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Meet Jane Lee of Torrance Arts Academy and Palos Verdes Arts Academy in Southbay

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jane Lee.

Jane, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
About ten years ago, Torrance Arts Academy, (previously Hills Academy), opened its doors with 20 of my own music students. I was a music teacher for many years at different organizations, private schools, and also taught privately from my home. I have been a music student from the age of three. I played pieces by Bach before I could even put proper sentences together. I’ve lived a very intense high-speed life with music. From competitions to recitals, to auditions, to masterclasses, not to mention the hours and hours of daily practice, life was always very busy. But also very lonely.

That’s how the idea of the academy was birthed. I dreamt of a place where students could come together and not be lonely studying music! Collaboration, Community, and Camaraderie! Somewhere students could be creative outside of the practice room. These are the things that I felt like was missing from my crazy busy music life. That’s why Torrance/Palos Verdes Arts Academy began. I wanted to create a safe space for students of all ages to come together and grow together. The space is composed of many lesson rooms equipped with beautiful pianos and mirrors. We also have a Creative Art Studio to paint and sketch, along with a multi-purpose Dance/Performance hall. They sing, then they paint, then they may jump into a ballet class! It’s a beautiful thing. Now, we have more than 500 students taking classes here. We’re all family and we love continuing to grow this family everyday.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
I think growing pains are a very real thing. Going from a private teacher to a business owner in itself was an eye-opening experience to so many things I never considered or had to go through. Everything from city permits to zoning to construction nightmares, the list goes on an on. It definitely wasn’t a smooth road. It was very bumpy and nauseating. I wouldn’t have had it any other way. We learned so much and through every big and small struggle and obstacle, I believe we became stronger, more flexible, and able to handle the growth of the Academy.

Torrance Arts Academy and Palos Verdes Arts Academy (formerly known as Hills Academy) – what should we know? What do you do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
Torrance/Palos Verdes Arts Academy is a music, art, and dance school. We create a very unique space for all of our students and families because we focus on the process instead of the product. We give lessons in the arts all throughout the day to students of all ages. In addition to these classes and lessons, we also offer opportunities to perform and showcase their talents throughout the year. We just returned from an amazing trip to New York to perform at Carnegie Hall! We also have regular Teen Open Mic Nights where teens debut their original music, share their life, and also find connection to collaborate with other students. We are also very proud of our adult ensemble group. This group performs at places such as Saint Rocke, the Torrance Memorial Hospital, and Convalescent Homes throughout the year. We are most proud of our community, our hive, our family-environment, here at Torrance/Palos Verdes Arts Academy.

What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
Through the experience and network of the Arts Academy, I was able to start a non-profit organization called Musical Miracles. We offer music and art lessons to Title 1 schools as well as youth centers for students who would not be able to afford these types of classes. I am most proud of seeing this program grow from 50 weekly students to now, almost 500 students.

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