Business Spotlight, Katy Marimba & Owner Sabrina Silva
We love featuring local businesses that mamas and kids can enjoy. Music classes are an area we want to feature more, especially because of how great music lessons are for kids. And this specific business/music is so unique and fun to listen to, we know you’re going to love it! It’s called Katy Marimba and it’s run by Sabrina Silva who lives in Katy and has been teaching music for about 20 years, both private individuals and large ensembles.
Sabrina has a background teaching general music in the elementary classroom for the last 12 years and during that time is when she discovered Zimbabwean-style marimbas and how to teach musical concepts through playing marimbas. Out of all of the teaching techniques and methods used in her classroom, teaching marimbas had the most success. She found kids loved it!
Sabrina wrote a grant and soon she had a classroom filled with 14 marimbas and was able to teach marimba to her students, kindergarten through 5th grade, as an entire class. Teaching marimba reaches all students, from those who study music privately to those who’ve never touched an instrument before. Sabrina says she’s able to scaffold her group classes to accommodate all levels of musicianship, which is so cool!
We got to chat with owner Sabrina all about her business, the unique style of this instrument, and what keeps her inspired. Check out our full interview with her below.
Where are you from originally and how long have you lived in the Katy area?
I was born and raised here in Houston, TX. I’ve lived in Katy since 2005.
What did you do before opening your business?
I taught elementary music in Katy ISD and I taught private piano and voice students. I also taught a marimba group after school for 8 years.
Can you talk about your background as a music teacher and what drew you to music?
I’ve been teaching music for over 20 years, both privately and publicly. I started playing piano when I was 7 and I have a degree in Vocal Performance from the University of Texas at Austin. Music has been my life for as long as I can remember, and it has helped me through all aspects of my life. I’d like to share the beauty of music with my students.
Tell us a little about your business and what makes it unique!
My approach to music is to foster a love of music making. Children grow up enjoying the sound of music and tinkering with sound. My goal is to harness each child’s desire to make music and hone that desire into an artful skill. The diatonic marimba is an ideal instrument to begin the journey in music making while leaving room to grow and excel in its versatility. Marimbas can be simple to play and students can successfully play a song within the first few minutes of their first lesson. From that point, I customize each lesson and song that’s played based on what skills the child learns.
What makes music so important for kiddos?
Playing an instrument has all kinds of benefits for people, especially kids. While evidence has proven that learning an instrument can boost academic scores, music has also shown to have a large degree of social benefits as well. My students come from all walks of life and yet, when we get together during the week for our lessons or rehearsals, we are all making music together and bonding in a social manner. My students often comment on how much they look forward to the commeraterie that comes along with each lesson. This past year has been a struggle for social interaction for kids and marimbas are a great way for kids to safely interact with each other.
How have you seen music shape kids’ creativity?
Kids are super creative when it comes to music! Throughout the year, I have students work on a small composition project. Each student composes a short melody on the marimba. The melodies are creative and inspiring to the rest of the group. With further refinement the group learns each student’s song and perfects the tune for recording. Once recorded it is featured on social media channels. The kids love it! They can hear their own music come to life and then feel like rock stars when they see their video on the web!
If you could describe your business in just three words, what would they be?
Marimbas, mallets, FUN!
What do your class offerings look like and what makes them unique?
My main component right now are my performance groups. I currently have 2 groups that perform throughout the Katy community. They have 2 hour-long practices a week. I also offer group classes once a week for 45 minutes to help build skills. The group classes are for those students who have never played an instrument before or would like to improve their coordination skills on the marimba.
What’s your favorite thing about what you do?
Experiencing my students progress through a song. Every song I assign to students has a certain challenge to it–mastering a rhythm pattern, playing a melody smoothly, and playing together as a group. As this happens, students are working together as a team; and when they reach the end and realize they did it–that’s my favorite moment!
We’re giant advocates for supporting local! Tell us how the Katy community has gotten you where you are now.
I started out teaching marimbas to an after-school group in a local Katy school. This performance group would go out a couple of times throughout the school year and perform at various places like hospitals and nursing homes in our community. When I decided to open my studio, I reached out to some of these parents that I thought would be interested and they spread the word about their experiences. Fortunately, one of these parents told me about the Katy Moms Network! I’m so thankful to this wonderful online community to feature Katy Marimba and I can‘t wait for more opportunities for our group to go out and perform live for our Katy community. Recently, we had the pleasure of performing concerts for the Katy Farmers Market. I would love to continue doing performances like these to spread joy in our community and bring us all together again!
What’s been the biggest challenge in launching into owning your own business?
Throughout this past year, it has been a challenge to practice and perform because of COVID-19. I continually ensure that we are meeting all of the safety guidelines to ensure a safe environment for my students and parents. I’ve remained positive and the families I teach are so supportive and flexible. I’m currently searching for an ideal and convenient Katy location that has the right rehearsal and performance space where I can house my instruments and continue to keep everyone safe.
Future plans for your business?
I want to continue to introduce more students to marimbas. I’m currently enrolling new students for group lessons. I will be offering summer camps throughout the summer. This summer students will be able to learn the basic skills or develop the skills they may already have. In addition, specialized camps will be held for songwriting and even camps dedicated to playing popular tunes as a marimba band!
Who inspires you most in business and in music?
My father is a talented cabinet maker and my late mother was a great business person. Growing up, I saw them build their own cabinet making business from the ground up, starting in their garage. They did all they could to make it work and 37 years later, it is a successful and admired cabinet making business. When it comes to music, it has to be all of the music educators out there who are making music happen even with all that has happened this past year.
Best advice for moms wanting to get their kids interested in music?
Let them play! I love seeing little ones playing with what is called “found sounds”–banging on pots and pans, shaking plastic containers filled with rice or beans. That’s the beginning of their music making! For older kiddos, don’t feel like your child has to learn a particular instrument in order to be successful in music. Marimbas are very simple to learn, but that’s what makes them fun! We are able to quickly learn notes and then go deeper into musicianship–how to add dynamics, work with the tempo, add articulations, and even come up with the form of the piece to make a great performance. We do all of this within a few lessons!
Any special, sales, or deals our Katy Moms can look out for?
Contact me for a free individual lesson and evaluation. We’ll play some scales, I’ll teach your child a short rhythmic pattern and we’ll put a song together right there on the spot! I also have marimba summer camps listed on my website.
Here’s all the places you can keep up with this local business!
Katy Marimba website: https://www.katymarimba.com/