Legato is committed to providing high quality performing arts education to students. We engage with, encourage, and nurture all students to achieve their goals.
We Strive To...
Provide the foundations for a lifelong love of music for each student.
Nurture in every student the potential for expressing themselves through music.
Teach the language of music through the study of instruments, singing, and performing skills that give children a strengthened sense of self-worth and compassion.
Foster a close-knit community of instructors, students, and parents. We believe this is a key aspect in students' growth.
Provide an environment to create the next generation of leaders and educators who will make a better and more caring world through music.
In Hope of a New World
Legato Music School was founded by educator Haruna Shiokawa-Mo in May 2009.
Originally from Japan, Haruna relocated to the United States in 1997. She studied music in the South and Midwest to find herself and restart her life in the “New World". After many years of teaching in public schools, charter schools, private schools, and community centers in the West Valley, Haruna founded Legato Music School to continue nurturing students of all different age groups. It has been her wish that Legato Music school will be a joyous place where students and teachers are able to connect with one another, hence the name Legato. It is also Haruna's hope that teachers and students will have opportunities to perform together, sharing the same stage.
Each May, Legato holds a student and faculty recital as part of this realization.
This year we are proud to celebrate Legato's 9th anniversary.
We Believe in music education for all
Our instructors are experienced in working with a diverse body of students. Many of our instructors have previously taught at public schools, charter schools, and private schools, and a number of our faculty have been teaching for decades. Each student will have their own personalized curriculum - we will work with every student individually in an encouraging setting. Our teachers are able to assist all students in realizing their potential, whether they desire a career in music, or simply a deeply rewarding hobby.
We hold annual meetings between teachers, parents, and our Principal. Our instructors provide personalized reports and we discuss each student's progress face to face, with feedback on what is necessary for their growth. We also discuss the possibilities of whether the student should undertake certifications or competitions, and if the instrument or the instructor is a good match for them. We tailor these goals in order to better enhance the student's future at Legato and in music education.
Instruction in 25 instruments
Piano, Jazz Piano, Violin, Viola, Cello, Double Bass, Voice, Flute, Recorder, Clarinet, Oboe, Saxophone, Ukulele, Classical Guitar, Acoustic & Electric Guitar, Electric Bass, Drum set, Orchestral/Band Percussion, Trumpet, Trombone, Baritone Horn, English Horn, French Horn, and Songwriting with Guitar and Piano.
recitals, competitions, and community service opportunities
We are proud to hold monthly recitals at Legato's Facility, and annual recitals at larger halls. Our faculty and student concert is inclusive and enjoyable. Each year, a musical repertoire is selected that allows students and instructors to perform together. Students will form an orchestra, band, choir, or musical theater group to perform with their instructors. Performances cover a wide range of genres - including classical, jazz, rock, and pop. Ensemble and choir students perform at senior centers and for nonprofit organizations annually. Legato students consistently achieve outstanding results in many certifications and competitions, as well as in auditions.
Since 2009, Legato students have been selected as honor students in MTAC, MTNA, ABRSM, RCOM, and Guild Certifications.
Our students have been winners in Youth Focus, MTAC VOCE, CAPMT, MTNA, AFAF and international Prodigy Competitions.
The Benefits of Music
Whether your child is the next Beyonce or is more likely to sing their solos in the shower, they are bound to benefit from some form of music education. Research shows that learning do-re-mi can help children excel in a multitude of ways beyond the basic ABCs.
1. More Than Just Music
Research has found that learning music facilitates learning other subjects and enhances skills that children use in other areas. “A music-rich experience for children of singing, listening, and moving seriously benefits children as they progress into more formal learning,” says Mary Luehrisen, executive director of the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) Foundation, a non-profit group that promotes the pleasures involved in making music.
Music involves more than the voice or fingers playing an instrument; a child learning about music has to tap into multiple skill sets, often simultaneously. For instance, "people use their ears and eyes, as well as large and small muscles," says Kenneth Guilmartin, co-founder of Music Together, an early childhood music development program for infants through Kindergarten that involves parents or caregivers in the classes.
“Music learning supports all learning. Not that Mozart makes you smarter, but it’s a very integrating, stimulating pastime or activity,” Guilmartin says.
2. Language Development
“When you look at children aged two through nine, one of the breakthroughs in that area is music’s benefit for language development, which is extremely important at that stage,” says Luehrisen. While children come into the world ready to decode sounds and words, music education helps enhance those natural abilities. “Growing up in a musically rich environment is often advantageous for children’s language development,” she says. But Luehrisen adds that those inborn capacities need to be “reinforced, practiced, celebrated,” which can be done at home or in a more formal music education setting.
According to the Children’s Music Workshop, the effect of music education on language development can be seen in the brain. “Recent studies have clearly indicated that musical training physically develops the part of the left side of the brain known to be involved with processing language, and can actually wire the brain’s circuits in specific ways. Linking familiar songs to new information can also help imprint information on young minds,” the group claims.
This relationship between music and language development is also socially advantageous to young children. “The development of language over time tends to enhance parts of the brain that help process music,” says Dr. Kyle Pruett, clinical professor of child psychiatry at Yale School of Medicine and a practicing musician. “Language competence is at the root of social competence. Musical experience strengthens the capacity to be verbally competent.”
A study by E. Glenn Schellenberg at the University of Toronto at Mississauga, as published in a 2004 issue of Psychological Science, found a small increase in the IQs of six-year-olds who were given weekly voice and piano lessons. Schellenberg provided nine months of piano and voice lessons to a dozen six-year-olds, drama lessons (to see if exposure to arts in general versus just music had an effect) to a second group of six-year-olds, and no lessons to a third group. The children’s IQs were tested before entering the first grade, then again before entering the second grade.
Surprisingly, the children who were given music lessons over the school year tested on average three IQ points higher than the other groups. The drama group didn’t have the same increase in IQ, but did experience increased social behavior benefits not seen in the music-only group.
4. The Brain Works Harder
Research indicates the brain of a musician, even a young one, works differently than that of a non-musician. “There’s some good neuroscience research that children involved in music have larger growth of neural activity than people not in music training. When you’re a musician and you’re playing an instrument, you have to be using more of your brain,” says Dr. Eric Rasmussen, chair of the Early Childhood Music Department at the Peabody Preparatory of The Johns Hopkins University, where he teaches a specialized music curriculum for children aged two months to nine years.
In fact, a study led by Ellen Winner, professor of psychology at Boston College, and Gottfried Schlaug, professor of neurology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School, found changes in the brain images of children who underwent 15 months of weekly music instruction and practice. The students in the study who received music instruction had improved sound discrimination and fine motor tasks, and brain imaging showed changes to the networks in the brain associated with those abilities, according to the Dana Foundation, a private philanthropic organization that supports brain research.
5. Spatial-Temporal Skills
Research has also found a causal link between music and spatial intelligence, which means that understanding music can help children visualize various elements that should go together, like they would do when solving a math problem.
“We have some pretty good data that music instruction does reliably improve spatial-temporal skills in children over time,” explains Pruett, who helped found the Performing Arts Medicine Association. These skills come into play in solving multi-step problems one would encounter in architecture, engineering, math, art, gaming, and working with computers.
6. Improved Test Scores
A study published in 2007 by Christopher Johnson, professor of music education and music therapy at the University of Kansas, revealed that students in elementary schools with superior music education programs scored around 22 percent higher in English and 20 percent higher in math scores on standardized tests, compared to schools with low-quality music programs, regardless of socioeconomic disparities among the schools or school districts. Johnson compares the concentration that music training requires to the focus needed to perform well on a standardized test.
Aside from test score results, Johnson’s study highlights the positive effects that a quality music education can have on a young child’s success. Luehrisen explains this psychological phenomenon in two sentences: “Schools that have rigorous programs and high-quality music and arts teachers probably have high-quality teachers in other areas. If you have an environment where there are a lot of people doing creative, smart, great things, joyful things, even people who aren’t doing that have a tendency to go up and do better.”
And it doesn’t end there: along with better performance results on concentration-based tasks, music training can help with basic memory recall. “Formal training in music is also associated with other cognitive strengths such as verbal recall proficiency,” Pruett says. “People who have had formal musical training tend to be pretty good at remembering verbal information stored in memory.”
7. Being Musical
Music can improve your child’s abilities in learning and other non-music tasks, but it’s important to understand that music does not make one smarter. As Pruett explains, the many intrinsic benefits to music education include being disciplined, learning a skill, being part of the music world, managing performance, being part of something you can be proud of, and even struggling with a less than perfect teacher.
“It’s important not to oversell how smart music can make you,” Pruett says. “Music makes your kid interesting and happy, and smart will come later. It enriches his or her appetite for things that bring you pleasure and for the friends you meet.” While parents may hope that enrolling their child in a music program will make her a better student, the primary reasons to provide your child with a musical education should be to help them become more musical, to appreciate all aspects of music, and to respect the process of learning an instrument or learning to sing, which is valuable on its own merit.
“There is a massive benefit from being musical that we don’t understand, but it’s individual. Music is for music’s sake,” Rasmussen says. “The benefit of music education for me is about being musical. It gives you have a better understanding of yourself. The horizons are higher when you are involved in music,” he adds. “Your understanding of art and the world, and how you can think and express yourself, are enhanced.”
By Laura Lewis Brown PBS Parents