Khim Teoh

Khim Teoh: Helping Blind Children Find Lights Through Music (#86)

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Our Guest Today: Khim Teoh

Khim Teoh is a music teacher and Assistant Director at AMB (Academy of Music for the Blind) helping blind children ages 4-19. Originally from Malaysia, Khim now lives in Irvine, CA with her husband and teenage daughter.

Khim was born and raised in a family of entrepreneurs. She began building her own business in her early 20s. After years of hard work, the business has become more mature and is now self-sustaining. Khim was able to begin looking into other places and causes she could contribute to.

Academy of Music for the Blind  is a non-profit school of music founded by Director David Pinto. AMB is dedicated to “addressing the unique talents and challenges of blind youth by developing their musical, creative, cognitive, physical and social skills through education in music and the performing arts.”

I had a lot of questions Khim and she opened up to answer each and every one of them.

How do visually impaired students learn to play music? What are some of the mechanisms, structure and workflow AMB established that are proven to work? How does this learning experience impact their current students and graduates, whether or not they choose to pursue a career in music?  How do the students feel about this unique learning opportunity?

We also covered some difficult topics such as the financial model of running a non-profit such as AMB.  Their directors, music teachers, volunteers would love to grow the academy so that many other children in need can benefit as well. I encourage you to visit, there are many ways to help in addition to donation alone.


Show Notes:

  • [05:30] In your own words, what is the Academy of Music for the Blind?
  • [10:00] Your origin story at AMB: who introduced you to this organization and how?
  • [15:30] What was the process of planning the academy’s curriculum and content? Did you receive any help?
  • [18:00] How do you manage emotions and expectations when you first began teaching at AMB?
  • [21:00] How do you interpret the progress the growth of your students?
  • [25:00] How can we help the non-sighted community? Are there any sighted/non-sighted guides available, to help educate people better interact with one another?
  • [30:00] How can people help AMB and get involved?
  • [32:00] Could there be an exchange program between non-sighted children from multiple locations? Do those programs already exist?
  • [36:00] What’s the financial model at AMB towards tuition fees, costs and funding?
  • [38:00] Can you share a bit about your upbringing, your mother and your family?
  • [41:00] Tell us a bit more about the business you started in your 20s
  • [49:00] What kind of food is Malaysian food? How does is relate to your new business venture, the restaurant?

Favorite Quotes:

  • [06:30] We do more than just teaching a blind kid how to play music, I believe that we really try to create them as whole person, to give them as much resources and adaptive learning, that they can acquire at this very important age.
  • [10:30] I’ve always been an avid learner, and in the process of acquiring knowledge and skills, I always felt this huge desire to teach. That is the greatest joy, when you are able to impart a certain knowledge, specially children, is just magical.
  • [12:30] I didn’t have much. My mom was a single mom raising three kids, but there were two things that made me feel I didn’t need anything more: books and music.
  • [22:00] The world is already so limited to them, because many people feel the sympathy, so they prefer to have nothing to do with them. […] never use the blindness as an excuse, because if we don’t have time to feel sorry for them, they don’t have time to feel sorry for themselves. That time and energy is far better used improving themselves and acquiring skills to overcome the mountain of obstacles they have…
  • [29:00] Simply having a conversation, for them, meeting you and speaking to you, that is being able to see you as another person, that they can fit into their realm of understanding the world. By the act of interacting, you are already enriching and expanding their universe.

Tools and Resources:

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