When my Kindermusik families need a referral for piano lessons I feel confident recommending Creative Music Students because I know that the program is committed to quality.  The owner, Cathy Hirata, is an accomplished singer, piano teacher, teacher trainer and educator who is completely committed to excellence in music education, as well as inclusive music education for all children.  I have attended several of Cathjy's classes as an observer and can personally attest to the high-quality music experience she provides. 

Lindsay Levin, Maestro Kindermusik Educator - San Ramon


I highly recommend Cathy Hirata for piano!  My daughter had taken lessons for several years with another teacher and decided to quit because she had been so unhappy and was not enjoying play piano any longer.

After a couple of months, she really wanted to go back to playing but not with her prior teacher.  We discovered Cathy and her love of piano returned immediately!  Cathy made piano fun for her and she learned new ways to play and started to play songs that she really enjoyed!

Cathy not only became one of the best piano teachers we’d met, she became a good friend to both my daughter and myself!  Seeing my daughter during and after her lessons with Cathy made me wish we had found her sooner!

Pam Lawler, parent - Delaney Lawler, student


Ms. Cathy offers our son the freedom to explore creatively as he learns. He is more apt to practice enthusiastically and looks forward to his lessons each week.  

Jane - Roseville, CA


Check out Creative Music Students and their innovative instruction, super FUN!!!

S. Romer - Folsom, CA


When we were looking for a piano program for our three children we wanted something different than the traditional approach that we learned.  We’ve now had our children enrolled with Creative Music Students for 4 years and they love it!  Not only are they learning to play piano and sing, they are also composing their own songs.  If you’re looking to learn piano, check out the programs at Creative Music Students, a great place for your children to learn. 

R. Nguyen - San Diego, CA 


Special Needs Testimonials

Letter from a Parent:

Louis A. Vismara, MD, Consultant
Senator Darrell Steinberg, President Pro Tempore
State Capitol Room 412
Sacramento, CA 95814

Hello Dr. Vismara,

My name is Grace Cheng. I am writing to tell you about  how music has brought significant changes in my son's life.

My son, Matthew, has autism spectrum disorder. As a toddler, Matthew was in his own world. He had no language, no wish to communicate, had fleeting eye contact, and was highly sensitive to sound; especially music of any kind. In the years that followed, Matthew had undergone many behavioral, auditory and sensory therapies. There were improvements in many ways. However, Matthew still struggled to cope in a school environment, or at family gatherings. He was tense and uncomfortable most of the time. He always covered his ears whenever music was played.

In 2006, a new music studio called Where Music Begins (now Creative Music Students) opened in Pleasanton. The owner/music teacher, Ms. Cathy Hirata, used a new method to teach children to play piano. This 'playing-based' approach allows children to by-pass the process of learning to read music notes like in traditional piano education, and go straight into learning the music on the keyboard resulting in immediate success in the first lesson. Since Cathy had had years of experience in teaching children with special needs, and I have read about how music training (specifically piano instruction) can enhance children's abstract reasoning skills; I decided to let Matthew try. With Matthew's abrasiveness to music at that time, I was hoping that the mechanics of using the keyboard to make a song, would fascinate Matthew enough for him to put up with the music. I was hoping that this piano training can bring him some kind of fun and sense of achievement in his life. 

Matthew took to it like a fish to water. He liked going to his lessons with Cathy.   He needed support along the way, but was happy to work piano practice into his daily schedule. Changes came subtly. About 10 months after he started this piano training, his school teacher told me one day, that Matthew played a song for the whole class during music lessons. His classmates from the general education classroom started greeting him on the school ground. During a field trip to visit the Pleasanton Hotel, a historical site in downtown Pleasanton, he asked the owner for permission to play him a song on his piano in the Bar! Then one day, Cathy led me into her studio, where I found Matthew dancing to the loud music of Peter and the Wolf. Bouncing and laughing to music, first time in his life! 

He also started showing more empathy towards people around him. He would come over and feel my head when he saw me slumped on the sofa. He would write me a thank you note after I made him his favorite food. He started asking for play dates with his friends in school. He also started helping his little sister with her math and piano practice. Nowadays, Matthew would tell me how beautiful a piece of music is when he heard it played on a DVD, and he is much more in tune and at ease with his environment.

I do not know what changes have taken place in Matthew's brain, as I witnessed all these changes that are taking place in his behavior. I do not think for a moment that the method of piano teaching is curing my son's autism, but it has certainly brought about profound changes in his life.

I sincerely urge you to consider supporting a research project on this method of piano education, which may benefit many more children on the autism spectrum like Matthew. There are about 1 in 150 children nowadays who have a diagnosis of some kind on the spectrum. As scientists struggle to find an explanation and have yet to come up with any kind of constructive solution, families of these children are scrambling to find ways to improve on their conditions. This research will be an important step towards providing us with another piece of the puzzle. 

Thank you for your time and attention.


Grace Cheng 


Creative Music Students is simply the best!  A great way to learn piano. My daughgter has autism and has been motivated to learn the piano since her first lesson and she now likes to compose her own songs.  She is now learning how to read music and this program makes that fun too.  Thank you for bringing music into our lives!"

Cathy Bolls - Pleasanton