A mother herself and with a background in social work and family therapy, Jessica Mitrovich, owner and founder of the Willow Glen Music School, understands exactly what kids need. Whether providing piano, guitar or voice lessons, Willow Glen’s teachers know that instruction needs to be fun and flexible. They are also experts at breaking concepts down for kids, so each pupil will feel successful. The school especially prides itself on its work with special needs pupils. Jessica firmly believes that musicians thrive when the foundational skills are in place from the beginning. Students are held accountable for being persistent about getting the basics right before moving on. In that way, learning is not just about mastering music: It is about taking risks, building self-confidence and practice good manners, as well. The school’s lovely space, tucked at the back away from the bustle of its downtown Willow Glen location, exudes that sense of calm peacefulness that breeds the patience required for devoted music study. One-on-one lessons start for children five (piano and voice) and older (guitar). Willow Glen’s warm and friendly teachers are especially strong in working with beginning pupils, young and old. For the 4-5 year olds, the school offers a group preparatory music class with games that teach a lot of pre-music skills, an excellent foundation for a student who wants to get started but may not have the physical coordination, the concentration or the reading readiness needed for formal one-on-one instruction. Can’t make it to the studio? Contact Jessica about music teachers coming to you.

by: Elizabeth Stitt

When Willow Glen piano teacher Jessica Mitrovich takes on a new student, she asks them to bring in five songs they’d like to learn to play. These days, she says, these lists are as likely to include the soundtrack to “World of Warcraft” as the latest hit from Taylor Swift.

But whether it’s video game music or Vivaldi, Mitrovich wants to make sure her students at Willow Glen Music School are engaged in what they’re learning.

“It really is case by case,” she says. “We look at the way each person learns.”

Mitrovich opened Willow Glen Music School in February after teaching piano out of her home for five years. Located in a Willow Street strip mall just off Lincoln Avenue, the school boasts three practice rooms with single pianos and a fourth with two uprights.

“We were at capacity [at my house],” Mitrovich says. “Now I have room to grow.”

This growth has included hiring a staff of six to teach piano, voice and guitar. While the school’s instructors all have backgrounds in music education and performance, Mitrovich says she hired them based on how they approached teaching a simple song.

These teaching styles range from having piano students sing the melody line of the piece they’re learning to having them creatively visualize the music through stories and drawings.

“A lot of traditional teachers don’t have that kind of mindset,” Mitrovich says, adding that while students at the school do learn theory and read music, it’s equally important for them to understand rhythm and melody on a fundamental level.

Typically, students are beginners in the 6-7 age bracket, but Mitrovich has a few senior piano students. She says these older students tend to have some musical experience but have been away from the keyboard for long enough to feel they’re starting from square one.

“A lot of adults call themselves beginners, but music is muscle memory,” she adds. “To me, they’re more like intermediate students.”

The school’s voice students are primarily tweeners and teenagers, many of whom have theatrical experience and were inspired by shows like “American Idol” to improve their vocal chops.

“Voice classes are very popular,” Mitrovich says. “It’s definitely in response to [these shows]. People see them and want to learn how to sing.”

Mitrovich, 38, has been teaching piano since she was 16. She did take on fewer students when she was earning her graduate degree from San Jose State University and then working as a licensed clinical social worker with special emphasis in family therapy. But she eventually came back to her first love.

“Once I became a mom and had my degree and was doing the work I was supposed to be doing, it wasn’t as rewarding or positive” as teaching piano, she says. “It’s draining when you have kids. It’s not a good balance, whereas music is a great balance. It feels 99 percent positive.

“It’s not that I don’t get tired at the end of the day, but I feel good.”

Willow Glen Music School is located at 1060 Willow St., Suite 9. Weekly 30-minute lessons are $165 per month. For more information, visit willowglenmusicschool.com.

Lauren and Joseph are brother and sister and are both beginner piano students at Willow Glen Music School. Their teacher Joyce raves about them, she talks about Joseph’s energetic approach to learning music and Lauren’s lighting learning speed. Playing music with other in your family is such a support and gift. My sister and I both played instruments and I cherish the times we had together at the piano. We were always creating something.

I love to see families that get everyone is engaged. We are happy you found us and want to formally welcome you to Willow Glen Music School.


At Willow Glen Music School, we tailor the lessons to your individual music goals. Sammy wants to learn to sing, but is a bit young for traditional vocal lessons,

so the best fit plan for her was to learn the piano and voice. This way she could accompany herself as she exercises her voice and develops her song writing skills. Sometimes learning to sing can be an abstract concept for younger children,  so learning the piano or guitar in combination can help them develop themselves as a well rounded musician and also give their voice time to mature. We are so happy to have Sammy at

Willow Glen Music School.

In This Month’s Newsletter:

  • Musicians Rock
  • Welcome New Students
  • SPECIAL INTEREST: Sponsoring

Sherly Carolina Zapata Borrell

  • Is your teacher sold out?
  • Student of the Month: Sophia Corioso
  • Teacher Feature: Chris A.
  • Refer A Friend And Get One Free Lesson


Important Dates


No classes -November 22 and 23rd


Christmas Break

December 23rd- January 1st

Musicians Rock!

Have you ever thought about the fact that some of the most successful people you know are also musicians? For instance, look at political figures. Condeleeza Rice wanted to be a concert pianist before she pursued a degree in international relations. Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson played multiple instruments. Mahatma Ghandi reportedly played the concertina.


How about Jennifer Lopez or David Bowie? They all are successful musicians, who also are successful business entrepreneurs. On Celebrity Apprentice on NBC last year, 3 out of the top 4 finalists were musicians! That’s right, when country music star John Rich won the show, it resulted in back to back seasons during which the top prize went to a musician. Somehow, the skills that a musician develops are the same ones that people look for when hiring a CEO!


So what does playing an instrument do for you? Researchers have discovered that musical activity engages nearly every region of the brain that we know about. There is no other activity quite like it! It helps strengthen the pathways and circuits between the different parts of the brain. But it also fosters creativity. Creativity includes thinking outside the box, problem-solving, and being an innovator. These people go far in life because they are always creating new solutions!


And this brings up an important point: when your child is jamming out or experimenting with sounds on his instrument, he’s involved in valuable practice time because he’s developing his own creative side! Some of the time spent on the instrument should be unstructured, and include trying new things, experimenting, and making up their own music

My students love to create new additions to songs, compose their own pieces, and come up with original rhythm patterns. This training will serve them well as they continue in their lives. Have you been disturbed by the “art” funding cuts that have been made in the school system over the last years? I have watched in dismay as music programs are condensed or cut altogether. Budget restrictions mean that something has to change, but unfortunately, classes in music and art education are often considered “optional”. This couldn’t be further from the truth!


Now this is a little scary to me, but other educators are seeing a difference in our kids today versus several years ago. For instance, dance instructors tell me that it now takes more work and time to try to teach the same concepts, unless the child has had extra music training outside of school.

Music trains your brain the same way exercise trains your body. It enables it to work better, faster, and more creatively, while engaging many areas of the brain all at the same time. Kids who study music achieve higher grades in school. One of our parents writes, “We have seen dramatic improvement the last few months and I know that the discipline involved with learning piano is helping him in school and other areas of his life.” (Elaine B.) So why is music education considered optional?


Musical training has been found to be far superior to computer instruction in that it dramatically enhances children’s abstract reasoning skills, the skills you need when learning math and science. It also increases spatial intelligence by helping with problem-solving skills. The musical brain generally has a longer attention span, and adapts better to new challenges. Another parent: “When my son started taking piano lessons, he was struggling to complete math speed drills in the given amount of time. I had heard that learning piano helps wire the brain in mathematical ways. After one year of piano, my son completes his speed drills with time left over, and his answers are still accurate.” (Trina K.)


….So I want to congratulate you on making a smart choice by investing in music lessons. Go ahead and play! Pick up a new song and challenge yourself. The fact that it’s relaxing and therapeutic is just an extra bonus. Keep on rockin’!

Courtesy of the Brill Academy of Music

Welcome New Students:

Annabelle R.

Maria B.

Austin H.

Sammy K.


Sign up for one of our group classes that meet the 3rd Saturday of the month from 10am to 11am.

Maximum of four students per class so call or email to get your spot reserved.

The class is a fun, upbeat approach  to music which focuses on sight reading, group rhythm playing, performance experience and learning something new!


Sophia C.

  1. What instruments do you play?  Piano
  2. How long have you taken lessons? For about a year.
  3. Who are your favorite musical artists? I listen to Voclaloid, a computer generated kind of Japanese pop
  4. What are your other hobbies besides music? I put lots of time into Anime and the Internet, surfing the web, etc…
  5. What’s the coolest thing you have learned in your music lessons in the past three months?  Finally, learned to play an instrument! I’ve learned to play little tunes that I find here and there.
  6.  Do you have any performances coming up? No, I am sorry to say. Though I might go into next semester play at my school.

Is your Teacher Sold Out?

Jessica (Piano)

Monday- 315


Wednesday- FULL

Thursday- 330pm

Matt (Voice & Guitar)

Monday- 6pm

Tuesday- FULL

Saturday- 1045am

Erica (Piano & Guitar)

Friday- FULL

Saturday- FULL


John (Piano)

Thursday- 6pm

Sunday- 230pm

Joyce (Piano)

Tuesday- 215pm

Thursday- 315pm

Chris (Guitar)

Wednesdays- 430pm

Teacher Feature: CHRIS A.

1. What is the thing you like most about  teaching?

The coolest moments in teaching are the little connections I get to make with students; when they’re really excited about a new song they’re learning or have just flawlessly played a part they were struggling with.  Seeing that glint in their eyes when the puzzle of the guitar fretboard starts making more and more sense.  That’s when both of you really get the most out of a lesson, when you’re learning and having a great time with it.

2. How do you inspire your students to practice more? From the very first day we talk about why they want to learn guitar, which is the most important question to ask.  Everyone loves different music, and I try to get to the core of that.  If they see themselves strumming along to their favorite songs and singing, or playing classical music they find beautiful, or jamming to classic rock, it’s my job to get them there.  When you work on the things you really love doing, “practice” turns into a habit that you don’t want to quit.


3. What is your favorite type of music?

I listened to classic rock 24/7 when I was growing up, which has really affected my taste down the line.  The Clash, Boston, Led Zeppelin – you listen to something enough and it just becomes a part of you.  That’s the reason I picked up a guitar for the first time in middle school.  I heard these incredibly meaningful sounds from these incredible musicians and just thought “I want to make those sounds,” and that was it.  Lately I’ve also been ramping up my interest in classical music.  The masters like Bach and Mozart achieved this perfection in their composing which is stunningly beautiful.  You don’t want to change a single note.

4. Tell me about who you are performing with.

Last spring I got to play with the Santa Clara University Choir in the magnificent Mission Church.  It was a gospel-style version of Creedence
Clearwater Revival’s “Down on the Corner,” and it was the most amazing place to play.  Lately I’ve been busy with school, but I’m starting to
work on my Senior Recital which will take place at SCU in the spring.
5. If you could give a quick tip for guitarists what would it be? Focus on playing the music you love to hear and want to learn.  If you can stay motivated, you’ll be amazed at how fast you progress.



Our school is sponsoring a child from Nicaragua Meet Sherly Carolina Zapata Borrell!

Happy Birthday


It’s Sherly’s Birthday this month! On November 22nd she will be turning 5 years old! I will be sending her a birthday gift at the end of the month.

If you have suggestions on what you think she would

like please let us know. Also, if you would like to send

 birthdays cards or just write something  special to her, I will

 include it in the package. Please pass on any cards or letters

 to  your music teacher. At the compassion center where

 Sherly attends, the staff will translate the letters for her and

 read them to her.

Where is Nicaragua?

Nicaragua is located in Central America, south of

Mexico.  Sherly lives in Managua, the capital

 city.  In 1972 a devastating earthquake destroyed

the city anda civil war  that ended in 1979 took its

toll on the country’s economy.  The country did

not  have the money  or  infrastructure to rebuild

 and fix all the damage.  Many people that live

 in this city are very poor and  struggle daily for the

basic necessities that we have.  Sponsoring Sherly

 means  that she will have access  to healthy meals,

   vaccines, educations support, and much more.

Refer a Friend and get ONE FREE Lesson!

If you have a friend who might like to take lessons, if you refer them to our School and they take 1 month of lessons, we’ll give you 1 lesson for FREE!

Free Lesson Gift Certificate

Thank you                                                                   

For referring                                                  ____________To Willow Glen Music School


To redeem your free lesson call 408.455.8043 to sign up for additional lessons any day of the week with your teacher or any of our teachers.  You are welcome to try another instrument or give this to a friend.  Lessons cannot be re-scheduled once on the school’s calendar.   Certificates cannot be used for refunds to your account or cash.


Given by:                                             Date:               

Annabelle started piano lessons here at Willow Glen Music School about a month ago.  Her teacher Joyce says she is a gifted and delightful student to work with. She picks things up fast in her lessons. Her mom also plays piano, which is a big bonus! We are so happy you found us and look forward to hearing you play in the next recital.

beginner piano lessons in san jose ca

Piano lessons are great for helping kids learn to focus and concentrate. Here the student is doing an excellent job of keeping his eyes on the music while maintaining a consistent rhythm. I love playing duets with my students because it’s fun and it helps improve timing and rhythm as well as sets them up for future endeavors like paying in bands or ensembles.



Should Your Kids Play an Instrument?

 (Excerpt from http://homeschooling.penelopetrunk.com)

“It’s the start of the school year, which is when parents invariably ask me where we take music lessons. And if they should let their kid start.  And what’s it like. My answer is usually, “Yes, definitely your kid should play an instrument. If you are willing to drive yourself nuts with the practicing.”

I have had to drink half a bottle of wine to face cello practice. I have eaten a whole cake while I was dying of boredom listening to the same song 500 times.  That said, here are the benefits of playing an instrument that keep me going day after day:


1. Self-regulation. People who are better at regulating themselves are happier people. Mostly because all the research about how to make ourselves happier requires us to improve our own self-regulation. The Stanford marshmallow experiment confirms this research. Kids were asked to delay the gratification of eating a marshmallow. And it turns out that there’s a tight correlation between not eating the marshmallow and learning a lot; kids who are good at self-regulation learn more in their life. So music is a way to learn self-discipline, really. Whatever else comes from music is great, but it’s extra. I can’t control how talented the kids are or how much they love music, but I can control if they learn the muscle that allows them to not eat the marshmallow until later.

2. Self-esteem. My oldest son is not in love with his instrument. He largely has played it because I make him. But when I finally told him he could quit, he chose not to. Why? Because he likes that he worked so hard at something and now he’s good at it. He is noticing, now, that he is special because he can stand up in front of people and play songs they appreciate. He plays fiddle music, which is fun and uncomplicated and people connect to it right away. He has a knack for the rhythms and he makes people bounce their knees. This makes him feel good. He has definitely learned that if you work hard at something you get good at it.

Certainly there are tons of things a kid can work hard at to gain self-esteem. But it’s a supremely difficult skill to learn—to work hard past when it is fun. Seth Godin wrote a whole book on how common it is, even in adults, to set a big goal for themselves and quit when it gets hard. (The Dip. Read it. It’s short and I love this book.)  I’m not sure I would have had the strength, on my own, to push the kids so forcefully at something that is so difficult as a string instrument. Having a Suzuki program is a great support system to give me the ability to show them how to work at something this difficult.

3. Music instead of math or a second language.
When people say that everyone should learn math, they are not talking about addition, subtraction, and multiplication. Because every neurotypical  kid who has parents who can do that math will learn that math somehow by the time they are fifteen. What people are talking about is higher math, like algebra and geometry, that teach different ways to think. But music is a different way to think as well. In the same way: systems, rules, new way to see the world. So when other parents ask me how I cannot teach math I say, “How could you not teach music?”

Learning an instrument is not for everyone. Practicing every day sucks. But then, so does doing a math workbook every day to solve for x. Or sending a kid away to Beijing for a year to become fluent in Chinese. Which brings me back to that book about the Dip, really. That teaching a kid to do something hard is hard for the parent as well. Music is not an exception to that, but if you don’t pick one really difficult thing to teach your kid then you are not teaching the most important thing, which is to keep going when it seems too hard.


Our school is sponsoring a child from Nicaragua

Meet Sherly Carolina Zapata Borrell!

Each month, we will provide an update about how Sherly is doing.  We chose Sherly because she is from the same country and city that my husband is from, Managua City the capital of Nicaragua.  Sherly is 5 years old, attends kindergarten and likes to sing and play with her dolls.

Sherly lives with her mother and father. She is responsible for making beds, running errands and cleaning. Her father is employed as a laborer and her mother maintains the home. There are 2 children in the family. Singing, playing house and art are Sherly’s favorite activities.

The challenges of growing up in Nicaragua: Sherly lives on the plains of Domitila Lugo, home to approximately 8,000 residents. Typical houses are constructed with corrugated iron roofs. The language spoken is Spanish. The regional diet consists of maize, beans, bananas, chicken, beef, plantains, tortillas and rice. Common health problems in this area include dengue, parasites, flu,  gastro -intestinal and respiratory illnesses. Half of the adults in Barrio Domitila Lugo are unemployed but some work in factories and earn the equivalent of $85 per month.   This community has water and electricity but needs employment opportunities and improved housing.


Willow Glen Music School’s sponsorship of Sherly provides her with medical checkups, vaccinations, health education, social events, special celebrations, tutoring and school supplies. Sponsors are able to meet with her parents to learn about her health and educational needs.


Is your Teacher Sold Out?

Jessica- Piano

Monday- 315pm

Tuesday- FULL

Wednesday- 4pm

Thursday- FULL

Matt- Voice & Guitar

 Monday- 6pm

Saturday- 1045am

Erica- Piano & Guitar


John- Piano


Sunday- 230pm

Joyce- Piano


Thursday- 415pm



430pm &530pm

Welcome New Students:

Patrick A.

Angelica S.

Arjun S.

Mia S.

Maya S.

Lauren B.

Joseph M.

Kelsey D


Maya J.

  1. What instruments do you play?  Piano
  2. How long have you taken lessons? One Year.
  3. Who are your favorite musical artists? Genesis, White Stripes.
  4. What are your other hobbies besides music? Swimming.
  5. What’s the coolest things you have learned in your music lessons in the past three months?  Slur, grace notes.
  6. Do you have any performances coming up? no

Willow Glen Music School would like to thank Maya for referring her friends to the school.

Teacher Feature:   MATT

1. What is the thing you like most about teaching? My favorite thing is when a student accomplishes something that they are proud about. It is always rewarding to know that what I teach brings happiness to my students.

2. How do you inspire your students to practice

more?  When I was learning to play the guitar and to sing, the thing that inspired me the most was learning to play songs that I enjoyed listening to. I try to emulate this practice as much as I can with my own students and have had great success with it.

3. What is your favorite type of music?

My favorite type of music is rock music. I also listen a lot to musical theatre, classical, and operatic music.

4. Tell me about who you are performing with.

 I perform with many different ensembles as well as solo repertoire. I am a chorus member at Opera San Jose. I am a member of the Concert Choir and the Choraliers at San Jose State University. I perform recitals pretty regularly at San Jose State and I am also a member of the choir at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Los Gatos.

5. If you could give a quick tip for guitarists and vocalists what would it be? I would give two tips to any musicians, not just vocalists or guitarists.  1. Find music that you love and, 2. Practice daily.

Here are dates of concerts I will be performing in for the next few months:

  • Sat October 20th – Choir Concert at Campbell UMC 7:30
  • Friday November 23rd – Andrea Bocelli Concert at HP pavilion
  • Friday November 30th – Amahl and the Night Visitors at Concert Hall 7:30
  • Saturday December 1st – Amahl and the Night Visitors at Valley Christian 7:30
  • Friday December 7th – Opera Scenes Program at Concert Hall 7:30

Also in the Spring I will be performing the role of Figaro in Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro (the marriage of figaro)!

We are enrolling new students each week. Mia started Piano Lessons in September. Look at her focus and concentration. She is on the right track!
Arjun started piano lessons two weeks ago. He is super enthusiastic. He asks a lot of questions and is fully engaged in learning to play an instrument. We are happy to have both of you here at Willow Glen Music School.