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Spotlight on Castelar St. Elementary, ETM-LA Partner School

"Music nourishes the soul.” -Principal Amy Luu

Transforming Lives Through Music at Castelar Street Elementary School

Education Through Music-Los Angeles (ETM-LA) Partner School, Castelar Street Elementary, has become a beacon of music education in Chinatown. This partnership continues to make profound impacts on the students and school community. At Castelar, every student becomes immersed in general music education during the school day and has the opportunity to join instrumental ensembles such as Orchestra and Modern Band. 

Castelar Principal Amy Luu recognizes music’s life-changing impact on students. She observes that ETM-LA’s music program aligns perfectly with the district’s Strategic Plan, particularly Pillar 2: Joy and Wellness. The program fosters excitement among students who enjoy a wide range of musical opportunities. Principal Luu believes that music education enhances school engagement, supports the whole child, and respects different learning modalities and interests. She shares, “Music nourishes the soul.”


Castelar Students & Parents Share Thoughts on Music Class

Chloe Tan, 5th Grade Modern Band student, finds joy and expression in music. She explains, “Music class makes me feel happy because you don’t only get to express your feelings in words, but in sound. Music is important to me because it can boost your energy and help daily tasks feel easier.” She believes music should be accessible to all students to help them express themselves and discover new interests.

Chloe’s mother, Lu Tan, has seen the positive effect of music on her daughter. She notes, “At home, she remembers to practice her instrument and… [knows] that if you don’t practice your instrument, then you may not know what to play.” She emphasizes the vital role that music education plays for Chloe and all students because it exposes them to different artists and historical contexts.

Katy Zhou, 7th Grade Strings student, highlights how music enriches her life: “Music class makes me feel relaxed and calm. Feeling the beats and playing along with them helps me relieve my academic stress.” In an essay, she shares the importance of music education in cognitive and motor skills development, and in providing an artistic outlet for students.

Her mother, Maggie Zhuang, adds, “Music has helped Katy grow both creatively and socially. She has picked up various instruments such as keyboard, guitar, violin, and her voice, where she can express herself through sound.”


Castelar Student Alumni – Beyond the Classroom

Castelar Street Elementary’s commitment to music education has nurtured many creative students, including Eloise Wong, bassist for the internationally acclaimed band The Linda Lindas. Reflecting on her journey, Eloise expresses, “It’s amazing how music can create scenes and start movements; how it can bring people together and empower them.” She also believes in the transformative power of music: “I want to create music that can help inch us closer to a more inclusive world. I want to make people think and maybe even open people’s minds.”

The positive effects of music education extend beyond the classroom. Fellow Castelar alum, José Santiago, emphasizes the emotional and motivational aspects of music: “Music gives me a way to think that things will turn out better than the current situation. Being in band class and playing music gets me in a zone where everything just falls into place. It gives me emotional reassurance that… there’s no need to worry.”


ETM-LA’s Commitment to Comprehensive Music Education

ETM-LA’s comprehensive music program not only teaches music, but builds community, fosters creativity, and nurtures social and emotional development. Through ETM-LA’s efforts, students at Castelar and all our partner schools go beyond learning to sing, play instruments, and read music; they also develop the confidence, discipline, and empathy that will serve them throughout their lives. 

This partnership exemplifies ETM-LA’s mission to provide music education as a core subject in under-resourced schools, ensuring that every child receives a well-rounded education that includes the arts. As we look to the future, we eagerly anticipate seeing more students across Los Angeles County discover their passion for music and use it as a tool for personal and community growth.