The Secret of Our ‘America’s Got Talent’ Success: Starting Children at the Right Age in Music

Here at the Pascale Music Institute in South Pasadena, we’ve recently had the challenge and the thrill of a lifetime. Our Los Angeles Children’s Orchestra, made up of 36 kids ages 8-13, won two nationally-televised rounds on America’s Got Talent. They appeared on the NBC program in June and July, playing classical arrangements of Beatles and Rolling Stones songs on stringed instruments, while dancing an elaborate choreography. Even the cellists and bassists danced while they played! (See the video below)

So now, more than ever, people are asking me, how do you bring the kids to such a high musical level? And my answer: I start them young, and they start on piano.
Children as young as age 3 ½ can enroll in KinderPiano classes designed for children pre-K through first grade. The class size is small and each child sits at their own keyboard, parent by their side where they are learning basic skills such as note reading, rhythm, listening and more! Classes are just 5 weeks, and are followed by a recital. After taking the pre-requisite of piano and when the children reach 4 years old they are eligible to study strings at the Institute.
Pascale notes, “My daughter Jenna took the piano class when she was 3 ½. At the conclusion of her first recital, which happened to be at the local senior center, she bowed backwards. Everyone roared and I caught it on film! Now 13 and a cellist with the Los Angeles Children’s Orchestra, she’s performed twice at Carnegie Hall and most recently on America’s Got Talent.

So How do you know if your child is ready for this class? If they can sit and concentrate for 20 minutes on a task – like a puzzle, or a shape-sorter – that child is probably ready.

Our KinderPiano® five weeks classes run throughout the year. We then assess the child’s readiness to continue with piano lessons, or, if they’re 4 or older, to move into our strings program, where most youngsters start with our 12-week KinderViolin® class.

Over my 14 years of experience teaching violin, I’ve evolved a system that I call The Pascale Method for Beginning Violin. It’s very different from the Suzuki Method, because our children read notes from the beginning, and master skills that enable them to join one of our program’s orchestras relatively quickly. And then who knows… maybe they can be a contestant on AGT or join us at Carnegie Hall in 2017.

What I love about music is there is no limit to what kids can learn, and they can move at the pace that’s right for them.