We chat with JAMES COOK and ESHANA SHARMA, co-founders of Zen Music which offers lessons in guitar, piano, drums and more, about putting the fun back into learning an instrument!
Give us some background to the launch of Zen Music.
We started the company about three years ago – and at first it was just James teaching guitar and piano lessons around Hong Kong, and Eshana working on the administrative side.
We believe that teaching is about more than simply imparting information. A teacher’s responsibility is to create an enjoyable learning experience, and to teach the ancillary skills that are necessary for successful learning, such as good practice habits, discipline and focus.
James started creating various resources for his students, including custom-designed versions of their favourite songs, adjusted for their skill level. This way, they could immediately learn the songs that made them excited about playing music in the first place. These methods proved to work very well, and now we’ve grown to a large staff of amazing teachers who share the same philosophy, methods and resources.
Today, people come to us looking for lessons in the instrument of their choice. Based on their unique musical interests, we choose the best suited teacher for them and schedule private lessons at their home.
What are some of the instruments you teach?
We offer lessons in guitar, piano, drums, ukulele and bass guitar. We also have teachers on staff who can teach traditional Chinese and Indian instruments such as the tabla and the pipa, as well as Western orchestral instruments such as the flute and violin.
Tell us more about how students’ own personal music interests are catered for at Zen Music.
Once we’ve paired up a student with a compatible teacher, we check in regularly with both the student and teacher to make sure the student is progressing towards their goals and enjoying the learning process. We help them to refine their goals and break them down into manageable projects, and then provide the resources they’ll need to achieve those goals while also playing the particular music that they love.
Who is on your team and what kind of background in music do they have?
Our teachers come from a diverse variety of impressive career backgrounds. For example, one of our drum teachers has performed on a world tour with Cirque du Soleil, and one of our guitar teachers has performed internationally with Phil Collins. You can take a look at profiles for each of our instructors on our website.
In your view, why is music education and learning an instrument important?
Whether music is a part of someone’s career goals or just something they enjoy as a pastime, learning an instrument is an amazingly beneficial activity. For children in particular, many studies have demonstrated that learning a musical instrument is correlated with better academic success in their other subjects. Hand-eye coordination, discipline and perseverance are just a few of the many transferable skills one typically gains by learning a musical instrument.
What’s in store for Zen Music for 2023?
One service we’re excited to start providing is a multi-day camp that kids can attend during their summer or winter break, where they’ll have the chance to play their instruments in groups with other students and perform for an audience. We also plan to implement a learning path for our students which teaches them how to be teachers themselves, including communication skills and entrepreneurial acumen.
Whether music is their primary pursuit or a part-time job on the side, we want to take it from a pipe dream to an achievable reality.
This article first appeared in the Winter 2022/23 issue of Expat Living magazine. Subscribe now so you never miss an issue.