About Us

Creative Music Students, formerly Where Music Begins, was founded in 2000.   We are an all inclusive music studio offering classes to students of all ages and abilities. 

We are committed to the understanding of how each students learns enabling us to mold our programs to the needs and learning ability of each individual student.  Our focus is on the process not the performance which allows children and adults to experience the joy and magic of making music while fostering each student's individual musicality, creativity and imagination.  Our musical programs are a blend of formal and informal education allowing students to make musical connections that can last a lifetime.
Cathy Hirata ~ Creative Director 
Ms. Hirata's background includes formal voice and piano with the founding members of Opera San Jose -- New York Metropolitan Opera Singer Irene Dalis,  former Oberlin College Professor David Rohrbaugh and SJSU Choral Director Dr. Charlene Archibeque.  She has performed with the San Jose Symphony and San Jose Opera.  A scholarship recipient and graduate of San Jose State University, she received a Bachelor of Music Degree in Vocal Performance, a secondary teaching credential in music education and has attended courses at the University of California Davis Mind Institute for a certificate in autism studies.  Past certifications include:
Certified Signing Smart and Licensed Kindermusik Educator, the Co-Representative for the Greater Bay Area Chapter of the California Partnership of Kindermusik Educator’s, and is currently a member of the Carnegie Hall Royal Conservatory Achievement Program.  

Ms. Hirata founded Creative Music Students (formerly Where Music Begins) in 2000.  During the first months of opening, she received several inquiries from parents with children on the autism spectrum who could not find a piano teacher who would take them.  After researching and working with families, her studio became one of the largest that provided all inclusive and adapted music lessons to students in the San Francisco Bay Area with just under 400 students.  In 2011 she moved to Southern California to work with a non-profit organization in the San Diego and Orange County areas, and developing her own program for students.

Her work with special needs students was the focus of a 2009 documentary film in which several of her students and parents were featured discussing the effects music education had on their child.

In addition to the above, she is also the founder of the San Diego International Music Teachers Symposium, Innovative Music Conferences, The Special Needs Resource Fair and has been recognized by Kindermusik International as a Maestro for her work with children with special needs.  

We are very excited to bring our programs to El Dorado County!

Special Needs

We are passionate about enriching the lives of our students by focusing on their "ability" not their "disability".  We are highly trained and have worked with many special needs including sensory processing disorders, autism, asperger's, down syndrome, Tourette's, cerebral palsy, developmental and cognitive delays, visual and auditory impairments, physical disabilities and the blind.  Because our programs touch on all the modalities of learning, our students can grow, learn to play and sing just like everyone else!  Focused on single concept learning, each step in our programs builds on the next providing students with the tools they need to be successful in a positive learning environment.  

Because we believe that parent participation is an integral part of our students learning experience, parents are included in class so they can become their child's best coach at home.