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Meet Machiko Hill of Machiko Music in Culver City

Today we’d like to introduce you to Machiko Hill.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Machiko. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I was born and raised in Chiba, Japan. My parents used to take me to eurythmic classes at the Yamaha music school when I was 3. I still remember how fun the classes were. I experienced a lot of singing and movement with music in the class. I always loved playing the piano ever since, I was exposed to it at age 5 at the music school. I never had a chance to enter a music university in Japan, however, I was able to use my piano skills at a preschool in Tokyo, where I worked for 5 years and watched over 100 children.

I came to the U.S. alone in 2008 as a live-in babysitter to pursue my dream of acquiring English skills. I never stopped playing the piano because it really heals me everytime I play the piano.

I eventually obtained a student visa and studied music at the community college and transferred to a four-year college in Bay area. I finished my bachelor’s degree with a piano performance emphasis from California State University East Bay. Within a month of graduation, I was able to find a piano teaching job in SF. While striving to be a better employee, I started thinking about my future that one day, I want to start my own piano teaching business. Around the same time, I got married to my wonderful supportive husband who always encourages me to keep pursuing my dream!

In 2015, I was randomly looking through job search websites and came across a job posting stating that the person who posted would help you build your own piano studio. Through this person, I learned about the Suzuki method and its piano teacher training. It was very interesting because the method actually came from Japan but I never heard of it in Japan! After participating in the teacher training at the university in Oakland, I slowly started getting “private” students outside of the music studio. I was able to leave the music studio and started my own piano teaching business in January 2016. In the same year, I traveled to Greensboro, North Carolina to complete another music training; I received a Kindermusik educator license, which allows me to give music and movement classes to babies and their caregivers.

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?
It is challenging but I love it! A few months after I opened my music studio in San Francisco, my husband got a new job in Santa Monica. At that time, I had about 40 private students and had just begun holding the group classes for babies and their caregivers. My husband and I moved to Culver City in September 2017. I didn’t know anyone and I had to advertise my teaching business from scratch. Fortunately, my new neighbor asked me about the Suzuki method and I was able to start giving lessons soon after my husband and I settled into a new place. More people contacted me and started taking lessons with me after seeing my advertisement.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Machiko Music – what should we know?
I provide private piano lessons. Lessons are usually 30 minutes, 45 minutes or an hour. I specialize in the Suzuki method. It is a listening-based method. In growing up, my piano teacher never introduced me to playing the piano by ear. I am very good at sight-reading music and it’s really fun and exciting to play from sheet music but I wish my ear could have been trained more at an early age. I studied Jazz in college and I love improvisation as well. I let my students try improvisation and freely express themselves without reading music.

One time, I had a piano teacher who scared me by poking my fingers with a pencil whenever I make mistakes during the lessons. However, that experience didn’t stop me from playing the piano. It actually led me to determine to become a teacher who embraces every one of my students no matter what and to respect how he or she plays the piano during lessons. I want my students to gain confidence through taking lessons from me. I want to guide my students to discover their unlimited potential within them through expressing themselves by playing music. Most importantly, I want them to find joy in piano playing!

I also offer group classes. In the Kindermusik (researched-based music and movement class), infants and toddlers are exposed to different sounds, genres of music and a variety of instruments. Children in the class develop cognitive and gross-fine motor skills though the musical activities (dancing, playing instruments and singing). It is a wonderful environment where caregivers and children deepens their relationship. My goal for this class is that children and caregivers make new friends, exchange parental information, relax, have fun without being worried about things in their busy lives and enjoy the moment with their loved ones!

Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
When I was probably around the 3rd grade, my mother taught me about a story of pollyanna, a girl who faced unfortunate situations, one after another. However, she was always optimistic because she was able to find “something in everything to be glad about”. My mother taught me through the story that we can be happy or miserable depending on how we look at things. It’s much more exciting and fun if we can see problems in our lives positively and treat them as a chance to grow like pollyanna does.

I practice SGI Nichiren Buddhism and elevate my life condition through chanting Nam-Myoho-Renge kyo every morning and evening with my husband, so that we won’t be swayed by any circumstances. This practice has been motivating me to keep going and achieve my dreams, one by one. Some of my dreams may come true quickly, while some not. Most importantly, the practice taught me to “never give up.” Having a “never-giving-up” spirit definitely leads me to succeed.

Contact Info:


Image Credit:
Oscar Nunez

Getting in touch: VoyageLA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

1 Comment

  1. Marlene Owens

    March 6, 2018 at 19:37

    This is great,I do have to brag on my lovely, so talented, professional,
    daughter in law, I told her I wanted to see if she can help with refresher course on the piano, she is good with children or adults, I have never seen or heard someone that plays the piano like she does, and she is very patient with her students,, my whole family adores her and supports her dream to teach and play the piano, and she has also learned to play other instruments, like the Flute,(I played too in High School, Norfolk, Virginia this was a great recognition to Machiko Hill, she deserves it, and she has even taught some piano to her husband ( my son ) if he can , she can teach everyone, young or old…she is such a great lady to give back her love for Piano Music…

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