Volume 23, Issue 1 | August 2021
Jesse Micek, President
Olya Katsman, Vice President
Karen Wolff, Second Vice President
Millie Chiem, Treasurer
Philip Halseth, Corresponding Secretary
Ruth Zhou, Recording Secretary
Katherine Valdez, Membership Secretary & Referrals Chair
Grace Cheng, Director
Maria Ehlert, Director
Jed Galant, Director
Gloria Ho, Director
Lu Huang, Director & Website Administrator
Varvara Milinder, Director
David Ross, Director and Student Recitals

Maria Ehlert, Hospitality
Ruth Zhou, Historian
Carmencita Aspiras, Sunshine
Lu Huang, Composer Today
Olya Katsman, MSSL Community Outreach
Dr. Jiang Wu, VOCE
Gloria Ho, CM Chair and North Region Chair, (Piano, Strings, Woodwinds and Voice)
Grace Cheng, CM South Region Chair
Note from the President
Greetings to you all! I find myself in the surreal position of addressing you as president of the MTAC Southern Alameda County Branch for the first time. I hope to rise to the challenges of this office and serve you well in the upcoming year. Due to the controversial decision to change the CM evaluations to an online-only format, our branch does not need to gather in September this year for the traditional general meeting. In the absence of that opportunity to speak to you in person, I would like to offer some thoughts related to my personal musical history and the history of our branch:

During my years as a music teacher I have often reflected on the role my childhood piano teacher played in shaping my life. Her name was Beatrice Roberts. I studied with Ms. Roberts from the age of 8 to 20. Visiting her home for a lesson always provided a respite from the everyday challenges of life. Her love of music was infectious. Every lesson with her was filled with endeavor and a striving to improve. If I could speak to her now I would say what so many musicians, artists, and poets say when reflecting on the influence of a cherished teacher: “You gave me my life”.

I became a member of the Southern Alameda County branch about a dozen years ago. I knew that my teacher Ms. Roberts had also been a member of this branch for decades. What I did not know until reading through our branch history is that she was one of the charter members of our branch (back in 1953) and also served as branch president (from 1958-60). Sixty-three years after my teacher assumed the role of president of the MTAC Southern Alameda County branch, I assume that same position. I am certain she would be exceedingly proud.

Years after Ms. Roberts passed away, a prospective student and his mother entered my studio. After speaking for awhile, the mother suddenly stopped and said “I recognize your name - did you study with my grandmother?” It soon became clear that I was sitting in my studio with Ms. Roberts’ granddaughter and great grandson. I affirmed that yes, she was my teacher. I turned to the woman’s son and said “What she gave to me I will do my best to give to you.” I went on to teach Steven - the great-grandson - for a number of years and we developed a close bond.

All of us are familiar with the everyday hardships of our teaching profession. We certainly did not choose the easiest way to make a living! But let us not forget the opportunity we have to help shape our students’ lives - both today and in the future. Like the many great teachers who influenced and enlightened us, we should always be striving to improve. Our MTAC branch provides unique opportunities for teachers and their students to pursue the goal of musical excellence. We can only imagine what role music will play in our students’ futures. Perhaps sixty years from now one of your former students will be addressing our branch as president. That might have seemed impossible to you before, but this is my story - it is possible.

Wishing you all the best in your teaching this year and in the years to come.


Important Dates
Student Recitals
Location: Christ's Community Church, 25927 Kay Ave. in Hayward 
September 25th @ 4pm
October 23rd @ 4pm (costumes optional)
November 13th – Zoom Recital TBA
January 22nd @ 4pm
February 12th @ 4pm
April 23rd & 24th – BH Recital and Senior recital 
May 13th – Scholarship Recital

Christmas Luncheon
December 10th – @ World Gourmet on Stevenson Blvd.

Peter Mack:
October 15th @ 10am
Topic: "That's not the way it goes!" Can performers serve the audience
AND the composer?
Location: Zoom

Barbie Wang:
September 19th @ 5pm
Topic: Helping parents to motivate students at home
Location: Olya’s house + Zoom (Hybrid)
MTAC - SACB website
password: mta1
Note from the CM Chair
October 1 to October 31 Registration for CM Exams

Dear Teachers,
As you know, it is the decision of the CM Council and the State Council to now permanently have the Certificate of Merit Exam on line for both the performance and theory exams. 
This means that more of the procedure is put on the parents, and the State Office will handle all their questions and problems.

This means less work for you and less work for me. There will no longer be anything to volunteer for, no overhead costs for CM for the branch. Last year, I am assuming, the State Office did not charge the students the branch fee to cover our costs. Though we no longer have to pay for theory testing location, we still have branch honors recitals that was related to the CM exams. We did not have that, but I bought some new BH ribbons for the this year. 

The State has now decided that they will no longer sponsor the branch honors recitals. Their reason is that the qualifications for these recitals are not the same for all branches, because the branches are the ones who decide the qualifications. Therefore, it is not fair for all students across the state. In one branch a 4+ is good enough for branch honors and in another branch, only level 7 and up with a 5+ qualifies.

Unbeknownst to most of you, much of the money we collect from CM fees from the parents are usually reimbursed to us to pay for our CM costs. This year we were not given any money back, because they took no money, since there were no costs.

However, branch honors recital location, printing of the programs, the ribbons, the senior recital and plaques and the flowers is now an expense we have to cover.

Therefore, the branch board has made some decisions to cut costs for this expense. When we can have live recital performances again, I have enough ribbons to cover for one year, possibly two years. We are going to have the teachers pay for the senior plaques for their own students from now on. They are about $50, and you can choose not to have them. The state gives the students the medals for senior award.

I will continue to be CM chair and program the branch honors recitals whenever we can have live recitals again..

Gloria Ho
Hello everyone!
Music Students’ Service League (MSSL) is a student-run group of volunteers with the mission to promote happiness achieved through musical entertainment as well as developing musical appreciation for the underprivileged members of society, especially our elderly citizens. We will be focusing on hosting in person recitals this year with our first recital around mid-September. 

If you’re interested in joining us, please print, fill out, and follow the directions on the form:

Students of all skill levels are encouraged to join! Not only is this opportunity a great way to fulfill your service hours requirement, but you also get some well-needed practice for recitals and competitions while giving back to the community!

If you have any questions, please feel free to email

MSSL Officers 
New Branch Directory
SACB Mourns the Passing of a Former Branch President
We are sad to inform you of the passing of Betty Livesay, a longtime member and former president of our branch. She is the mother of Kristen Normann, who is also a former president of our branch.
September Event: Barbie Wang
Concert Pianist Misha Galant Performance
Piano Tuners' Corner
Robin Whitehouse
Phone: 831-247-0043

David Amendola
Steinway Concert Technician
Phone: 415-250-0724

Linda Kay
Phone: 510-910-0283
Accepting New Students
Aileen Chanco
Phone: 510-305-1364
Address:5089 Seaview Ave, Castro Valley, CA 94546

Julie Chang
Phone: 510-366-2193
Address:716 Solstice Court, Fremont, CA 94539

Alice Huang
Phone: 510-709-8293
Location: Castro Valley, CA 94546

Patricia Kast
Clarinet, Bass Clarinet, Piano

David Ross
Phone: 510-586-9163

To put your name on (or take your name out of) the list, please contact:
Philip Halseth at: