China is an essential destination for many businesses across Fairfield County, and having some knowledge of Mandarin Chinese can play a role in making a deal.

Now, Taiwan native Kenneth Kuo, owner of the Connecticut School of Music in Westport and Greenwich, will offer Mandarin Chinese classes at the two locations to give business people an assist.

"Mandarin is a front-running language in the global economy, and business leaders are rushing to learn this language. However, Mandarin is a difficult language to learn," Kuo said. "It is based on tonality. Sentence structure is key, and the depths of low and high pitches are critical.

"Emphasis on different syllables is the cause of one word having a variety of meanings."

Parents of children who are taking Mandarin in school are asking Kuo for help, he said. Kuo has lined up three instructors certified to teach Mandarin.

"We're ready to go. We're planning to start by request only with one-on-one lessons," he said, but as enrollment grows, small classes will be organized.

Kuo charges $45 to $50 for 30-minute music classes, and said he expects to offer Mandarin classes for a similar fee. Lessons in social conduct will be offered, and music will be part of the program. He said Mandarin and music have melodic structures and tempo in common.

"I know how Mandarin is supposed to sound," he said. "It is my native tongue, and I want to make sure that those who pay to learn this language will learn it correctly."

Knowing Mandarin may not be crucial in doing a deal, but it is an asset, said attorney Paul Edelberg, a member of the China practice at Fox Rothschild LLP in Stamford and president of the Connecticut-China Council.

"Clearly, understanding Mandarin would be extremely helpful. There are many times I wish I spoke Mandarin in business dealings," he said. "It's also crucial to be sensitive to cultural differences when you go to China."

The region is the nexus for global business and immigration and a market for Mandarin, said Lisa Mercurio, spokeswoman for The Business Council of Fairfield County.

"With the growth of China in the global marketplace. Chinese language instruction is a rapidly growing business market, for not only adult business learners and students, but for those who have emigrated from China and want their children to be immersed in their native language," she said.

Contact the Connecticut School of Music at 203-226-0805 or visit