Practice is the Key to this Young Cello Player's Success

Practice is the Key to this Young Cello Player’s Success

Keya sits in a chair wearing a striped dress

Keya, 11-years-old, Math Level K

“Mastering music is more than learning technical skills. Practicing is about quality, not quantity. Some days I practice for hours; other days it will be just a few minutes.” – Yo-Yo Ma, Cellist

Keya plays the cello in a practice room with her classmates

Yo-Yo Ma is considered one of today’s most recognized classical musicians. A testament to his ability as a cello player, Ma has recorded over 90 albums and  is a 19-time Grammy Award Winner. Long before the awards and world-renowned performances, Ma was often referred to as a “child prodigy” – a title that has been given to classical music legends like Mozart, Beethoven, and Haydn. Ma began playing the cello at the age of four and recalls integrating a daily routine of rigorous practice early on. It’s no wonder he had memorized three of Johann Sebastian Bach’s solo suites by the time he was five. Today, he attributes his success and fame to practice and perseverance through rigorous study.

Taking a page out of Ma’s book, 11-year-old Keya has discovered that practice is the key to unlocking her success as a budding cello player. She first discovered the importance of practice when she enrolled in the Kumon Math Program at the age of nine. Through daily practice and perseverance, she quickly advanced through the program and is currently studying three years above grade level. She was able to apply some of those key skills in her music.

Keya splits during a Bharatnatyam performance“Kumon has taught me patience and resilience,” said Keya. “I apply this same perseverance when I am practicing solo pieces on the cello. If I don’t know how a melody is supposed to sound l, I work through it and find that it’s helpful to learn from my mistakes.”

Outside of the classroom, Keya enjoys practicing Bharatanatyam (a form of Indian classical dance), writing for the school paper, and swimming. From years of horseback riding, Keya formed a love for animals. Her passion will fuel her future aspirations of becoming a veterinarian.

Keya’s hard work and discipline didn’t go unnoticed, as she was one of 55 students selected to attend the 2018 Kumon Student Conference in Calgary, Canada. We had the opportunity to speak to Keya about her Kumon journey.

How has Kumon helped you inside of the classroom?

Kumon has helped me understand math theories that are far above my grade level. I owe many of my academic achievements to Kumon. My peers often come to me for help with their homework, and I’ve joined advanced math clubs in school.

What is the most beneficial thing you’ve learned in Kumon?

Aside from all the advanced math concepts I have learned through Kumon, the most beneficial thing I’ve learned is to believe in myself. I never get upset when I don’t understand a new concept right away, because I know that with practice and guidance, I will master it.

If you could sum up your Kumon experience in one word, what would it be?


Keya speaks into a microphone at the student conference

What do you enjoy most about Kumon?

What I enjoy most about Kumon are the challenges it presents. If it wasn’t for Kumon, I truly believe I would not be working on advanced math concepts. My Instructor Mrs. Nakanishi really makes my experience at Kumon enjoyable. Her goal is to help all her students realize their full potential.

What did it mean to you attending the Student Conference?

Attending the Student Conference was such a spectacular experience! I was humbled by this opportunity, and loved hearing the student speakers’ many accomplishments. I really enjoyed the conference and am so grateful to be a part of it!

What advice do you have for other Kumon Students?

You will feel so prepared when you’ve already worked through math concepts in Kumon before learning them in school!

Discover even more student success stories.