Valentine’s 2011 Newsletter

Dear Families, Friends, Artists and Colleagues,
2011 has rolled in and we continue to honor our mission to build self-esteem and literacy through the arts for all children in Los Angeles.  As our school systems struggle to include this in the classroom, we look for new ways to incorporate arts education into our childrens’ lives.  We look to our communities, after-school programs, studios, private lessons, and grant support to provide any and every opportunity.

It is through Music that our mind can develop new pathways to learn math and science.  Theatre opens doors for communication and collaboration.  Dance puts the rythmn in our limbs so we may activate our entire bodies as we engage in life, and Visual Arts gives us perception on how we see the world and each other.  The objectiveness of art allows for different and new approaches to the the tried and true.  In these times of change, it is through the influence of the arts that we can create a stronger future for our children.

Upcoming Events!!
Piano Teams Concert – Sunday, Feb. 6th at 11:00 AM

David Cutter, fabulous piano teacher extraordinaire, has started a piano team…
Our first concert is Sun., Feb. 6th at 11:00 AM at the Steinway Store in West LA, address:
314 N. Robertson Blvd.
West Hollywood, CA 90048-2415
Please RSVP to me at so we know how many chairs to set up, as space for seating is limited.
This is a special, unique situation in which 5 pianos play together in 5-part harmony.  It’s truly an amazing sound, and the work of N. Jane Tan, a highly gifted visionary musician and teacher whose work David has been studying and now I have begun to delve into as well.  See more about this great opportunitiy in the articles below…

Classes for Winter 2011

Atwater Park Center
Thursdays – once a month, dates TBA

Music Therapy for toddlers and preschoolers 1 times per month ongoing

Camelot Kids Preschool
Enrichment Program
January 24, 2011 thru March 21, 2011 “Beatles Art and Murals” Mondays @ 3:45 – 4:45pm
*no class 2/21 (President’s Day)

January 27, 2011 thru March 17, 2011 “Musical Theatre”Thursdays @ 2:15- 3:15pm

“Ballet” Thursdays @ 3:45-4:45pm
Discovery Program
January 3, 2011 thru February 28, 2011
“Marbling” Monday/Thursdays @ 3:15 – 4:15pm
* no class 1/17 (Mt Luther King’s Day) and 2/21 (President’s Day)

January 4, 2011 thru February 23, 2011
“Indie Kids” Tuesdays/Wednesdays @ 3:15 – 4:15pm


Children’s Playhouse

Tuesdays 9:30-10:30 weekly ongoing Music with Preschoolers and Toddlers


Franklin Kids After-school Enrichment Programat Franklin Ave. Elementary

Winter 2011
January 18 – March 25, 2011

Glee (3rd-5th) January 18 – April 5, 2011 Tues. @ 3:30-5:00pm and the show April 5, 2011 at 4:30 or 5:00pm (exact time TBA)

Go Go Go Guitars! – Thursdays Jan. 20th – March 17th, 2011 – 3:15-4:15 PM (10 weeks) – 1st – 5th grades with Amanda Johnson-with show March 17, 2011 at 5:00pm

Brazilian Dance – Wednesdays Jan. 19th – March 23rd, 2011 – 4:15-5:15 PM (10 weeks) – K-5th grades with Sarah Peters with show March 23, 2011 4:15-5:15 PM

Down on the Farm – Thursdays Jan. 20th – March 24th, 2011 – 3:30-4:30 PM (10 weeks) – K-5th grades with Caitlin Lainoff with show Thurs. March 24th, 2011 4:15-5:15 PM

Friends of Franklin at Franklin Elementary
2010-2011 School Year

Wednesdays @ 10:30 AM-2:30 PM Music Instruction with Ms. Aimee
Fridays @ 10:30 AM – 1:30 PM Music Instruction with Ms. Aimee
Fridays @ 1:25 PM – 2:00 PM  Primary Chorus with Ms. Aimee
@ 2:05 PM – 2:35 PM Upper-Grade Chorus with Ms. Aimee


Invited Class Demo for Families to see children practice: Fri. March 4th

Primary Chorus  1:40-2:00 PM

Upper Grade Chorus 2:05-2:30 PM


Open House Concert Thurs. April 14th 5:15-6:00 PM


Hancock Park Elementary

Tuesdays and Fridays Music Therapy and Kinder Music with Ms. Aimee & Ms. Alina
October 4-December 17, 2010 (Fall) 10 weeks
January 18 – March 25, 2011 (Winter) 10 weeks
April 5 – June 17, 2011 (Spring) 10 weeks

Pre-K Music Therapy and Kinder Vocal and General Music
Jan. 11 – March 29, 2011 (12 week Winter Session)
Tuesdays 8:50-9:35 AM K with Lori Assael
9:45-10:25 AM K with Karen Hollis
10:30-11:10 AM  Pre-K with Marci Schoenbaum
Fridays 8:50-9:35pm K – Barbara Birnbaum
9:45-10:25am K – Robin Roberts
10:30-11:10am K – Carol Moser
9:45-10:25 AM Kinder with Ms. Alina
10:30-11:10 AM  Kinder with Ms. Alina


Glenfeliz Elementary

January 10 – April 15, 2011
2 sessions: January 10 – February 22 and February 28 – April 15, 2011
Session 1: January 11 – February 22, 2011
“Recorder” with Jaron Lawson
Wednesday @ 3:30 – 4:30pm

“Flamenco Folklorico (Mexican and Flamenco)” with Sarah Peters
Thursday @ 3:30 – 4:30pm

“Creative Writing” with Michelle Hanley
Friday @ 3:30 – 4:30pm

Session 2: February 28 – April 15, 2011
“Glee” with Tanya Tavereau
Wednesday @ 3:30 – 4:30pm

“Folkloric (Serbian)” with Jovana Radovic
Thursday @ 3:30 – 4:30pm

“Creative Writing” with Michelle Hanley
Friday @ 3:30 – 4:30pm

Paintbox Kids
Sun. at Paintbox Kids – 10:30-11:30 AM – “Art-astic!” Parent-and-Me Art for ages 18 months to 5 years with Mara Bassani-Santamaria

Tues.  at Paintbox Kids: 10:30-11:30 AM – “Indie Kids” Parent-and-Me Music for ages 18 months to 5 years with Blythe Baten

Fri. 3 at Paintbox Kids 3:00-4:00 PM – “Girls Rocking” for girls ages 8-12 with or without caregivers with Medea Reagan

Fri.  at Paintbox Kids 4:15-5:15 PM – “Boys Bucket Percussion and Gogo Music” for boys ages 6-12 with or without caregivers with Jaron Lawson

Fri.  at Paintbox Kids 10:30-11:30 AM – “Little Composers Family Music Class” Parent-and-Me for ages 18 months to 5 years with Jovana Radovic



Studio A Dance Classes

Ballet and Tap
Saturday mornings
10 AM for ages 5-8
10:50 AM for ages 2-3
11:50 AM for ages 3-4
* 2-yr-olds may attend at 11:50 and 4-yr-olds at 10:50 if necessary, due to naps, siblings or other scheduling conflicts.  Please see Ms. Aimee to sign up for a specific class time.
Language Garden Preschool
March 5th – April 17th   –   7 week session

10:00AM – Percussion Ensemble with Mara Bassani-Santamaria with ages 18 months to 5 (Spanish)
11:00AM – Uke Orchestra with Daniel Corral with ages 7-10 (English)
12:00-1:00 PM – Yoga with DM Osborne for ages 4-10 (French and Spanish vocab)

10:00AM – Bucket Percussion & Gogo Music Workshop with Jaron Lawson with ages 6-10 (English)

11:00AM – Art-astic with Mrs. Jasmine ages 3-6 (French)

12:00PM – Little Composers with Mrs. Jasmine ages 18 months to 5 (French)


Give the Gift of Language – Language Garden Preschool Language Immersion in Spanish and French. Ages 2-5  After School Programs up to First

Aimee’s Corner:
Pianos in Five-Part Harmony
by Aimee Young Hopkins,

Artistic Director, Aimee Art Productions

“Part four has the melody here so let it sing out,” advises David Cutter from his spot at a grand piano.  “Again, measure 36.” And 5 pianists commence to play in 5-part harmony at the Steinway Store in West Hollywood early on a Sunday morning. Flashback to about 5 years ago when a colleague of mine approached me and introduced me to composer and music educator N. Jane Tan.
Raised by Chinese parents from the Philippines, and now based in Arizona, Ms. Tan has created a sequential series of books and music literacy materials designed to instruct students in an oral tradition begun with Beethoven, passed down to Bela Bartok and all the way to students today.
The technique focuses on hand gestures and wrist flexibility in order to enable pianists to get the most variety and beauty of sound out of the piano.  “Shaping the phrase” is a term used commonly in the Tan teachings, which refers to beginning a section of Music with a downward wrist motion and circling the wrist like a smile downward, half circling upward and ending with the wrist to the sky.  This way the sound tapers from loud to soft, from strong to gentle, like a sentence with a beginning, middle and end.
I started experiencing this technique first-hand a few years ago after having had my first child.  I was overwhelmed with responsibilities of being a first-time parent, and yet wanting to continue challenging some of my piano students who were reaching new levels. Learning from another human being with live face-to-face lessons in an age-old oral tradition, though it was hard to find the time, seemed more pleasant and feasible to me than reading a book or watching a how-to video. Through patient coaching, first by Aaron Abraham and then by David Cutter, willing to go at my snail’s pace, I have just scratched the surface of all that this technique has to offer and to pass it on to my students.
Since our mission at Aimee Art Productions is to build self-esteem and literacy through the arts, and to teach the “whole child” – mental, emotional, kinesthetic, auditory, visual, verbal – my teachers and I will continue to use an ecclectic approach to music instruction – using the literature of Faber and Faber, Hanon, John Thompson, Hal Leonard, Bastien Alfred’s and a varied repertoire of musical literature from Mozart, Bach and Bethoven to the Beatles, Coldplay, Scott Joplin, Phillip Glass and Gershwin. We also encourage children and adults to read and write music of their own as they study the works and to compose for the entire range of the piano.  And we will also incorporate Jane Tan’s teachings in what we do.
One of the most exciting and gratifying parts of N. Jane Tan’s work is the repertoire of music she has written for 5 pianos or 10 hands! The “Piano Teams,” as they are called, present a unique opportunity for pianists to play together with other pianists. Except when accompanying singers or in the rare case of getting to play piano with an orchestra, most pianists never get to experience the community of a musical ensemble. Jane Tan started a team in the Las Vegas area and now there are national Piano Teams Competitions.
David Cutter, local musician and teacher (and featured Teaching Artist of the month with Aimee Art Productions) has started a Piano Team here in Los Angeles this this past fall. Since Steinway had sponsored N. Jane Tan’s work in the past, he approached the Steinway Store in West Hollywood as a place to rehearse.  Steinway is a company with a rich history in music education. The West Hollywood Store has withstood the pressures of 21st century commerce and maintained the Old World tradition of closing its doors to customers on Sundays and remaining open only for music educators. Their recital hall seats 45 people and their grand/pianos range in price from $3,500 to $350,000 or more. Their concert piano in the recital hall is magical to play and to hear.
Through the generosity of the Steinway store, our Teen Team and our Adult Team have been able to practice once a month at the store. In the weeks when they are booked for recitals, we’ve been able to rehearse at Pianos Wholesale in Temple City, another fantastic place run by Jack Herring and John and Ivan Tudor and a great place to purchase a used or new piano at a discounted price ranging from $2000 (or even less) to $12,000 (or even more.)
When we rehearse, we push the pianos together to face one another and follow the cues of our leader, in this case, David Cutter.   If you are a teen or adult interested in joining, please let us know.  David is also interested in forming a cadre of adult music educators and musicians who are interested in delving more deeply into this technique, perhaps attending national trainings, getting certified in the method, and even competing in national Piano Teams festivals with other teams.
We invite you to join us if you’re able at our upcoming concert on this Sunday, February 6th at 11:00am at the Steinway Store, 314 N Robertson Blvd. West Hollywood, CA 90048-2415.
Please RSVP to me at so we can set up enough chairs. Concert is free and features our Teen Team with Aimee Art Productions student, Grace Rosenman, teacher David Cutter, and with me filling in on one part as well.  Our adult team with AAP student, Emerson Picazo and teachers, David Cutter and myself. For me, it’s the first thing I have done for myself just for fun since having children, a chance to just enjoy music with other musicians. For our students it’s a chance to practice their technique, note-reading and ensemble work, and grow as musicians and as citizens of this world.

For more information, check out the following website: (Well Prepared Pianist)

and thank you for building self-esteem and literacy through the arts!

Featured Artist

David Cutter: Biography

David Cutter’s career has been somewhat unique. He didn’t start playing piano seriously until age 18 and was stubborn enough to go it alone without instruction. Proceeding to practice 6 hours a day by ear, he spent the next five years learning by ear, continuously rewinding cassette tapes of a particular song to get it exactly, note-for-note. Finally, he began to feel he wasn’t moving forward fast enough.

Taking the opposite tack, he enrolled at California State Northridge’s Music Department as a piano performance major.  In 1981, Northridge was one of the top twenty music school’s in the country and had a local reputation of demanding more performance skills from students than other local music schools. As a piano performance major,David studied and practiced classical pieces and technique for at least eight hours a day and loved it. “There was a day where I was walking down the practice room hallway andhearing some students practicing jazz. I remember thinking “how are they making those sounds?” After that he began studying jazz with a private teacher in addition to classical assignments.

After four years at Northridge, David joined a top 40 dance band. Two months later they hit the road. He has since been in many local Top-40 bands working in many diverse settings throughout the Los Angeles area. During this time, David was fortunate to have worked with a couple of really excellent drummers. As a result, he has developed a rhythmic feel and style that really swings. He also began jazz improvisation studies with Terry Trotter.

He continues to pay his dues working both as a solo pianist and teaching piano, in both classical and jazz styles. Since 1989, David has been a house pianist at the Beverly Plaza, the Midtown Hilton, the University Hilton, the Biltmore Hotel, and the Westin in Pasadena. Other performance work includes accompanying a dinner theatre troupe, improvisation comedy groups and elementary school orchestras.

David started teaching piano full time in 2006. Additional teacher training and experience includes twenty years as a high school science teacher with LA Unified. David has a valid, current California State Teaching Credential and has taught some music as well under a district board permit. (Private Teacher – piano)


David’s Methodology

for Musicianship and Instruction:


Over the last 4 years, I have been studying a piano method developed by Jane Tan. The method involves training the wrist to move up and down and side to side in particular gestures at particular times according to the musical score. This gives multiple benefits in three broad categories. First, how the hand strikes the piano key produces subtle differences in tone. The famous “singing tone” created by concert pianists is one result of these gestures. Secondly, there are economy of motion benefits. Using these gestures, a pianist can get their hands from one place to another faster with less effort. This allows more relaxed and faster playing. Third, keeping the wrist relaxed avoids a build up of tension. Over many years, tension in the wrists can lead to injury. Using your wrists properly leads to an ability to interpret any musical score and produce a consistently beautiful tone.

After three years, my gestures have become smaller and thus faster. As a result, I’m discovering that my concert repertoire has more expression. I can also play it faster and these pieces are coming alive in ways I would never have imagined. Words won’t suffice, but I’ll just say, I’m having so much fun with this, that I would describe it as…… I feel like I’m having a second childhood.

Another unique aspect of this method is piano teams. Once a student can produce appropriate tone we want to work on blending those tones with other musicians. Piano students rarely, if ever, have an opportunity to play with other musicians. We use specially arranged scores that give each pianist their own part in one piece. Five grand pianos are arranged tail to tail in a circle so that each pianist can make eye contact with all of the others. This allows visual cueing which is necessary as a team plays a piece without a conductor. I’m currently directing two separate teams both of which will have a culminating performance in Feb. I run the teams on a semester basis and they are open to any pianist (child or adult) who is willing to take up the study of these gestures.


Currently, in addition to teaching individual students, I’m working toward a certification in teaching these gestures. There are only four teachers with such a certification in the US. Also, I’m considering a music director position with a local theatre as well as looking for a lobby pianist position at local hotels. Busy? Yes and loving it.

Artists We Admire

N. Jane Tan, the only person to hold the honor of being a Steinway artist strictly for her pedagogical work, is the founder-director ofThe Well-Prepared Pianist Institute (WPP Institute). Retiring after thirty years of teaching at Towson State University in Maryland, she is dedicating her energy to The well-Prepared Pianist teacher-training program and PianoTeams® ensembles. Her work in these high achievement curriculums is internationally recognized and has earned her Steinway’s 150th Anniversary Standard of Excellence gold medallion award in 2006. In the WPP program, teachers are taught the art of mentoring students in long-term permanent goals through left/right brain training, multi-sensory learning and multi-sensory memories. The goal for students is either to complete their learning and become independent pianists before entering high school, or to use their WPP training as foundation for advanced high school level study in preparation for careers in piano. The program has been started in China. 

PianoTeams®, an internationally registered trademark of WPP Institute, was a title coined to mean five pianists playing repertoire specifically composed or arranged for five pianos. It was originally conceived in 1979 for her college piano majors as a tool to develop spontaneous musicianship through interactive music-making.PianoTeams® began with orchestral favorites which Professor tan re-wrote for five pianos. Today, PianoTeams® repertoire has grown to include original works and pieces on traditional melodies. They are performed by a wide range of pianists from young beginners to concert artists worldwide.


Sponsored by Steinway & Sons Pianos, N. Jane Tan started the International Festival of The Well-Prepared pianist Institute in the United States. The centerpiece of the festival is the InternationalPianoTeams® Competition, which attracts teams of student pianists and teachers from around the world. Plans for the festival andPianoTeams® Competition in China are set to begin in the summer of 2010.


Raised by Chinese parents in the Philippines, Tan came to the U.S. as a Fulbright-Hays scholar to study with Leon Fleisher at the Peabody institute in Maryland. Besides Leon Fleischer, her mentors included another Artur Schnabel pupil, Edward Mattos. As one of the most sought-after master teachers, artist-lecturers and composers, Tan travels extensively internationally and from coast to coast in the U.S. Her WPP Institute has teacher-training centers scattered all over the U.S. and centers being planned internationally. As a writer-composer, her works are performed and studied in many countries throughout Asia and Europe.

Jobs and Services

Bookkeeping and Accounting Services

Tax Season is here! Organize your books and know where your business stands financially!!Aimee’s long time bookkeeper, Crystal Brooks, is an Independent Bookkeeper that specializes in accounting repair and maintenance.  Services provided are:

  • Financial Statements
  • Bookkeeping and payroll
  • General Ledger
  • Bank Reconcilliation
  • New Business Start-up
  • Quick Books Consultant
  • Tax Preparation

Affordable prices with a passion to help others reach Financial Clarity and Success.  For more information, contact Crystal Brooks of Crystal Clear Success at 818-335-4991 or

Dance Assistant Needed

Aimee is looking for a dance assistant to help her with classes at Studio A Dance Studio for about 3 hrs on Saturdays from 10:00 am – 1pm.  Classes focus on beginning ballet and tap for ages 5-8 at 10am, 2-3 yrs old @ 10:50am and 3-4 yrs @ 11:50am.


A stipend per hour will be offered based on experience, preferably a high school student to be paid comparable to babysitting rates.  If you know of anyone who would be interested please contact me at 323-244-8886 or email


Thank you for Building Self-Esteem and Literacy Through the Arts!!
Aimee Young Hopkins
Aimee Art Productions
Building Self-Esteem and Literacy Through the Arts


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