Community School of Performing Arts through the “Ages”: From Seven Months to 14 Years Old

Three students of varying ages walking across the Colburn plaza

The Community School develops comprehensive programs and provides significant scholarship support throughout a student’s musical education.

At the Colburn School, we recognize the journey students must take to achieve excellence in their art form is a comprehensive one. Thoughtfully designed curriculum and robust scholarship programs support students as they progress in skill level, maturity, and musical accomplishment. At the Community School of the Performing Arts (Community School), from Early Childhood to Adult Studies, students are reaching musical fulfillment through the “ages.”

Early Childhood: Seven Months–Four Years Old

We begin investing in students starting as early as seven months. Research has shown the ability of children to engage in music making and learning as soon as they are born, and furthermore that there are development benefits resulting from music engagement at a young age (NAFME). Therefore, faculty created a sequenced curriculum to teach children foundational music concepts, such as rhythm, pitch recognition, and listening skills, through fun, interactive classes.

For Juana Sajbin, the Early Childhood Music Program represented a chance to jumpstart her daughter’s artistic life. Three-year-old Yuliana Gomez-Sajbin is currently enrolled in the class Super Singers taught by Early Childhood Department chair Christine Martin.

3-year-old student Yuliana Gomez
After a year at Colburn, I learned about the Early Childhood program and was eager to have my daughter Yuliana enrolled. After seeing how much Anthony [Yuliana’s older brother] was excelling at Colburn, I wanted to give my daughter the same opportunity. Juana Sajbin, mother of Yuliana Gomez-Sajbin

“We chose to participate in the program because we wanted to take advantage of the unique opportunity for my three-year-old daughter to take music classes. We are very grateful that Colburn can offer classes for infants even before they start pre-school. I believe this will give Yuliana an advantage once she starts pre-school.

These classes have been very important for my daughter’s upbringing and development. I don’t speak a lot of English, so the classes are a great way for my daughter to learn English words through music.”

The Early Childhood Music Program represents the first step in students’ development to musical excellence. By investing in students at a young age, the Community School prepares students to transition to other musical and artistic pursuits. As with all Colburn School programs, access to these programs is paramount, and new last year, scholarships are available for this program too—even for seven-month olds!

Five–Seven Years Old

At 5–7 years old, some students are ready for private lessons with our acclaimed faculty. With piano, violin, viola, cello, guitar, and percussion to choose from, students can find an instrument that suits them. In addition to the option of individual lessons, students can explore music theory, Dalcroze, group instrument classes, and drama, set in an engaging and encouraging class environment. For children excited to sing, the choral ensembles start at age five, providing a place for young voices to learn how to use their voice and create music together.

The Community School also offers Suzuki method training for guitar, violin, viola, and cello. The Suzuki Program offers students a chance to study individually with faculty while also participating in group classes. The Suzuki method, founded by Japanese violinist Dr. Shinichi Suzuki, rests on the philosophy that every child is born with musical ability that can be nurtured and developed to a high level. Students enter into the Suzuki program from ages 4.5–6 years.

Current Suzuki mom, Kasey Chun, recognized the excellent foundation that the Early Childhood Music Program provided for her children Isaac, Victoria, Audrey, and Samuel.

Chun family holding string instruments
These music educators have built a strong Early Childhood curriculum that really trained them as babies, through the toddler years and then as growing children, in ear training, matching pitch, rhythm studies, and basic music theory … From our first-hand experience (times four), we can say that Colburn’s Early Childhood Program is a comprehensive music curriculum that has well-prepared our children to move onto instrumental studies in the Suzuki Program. Suzuki parent Kasey Chun

With all four children in the Suzuki Program, the Chun family has been enjoying the group classes and individual lessons of the Suzuki strings curriculum.

Nine-year-old violinist Audrey: “My favorite part of the Suzuki Program is the group classes and moving up from one group to another. I’ve learned that I need to practice with the metronome.”

Thirteen-year-old cellist Isaac: “The Suzuki Program has taught me different playing styles and the performance skills. Ms. Carey, Ms. Nancy, and Ms. Elizabeth each had their own ways to teach, and they were all beneficial to help you achieve the different skills or techniques.”

Six-year-old cellist Samuel: “Seeing different friends and teachers is my favorite time. I learned how to play Etude, Etude Doubles, C major Scale, Perpetual Motion in D and G, Long Long Ago, O Come, May Song, Lightly Row, French Folk Song, Go Tell Aunt Rhody, and then my Twinkles.”

Twelve-year-old violinist Victoria: “My favorite part of the Suzuki Violin program was learning from different instructors as I moved up in different groups and meeting new people. Learning from many teachers really helped me see things in a new way every time.”

Kasey noted the close-knit environment of not only the Suzuki Program, but of all the classes they have participated in over the years at the school:

“This community, made up of faculty, students, and parents sharing enormous dedication to arts education is what distinguishes Colburn and makes it a truly remarkable place of learning. This place has been our second home for the last 12 years—and counting!”

Ages 8–13

For students 8–10 and 11–13, they can learn and grow through a wide array of classes, lessons, and ensembles. Along with piano and strings, students can begin lessons for wind and brass instruments. Voice lessons begin at age 13.

Students are given opportunities to audition and participate in choral ensembles, bands, orchestras, and chamber music. The ensembles at Colburn create a welcoming and enriching environment for students of all experience levels.

Violinist Andrés Engleman has been taking advantage of our renowned faculty and engaging ensembles at the Community School. The talented 13-year-old started at Colburn in the fall of 2016 in the Ed and Mari Edelman Chamber Music Institute, the Community School’s comprehensive chamber music learning experience.

Andrés says about his start at Colburn:

Violinist Andrés Engleman
As soon as I heard about Colburn and its reputation from one of my old teachers, I knew I wanted to come and study there at some point in my educational career. I was extremely excited when Aimée Kreston, my current teacher, invited me to play at one of her studio classes a few years back. Violinist Andrés Engleman

Due to his discipline and hard work, he won a spot in the Honors Chamber program for the 2019–20 academic year. Andrés was thrilled to be selected: “I always looked up to the Honors program, and chamber music has always been something I have enjoyed at Colburn.”

He is appreciative of the support from the teachers at the Community School:

“At Colburn, all the teachers are 100% committed to helping the students improve to the best of their ability. This is an incredibly important element to me especially, because the teacher can make all the difference. Throughout my many years in the chamber program, both of my coaches have not only been good instructors, but amazing coaches that have taught us things that aren’t simply about music but about approaching things in life, like collaboration, creating friendships, learning how to be dependable, and many more. There hasn’t been one moment, even during the time of the pandemic that I haven’t found myself with something engaging and rewarding to do through Colburn.”

Andrés has dedicated himself to his craft, and we are proud to have been a part of his marvelous growth and development.

Read about our Community School high school and adult studies here.

For More Information

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For all other Community School information, visit the Community School section of the website.