[Last update, 1.2019]
Thank you for your interest.
Here are some information about myself and the flute studio, based on commonly asked questions by prospective students and their parents. Reviews and FAQ can be found towards the bottom of this page.
Recent star achievements by my students:
2019 California All State High School Honor Band (Haylie, Shannon, Xiaomian)
2019 California All State Junior High School Honor Band (Helen, Minseo, Patricia)
2019 Santa Clara County Honor Band, Principal Flute (Xiaomian), and 3rd chair (Shannon) and 11th chair (Haylie)
2018 Sacramento Flute Club Scholarship Competition, 3rd Prize (Eura);
2018 US Open Music Competition 3rd Prize (Shannon);
2018 California All State High School Honor Band (Xiaomian, Eura);
2018 Santa Clara County Honor Band 2nd and 4th chair (Xiaomian, Shannon);
2018 CMEA Music Festival: Superior (Patricia), Superior-Command (Gwyneth);
2018 San Jose Youth Symphony Flute Avancé Flute Choir soloist (Patricia);
2017-18 San Jose Youth Symphony Senior Orchestra Principal Flute (Eura), including Principal Flute for Nutcracker by Los Gatos Ballet;
2017-18 California Youth Symphony Senior Orchestra, Principal Second (Xiaomian);
Recent participation in masterclasses taught by Robert Stallman (Xiaomian, Kaylene, Shannon), Jennifer Grimm (Eura), and Göran Marcusson (Xiaomian).
To sample one of my student's performances posted on YouTube, listen to Cheryl Chang's performance of the first movement of the Concerto for Flute and Orchestra by Romberg, performed with the San Jose Youth Symphony here.
Another sample can be accessed here and check out the "break-out" trio at c. 3'35" in the County Honor Band's performance of the second movement of Minstrels of the Kells by Dan Welcher.
What Students Can Expect at Their Lessons:
Ai teaches students to play musically and to communicate musical intentions to the audience. She develops the students’ technical facility, helps students achieve a more expressively open focused tone and tone colors, and shows students how to effectively apply technical skills to achieve musical effects.
Ai also addresses posture, ergonomics, and body awareness as she believes that the performer’s body is an extension of the flute—one must learn to "play" the body as well as the instrument in order to make the flute sing and deliver the music to the audience.
Students will learn performance practices for performing in Baroque and Classical periods, and build a wide range of repertoire from ancient to modern music.
Ai currently accepts intermediate and advanced level students.
A few committed beginning flutists are accepted every year, based on availability in the schedule.
As an Educator:
Ai is committed to sharing the skills and passion for music and flute playing with budding musicians of all ages and levels. She provides private flute instruction in Cupertino, California. As a testament to Ai’s effectiveness as a teacher, her students earn recognition as competition winners, concerto competition soloists, awards and distinctions such as principal flutist of California State Honor Orchestra and Bands, principal flutists in youth orchestras, receive “Command Performance” ratings at CMEA festivals, etc. Ai’s intermediate and advanced students volunteer for the concert organization Encores On Wheels, through which they share their excitement and joy for music with the community throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.
Ai is invited to adjudicate auditions and competitions, including the National Flute Association, Kentucky Flute Festival Young Artist Competition, Santa Clara County Honor Band, and MTNA VOCE competition. She also gives clinics, presentations, sectionals, and masterclasses by invitation, such as by Middle Tennessee State University, Western Kentucky University, Canadian Flute Convention, the MTAC Santa Clara division, MidSouth Flute Society, etc.
How long are lessons in your studio?:
I currently offer 30 minute and 60 minute lessons.
30 minute lessons are recommended for beginners and advanced-beginners. 60 minute lessons are recommended for intermediate to advanced level students and for students who desire to develop at an accelerated rate.
In general, the longer lesson format accommodates the increasing demands of the music and advanced technique required of the student as they grow as a flutist and as a musician. For example, 60 minute lessons allow more time for the student to practice and drill new concepts and techniques with the teacher than 30 minute lessons, enabling students to learn more accurately and confidently.
What days do you teach?:
I am in the studio on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Please inquire further for exact times and dates. [No lessons are given on Fridays and Sundays.]
What is the tuition for lessons?:
Tuition is charged on a montly basis, due by the 7th of each month. Please inquire for the most current tuition rates.
What levels do you teach?:
I teach all levels.
My current teaching focus is on intermediate through advanced students.
However, I will accept a limited number of beginning flutists, subject to a trial period.
What age range do you teach?:
I typically accept students ranging from 8 years of age and beyond. I will make exceptions for exceptionally gifted younger students on a case by case basis.
Do you present student recitals?:
Yes. I organize student recitals, at least once a year.
Do you give free lessons?:
No. I do not give free lessons. I charge the full current lesson fee for trial lessons because students receive my full attention, regardless of whether it is a one-time lesson or one-in-a-series of lessons.
Can I observe a lesson?:
Yes. It is possible for parents to observe their child during the weekly lessons.
However, if the question is with regard to a prospective student and parent desiring to observe a current student's lesson in order to decide whether to study flute or not, the answer is typically no.
The reason is because each student expects my full attention and each lesson is personalized. Unless you have prior consent from a student and their parents, I cannot ask a student to share his/her lesson with others. I do not release contact information of my students to prospective students. Thank you for your understanding on this score.
However, I offer studio masterclasses a few times a year, typically between January-March. This is a class where students receive individual instruction in front of their fellow students. Masterclasses are typically limited to current students but since the class is set up as an "audience based" class, for a small fee to help pay for the class(the students all pitch in to pay for the space and my time) I am willing to allow auditors. Please inquire fordetails.
Do I need to buy/rent an instrument?:
Yes. You will need to have a flute before beginning your first lesson, if you do not already own one.
It is best to rent a flute from a music shop for first-time beginner. It is best to rent a flute first, until you are sure that you want to commit to buying a flute. A new flute for purchase runs in the range of $850-950. A used flute in good condition can vary in price, but you are usually looking at spending anywhere from $350-600. An "intermediate" level flute is priced in the range of $3,000-4,0000.
Two local stores I recommend are Westvalley Music (Mt. View, Castro St.) and Crossroads Music (De Anza Blvd.). Please support your local shops, and mention my name as the owners at both stores are my friends.
More complete information regarding finding the right beginner flute can be accessed here.
What is your teaching experience?:
I began teaching private flute lessons in January 2000. I also have experience working with small-large groups of students as a music camp instructor and flute section clinician for local middle/high schools. My teaching experience also encompass masterclass for university students. Please check out my reference page for comments from students.
What is your education?:
I hold a Masters degree in music with specialization in flute performance from San Jose State University and a Bachelor of Arts degree from UCLA, majoring in performance and with a minor in English Literature. In addition, I keep up with ongoing developments by attending masterclasses/clinics and workshops on a regular basis.
It seems you are sometimes away from the studio during the school year. How often are you gone? How does this impact my learning and why is it still good for me to study with you?:
It is true that sometimes I am away from the studio for an extended time (3-4 days for short trips, 1-2 weeks for medium trips, and rarely 2-4 weeks) durng the school year. However, these trips are for performance related reasons.
When I perform away from the home base, I meet many flutists and instrumentalists who perform at the national and international levels. I also gain exposure as a performer and teacher. The more I know people and the more people know me, the better you will be known--as my student. You will also benefit from all of my experiences in that I will have a wide/deep range of experience to draw materials/information/knowledge on to teach you better. My travels also afford me chances to observe current trends in flute performance and education at national and international levels. All this will benefit you directly in our lessons and will become your resources as well.
Before I leave on extended absences I offer makeup lessons or set up makeup lesson schedules where applicable. I also give detailed assignment instructions, and when applicable I provide students with study packets.
Looks like you are a soloist but I want to play in the school band. Can you teach me about this?:
Yes. Absolutely. I have many years of experience as a flutist in wind ensembles, orchestras, and chamber ensembles in the United States and abroad, serving as Principal Flutist, etc.
Furthermore, soloistic performance skills can benefit you as an ensemble player in that it will make you a self-reliant section player as opposed to being a section-reliant section player.
Do you teach piccolo?:
What styles do you teach?:
I am a classically trained flutist. However, I can play anything that is written down, no matter what genre. I can teach you to do the same. However, if you are looking to specialize in jazz improvisation or Latin-American choro music, I am not the best person to teach these styles.
What is required for the first lesson?:
For beginning flutists, please bring a flute (rented or owned), a music lined notebook (a.k.a. manuscript paper notebook), and a pencil. If you already own or work out of a music book, please bring them as well. Please also bring in a cloth to clean your flute (handkerchief or a strip of old T-shirt, cut up). I can show you how to use the cloth to swab out the flute.
For students who already have some experience playing the flute, please bring with you music that you are prepared to play and something else that you would like to receive instruction. I would like to hear how you play and have something to work with, immediately.
How much should I practice?:
The simple answer is "as much as you can." You can make a greater and faster progress the more you work with your instrument.
Some guidelines are: minimum 15 minutes, five-days-a-week for those who pick up the flute for the first time. 30-45 minutes, five days a week for beginners/advanced beginners. 60 minutes minimum, five-six days a week for intermediate flutists. 90 minutes or more, five-six days a week for advanced flutists. Practice can be broken up into sets-- two sets of 15 minute practice sessions equal 30 minutes total. Sometimes doing so is better than practicing for an extended peirod all at once. Listen to your body and mental stamina.