Giving Thanks. Stop. Think.

This year, as for a great many of us, the holidays have crept up on me. It is, truthfully, almost a surprise that Thanksgiving is next week. As the colder and darker days have successfully crept up on me, so has the merriest season of the year. Long gone are the warm and sunny days of summer and here are the cold and wet days of autumn and winter. I myself prefer the long warm days; exercise seems easier, days seem somehow more carefree, friends seem more eager to socialize, and while rationally I know better, days seem to have more time to get things accomplished.

However, for as much nostalgia as I hold for each summer I think it’s important to mindfully live in the present. With that being said, this time of year always seems to be impossibly busy for me. Of course there’s always work, then you have school, you have after school activities such as sports and music lessons, errands for the home, dinner, cleaning the house, trying to connect and communicate with a family that is just as hectic; it all seems to be quite overbearing. To add to an already impossible load there’s planning with relatives about the upcoming holidays, holiday cards, concerts for the kids, Christmas shopping, Thanksgiving shopping; the list goes on. To digress, the holiday’s are often a time where we get caught up in the shuffle rather than taking the time to enjoy this special time of year.

Therefore, this holiday season I am trying to be intentional in my doings. Each day I have been completing a journal of what I am thankful for. As I have been documenting what I am grateful for, often the largest impact on my day, the thing I am most grateful for, is an individual. Therefore, I challenged myself to affirm someone, each day, for the rest of November. In all honesty, documenting my gratitude has been tedious more than it has been enjoyable. The antipodal experience for me has been affirming my friends and family. I love receiving thoughtful words of affirmation, it’s one of my preferred love languages, so I get similar enjoyment when I am able to give someone a thoughtful affirmation.

My effort this month has been to have an appreciation for the holiday season rather than coast through it. By my own measurement I think I have done a fair job in this endeavor but I will reserve my assessment for after Thanksgiving; my attitude on the actual holiday and dealing with the stress of traveling and coordinating with my relatives may very well counter balance the efforts I have made this month. ūüôā

My encouragement to you, before it’s too late, is to take a moment and examine yourself. What is it that you have to be grateful for; my guess would be a whole lot. Whom in your life makes life more enjoyable? Is it your spouse or children; would your recent interactions with those people communicate your gratitude for them? Have you been preparing yourself to enjoy this holiday or will you unintentionally coast through it? Though this upcoming holiday may be all about food for your stomach, I challenge you to digest this food for thought. Happy Thanksgiving from everyone here at HNMC!

Posted by Jon Terry

Holy Names Event Recap: Starry Night

On the evening of Thursday October 4, 2018 the Holy Names Music Center put on a fundraiser for our school: Starry Night, a dinner, painting session, and auction. The event by all measures was a complete success!!

It began with dinner and wine while Holy Names Music Center (HNMC) students played live music for the attendees. Starry Night goers took this time to peruse the auction items. Afterwards, patrons began painting with Spokane native and world renowned artist, Stan Miller. Following the painting session, attendees participated in a live auction as well as our scholarship paddle raise!

This event was held in the loving memory of Sister Celine Steinberger who passed away late last year. We sincerely miss Sister Celine but are proud that we could finish her work with this event and bring her memory honor. Sister Celine believed that HNMC is a part of the living legacy of the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary; founded on the simple idea that music is for everyone.

This event would not have been possible without the generous support of each of our donors and our presenting sponsor Garco; this event had many sponsors and while there are too many to list in this blog please click here for the complete list of our donors and supporters for this event. Our donors believe in our vision: to nurture a life-long passion for the arts by giving voice to the human spirit. Due to their generous support the Holy Names Music Center is able to provide music for veterans, put on free community concerts, and provide free workshops.

Without our donors and their support we would not be able to offer financial aid to students who may not have the means to pay for music lessons. We are very grateful to those who support our school and students.

Holy Names Music Center has brought lovely music to the Spokane community for 28 years and plan to continue our legacy, with support from people like you, for many more years to come!

Talent Grant Winners 2018

Holy Names Music Center holds an annual talent grant competition. This is an opportunity for HNMC students to perform for an adjudicator not affiliated with Holy Names Music Center and compete for a monetary award toward their music lessons in the coming year.

This year’s adjudicator was the very talented Jason Moody of the Spokane Symphony.

Fifteen students were recommended by their teachers to audition, eleven students accepted and nine were able to audition. The Music Center has a long history of awarding these grants to students who have talent and/or potential making it quite possible for a beginning student to win the grant!

The 2018-2019 Talent Grant Winners receiving a $400 grant:

Amanda Nguyen, violin, student of Mariana Dimitrova
Eva Iannelli, piano, student of Feng Tsai
Jillian Pomeroy, voice, student of Nancy Klingman
Maleny Mannino, voice, student of Nancy Klingman

Honorable Mentions receiving a $100 grant:

Elizabeth Persons, violin, student of Mariana Dimitrova
Noah Eddy, violin, student of Garnik Goukasian

All demonstrated outstanding musical competence, artistic sensibility, and promise.

Congratulations to these fine hardworking students and their teachers!

Guitar’s in Recovery

As part of Military Appreciation month I thought I would post a little more about the Guitar program we do for the VA Medical Center. I asked JP for a quote and one of his students sent this letter. I thought it was worth publishing in it’s entirety to give you a scope of what our veteran’s experience and the benefits of this program.

We are grateful for our veteran’s and active military for their service and sacrifice, and so grateful for the opportunity to give back to them in some way and to bring the healing power of music to as many as we can!

Letter from one of the veterans currently in the VA Guitar program:

“Thank you for giving me the opportunity to express myself and my gratitude towards the ‚ÄúGuitar‚Äôs in Recovery‚ÄĚ program at the Spokane VA Behavioral Health Center.¬† I would also very much like to express my gratitude towards Mr. Shields, JP as we like to call him.

My involvement with JP came a few years after I had been going to the VA Behavioral Health Center.  I am a veteran that sustained an injury while on active duty.  The injury stayed with me after I was discharged, and subsequently I would have my career interrupted with surgery.  Recovery usually took about 8 months and then I would have to start over looking for work.  I repeated this 4 times.  I felt like I was stuck in this cycle of pain in which I would eventually have to have another surgery and start my career over again.  Between the 3rd and 4th surgery I started to come undone mentally.  It is not easy to explain, and I am not sure if in general people are aware of these sorts of situations.

At the VA hospital I found out that my story is not that uncommon.  Eventually, I lost my ability to work and provide for my family and I was in a lot of physical pain.  In this process, I became severely depressed and suicidal and developed severe anxiety.  I had lost my identity and I saw no future, and I blamed my situation on myself.  A couple of times I asked for help and it did not come.  I gave up and I almost killed myself.  That is a stark reality for me.  It humbled me at my core.

One day my wife brought me to the VA hospital and a social worker asked the right questions and I was admitted to the psychiatric ward on the 3rd floor.¬† We call it the ‚Äú3rd floor.‚Ä̬† There is a group of us that have been through the 3rd floor and that is how we like to refer to it between ourselves.¬† It is a place I never wanted to go to, but never wanted to leave once I had been there for a time.¬† I was actually afraid to leave.

While inpatient, I entered group therapy in the Finding Solution Group (originally called the Suicide Prevention group, later to be called the Suicide Risk Management Group and finally being called the Finding Solutions Group.) In this group, we explored what it takes to get healthy and what getting healthy means.  It was a chance to talk about anything that burdened us and to listen to others.  It was a work in progress type situation.  People would sometimes explore experiences outside the group and then report back their experiences.  It was during one of these times that I learned about the guitar lessons provided by JP from Holy Names Music Center and organized by Pam Wick (VA recreational therapist).  I knew that to care for myself I needed to get involved in something.  I saw this as an opportunity. I had no expectations, and I can’t say I had much desire to play a guitar… I just knew that I needed to try to do something.  I needed to find or make new parts to myself because I felt so much of my identity had been lost or stripped away.

My guitar lessons with JP (Guitar’s in Recovery) is part of the silver lining in my dark cloud.  I went through a terrible storm and I found a new side of myself in learning to play a guitar and in the social interactions with others while learning to play.  It has become a little part of a new identity and it has shown me how to heal.  I realize the process of healing and discovery is slow, and sometimes taken in little steps.  In this case, it has been little steps with a guitar and my instructor JP and my classmates.  Learning to play the guitar has been difficult for me, but I was not there to necessarily learn to play the guitar.  I was there for the acceptance and the process and the need for something positive. 

I can now say, ‚ÄúI can play a guitar.‚Ä̬† I‚Äôm not a great guitar player but, I am me, and I love my guitar, and I love the process of learning to play and the people that come to Guitar‚Äôs in Recovery.¬† It is a great feeling to feel, and I feel so fortunate to be able to partake in the program.

Thank you so much!


May 9th 2018″

If you are interested in supporting our mission programs like the Guitar’s in Recovery program for veterans, please consider donating by clicking here:


Holy Names Music Center’s mission is “to provide high quality instruction and performance opportunities for all!”

Post by: Elisabeth Burrell

Explore Music Week 2018


Each year in March Holy Names Music Center invites people in our community to the center for a fun event to learn more about our programs and what we have to offer. This year we held a week long after school instrument petting zoo, a musical craft, offered Music Together demonstrations, and had sign-ups for all ages to try a free introductory music lesson in voice or the instrument of their choice.

Did you know Holy Names Music Center has teachers for all of these instruments?

instruments.jpgIt was a super fun week and we enjoyed sharing our passion for music with everyone who came!EMW photos blog4Look out for next year’s Explore Music Week at Holy Names Music Center, or come by and visit us sometime!

March is Music Education Month.






How Amanda Nguyen grew from breaking violins to breaking through.

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18 month old Amanda with elder brother Alex’s old half size violin

When¬†Amanda Nguyen¬†was¬†two¬†years old, she wanted to¬†be just like her brother. Amanda’s mother Kim Nguyen recalls her toddling around the house,¬†Alex’s¬†old¬†half sized violin in tow.¬†“She broke everything on that violin! She wanted to play so bad!” Kim purchased a violin for Amanda when she was¬†3 years old, and the search for an instructor began.¬†Kim¬†called¬†Holy Names Music Center,¬†and was paired with violin instructor¬†Mariana¬†Dimitrova,¬†who started Amanda out using the Suzuki method, and now she is breaking through!¬†


Amanda Nguyen performing at KPBX From The Studio

In May 2017,¬†she earned¬†gold medals¬†at¬†MusicFest¬†Northwest, and was featured on KPBX’s¬†From¬†The¬†Studio.¬†Most recently, Amanda’s application¬†was among the 35%¬†selected¬†to compete¬†in¬†the¬†Classics Alive Young Artist¬†Competition¬†held at Pepperdine University.¬†“I thought it was kind of a pretty good idea, so I just decided to try it out myself.”¬†¬†

Dimitrova¬†believes Amanda’s¬†focus is what makes her exceptional.

“She is very interested in the artistic repertoire, but¬†unusually¬†for a child the technical etudes and scales are interesting to her;¬†how things work. She grasps right away, she¬†is very focused, I think this makes the¬†difference between kids who succeed and who struggle: focus.”


Mariana Dimitrova, (violin instructor) Amanda Nguyen, and Kim Nguyen (Amanda’s mother)

This brought Amanda success in other activities as well. She is also an accomplished pianist, a member of the Math is Cool team at All Saints Catholic School, a black belt in Tae Kwan Do, and winner of the Junior Golf Championship. This July, Amanda beat the odds (67 million to 1, to be exact) of making two holes-in-one within the span of three days!

golf amanda

Amanda on the Avondale Golf Course in Hayden Photo Credit: Kathy Plonka / The Spokesman-Review. Read about Amanda’s golf adventures here!

It¬†(music)¬†helps her concentration, her thinking.¬†She is sharp for golf.¬†Golf is hard, and so is violin, and she picked up both easily. Golf,¬†violin, and piano require accuracy.¬†Music helps her to calm down when she is upset, and focus under pressure, and move on from mistakes. It also helps her in math and school work.” Kim Nguyen.¬†¬†

Regardless of what the future holds for Amanda, Kim is grateful for Amanda’s experiences.

I wanted her to have this experience.¬†She can¬†have¬†a career¬†in music if she wants when she’s older, but now it is just a stepping stone to her future. Music¬†she can carry with her the rest of her life,¬†even if she doesn’t choose it as a career.”¬†¬†

Holy Names Music Center is grateful for the opportunity to nurture a life-long passion for the arts by giving voice to the spirits of our students. Enroll today to start your break through!


Amanda Nguyen at Holy Names Music Center where she takes violin lessons.

 Author: Clara Mannino