Matching children to their musical talents

By Korea Herald
  • Published : May 6, 2014 - 20:47
  • Updated : May 6, 2014 - 20:47
Dalgona Music Institute has the rare success story of finding a business opportunity in the 28.7 trillion won ($27.9 billion) private education market that is rapidly saturating.

What started out as a small musical institute for kids two years ago is now looking to become a nationwide franchise that “helps children find their talents in music.” Its Banpo-dong headquarters in southern Seoul has 10 teachers, who are music majors, for around 70 students.

“We don’t teach children to love music nor make them learn music by heart. We expose children, mostly kids aged between 3 and 7, to various musical instruments and let them find which instrument fits them best,” Moon Da-hye, director of the institute, told The Korea Herald.

At the institute, children experiment with 30 musical instruments ranging from string to wind and percussion for three months. 
Kim Un-o, a 7-year-old elementary school student, uses colored stickers to learn the piano at the Dalgona Music Institute in Banpo-dong, southern Seoul. ( Yoon Byung-chan/The Korea Herald)

Instead of learning “Do, Re, Mi” and other musical theory, children are thrown into actual playing. They press keys with colored stickers, imitate the rhythm their teachers make, and learn to make music without being instructed how or why.

But after repeated practice, they instinctively learn the musical scale and other principles, and become eager to participate, Moon said.

Kim Un-o, 7, visited the institute in April and was assessed to be talented in percussion and other instruments involving rhythm.

“Let me trying something really difficult!” the elementary school student said after playing “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” by following colored stickers. He constantly searched for something new, and concentrated on every note he plays.

“Of course, you cannot define one’s talent and interest through a three-month trial. But parents are relieved to see their children grow fond of music without being coerced or lectured,” Moon said. The institute arranges music lessons with children willing to continue learning music after they have found their “aptitude,” and sells musical instruments so they can practice at home.

Dalgona is opening its second branch in Yeoksam-dong, southern Seoul, next month, and is planning several others next year.

“Money isn’t important in the business. Franchisees will have to share our vision that it’s all about letting children get interested in music and find better ways to fit into the musical world,” Moon said.

By Bae Ji-sook (