HSM Blog

Events and Activities at The Hunter School of Music and our Community

April 28, 2022: World Premiere of Pandemic Sonatine – Dr. Brian Ciach

On April 28th at 7:30PM, Instructor Brian Ciach will be performing the world premiere of his latest composition for piano, Pandemic Sonatine, in the Concert Hall of the Music Building at San Jose State University. On the program are several new works by his colleagues at SJSU, including the music of Andrew Blanton, Fred Cohen, Pablo Furman, Aaron Lington, and Chris Luna-Mega. Tickets are $20 for general admission/$5 students/$10 livestream. We hope to see you there!


January 2022: Custom Classical Music – John Barrientos

John Barrientos is a former student of the Hunter School of Music. He studied music theory and some piano with Dr. Brian Ciach. John was born with a number of congenital defects, one of which prevented him from reaching his full height. This in turn destroyed his dreams of becoming a concert pianist. Shortly after being introduced to music software by Dr. Ciach, he hit upon the idea of reducing classical music to fit his hands – and then publishing it for the benefit of others who, for one reason or another, also have smaller hands. He also conceptualized, unique as far as we know, of including measure-by-measure analysis of the many advanced harmonic devices Liszt used in the Rigoletto Paraphrase.  For more information on John Barrientos’ work, please visit here.

December 2021: Learning Ukulele

For students starting out in music, learning how to play the ukulele is a fantastic consideration.  It is one of the most popular instruments in the world.  Depending on time spent practicing, students can pick up some chords and play in a matter of months! Here is a fun video of Instructor Todd Kimball with a young student during a lesson: Click here.

November 2021: Dr. Brian Ciach’s Fifth Piano Sonata World Premiere

The Hunter School of Music’s Dr. Brian Ciach performed Rise to Burn (Fifth Piano Sonata) at the home of the School’s Director. It was a double-bill premiere: a performance of the work, discussion of the music, then a second performance. The fortunate attendees – some colleagues and current students – received signed copies of the new score. To view Rise to Burn, please click here.

April 2021: Re-Opening of In-Person Lessons Week:

After many months of everyone being remote at the Hunter School of Music, we finally had our first in-person lessons this week! With health improvements and following guidance and requirements from the County health department and with everyone being careful, almost everyone who wanted to be part of the first wave back were able to attend for in-person lessons. It was lovely to begin to see each other again (and some for the first time). Month-by-month, we see signs that we will be able to have everyone who wants to physically come in to do so. All of you who want to stay remote, whether because of travel preferences and scheduling logistics, or just not in the area, will be able to do so at your option. We are happy to accommodate both methods of instruction! Let us all keep the energy moving, as we prepare for the next event: The Spring Virtual Recital!


Spring 2019 Student Spotlight:

Miguel Gallegos and Willow Vanderpool are our spring 2019 student spotlights! Congratulations to them both for their hard work and love of music.

Miguel and Willow Student Spotlight Spring 2019

November 2018

HSM Piano Faculty Concert

Sunday, November 25th, 2:00pm, Mountain View Center for The Performing Arts.  The Hunter School of Music piano faculty, Amy Hunter, Philip Jung and Brian Ciach performed an incredible program featuring the music of Mussorgsky, Chopin, and the premier of Brian Ciach’s most recent composition.

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May 2018

Faculty Newsletter

Read what our amazing instructors have been up to recently by clicking: Faculty Newsletter May 2018!

Spring 2018 Student Spotlight:

Rachna Saha was chosen as our Spring 2018 Student Spotlight. Students who show consistent improvement, dedication, and passion for music are chosen to be highlighted by our school. Congratulations Rachna!

Student Spotlight, Rachna Saha

Winter 2017 Student Spotlight:

Congratulations to Adam Prett-Dermer for being selected as our Winter 2017 Student Spotlight. Read about Adam and check out his composition below!

Student Spotlight_Adam

Spring 2017 Student Spotlight:

Congratulations to Finn Harkness for being selected as our Spring 2017 Student Spotlight!

Finn Student Spotlight Spring 2017

Concerts at The Hunter School of Music, 3/31/17:

Friday night we hosted our first Groupmuse featuring classical guitarist Yuri Liberzon. Yuri performed pieces by Sor, Scarlatti, music from Uruguay and Argentina and more in front of a sold out audience. It was a spectacular evening and we look forward to having Yuri at our school again!

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International Composition Winner, Brian Ciach, March 2017:

Huge congratulations to Brian Ciach, piano, theory, and composition instructor at HSM, for winning an international call-for-scores competition for his piano trio, Parting Song. Check out this link to his piece:
Parting Song

Cello and Piano Concert, 1/14/17:

The Hunter School of Music hosted cellist Evan Kahn and pianist Eric Tran on Saturday evening. Evan and Eric performed an incredible program of Mendelssohn, Beethoven/Liszt, and Ysaye. The students and families who attending had a wonderful time as the school was filled with beautiful sounds!

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San Jose Metropolitan Band “Music To Die For” Halloween Concert, 10/22/2016:

We had a fantastic time at the San Jose Metropolitan Band Halloween Concert. They played awesome selections to get us all in the creepy spooky Halloween spirit and many of the students came to the concert in costume! Check out photos from our adventure together.

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Fall 2016 Student Spotlight:

Congratulations to Piper Hall and Kaitlyn Kumar for being chosen as our new student spotlights. You can read why they were chosen and hear their responses to questions about what music means to them below. Bravo!

Student Spotlight Final

Beethoven Center Visit, 9/10/16:

This is the second time that The Hunter School of Music has visited the Beethoven Center. Many new students to the school got to experience playing on a clavichord, harpsichord, and fortepiano for the first time. Thank you to Eric for sharing his wealth of knowledge about Beethoven and the artifacts at the Center. We will be sure to be back again! Check out the photos from our excursion.

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Free Monthly Youth Classes Have Resumed! 9/10/16:


MTAC Certificate of Merit, 4/3/16:

We are very happy and proud to announce that four of our piano students participated for the first time in the Certificate of Merit evaluations that are put on by Music Teachers’ Association of California on Sunday, April 3rd. All four students received “Excellent” results on their playing and passed the theory exams with flying colors. We are incredibly proud of their very hard work preparing for this day and all the focus and dedication they presented on the day of the exams. Congratulations Katelyn, Lillyana, Michelle, and Rachna!

Check out our first Student Spotlight, March 2016:

Student Spotlight showcases students at The Hunter School of Music that have shown exceptional improvement, motivation, or creativity. In March John received a place on the wall as our Student Spotlight.


San Jose Metropolitan Band Instrument Demo, 3/7/16:

The Hunter School of Music collaborated with the San Jose Metropolitan Band to put together a really special evening for all the students and families at the school. Members of the band and representatives from Music Village shared their instruments with the students allowing them to hold the instruments and even trying playing them! The kids (and parents!) were so curious and had such a fantastic time getting a chance to experience the instruments up close. Afterwards we were able to stay and listen to the band rehearse music from West Side Story! It was such a special evening for everyone involved proving once again that music is incredibly special and so enjoyable and fun!  Thank you to everyone in the San Jose Metropolitan Band and Music Village for helping to put together this special event for us.

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Certification Week, 11/2-7/15:

This year The Hunter School of Music initiated their own in house certification process for the students. Certification is a way to place each student at their playing level based on 4 categories; Technique, Sight Reading, Repertoire, and Theory. Knowing your playing level helps encourage students and instructors to reach new heights each year. It is inspirational, it builds strength in your playing, confidence, and keeps you on track for becoming a well rounded musician. We also offer certification in improvisation and composition for students that are studying those specialties as well. If a student is interested in taking part in the Certificate of Merit (CM) in the spring which is a recognized state-wide certification administered by Music Teachers’ Association of California (MTAC) then our in house certification help get them prepared for that exam as well. Congratulations to all the students that participated in our first certification!


Halloween Piano Class, 10/31/15:

Halloween is such a fun time of the year we decided why not have a special Halloween piano class? Adults and children met to perform spooky pieces, show off their costumes (and an iTunes gift card prize for best dressed), and enjoy some delicious treats after the class. We also learned how to manipulate sound using Logic Pro and created some great Halloween inspired loops!

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Field Trip to the Beethoven Center, 10/24/15:

On October 24th, 2015 we met up at the Beethoven Center on the 5th floor of the Dr. Martin Luther Ling Jr. Library for an excellent and informative tour.  Not only did we learn lots of exciting facts about Beethoven, see his famous lock of hair that possibly helped explain how he died, and see original manuscripts, we also got to play on a harpsichord, clavichord, and fortepiano! Check out pictures from this fantastic field trip.

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Concert in the Park, 8/2/15:

On Sunday, August 2, 2015 on a perfect summer afternoon we went to see a free concert in the park at San Jose State University by the Symphony Silicon Valley. They were performing Hollywood music and had free ice cream too!

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