From the Community School Students: Maya Paredes

Community School pianist Maya Paredes performs. Maya discusses working with Education Through Music – Los Angeles (ETM – LA), organizing summer concerts featuring both classical and jazz music students and professionals to bring awareness of music education in public school systems.

By Maya Paredes, class of 2018

Maya Paredes, 17, is a senior at John Burroughs High School. She studies piano with Jeffrey Lavner and plays in the Honors Piano Trio coached by Robert deMaine. This article appeared in the Community School of Performing Arts Newsletter for December, 2017.

My name is Maya Paredes and I currently study piano with Jeffrey Lavner at the Colburn Community School of Performing Arts. For the past three years, I have worked with Education Through Music – Los Angeles (ETM – LA), organizing summer concerts featuring both classical and jazz music students and professionals to bring awareness of music education in public school systems. ETM – LA is a non-profit organization that provides music education to young children in 25 underprivileged schools throughout Los Angeles County.

I started volunteering for ETM – LA in my freshman year of high school, when I was still studying cello. My sister Eyén, who is also a Community School student, and I helped coach the Providencia Elementary String Orchestra when Community School alumna, Megan Shung Smith, was conducting the ensemble. I absolutely loved helping the children with learning their pieces for orchestra. From my time working with ETM – LA’s students, I discovered how much joy these children found in playing music together after school. I felt so inspired by these young kids that I knew I had to find a way to help spread awareness for ETM – LA’s mission.

I then became a Youth Ambassador for ETM – LA and launched an annual Summer Soirée to help raise funds and awareness for ETM – LA’s programs. Past programs featured Los Angeles Philharmonic concertmaster Martin Chalifour, as well as a chamber ensemble from the Community School’s Ed and Mari Edelman Chamber Music Institute. This year highlighted current students and alumni from the Community School. My friends Javier Morales-Martinez, who studies clarinet with Michael Yoshimi, and Nicholas Castaño, who studies cello with Dr. Richard Naill, were able to perform chamber and solo works on the program. It was so nice to see my friends coming together to support music education for children in Title I schools.

In addition, I also asked my friend and Colburn Jazz Workshop alumnus, Josh Turner, if his jazz combo could play at the event. Josh, who currently studies jazz bass at CalArts with Alphonso Johnson, Derek Oles, and Carlitos Del Puertos, surprised me with a jazz combo that also included alumni Nathanial Young on saxophone, who currently studies at The New School with Jim Snidero, and Corey Gordon on drums, who studies at USC’s Thornton School of Music with Peter Erskine. They played the standard “Yes or No” by Wayne Shorter and an original composition by Josh entitled Read into It. The trio’s playing left the audience inspired after their performance.

There were many hours of work and dedication that needed to be put into this concert in order for it to be a success. I worked with the executive director of ETM – LA, Victoria Lanier, and the volunteer coordinator to organize the concert. My sister and I promoted the concert through social media, posting fliers across town and calling local businesses to acquire sponsors for the event. I never realized how much legwork it takes to organize a concert; and I thought preparing and performing the music was already a lot of work on its own. With the help of ETM – LA I learned how to create the program and promotional fliers as well as how to pitch the organization’s mission to businesses for sponsorship.

One of the most memorable experiences for me while working on this program was when we approached Benning Violins in Studio City about possibly sponsoring the event. I bought my cello at the Benning’s when I was around 11 years old and it has always been a reliable resource for many professional musicians today. Benning Violins ended up being our number one donor for the event and they didn’t even want the tax deduction form we offered to all the sponsors. This act of kindness and support for music education in our schools struck a chord with me. The Benning family sponsored our event without wanting anything back in return.

To me, music education should be a part of the curriculum at every school. It has proven to show an improvement in academic achievement, motivation, and confidence. At Colburn, we are able to have the best music education out there. There are families all over the world who cannot afford paying for the instruments and lessons, but I do not believe that money should be the only reason why the younger generation is not able to have a music education.

That is why Education Through Music – Los Angeles stood out to me. They partner with schools across Los Angeles County to bring music education into their curriculums and allow more and more students to learn the joy and importance of music.

I believe that it is important that the younger generation has knowledge of all kinds of music in order to grow and learn successfully. I am very passionate about music and my goal in life is to continue to spread my love for music and the arts with the rest of the world wherever I can.

In conclusion, the concert ended up having a very musically diverse program and was a huge success. For me, working with Community School students and alumni proved to be a very positive and impactful experience. It showed how the Community School is truly a family that supports one another even after the students graduate. I am so grateful to be a student here at Colburn and have the opportunity to collaborate with so many talented and kind-hearted musicians. The Community School really is a special place.