.: We’re learning how to read in sightsinging, and we learn about solfeggio and how to sing with the right rhythms. In theory, I’m learning the basics—how music is made and written. These two classes have a lot of the groundwork in music. I like the German diction class a lot. It’s very cool to know how to speak it, see how the language is made. It’s way harder to sing in German than in English. It’s a challenge to get up and sing in front of classmates [in the diction class], but I like it a lot. It’s helpful to get up and sing in front of people.
Caleb V.: They’re really expanding my knowledge in more than just performance. In theory, I’m learning the basics for composing music. I want to go on to music in college, and the courses are going to help with that.
Carol D.: I understand more. The theory is helping a lot with that, like learning all the chord progressions. It helps it all make more sense to see it.
Natalie C.: Sightreading helps whenever I’m in choir. You can tell the solfege whenever you sing the music, and you know the key that you’re in. In piano class, I learn more about the keys that you sing in.
Garrett T.: It has especially helped with sightreading and being able to hear pitches better. I can actually carry a tune. Piano class has helped me learn relationships of notes, the same thing with the theory class.
Christian M.: I would say it does. The theory class is kind of like math, there are certain formulas and patterns. I’m doing better in pre-calc than I was before. Music in general has changed me as a person. I’m on a straight and narrower path than I used to be. I get home and I have homework time and music time and workout time. Having the music in there makes me rearrange everything else. Since I succeed here I feel like I can succeed in school. It gives me a lot more self-confidence.
Tulasi G.: I’m taking the SAT this December, so I have to practice in the morning. I used to practice whenever I felt like it, but now I have to make sure I’m organized and get in my practicing every day so I can do other things I need to do.
Sophie R.: It makes math class easier for me. I think it’s made Algebra a lot easier. I practice after school, after I’ve done my homework, so I have to manage my time.
Monica C.: When I have rehearsals, I come home from rehearsal and I have lots of homework to do. I have to get it done right away and not waste time. I try to set a good example in school choir. My Conservatory classes help me to be someone who’s really learning about music already in high school, not just starting out. We do the same things in school as here, like sightreading and singing.
Caleb V.: I find myself thinking about music all the time. It helps with focus. Your mind has to be in multiple places and thinking in different directions all the time. It definitely gives me an advantage over other students at school in orchestra. I practice more and have the desire to practice more. And if you didn’t practice, sightsinging class is kind of a benefit!
Carol D.: You end up being a better student. As soon as I get home I do my homework and then I practice. You get better grades in orchestra at school. At school, I’m more advanced in orchestra, along with the other students who also take private lessons. For some of my classes we talk about music and I actually know what they’re talking about, like acoustics in science and math class.
Natalie C.: It helps with me at church, because I do praise and worship band there. I’m in ballet also, and it affects my rhythm, and helps me there musically. At school I’m in drama and sometimes I do solos in musicals, so that makes it easier with performance, to get up in front of people.
Garrett T.: I think it does. It makes problem solving easier. It’s easier to relate and draw similarities in other subjects if I know how things relate in music.
Christian M.: It would be the best decision if they were serious about pursuing music, and serious about getting better.
Tulasi G.: They should totally come, it’s a lot of fun. There are new people to meet, the teachers are really supportive, and you get a chance to perform. I’ve totally enjoyed my experience here. I heard about it from a friend, actually, who recommended it to me and said it was really good. I recommend it to everyone, it’s a lot of fun whether you’re a beginner or in the middle or advanced.
Sophie R.: Hurry up and come over! It’s a lot of fun and the other students are really nice. It’s easier to talk to them about music than the kids at school.
Monica C.: They should join, it’s great. It helps for everything. It helps you improve everything, your voice, your skills, sightreading. It just really helps a lot.
Caleb V.: Take lessons! And Dr. Meza is the best teacher in the world.
Carol D.: I actually told one of my friends about it and he’s going to sign up. The other students here are pretty interesting, they’re fun—it’s fun here, I like it.
Natalie C.: If you want to go into music it’s the best place to go, because it teaches you about the fundamentals in music, and it builds your confidence. And everyone’s really friendly. I have a lot of friends here.