Today we’d like to introduce you to Sandy Pulido.
Sandy, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
After a 20-year voyage of what I thought was the conventional way of figuring out my calling in life, I discovered my true passion and vocation – becoming a full-time piano teacher.
Teaching wasn’t initially on my radar. When I first started learning piano at 9 years old, I had one of those piano teachers who made me cry! Even though my lessons with this nightmare teacher ended, it didn’t stop me from trying to learn on my own. The turning point was when my eldest sister asked me to play a song on the piano for her wedding. I still remember what I played – “A Whole New World” from Disney’s Aladdin. I was 14.
From that point, I asked my parents to take lessons again. I was so excited to get started at AMUSE Music Center in Rolling Hills Estates. There I met my piano teacher who changed my life, Hyeja Chong Ganahl. With her guidance, I learned all about the Classics and was completely inspired by her teaching. Through her encouragement, my love for piano continued to grow throughout high school and college.
I double majored in Music and Business Administration at Mount St. Mary’s University in Los Angeles, CA and was introduced to teaching by taking a pedagogy course. I taught my first two students who were only 6 and 7 years old and I loved every minute of it!
At that time, however, I was at a crossroads of deciding what I wanted to do in life and continued to keep piano and teaching on the side. With my mentor, Dr. Laura Hyatt, I became a huge Arts advocate and explored several jobs:
1) My first job out of college was a Production Assistant for the Los Angeles County Arts Commission. The funny thing is that when my coworkers heard about my musical background, I was asked to play piano at Los Angeles County Supervisor Don Knabe’s re-election celebration at the Walt Disney Concert Hall!
2) Then I went for my Master’s Degree in Public Policy at Pepperdine University in Malibu and delivered my capstone project about Arts Education in California. During that time, I interned for Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich and even aspired to become an Arts Deputy.
3) After I received my Master’s Degree, I got a full-time job…completely unrelated to music! I worked as a Contract Compliance Analyst for the City of Los Angeles and analyzed and drafted Rules and Regulations for City Ordinances. However, (just like my first job) once word got around the office that I played and taught piano, my job became filled with music once again. Not only did I start teaching my coworkers’ kids, I joined up with a few of my colleagues who played the cello and clarinet, and performed as a Trio in a talent show!
At that point, I began to realize that teaching piano could be more than just something on the side. After much prayer and long conversations with family, I took the plunge…
I decided that I was going to do what I loved to do and teach piano full-time.
I made the announcement to my boss, directors, and the rest of my colleagues and mentors that I was going to pursue my dream to teach piano. While it came as a shock, they were all so happy for me. They even threw me a “going away” party and gave me a memento to remember – a white miniature grand piano engraved with the words “the pause is as important as the note.”
Before I left, one of my coworkers even approached me with a deal I just couldn’t refuse – he had a 1929 Steinway L Grand Piano sitting in his home to sell to me. Everything just seemed right!
Once I became self-employed, I started teaching full force and established Miss Sandy’s Piano Studio. I was so busy! I was teaching out of my parents’ home in Wilmington, drove back and forth to teach at AMUSE Music Center (the same place where I first met my piano teacher!), and to students’ homes in Palos Verdes, Harbor City, and Torrance. I also became involved with the local Music Teachers Association of California (MTAC) South Bay Branch and was a chairperson for the Certificate of Merit Exam for several years.
Then in 2011, I got married to my longtime boyfriend, Mike, and we moved to Rancho Palos Verdes. We had a tiny 500 square foot apartment with half of it dedicated toward my studio! While the space was literally a “tiny home,” it was there that my studio became centralized and steadily grew.
A few years after that, I was blessed with another life changing event – I was going to have a baby! So, with our family expanding, my husband and I made the decision to find a new larger, more permanent place to live and grow our family. At that moment, my studio was full with a waiting list.
After years of searching, my husband and I with our daughter found the home of our dreams in San Pedro and got the keys on Halloween night of last year. We spent time remodeling our home, and a month later, my studio was finished. Equipped with a separate entrance, enclosed waiting area and teaching area large enough to hold recitals, it’s been truly a huge blessing for me to call it home base for Mrs. Sandy’s Piano Studio ever since.
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 was bumpy all the way! Making the decision to become a full-time piano teacher was nerve wracking. I had to make sure that what I was doing was feasible and created a financial analysis and business plan to see if it was going to be worth it.
Was it worth it? Is the Pope Catholic? You better believe it!
I can’t tell you how grateful I am to all the families I’ve worked with over the 16 years I’ve been teaching. This is especially so when I had significant life events (changing careers, getting married, having a baby, and moving several times!). I am happy to finally have a studio with a permanent location. Looking back, I know I couldn’t have done it without my Catholic faith, support from family, friends, teachers, coworkers, mentors, students and parents, and my closest supporter for life – my husband.
Mrs. Sandy’s Piano Studio – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
Mrs. Sandy’s Piano Studio empowers its students to become proficient musicians. From day one, we take the time at our first meeting to get to know each other, learning style, interests and goals. Whether a student is a beginner or a transfer student, we make sure that we will fill any gaps in education so the student has a strong and well-rounded musical foundation in repertoire, theory, technique, ear training, and sight reading. We take special care in improving performance through memory techniques. Students also range in interest from recreational music making to wanting to Major/minor in music in college.
Mrs. Sandy’s Piano Studio also teaches students as young as 3 years old through a new music discovery and piano exploratory program called KiddyKeys, school-aged kids and teenagers, motivated adults, (including those well into their 60s-80s!) and students with special needs. Overall, any student who comes in wanting to learn the piano develop a genuine interest in making music. In all cases, we celebrate each and every tiny success along the way.
What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
I can’t think of anything that makes me prouder than being a mom to my 2-year-old daughter Marianne. As a piano teacher, it gives me the flexibility to see her wake up in the morning and spend time with her. Lately she’s been asking to play on the piano herself! I only wish for her to go after her own dreams and grow up feeling empowered to do what she also loves.
- Address: Home Studio located near the cross streets of Westmont and Gaffey.
- Website: www.itspianotime.com
- Phone: (310) 346-8992
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Facebook: www.facebook.com/itspianotime
- Yelp: https://www.yelp.com/biz/mrs-sandys-piano-studio-san-pedro
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