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Shirley Chow Bolen El Paso, Texas
Contact Details
Name:   Shirley Chow Bolen
Phone:   (512) 633-7084
Last Update:   
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Inspirational and exhilarating piano teaching focusing on an all-rounded approach of international standard, addressing each individual's musical, artistic, emotional and intellectual needs. Over 20 years of teaching and performance experience internationally. Regular judge of multiple piano festivals and competitions in central Texas. All ages and levels are welcome to audition! Special discount for Seniors and family of multiple students. Please ask for detailed biography!


When I was just a little girl I had the misfortune of studying with a teacher who valued discipline and trophy winning over enjoyment, understanding and overall intellectual and musical growth. The talent and interest with which I was born soon wore out in my early adolescence. On a regular basis I was given literature that was technically, emotionally and intellectually unfit for me. It is hard to believe I kept on and thank goodness I turned out all right!

Because of that experience, I was able to learn and slowly evolved as a teacher who puts her students' needs before all else. Today, teaching has become both a passion and privilege to me. I believe the quality of my teaching and the relationship I build with the student(and the parents) are instrumental to the overall development of the student's being. The benefits of good music lessons are far-reached for people of all ages. Not only is one able to appreciate the beauty of all kinds of music and enjoy the entertainment they provide, one can develop excellent problem-solving skills, patience, discipline, concentration and confidence. Quality music does magic to the soul as well.

Regardless of the student's age, I consider choosing the right repertoire, going through specific practice strategies, and analyzing the ingenuity of every composer's creation some of the most important things in my teaching. My goal is to explain to the student the musical, emotional and intellectual meaning behind every marking or gesture on the score. Whether it is helping a 5-yr-old dance and laugh through a fun little country song or exploring with a 55-yr-old the complex emotions and harmonic design of a Beethoven sonata, I strive to motivate, inspire and guide in a positive, disciplined and creative environment. Having been brought up under the London Royal Schools of Music system, I believe it is vital for a student to be all-rounded in her/his musical education. Sight-reading, aural skills, technique, and stylistic awareness are all fostered on a regular basis whether or not the student participates in any ABRSM examinations.

Ensemble skills are nurturred as well through regular duet playing with me, other students, or with other instruments. Whenever possible or appropriate, accompanying or composition will be touched on. On the other hand, performance is always encouraged in private studio performance recitals, piano festivals or competitions, or quarterly progress assessments which both the student and parent will receive. Last but not least, I make myself available outside of lessons. They are encouraged to call or e-mail me whenever they encounter difficulties during their practice.

Lastly, to make it easier to some students, I either travel to their home with a travel/fuel subcharge or offer senior citizens and families with multiple students discounts.


"Far more of a collegue, and a most accomplished one at that, than a student" was how Sir Graham Johnson described coach/pianist Shirley Chow Bolen, at the end of her participation in Sir Johnson's seminars at SongFest 2001 in Orange County, California. Originally from Hong Kong, Ms. Bolen was teaching piano professionally by the age of 16, and by 18 was hired by the reputable Yip's Music Center as a kindermusik instructor and children's chorus conductor. Her musical versatility led to performances in Taiwan and the Phillippines, and collaboration with pianist Roger Woodward and the Czecho-Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra.

Ms. Bolen's teachers have included William Black, Kenneth Griffiths, Eiji Hashimoto and Sandra Rivers. She has also coached with Dorothy Delay. From 1997-2004 Ms. Bolen acted as pianist/repetiteur for the Opera Theatre at the University of Texas, and taught accompanying at Texas Lutheran University in Seguin in 2000. A faculty coach/pianist for the Austrian-American Mozart Academy in Salzburg from 2000-03, she was invited in 2003 to be the guest mezzosoprano soloist in the Academy's performances of Mozart's Requiem. While in Texas, she judged in piano competitions and festivals all over the state, including the Austin Music Teacher's Association and the Federation of Music Clubs.

Ms. Bolen was Apprentice Coach with Virginia Opera for the 2004-2005 season, where she served as Music Director and Tour Manager of VOA's Spectrum Resident Program and as Assistant Chorus Master under Maestro Peter Mark. While in Virginia, she was also rehearsal pianist for the Todi Music Fest under Maestro Walter Attanasi. 2005-2006 saw her as Apprentice Coach/Pianist with Utah Opera, where she played rehearsals under Maestri Keith Lockhart, Robert Tweeten and Christopher Larkin.

She holds a BA in Piano Performance from Chinese University of Hong Kong, a L.T.C.L. Performance Diploma in Piano from Trinity College of Music, and a Performance Certificate in Voice from the Royal Schools of Music in London. She also holds a Master's degree in Accompanying from the University of Cincinnati's College-Conservatory of Music. Her playing and musical arrangements can be found in the movie The War At Home and in the recording Debut by flutist Sheryl Goodnight.


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