Updated: Jan 11
One of the first things I noticed about the San Francisco Bay Area and Silicon Valley was that other than the Latino population, relatively few native Californians lived there. It was a predominantly Asian international community with many people from China, India, Korea, Southeast Asia and Russia but also with a European contingent from countries such as France, Spain, Germany, Britain, Croatia, Poland, Hungary and Sweden. Many of the American citizens who lived there had moved from other areas of the country, and it's worth noting that there seemed to be very few African Americans present on the peninsula south of San Francisco.
Many, if not most of these people were clearly drawn there by tech related income opportunities, and I soon came to think of the Silicon Valley scene as California's second gold rush. Most of my students had at least one parent who was not born in America, and I was very grateful for their wholehearted enthusiasm for the value of a music education.
Music schools were plentiful with many of them run and staffed by Russians. I taught at three schools owned and operated by Russians, two of which were primarily staffed with Russian teachers. I had always heard that the music schools in Russia had rigorous curriculums and I wondered how I would fit in. But I found most of them to be friendly which made it easy for me to feel welcome and get to know the other teachers. At one Christmas party of about 30 people that my wife and I attended, we and a teacher from Spain were the only ones present whose native language was not Russian. The School Director's husband was gracious enough to act as our interpreter.
This was a productive time for me on the composing, recording, writing and performing fronts but I'll save that for next time. Meanwhile please allow me to wish any readers who are brave and adventurous enough to be here a Happy 2020!