At the Community School of Performing Arts, we take summer arts education seriously. We have designed unique camps, workshops, and intensives aimed at bringing music students’ development and skill to the next level. With programs for singers, jazz musicians, pianists, chamber students, and percussionists, the summer camps provide an outlet for artists of all types. The Community School of Performing Arts is thrilled to offer engaging artistic training opportunities through in-person, virtual, and hybrid experiences!
Zippy Toons x Colburn Songwriting Camp: Where Storytelling Meets Melody
June 7–18, 2021
Get ready for a fun, interactive opportunity to create, collaborate, and make original music! Songwriting cannot be taught in a textbook – students must learn it by doing it! With that in mind, Zippy Toons songwriting lessons combine developmental and creative exercises that build the foundations of songwriting. After mastering structural basics, students learn how to craft unique song titles, write compelling lyrics, and compose memorable, ear-catching melodies. Register by June 6.
Piano Camp Intensive
June 28–July 2, 2021
Students will develop their technical skills, engage with experienced Colburn piano faculty, and connect with fellow piano students through classes and performances! Directed by Community School piano faculty Carmina Glicklich and Micah Yui, Piano Camp Intensive includes classes, lessons, and a recital to conclude the week! Applications due May 15, 2021.
Summer Percussion Workshop
June 14–18, 2021 (Virtual, middle and high school)
June 21–25, 2021 (In-Person, ages 9–11)
The Colburn Summer Percussion Workshop at the Community School of Performing Arts returns this summer, bringing student percussionists from all over the country together for an exceptional online experience. Led by Colburn percussion faculty Kenneth McGrath, three levels of pre-college students will focus on a wide range of percussion topics. The classes, master classes, discussions, and performances will provide students with an unparalleled set of tools and knowledge to continue their musical growth.
From June 21–25, 2021, student 9-11 will meet together in-person for classes covering snare drum, mallet percussion, introduction to auxiliary/world percussion, developing good practice techniques, introduction to percussion chamber music, and how to improve performances.
From June 14–18, 2021, middle school and high school students will participate virtually in the unique classes, workshops, and master classes with talented faculty and guest artists with topics including: snare drum, mallet percussion, timpani, auxiliary instruments, peak performance techniques, audition preparation and much more.
Guest artists include:
Applications due June 1, 2021.
June 28–July 21, 2021 (Virtual)
July 26–31, 2021 (In-Person)
The Colburn brass community returns this summer in a two-part seminar with a focus on performance and pedagogy for the month of July and in-person ensemble playing in the month of August. Students who enroll in both sessions will receive a $100 discount off tuition fees. Directed by Colburn faculty members Danielle Ondarza and Michael Zonshine, the seminar will be split between session I, open to intermediate and advanced students only, and Session II, which is open to anyone who has played for at least one year.
Chamber Music Intensive
July 19–24, 2021
The Chamber Music Intensive provides focused ensemble playing for the serious chamber music student. Students will be grouped into a trio, quartet, or quintet and learn an entire work during their time together, culminating in a final concert. Along with rehearsals, students participate in sight-reading chamber music, yoga, stage presence activities, team building, master classes, and opportunities for one-on-one instruction. Coaches from the Ed and Mari Edelman Chamber Music Institute will provide instruction along with other chamber music professionals. Video applications due June 30, 2021.
July 19–23, 2021
For students in grade 8–10
Summer 2021 brings the Colburn Jazz Workshop’s Big Band directors, Lee Secard and Walter Simonsen to you on campus in the heart of downtown Los Angeles. This unique summer experience features daily playing and improvisation, jazz theory, practicing and learning strategies. Video applications are due June 15, 2021.
With opportunities to build musical skills, engage with talented faculty, and meet new friends in the arts, the Community School’s summer camps represent the best of summer music education! We hope that you will join us this summer.
Learn more about the Summer Camps at the Community School of Performing Arts.
Want to start private lessons with one of our experienced faculty members? Submit your inquiry today.
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Sixteen-year-old Scarlett Chen embodies Colburn’s commitment to excellence. She began her journey at the Community School of Performing Arts in 2013. She is a pianist, violinist, and a Herbert Zipper Scholar, a recipient of a renewable scholarship that provides deserving students comprehensive instruction in music theory, private lessons, and ensemble participation. Along with her future aspirations in science, she aims to share her love of classical music with others.
This interview has been edited for style, content, and clarity.
Tell us about your start at Colburn. What drew you to enroll in classes and lessons? What was your initial experience like?
My family did our own research, and after seeing all the performances of Colburn students, we were amazed and decided that it was the best place for me to further my musical studies. My initial experience, and every experience since then, has shown Colburn’s support and care for its students. I instantly felt welcome and over the seven years that I have been at Colburn, the school has become like a second home to me. I am so grateful that Colburn has given me countless opportunities and a supportive and organic environment to pursue my musical education.
The Herbert Zipper Scholarship is quite competitive! There are only a few spots open each year. What is your advice to students aiming to apply and audition for the scholarship?
Colburn tries to see the potential in students and having a perfect performance won’t guarantee you a spot. Not only being able to show what you can do right now, but what you could possibly produce in the future is a big factor to how they make their final decision.
Build a human connection with the panel and at the interview. Show that you can contribute more than just your talents. To stand out in the audition, show that you are more than just a musician and artist but [also] show that you are a person that can benefit the community.
How did you get started in music?
Though none of my family members play instruments, we have always been very appreciative of classical music. Growing up, I listened to various classical music pieces on a regular basis, thanks to my mother. It was only natural for me to take up an instrument.
Because I started piano at three years old, by the time I started my violin studies at age eight, I had already built a growing appreciation and understanding of the arts. I had always loved performing, but as I have gotten older, I have learned to appreciate the beauty of the development of a piece from sight-reading level to performance level.
Tell us about the Community School programs you are involved in right now. What has been impactful about them?
Currently, I am taking private lessons in both violin and piano, as well as chamber music. When I first entered Ms. Aimee Kreston’s violin studio, I was one of her youngest students. Going to studio classes every week and watching her older students perform was very inspiring. From a very young age, I was given so many opportunities from Ms. Kreston. Some of these experiences were quite intimidating but have built my intuition and confidence.
When I first began taking piano lessons at Colburn, I was studying under Ms. Jee Sung Kang. During the five years I was in her studio, Ms. Kang guided me in bringing my piano playing to another level, which was the beginning of developing my own musicality. For the first time, I was able to convey a piece fully with my own ideas, not just playing what was on the page.
Two years ago, I joined Mr. Lavner’s studio which expanded my perception about performing. Mr. Lavner gave me exposure to music that I wouldn’t usually get to play such as jazz music and less known contemporary music. This has widened my knowledge of music and the way I think about all the music that I play.
Last year, you were in an Honors Chamber quartet and won a spot on the Winter Honors Recital. How did that experience of Honors Chamber differ from participating in other chamber groups throughout the last four years in the chamber program
The intensity level and dedication put into it is different. We played less repertoire but in more depth. When I was young, it was great to experience all this different type of repertoire;that was really helpful. As I’m nearing college and maybe conservatory, being able to experience each composer and era in detail is a great experience, and it really influences the rest of my playing.
Also, the time we spent together is different. Being able to work weekly with a group of people is important. The amount of time you spend together affects your playing. With the Honors Chamber group, we really began to trust each other fully, both musically and personally. That made our playing more united.
You are involved with Musical Encounter as well as being interested bringing music to a wider audience. The Community School loves to see students give back! Where did that impulse come from?
To be able to receive the Herbert Zipper Scholarship was such a big help to my family, and we all agreed that when I was able to I would give back in any way that I could.
Musical Encounter has had an important impact on me, both as a musician and as a person. Through this program, I get the opportunity to share my music with LAUSD elementary school students who do not have access to classical music studies. It brings me so much joy to be able to share what I am passionate about with others and help the community in whatever small way I can. I love seeing the students’ excitement as they ask questions and watch the performances.
You are very committed: Chamber, piano, violin, sonata class, and school on top of everything! How do you find time to practice for it all?
It’s gradually gotten harder as I have gotten older in high school. Being able to set aside 5-6 hours a day for practicing is a very big priority to me. That time, I don’t interrupt it with other things. Those hours are a part of my daily routine.
I’ve also learned to use time wisely; being productive with the time that I have. When concerts come up and I get more and more busy, I know what to do and I get it done.
How did you keep sane during quarantine?
It was a really big shock at first, it took a while to get used to, and I am still not used to it. I have been trying to take care of myself more and cherish the free time that I have right now. It’s not much but it’s still more that I normally have during the year. I have been able to go on walks and get outside more, which is really nice because I am usually stuck inside or in a practice room.
We are always curious to know what serious music students like yourself are listening to. What’s on your Spotify playlist?
I grew up listening to classical music. I still do but now I listen to rock and alternative music. I also listen to jazz music. It’s a really wide range! People never really expect me to say rock and alternative music, they always expect me to say classical music!
What are your musical goals? How has Colburn helped you achieve them?
My musical goals have evolved from wanting to perform on a Friday Night Recital when I first became a Colburn student to aiming for national competitions with my string quartet. It had always been a dream of mine to be able to collaborate in a strong chamber group and eventually compete with them. Last school year, my string quartet received endless opportunities to perform our pieces and work with amazing faculty and guest artists to improve our performances. Though our school year was cut short due to the pandemic, during the seven months we had together, our quartet had worked hard and achieved more than I ever expected with the support from Colburn. I have received not only financial and educational support from Colburn, but also many resources and opportunities. All of this combined has helped me achieve my goals and develop my musical identity.
What do you see for your future?
I am aiming for a university with a strong music program where I can continue to study music while developing my interest in the sciences. What draws me towards a university is the diversity of talents and interests.
Additionally, because classical music is unfortunately not accessible to everyone, I would like to bring classical music to other people in my circle, not just the musicians. Music is an amazing thing to be able to share with others and being immersed in a world of multiple interests can help me spread the arts that I love.
And finally, what is one great thing about Colburn that people don’t see unless they are taking classes or working with a teacher?
What I love most about Colburn is the community of people that I am a part of. The institution is built from all the different talents and personalities of the students, faculty, staff, and administration. From Ms. Roberta Garten, the collaborative pianist who makes sure every Friday Night Recital runs smoothly and each student feels comfortable performing, to the security guards who keep everyone safe; everyone contributes to what Colburn is and brings something different to the school.
From the outside, Colburn is recognized with the achievements from the students, the amazing faculty, and the professionalism of the institution. However, the school maintains its humanity and welcoming nature and teaches the students to not just be great artists, but great people as well.
Inspired to start private lessons with one of our experienced faculty members? Submit your inquiry today.
Learn more about Ed and Mari Edelman Chamber Music Institute.
This interview has been lightly edited for style and clarity.
How did you start playing piano?
It’s an interesting story. In first grade, my teacher gave a writing assignment, an essay. The prompt was, “Who do you want to be when you grow up?” And I wrote that I want to be a pianist and that I want my own piano. My teacher told my parents about this and they granted my wish and bought me a piano, so I started playing from first grade.
Why do you like the piano?
I find it an interesting instrument. I really like the sound quality. It’s very different from other instruments because it’s strings and it’s also percussion with the hammers. And I just generally think that it’s very musical. So, I prefer it over different instruments.
What kind of music do you most like to play?
I really love classical music, and I prefer it over many other genres. I think it’s very fascinating how composers from a very long time ago could create such incredible music that’s still listened to and loved to this day. It’s also interesting how classical music has shaped other musical genres, especially modern genres.
Do you have any favorite composers or genres within classical?
Personally, it’s difficult to decide on one or a few favorite composers; each composer is valuable and unique in their own way. I really like Beethoven and Bach, but I also really enjoyed playing the pieces of romantic era composers like Liszt and Rachmaninoff.
How has your Colburn experience been overall?
I really love Colburn. I feel like I’ve learned and grown a lot more since I came here. I’ve been taking piano lessons with Ms. Inga [Kapouler Gartner]. I also took theory and harmony lessons as well as chamber ensemble.
How do you think it helps you as a musician to play chamber?
It helps me a lot because you have to think musically when you’re playing with other musicians. Also, you have to agree on specific musical terms. All of that comes to one big composition and product that you can learn from to become a better musician.
How is the experience of playing with other musicians different than performing solo?
It’s different in many ways. For example, all the musicians have to have a good connection in order to create a good product. You need to agree on things such as articulation, cueing, dynamics, and a lot of other stuff that you don’t think about while performing solo. It’s also more difficult because you’re not only responsible for what you play, but you’re also responsible for the other musicians.
What is it like studying with your teacher?
Ms. Inga is very supportive, and she’s a really good mentor for me. I enjoy my classes with her. We learn a lot of stuff like musical and technical things, and also the general idea of music and how it should be played with specific composers. Also, I really love the way she explains and helps me understand the music.
You are a Herbert Zipper Scholar. What was it like applying for that and finding out that you got the scholarship?
I wasn’t really sure whether or not I would attend Colburn, but I was considering it. I was getting my concerto ready for a concert in my previous school. When I finished, I felt like I was ready to move and become a better pianist. So, I decided to apply for Colburn. At first, I didn’t know that the Herbert Zipper Scholarship existed. When I found out, I decided to apply for it. I was very excited when they called and said that I got the scholarship. I knew that this was the path I wanted to go with music.
You also recently won first prize in the 2021 International Music Competition “London” Grand Prize Virtuoso. How was it preparing for that?
Before I found out about the competition, I had my Beethoven Sonata in G major ready. My teacher told me that there’s this competition that she wants me to participate in. So, we worked hard and prepared for it together. Then I recorded my Beethoven at Colburn and we sent it in. A few weeks later, I got the results back saying that I got first place. The winner gets to play in the Royal Albert Hall in Elgar’s Room, and I’m very excited for that.
How was it different from going to a competition in person?
It’s a lot more difficult when it’s all virtual, you have to worry about microphone quality and video quality. This is why I prefer going in-person, because I personally find it easier to project my emotions and to feel free while playing that way without worrying about whether or not that got across in the recording.
Any ideas what you might want to do with music in the future?
I’m planning on becoming a pianist, and I’m focusing on finishing Colburn and high school right now. For my future goals, I want to get accepted to Juilliard music school and become a well-known concert pianist. But before that, I obviously need to participate in many different competitions and hopefully win. I’d really like to participate in the Van Cliburn competition in 2023. I know it’s going to be a challenge, but I love challenging myself.
To musicians, music students, and lovers of the arts, the necessity of music lessons and arts education is almost assumed. We see the power that music holds and the benefits it provides to students, not just creatively, but academically and as a human. However, if you were not involved in piano lessons since you were five, or participated in music theory classes, or even listened to Bach and Mozart in the house, the importance of music lessons for children might not be immediately apparent.
You might have heard of the importance of starting your child in music lessons, but wonder why. What is the true importance of it? How does it benefit my child? If my child isn’t going to be a professional musician, why are music lessons and arts classes important?
The Community School of Performing Arts has answers to these questions. We have over 70 years of first-hand experience of the life-changing power of music education. Private instruction and music lessons are important because they provide an outlet for creativity and expression, boost academic performance, teach valuable life skills, and are a source of joy and community!
While the primary goal of piano or violin lessons might not be to improve your son or daughter’s SAT score, they actually might do just that! In a 2007 research study, students engaged in high-quality music programs performed better on standardized tests when compared to students in schools with deficient music programs, regardless of socioeconomic level. Another report by the College Board SAT found that on the 2012 SAT, students who participated in music scored an average of 31 points above average in reading, 23 points above average in math, and 31 points above average in writing.
Music education doesn’t just impact performance on tests; it may have an effect on students’ IQ. A 2004 study reported that a group of children assigned to music lessons performed better on an IQ test than children in groups with no lessons. While an IQ test is not a perfect measure of a student’s intelligence or academic aptitude, it bolsters the argument that music lessons provide a measurable difference in academic performance.
In addition to IQ and standardized tests, music lessons also improve students’ academic performance. In a study of first graders who were behind the control group on reading and math skills, after participating in special music classes, they caught up to the control group after only seven months of training.
For those concerned about the difference between correlation and causation, a 2020 study by music educator Martin J. Bergee tested the effects of music education while factoring in the variable factors of race, geographical location, income level, and education level. His original intent was to confirm his suspicion that the research proving music lessons’ power on students was simply a correlation and not music education causing all the effects. He was wrong. After controlling for all the variable factors, he found that the connection between mathematical achievement and music are inexplicably connected.
Math and reading are not the only academic skills that music lessons improve. Students who study music see benefits in the areas of patterns, language skills, spatial awareness, and memorization, to name a few.
Creativity is a key skill for anybody, especially in a changing academic environment like the world post-pandemic. Music lessons teach students to think outside the box and find solutions to problems. Creativity is not so much an innate talent but a muscle that needs to be flexed. Music lessons are the perfect workout for that muscle group. Lee Secard, Jazz Department Chair and Director of the Colburn Jazz Workshop’s recognizes this:
Like other musical skills, creativity must be considered, practiced, and experienced.
Like other musical skills, creativity must be considered, practiced, and experienced.
One of the most powerful ways that music lessons teach creativity is through improvisation. At Colburn, improvisation is pursued through the understanding of the principles of music theory and through dedicated practice with experienced instructors. Jazz faculty member Liz Kinnon understands the benefits of improvisation in the pursuit of creativity.
Improvisation is a lifelong adventure of discovery. At the core is learning to listen while keeping an open mind and heart.
Improvisation is a lifelong adventure of discovery. At the core is learning to listen while keeping an open mind and heart.
The science reinforces the importance of improvisation and the role it plays in creativity. A Tufts University research study, showed that music improvisation primed the participants for creativity and provided a boost in their creativity. In other words, jazz improvisation provides a jolt for creativity!
One of the ways students learn creativity is through interpretation of music. While classical music holds strongly to the written music, there is significant room for infusing one’s personal interpretation through use of dynamics, articulation, and tempo. At the Community School of Performing Arts, our teacher’s empower students to build their personal sound, not just copy another artist. This forces Colburn students to make creative choices and interpret music in new and exciting ways.
In addition to improvisation and interpretation, students develop their creativity through composition. Putting together technical knowledge of instruments, understandings of music theory, and comprehension of past musical styles, composition students push themselves to create new musical ideas and works.
Composer and Colburn Composition faculty member Jordan Nelson has felt this cognitive and creativity boost through composition:
I think that the fuel that I get from being creative with sound was one of the elements that drew me to compose in the first place.
I think that the fuel that I get from being creative with sound was one of the elements that drew me to compose in the first place.
Jordan also stresses the importance of creativity in his work as a teacher. He emphasizes that “this is part of what motivates me as a teacher, too, as I love to cultivate this joy for (and practice with) creativity in other people.”
Music is about communication. Not just musical concepts, but feelings, emotions, ideas. Music lessons allow students to explore their emotions and communicate them to an audience. Well-rounded musicians are not just great technicians, they can communicate feelings and ideas through their music. By understanding this, the Community School faculty develop students’ technical skills in order that they might be able to convey emotion through their music.
One notable example of the power of music to convey ideas and emotion is Community School student Grace Rosewood. A student of the Adaptive Music Program, Grace has a diagnosis of Cerebral Palsy and is without speech but has found her voice through music. Her mother, Olivia, says it best: “I used to say, ‘Grace cannot yet speak.’ Now I understand that Grace can speak—through music. It took the well-tuned ear of an individual like Ms. Bori [Grace’s private lessons teacher] to detect the whisperings of Grace’s spirit—to hear it, to interpret it, and to nourish it into thriving growth.” Grace demonstrates the power to develop communication and expression skills.
An incredible training ground for developing these communication and expression skills is the stage. The Community School strongly believes in the power of performance and provides many performance opportunities for all its students. Throughout each academic year, students showcase their talents at hundreds of free performances at Colburn.
Even during the pandemic, performances are still a priority. One of the most revered traditions at the School are the Friday Night Recitals, a weekly recital series for private lesson students at the Community School. While online, the beloved series lived on. Redesigned for Zoom, the Community School hosted over 35 recitals during Summer and Fall 2020 with over 300 student performances.
Music lessons are intellectually, physically, and artistically demanding pursuits. The gorgeous music you hear from musicians that seems to flow from them as easily as walking is really a result of years of dedicated work and practice. While that may not sound like a reason to sign your child up for lessons, the discipline and dedication your child learns from music lessons is an invaluable life skill. Whether in their academic education or professional career, discipline learned from music lessons is a trained skill that provides value to them.
In addition to discipline, music lessons teach confidence! Getting up on a stage, dressed in formal wear, and playing a solo in front of friends, family, or strangers can be a harrowing ordeal for many people. However, by practicing and acquiring the skills and technique to accomplish performances can be an incredible way to build confidence.
In the Suzuki program at Colburn, students as young as five are given opportunities to perform, most notably in the Suzuki Musicales, a monthly performance for violin and cello students. If you aren’t familiar with Suzuki, this 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. The program at Colburn consists of group classes and private lessons. While a Suzuki recital may not seem like an investment in the future, learning to perform and building self-confidence translates into better public speaking, presenting, and better managing of other stressful life situations like job interviews or important tests.
Finally, we get to one of our favorite benefits of music lessons. They are just plain fun! Being able to play music is a true thrill. Listening to music is great, but playing it is the next level of enjoyment. Whether nailing a tricky cadenza or finally accomplishing a complex rhythm passage, the joy of playing music is an incredible feeling.
Also, by studying an instrument and acquiring technical skills, students are able to access and play whole libraries of repertoire, from Bach, Tchaikovsky, Schoenberg, Philip Glass, and everything between. The world of music is enormous and lessons from an experienced teacher is a gateway to all that music.
While playing music by yourself feels amazing, music lessons provide students the ability to play with others. Participating in an ensemble like an orchestra or choir provides a sense of community and unity. When you lock in the tuning of a chord all together or flawlessly execute a perfect cadence to your musical phrase, all seems to be right in the world. Playing music with others creates a scenario where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. It requires discipline and collaboration, but the outcome is sublime.
Ensembles are central to the musical experience at Colburn’s Community School. Ensembles build collaboration, cohesion, and community. These essential groups reinforce techniques learned in private lessons and provide an outlet for musical expression.
The Community School’s ensemble programs serve 800 students in over 33 ensembles. Colburn has developed groups for a wide range of skill levels, ages, instruments, and genres. The diverse offerings include Bands, Chamber, Instrumental, Jazz, Orchestral, and Vocal.
From academic boosts to increased creativity, students studying piano, strings, woodwinds, brass, voice, or percussion receive tangible benefits. For parents wondering about whether to pay for lessons for their child, not only can they count on their child being immersed in the performing arts and music, While music is its own reward, music lessons are an intellectual catalyst and aid in human-development.
If you or your child want to get started in music lessons at the Community School with one of our renowned faculty, start by submitting an inquiry.
We recognize some students may require financial support to cover the cost of their studies. In this case, we offer merit and need-based scholarships for fall and spring semesters. Applications are due May 1, 2021.
Private Lessons By Instrument:
Flute and Piccolo
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Designed for children and adults with special needs, the Adaptive Music Program uses music and related experiences, including music lessons, to address psychosocial needs and to improve one’s quality of life
This program provides students with academic or learning challenges the opportunity to express themselves musically, interact, and learn to play a musical instrument in a therapeutic environment. A structured music-based assessment is provided, including assessment of motor skills, behavioral, social, emotional levels, attention and communication ability. The music specialist is in contact weekly with parents. A written summary is provided at the end of the year.
For a one-time fee of $150, music specialist Francesca Bori provides a structured music-based assessment, including assessment of motor skills, behavioral, social and emotional levels, attention, and communication ability. Yearly written summaries and monthly meetings with parents, if required, are provided to review the progress of the student.
Francesca Bori has been a member of the Colburn Community School’s cello and early childhood faculty for over 30 years and has experience working with individuals who present learning and social challenges for more than 25 years. Francesca Bori holds a Bachelor of Music and a Certification in Music Therapy from California State University Long Beach.
Ms. Bori also works with and offers advice to fellow colleagues and faculty members to aid students with varied learning styles.
To begin the process for the Adaptive Music Program, fill out the Community School inquiry form.
At the Community School of Performing Arts, we strive to create a nurturing environment to support students in their pursuit of musical excellence. In this student feature, the Community School highlights the Chun family, a dedicated Suzuki family who began their Colburn journey over 12 years ago in the Early Childhood Program. They are a testament to the strength of Colburn’s programming and faculty, but also of the incredible families that make up our community.
What was your initial experience at Colburn like for your family?
Kasey Chun: Our family’s Colburn journey started about 13 years ago, when our first son Isaac was born. We heard about the Early Childhood Program at Colburn and the rave reviews about the program and its director. As new parents, we were looking into various types of “Mommy-and-Me” classes. We opted to do music classes since music has proven to be so beneficial in child development. We did some research and compared various programs on specifically how the curriculum might affect a positive impact on our child’s musical as well as overall development. We also visited the facilities—and that’s when we knew that Colburn was the best place for us. Colburn’s Early Childhood Program was offering continuous classes from early infancy all the way through early grade school in the vibrant cultural center of downtown LA. The Community School was also offering transitional courses that would branch out to provide exploration into instrumental, vocal, drama/theatre, or dance studies. The convenience and comprehensive nature of the program truly added great value to Colburn.
Reminiscing back to the early years at Colburn, I think it was the sweetest but the hardest years for us. For new parents, the birthing, breastfeeding, potty training, child-rearing years can be really daunting. For our family, it ended up being all of it times four! We ended up with four kids with seven years in age gap amongst the oldest and youngest. Many of us look forward to the weekends where we can sleep in and stay in our pj’s or go out to brunch. Most of the Early Childhood classes start early Saturday or Sunday mornings, and we were commuting out to downtown LA from North Orange County at the time. Despite the challenges of getting up early on a weekend to make it to the 9 am classes, we made it through because we hold a strong belief in the value of quality early childhood education.
We actually made it through nine continuous years of the 9:00 a.m. Early Childhood classes because we knew how much Colburn had and would continue to nurture and impact our four children. For us, it really was the Early Childhood Director, Ms. Martin who made a personal influence on my children. She was instrumental in creating positive impressions about music that will last a lifetime. She is absolutely the best educator—not only in music but also in Early Childhood education. If anyone were to peek into her classroom, they would see kind, warm, and sensitive teaching that truly raises awareness in children about their many senses, inner self, and their surroundings through the teaching and making of music. We can also truly thank her for guidance not only in the musical path, but also in the parenting journey. Along with Ms. Martin, our family was grateful to have met Mrs. Gamboa and Ms. Bori who also have brought so much joy to music learning and cheered us on to grow as a musical family. It really was the teachers who helped us to raise our children to be ready to learn a musical instrument from an early age.
Your children, Isaac, Victoria, Audrey, and Samuel all started in the Early Childhood Program. How did the program help them to prepare to move on to the Suzuki Program?
Kasey Chun: 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. As a baby, the Early Childhood Program trains them to listen carefully to identify and recognize a certain sound in relative relation to pitch, dynamics, and mood. The learning experience grows with the child as she or he matures, offering hands-on experiences utilizing various instruments like maracas, drums, gong, triangles, xylophones, recorder, and keyboard. This early exposure allows children in the Early Childhood Program to explore the multifaceted world of music in a truly unique immersive learning environment.
The children also used their voices to sing solfège, identifying and building on the pitch. The curriculum includes the Dalcroze classes which help to bring awareness to their body, rhythm, and movement into one. Ms. Izumi’s very meticulous training in Dalcroze guided them through clapping and moving through steady beats, rhythms, and dances. She plays beautiful live piano accompaniment as children move to find the beat and rhythm through minuets, jumping in and out of hula hoops, and tossing silk scarves.
These music educators have built a strong Early Childhood curriculum that really trained our children as babies, through the toddler years, and then as growing children, in ear training, matching pitch, rhythm studies, and basic music theory. We knew that with such strong music training from a young age and being in a familiar environment would prepare the children to take on instrument studies at the Colburn School in the Suzuki Program.
After participating in the Early Childhood Music Program, you all have been a part of the Suzuki Strings Program. What is your favorite part of the Suzuki Program? What has it taught you?
Isaac Chun, 13: My favorite part of the Suzuki Program was the contrasting music that is arranged in the Suzuki books and the chance to work with multiple teachers. 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. Sometimes, the wacky catchphrases and made-up lyrics really helped me remember the music. Most importantly, it’s taught me that repetition is the key!
Victoria Chun, 12: My favorite part of the Suzuki Violin was learning from different instructors as I moved up into different groups and meeting new people. Learning from many teachers really helped me see things in a new way every time. I really have learned so many things growing up as a Suzuki student. Ms. Shimizu has taught me the importance of rehearsals, while Dr. Can, my teacher, has taught me to focus on technique during rehearsals to ensure that I will not need to think twice about technique during a performance.
Audrey Chun, 9: My favorite part of the Suzuki Program are the group classes and moving up from one group to another. I’ve learned that I need to practice with the metronome.
Samuel Chun, 6: 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.
Some of you have been at Colburn for over 12 years! That’s amazing! Do you have a favorite memory or experience at the school?
Isaac: While attending Colburn for 12 years, there were many things that have stayed with me over the years. One thing that I can still remember is the large art next to the elevator on the upper level of the Grand Building. Whenever I entered my classes for many of the early years, the art stuck with me. When I see that art, it still reminds me of the good times I had with my friends in Ms. Martin’s, Mrs. Gamboa’s, and Ms. Izumi’s class. Also, when I pass by the practice rooms, I still remember the time when Mrs. Bori helped me with sight-reading and ear training on the piano.
Victoria: Over the course of the 11 years I’ve attended the Colburn School, my favorite experience at the school was when I participated in the 2017 George Balanchine’s Nutcracker. One of my favorite memories at the Colburn school is walking down the practice room halls and hearing different styles of music orchestrating perfectly together.
Samuel: I liked it when I saw my cousin in Ms. Martin’s class when she was a baby. My favorite time was getting a cake pop from the Colburn Coffee Bar and playing with my friends and cousins. I really like hearing the trumpet sound in the parking garage.
Addressed to Victoria and Audrey: You also take dance as well as music. Do you find it difficult to study both art forms at the same time?
Audrey: No, I don’t find it hard. It’s because I’ve gotten used to practicing violin and dance. I love to dance, and I enjoy playing violin, so it makes it not so hard.
Victoria: I actually find studying both art forms to be beneficial to one another. Although they are different styles of art forms, I find it interesting to see how one is similar to the other and learning both helps me to be more expressive.
What are you most looking forward to at Colburn?
Isaac: I am looking forward to taking new classes and meeting new friends and teachers. In the future, I am looking forward to more intense cello lessons, ensemble playing, and orchestra.
Victoria: I really hope to gain more onstage experience by performing often. I am looking forward to the advanced dance classes and playing in the orchestra with my friends in the future.
Addressed to Kasey: What is one great thing about Colburn that people don’t see unless they are taking classes or working with a teacher?
Kasey: It’s true that there’re just so many great things about Colburn that people won’t know unless they’re actually taking a class or working with the amazing faculty. We have had the chance to partake in many classes in many departments at Colburn: Choir, Drama, Musical Theatre, Keyboard, Recorder, Ballet, Tap, Violin, Cello, Suzuki group classes, Cello Choir, Violin Ensemble, String Ensemble, and Music Theory. In each of these classes and departments, we saw and felt a sense of a community and a passion for the art form they were vested in. 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!
To all of the Chun family, thank you for your time! Any other thoughts or things you want to mention about your experience so far at Colburn?
Kasey: It was our pleasure to share our family’s story. We know that our family’s experience at Colburn is just one of the many great experiences felt by the families of Colburn. A dozen years at Colburn has definitely transformed our lives, and it has been and will continue to be an integral and vital part of our children’s journeys in music, dance, and art. The incredible faculty, the community, and the family experiences we have shared on the Colburn campus are the reasons why we are here. Thank you teachers and dear music friends for making Colburn what it means to families like ours. We look forward to seeing everyone back on campus soon and performing live again.
Want to join the Suzuki Strings Program? The Fall 2021 deadline is January 15, 2021. Submit an inquiry today!
Learn more about the Trudl Zipper Dance Institute.
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Community School composer Apsara Kasiraman rose to the challenge of creating art out of the time of the pandemic with her composition “Requiem for Four Horns.” For the project Requiem-20: A Musical Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic,” Musical Mentors Collaborative asked Apsara and 10 other young composers to write a piece of music that expressed how the COVID-19 pandemic made them feel. The Community School sat down (virtually) with Apsara and explored her ideas and thoughts regarding this haunting piece of music.
You wrote this composition, “Requiem for Four Horns,” at the invitation of Musical Mentors Collaborative. They asked young people across our country to express themselves artistically in the face of crisis. How did you first respond when they asked you to write a piece for this project?
I was incredibly excited and grateful. The arts have definitely been impacted by the pandemic, so I am very thankful to have been given the opportunity to write music and get it played.
What was your process like for creating this piece? How long did it take you to write it?
I wrote this piece in about two weeks. It initially started out as a solo horn piece, but a few days into the process, I realized my vision would be better captured using four horns rather than one. Once I finished writing the piece, I sent it to the horn player, Eric Huckins, who then recorded it and sent it back to me. Once I received the recording, I put together the visuals and sent the final version to the Musical Mentors Collaborative.
As this has been a very trying time for the world economically, physically, and mentally, a composition about the time of COVID-19 could be very bleak. However, your piece has these bright moments of consonance and sweetness. Tell us about the mood you were trying to capture. And how did you accomplish that musically?
I wanted to capture both the good and the bad elements that have come out of the pandemic. This has been such a tragic time for so many people, but I also think it has made people realize the value and importance of spending time with others, so I wanted to capture both sides. On one hand, so many people have lost grandparents, parents, siblings, aunts, uncles… but on the other hand, we have learned to adapt to the situation so we can still carry out our lives in a somewhat normal way.
The French Horn is such a beautiful instrument. Why did you choose that as the medium of your composition?
Because I love writing for horn. Typically, the horn is known for its volume, power, and robustness, like what is in many orchestral works, but it has lyrical qualities as well. The Musical Mentors Collaborative did not have any specific guidelines for instrumentation, so I figured I would write for an instrument that I love and is capable of capturing the right mood.
Is “Requiem for Four Horns” a break from your usual composition style or does it contain any of your signature compositional elements?
I think this piece definitely has elements of my style, but there are several differences. I stuck to relatively traditional harmonic structures, as I normally do, but I also had fewer moving parts, which isn’t typical for me. I used simpler rhythms and less drastic transitions.
The music combined with the black and white photos created a reverent and stirring emotional quality. Tell us about the photos. Did you choose them? How were they selected?
I googled “coronavirus impact photos” and found slideshows from various media outlets. I chose the pictures that were the most representative of the pandemic and best suited for my music. I intentionally chose pictures from all over the world because, although each person’s situation is unique, the pandemic is something that has affected all of us. The pictures were all originally in color, but I chose to make the video black and white because I feel that they are more expressive than color pictures.
Why did you choose to make this composition a requiem?
I made this piece a requiem because I wanted to commemorate the lives of the hundreds of thousands of people we have lost to COVID-19. I didn’t write the piece with the intention of creating a requiem, but after its completion, “Requiem for Four Horns” just seemed to be the perfect title.
You utilize straightforward rhythms, open fifths, a powerful crescendo in the middle, and a melancholic melody. Your piece is clearly telling a story. What story is that?
I wanted to show both the stillness and motion associated with the pandemic. The pandemic has been ongoing for many months now, but time hasn’t stood still. There’s also this sense of detachment for many people–and harsh reality for others–hence the straight-forward rhythms and open fifths. The melody is meant to capture grief, pain, and despondency. Finally, the dynamics and overall ABA structure is representative of highs and lows within the pandemic. While there have been a lot of negative things, people have also found new ways to improvise, adapt, and overcome.
Any new composition projects we can look forward to from you?
I just finished a piece for Met Opera singer Zachary James’ album Call Out, which will be available on iTunes, Spotify, etc. in December. The piece is called “To a Star,” and is based on Lucretia Maria Davidson’s poem of the same name.
Apsara, we think you are immensely talented and have a great future ahead of you! What are your plans for after high school? Will you pursue composition?
I am still exploring all my options. Although I love music, I have academic interests as well. But if I do go into music, I want to major in either composition, piano performance, or orchestral conducting.
Thank you for this Q&A! Before we wrap up our interview, anything else you would like to mention?
Thank you for letting me share my piece. I am especially grateful to the Colburn faculty, staff, and community for supporting me in all my endeavors for the past ten years. Colburn has truly been a major part of my life, and it has meant even more to me in this pandemic. I can’t wait to be on campus again!
Listen to “Requiem for Four Horns"
The Community School of Performing Arts seeks new ways to engage with our current students and to create new opportunities for growth and development. Starting in October, Dean Susan Cook and Early Childhood Faculty member Mary Alonso envisioned a new series of classes for our youngest students, called Musical Minuettos.
This new series of mini classes for Early Childhood families focuses on the FUNdamentals of music: beat, rhythm, dynamics, form, pitch/melody, texture, timbre, tempo. Using engaging, age-appropriate themes, literature, and the world around us, families will build and practice basic music skills while creating a love of the arts, language, science, and math.
For 3 year olds, the classes are themed and provide a fun way for students to explore the arts. In Bears, Bears, Everywhere!, the December class, animal loving families will navigate the forest as we learn music skills with the help of our favorite furry friends.
The classes designed for 4–5 year olds explore an exciting musical adventure through books, aptly named Joyous Journeys. These innovative classes focus on seasonally-themed stories paired with musical activities. Every month, there will be a new class with a different story. In December, students celebrate the changing seasons through music and stories in Here Comes Winter.
Mary Alonso, the teacher of the new classes, knows how important it is to support our community:
“This has been a very strange year for everyone! What better way to support our community then offering classes that are more affordable, less time intensive, but educational and enjoyable at the same time. We are also hoping to create some ‘together’ time for families to bond over music.”
The new shorter length classes allow for additional musical development for our current Early Childhood students. It also provides an easy entry for new students to experience the wonders and joy of the performing arts.
Ms. Alonso not only brings her passion and joy for the arts to the classes, she brings years of experience working with children. She taught in Downey Unified School District for over 27 years. It was during this time that Mary saw the strong connection between music and language development and become a Language Development and an Orff Schulwerk (Levels I-III) Specialist. Additionally, Mary served as an Arts Integration and STEAM Specialist and shared her passion for the arts with educators all over the state through presentations at the CA STEAM Symposium, CA Science Teachers Conference, and Project Lead the Way State/National conferences. With her experience and passion for the arts, she excels at facilitating engaging music classes.
These new classes fit perfectly into the existing framework of the Early Childhood Program at Colburn. Our classes target specific age groupings to best capitalize on students’ capabilities as they explore music, theory, voice, movement, and drama. Advancement is based on skill development so students gain confidence as they gain abilities. Early Childhood faculty member Mary Alonso emphasizes the connection to the Colburn curriculum: “These classes support the ECM Program by allowing for continued, focused learning of musical skills while making connections to language, math, and social sciences.”
The classes also incorporate activities for the family and not just for the little ones! Dean Cook states that “it’s geared more towards a family experience rather than just focusing on the age appropriate student.”
The Community School of Performing Arts could not be more thrilled to be providing these new opportunities to our students and to the community at large. Whether you are a veteran Colburn Early Childhood family or just learning about the programs for the first time, we hope to see you in the new Musical Minuettos classes.
Classes begin December 5. Register today!
Find out more about the Early Childhood Music Program.
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Teng Li is a diverse and dynamic performer internationally. Recently Ms. Li was appointed as Principal Violist of the LA Philharmonic after more than a decade as Principal with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. An impassioned teacher, she is the Artistic Director of Morningside Music Bridge, teaches at the Music Academy of the Colburn School and continues to give master classes at conservatories worldwide. Prior to moving to Los Angeles, Ms. Li taught at the University of Toronto, Royal Conservatory of Music, and Montreal’s Conservatoire de Musique.
Ms. Li is also an active recitalist and chamber musician participating in the festivals of Marlboro, Santa Fe, Mostly Mozart, Music from Angel Fire, Rome, Moritzburg (Germany) and the Rising Stars Festival in Caramoor. She has performed with the Guarneri Quartet in New York (04/05), at Carnegie Hall (Weill Recital Hall) and with the 92nd St. “Y” Chamber Music Society. Teng was also featured with the Guarneri Quartet in their last season (2009), and was also a member of the prestigious Lincoln Center Chamber Music Society Two Program. She is a member of the Rosamunde Quartet (led by Noah Bendix-Balgley, Concertmaster of the Berlin Philharmonic).
Ms. Li has been featured as soloist with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Toronto Symphony Orchestra, National Chamber Orchestra, the Santa Rosa Symphony, the Munich Chamber Orchestra, the Haddonfield Symphony, Shanghai Opera Orchestra, the Canadian Sinfonietta and Esprit Orchestra. Her performances have been broadcast on CBC Radio 2, National Public Radio, WQXR (New York), WHYY (Pennsylvania), WFMT (Chicago), and Bavarian Radio (Munich).
At the Community School of Performing Arts, understanding where music originated is as important as learning the music itself. With history and music appreciation classes, learn from knowledgeable faculty about composers, musical eras, and everything between.
Join the Conservatory of Music’s Chair of Music History and Literature Kristi Brown-Montesano for an exploration of the music of the interwar period (1919—1939), an era which witnessed an astonishing variety of aesthetic and stylistic developments in western Classical music.
These creatively rich decades—bookended by two cataclysmic World Wars—inspired composers to innovate, look more closely at their national identity, and explore “popular” genres and new types of sounds. Students will delve into the historical context, guided listening, and aesthetic ideals of particular works and related arts.
This 6-week course will explore 6 stylistic “worlds”:
This course is intended to deepen appreciation for all levels of musicianship; an ability to read music is not required.
January 30—March 6
Saturdays, 11 am—12:15 pm