Music Theory

Music theory at the Community School of Performing Arts is a singing-based curriculum designed to enhance and support instrumental and vocal study through active engagement and kinesthetic exploration. From pre-reading exposure classes to 20th century atonality, music theory classes deepen understanding of the musical process and strengthen artistic expression and performance.

Music theory and Dalcroze classes are designed to be taken simultaneously or one at a time to accommodate each individual’s pace and progress. In the same way, upper level music theory classes are compatible with simultaneous compositional study as well as advanced Dalcroze Rhythmic Solfege study.
 

Music Theory Group Classes

Prior to enrollment, students complete an assessment test to determine which class(es) would be most appropriate. Evaluations are normally done in the fall, and enrollment is assumed to be a year-long commitment. At the end of the year, continuing students are reevaluated so that faculty can advise them on appropriate choices for further study.

Music Theory Assessment

Email the completed assessment to cspa@colburnschool.edu.

This class allows students to gain a firm grasp of the core skills of ear training, sight singing, and rhythmic concepts. Students use this knowledge to expand their appreciation and analysis of music, and elevate their performance abilities. Placement test is required prior to enrolling. Email the completed assessment to cspa@colburnschool.edu.

Click here for Placement Test

Instructor Ages Dates Days Times Fees
Keren Schweitzer 7yr - 99yr 09/13 - 05/23 Mo 04:00 pm - 04:55 pm $1090.00
Instructor Ages Dates Days Times Fees
Keren Schweitzer 7yr - 99yr 09/12 - 05/29 Su 11:00 am - 11:55 am $1090.00

This curriculum is designed to introduce basic components of music. Students learn major and minor scales, intervals, and triads. They also expand their ear training with aural recognition of the concepts studied in written theory. Students begin working on sight singing using solfege. Placement test is required prior to enrolling. Email the completed assessment to cspa@colburnschool.edu.

Click here for Placement Test

 

 

Instructor Ages Dates Days Times Fees
Keren Schweitzer 7yr - 99yr 09/12 - 05/29 Su 12:00 pm - 12:55 pm $1090.00
Instructor Ages Dates Days Times Fees
Keren Schweitzer 7yr - 99yr 09/13 - 05/23 Mo 05:00 pm - 05:55 pm $1090.00

This curriculum is designed to introduce basic components of music. Students learn major and minor scales, intervals, and triads. They also expand their ear training with aural recognition of the concepts studied in written theory. Students begin working on sight singing using solfege. Placement test is required prior to enrolling. Email the completed assessment to cspa@colburnschool.edu.

Click here for Placement Test

Instructor Ages Dates Days Times Fees
Kathy Sawada 9yr - 99yr 09/09 - 05/26 Th 04:00 pm - 04:55 pm $1090.00
Instructor Ages Dates Days Times Fees
Kathy Sawada 9yr - 99yr 09/11 - 05/28 Sa 11:00 am - 11:55 am $1090.00
Instructor Ages Dates Days Times Fees
Keren Schweitzer 9yr - 99yr 09/12 - 05/29 Su 01:00 pm - 01:55 pm $1090.00

This curriculum is designed to introduce basic components of music. Students learn major and minor scales, intervals, and triads. They also expand their ear training with aural recognition of the concepts studied in written theory. Students begin working on sight singing using solfege. Placement test is required prior to enrolling. Email the completed assessment to cspa@colburnschool.edu.

Click here for Placement Test

Instructor Ages Dates Days Times Fees
Kathy Sawada 9yr - 99yr 09/08 - 05/25 We 04:00 pm - 04:55 pm $1090.00
Instructor Ages Dates Days Times Fees
Kathy Sawada 9yr - 99yr 09/11 - 05/28 Sa 12:00 pm - 12:55 pm $1090.00
Instructor Ages Dates Days Times Fees
Kathy Sawada 9yr - 99yr 09/14 - 05/23 Tu 05:00 pm - 05:55 pm $1090.00
Instructor Ages Dates Days Times Fees
Keren Schweitzer 9yr - 99yr 09/12 - 05/29 Su 02:00 pm - 02:55 pm $1090.00

Making sure students progress in their understanding of music and playing skills is key to our curriculum development. To keep them moving forward, this class furthers students sight singing and dictation. New materials focus on seventh chords and their inversions as well as functional harmony and classification of common non-harmonic tones. Placement test is required prior to enrolling.Email the completed assessment to cspa@colburnschool.edu.

Click here for Placement Test

Instructor Ages Dates Days Times Fees
Kathy Sawada 10yr - 99yr 09/08 - 05/25 We 05:00 pm - 05:55 pm $1090.00
Instructor Ages Dates Days Times Fees
Kathy Sawada 10yr - 99yr 09/09 - 05/26 Th 05:00 pm - 05:55 pm $1090.00
Instructor Ages Dates Days Times Fees
Kathy Sawada 10yr - 99yr 09/11 - 05/28 Sa 01:00 pm - 01:55 pm $1090.00
Instructor Ages Dates Days Times Fees
Kathy Sawada 10yr - 99yr 09/14 - 05/24 Tu 06:00 pm - 06:55 pm $1090.00

Students in this class are ready to tackle more complex elements. Instruction incorporates diatonic harmony, functional analysis, and recognition of all non-harmonic tones. They’ll also learn about four-part harmony and analysis of simple Bach chorales. They’ll continue progressing in simple binary and ternary forms and concomitant ear training. Placement test is required prior to enrolling. Email the completed assessment to cspa@colburnschool.edu.

Click here for Placement Test

Instructor Ages Dates Days Times Fees
Kathy Sawada 10yr - 99yr 09/08 - 05/25 We 06:00 pm - 06:55 pm $1090.00
Instructor Ages Dates Days Times Fees
Kathy Sawada 10yr - 99yr 09/09 - 05/26 Th 06:00 pm - 06:55 pm $1090.00
Instructor Ages Dates Days Times Fees
Kathy Sawada 10yr - 99yr 09/11 - 05/28 Sa 02:00 pm - 02:55 pm $1090.00
Instructor Ages Dates Days Times Fees
Kathy Sawada 10yr - 99yr 09/13 - 05/23 Mo 05:00 pm - 05:55 pm $1090.00

Nonharmonic tones and 4 part writing is introduced. Secondary functions, modulation, Neopolitan chords and augmented sixth chords are analyzed, sung and written. Harmonic and melodic practice and dictation using fixed solfege of the subjects combined with progressively complex rhythmic patterns. Placement test is required prior to enrolling. Email the completed assessment to cspa@colburnschool.edu.

Click here for Placement Test

Instructor Ages Dates Days Times Fees
Kathy Sawada 10yr - 99yr 09/08 - 05/25 We 07:00 pm - 07:55 pm $1090.00
Instructor Ages Dates Days Times Fees
Kathy Sawada 10yr - 99yr 09/11 - 05/28 Sa 03:00 pm - 03:55 pm $1090.00
Instructor Ages Dates Days Times Fees
Kathy Sawada 10yr - 99yr 09/13 - 05/22 Mo 06:00 pm - 06:55 pm $1090.00

Once students have a firm understanding of diatonic harmony and elementary chromatic harmony, they’re ready to explore music theory at a deeper level. Class instruction centers around Neapolitan 6th chord, the augmented 6th chord, and altered chords. Teachers also discuss modulation to distant keys and enharmonic modulation. Students analytical skills are challenged with larger forms, such as sonata, theme and variations, and rondo and sonata-rondo form. Placement test is required prior to enrolling.  Email the completed assessment to cspa@colburnschool.edu.

Click here for Placement Test

Instructor Ages Dates Days Times Fees
Kathy Sawada 10yr - 99yr 09/13 - 05/22 Mo 07:00 pm - 07:55 pm $1090.00
Instructor Ages Dates Days Times Fees
Kathy Sawada 10yr - 99yr 09/09 - 05/26 Th 07:00 pm - 07:55 pm $1090.00

Moduation using procedures other than common-chord procedures. Phrase analysis, binary, rouded binary, ternary, sonata form. Enharmonic notation, modulation and analysis. Advanced Neopolitan and augmented sixth chords. Introduction to atonality. Sightsinging, composition, and dictation involving the above, including appropriate rhythmic practice. Placement test required prior to enrolling. Email the completed assessment to cspa@colburnschool.edu. 

Click here for Placement Test

Instructor Ages Dates Days Times Fees
Kathy Sawada 10yr - 99yr 09/14 - 05/24 Tu 07:00 pm - 07:55 pm $1090.00

 

Dalcroze

The Dalcroze philosophy relies on solfege, eurhythmics, and improvisation which lay the foundation for students serious about instrumental and vocal study. Class activities include vocal awareness, ear training, and sight-singing as well as rhythmic movement. Improvisational works unlock students’ innate musicality and develop musical security while a kinetic approach builds up “muscle memory”, a trait key to the spontaneous musician. Students’ own discovery in music brings joyful and powerful musicianship.

Dalcroze Placement

In-person assessments are required for younger students between the age of five and seven to determine readiness for Dalcroze Eurhythmics/Beginning Musicianship class as well as placement into Dalcroze II, III, or IV.

Please contact Mari Izumi at mizumi@colburnschool.edu to schedule an assessment.

Ideal for young students ages 5 – 7 years old who are just beginning to learn an instrument. New students, please contact Mari Izumi at mizumi@colburnschool.edu for an assessment prior to enrolling.

This class is for students to learn beginning musical concepts through a variety of kinetic activities with parents. The Dalcroze approach encourages students’ spontaneity and attentiveness. We train our whole body to respond to specific musical subjects including, but not limited to beat, subdivision, rests, phrase, simple and compound meter. Songs will be used as musical examples. One parent must participate with a student.

Instructor Ages Dates Days Times Fees
Mariko Izumi 5yr - 7yr 09/11 - 05/28 Sa 01:00 pm - 01:45 pm $1040.00

In this introductory Rhythmic Solfege, fixed “Do” syllables are used to indicate pitch, and numbers are used to indicate function. Furthermore, students explore simple vocal improvisation in order to develop a keen sense of pitch. The following subjects include, but are not limited to diatonic scales, triads, measure shape, and syncopation. Specific examples will be taken from musical literature.

Students may need to be assessed to ensure readiness for class, contact Mari Izumi at mizumi@colburnschool.edu prior to enrolling or discuss options with Ms. Sawada to continue in Elementary Music Theory IA. 

Instructor Ages Dates Days Times Fees
Mariko Izumi 7yr - 99yr 09/11 - 05/28 Sa 12:00 pm - 12:45 pm $1040.00

This class is designed to focus on “Rhythmic Solfege” – the study of inner hearing. Students will deepen their musicianship through Dalcroze solfege, rhythmic movement. Furthermore, the class focuses on vocal/instrumental improvisation based on materials learned in class. Advanced topics include augmentation/diminution, complementary rhythm, unequal beats, modes, and the pentatonic scale.

Students need access to the piano or their musical instrument for ear training and improvisation.

Students may need to be assessed to ensure readiness for class, contact Mari Izumi at mizumi@colburnschool.edu prior to enrolling or discuss options with Ms. Sawada to continue in Elementary Music Theory II. 

Instructor Ages Dates Days Times Fees
Mariko Izumi 9yr - 99yr 09/11 - 05/28 Sa 09:00 am - 09:55 am $1090.00

This advanced Rhythmic Solfege is designed to complement music theory study and instrumental/vocal study. Through structured activities for improvisation, students gain a solid understanding of modes, scales, intervals, meter shape, and musical forms. Further advanced topics will be added including, but not limited to modulation, harmonic analysis, metric transformation, hemiola, irregular meter, and the octatonic scale.

Students need access to the piano or their musical instrument for ear training and improvisation.

Students may need to be assessed to ensure readiness for class, contact Mari Izumi at mizumi@colburnschool.edu prior to enrolling or discuss options with Ms. Sawada to continue in Intermediate Theory I.  

Instructor Ages Dates Days Times Fees
Mariko Izumi 13yr - 99yr 09/11 - 05/28 Sa 10:00 am - 10:55 am $1090.00

This class is specifically designed for Community School Suzuki string students to develop musical awareness through experience-based activities. Students gain active listening skills, rhythmic vitality, and a keen sense of pitch as well as coordination. Over the course of study, students internalize music which promotes confident and accurate music learning experiences. Specific examples will be taken from musical literature including the Suzuki repertoire. One parent must accompany a student.

This section is for students that have already taken at least one semester of Dalcroze for Suzuki. For more information, please contact Ms. Izumi at mizumi@colburnschool.edu

Instructor Ages Dates Days Times Fees
Mariko Izumi 6yr 6mo - 8yr 11mo 09/08 - 05/25 We 05:15 pm - 05:50 pm $488.00
Instructor Ages Dates Days Times Fees
Mariko Izumi 6yr 6mo - 8yr 11mo 09/08 - 05/25 We 06:00 pm - 06:35 pm $488.00

 

Composition

Composition lessons provide students with an outlet to explore their knowledge of music and create works of their own. These lessons are available to students who have completed the Intermediate II level of Music Theory, or its equivalent. Students work one-on-one with our accomplished faculty and have opportunities to share their work in studio classes and with Colburn ensembles.

Trombonist Elijah Alexander
I want to be able to effectively match my compositional voice with my technical voice on the trombone. Colburn has helped me with this especially, with the teachers helping me on gaining a stronger understanding of what I need to work on and what directions I should head in. Trombonist Elijah Alexander

Composition students at the Community School of Performing Arts have been recognized for their achievements, including being accepted to the Nancy and Barry Sanders Composer Fellowship Program at the Los Angeles Philharmonic.
 

Private Lessons

To study composition with a private teacher, submit an inquiry form.

Early Childhood

children in strollers

Even infants instinctually react to music and dramatic expressions. Indeed, an appreciation for music, dance, and drama knows no age minimum, but instruction on the performing arts for young children can have lifelong benefits.

3-year-old student Yuliana Gomez
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. Juana Sajbin, mother of Yuliana Gomez-Sajbin (pictured)

The Community School of Performing Art’s Early Childhood Program formally introduces babies and toddlers as young as 7 months to the wonders of music and the performing arts. Our classes target specific age groupings to best capitalize on students’ capabilities as they explore music, theory, voice, movement, and drama. Parents are welcome and encouraged to participate in the classes with very young children. Advancement is based on skill development so students gain confidence as they gain abilities.

One of the key benefits of our Early Childhood music classes is that our highly trained faculty help parents identify a child’s special interests and abilities for future class placement. That said, our classes are in demand and can fill up quickly. Wait lists may form, so we may add classes with demand. Classes are scheduled on weekdays as well as Saturdays and Sundays.

All group classes will take place online via Zoom, which requires a strong internet connection and computer/tablet.

Classes

We’ve created the Early Childhood curriculum to follow an age-appropriate sequence to help students prosper as they develop. Visit the Register page for general registration information.

Registration

Registration for Spring 2021 begins on December 7 for continuing students and January 11 for new students. Classes begin January 19, 2021.

Register for Summer 2021

Sequential Curriculum

Our specially trained instructors work with parents and infants to cultivate developmental listening skills with activities to help children absorb music concepts. Teachers design sensory experiences to fascinate and captivate children. As classes progress, infants move from being merely receptive to engaging in an active role.

This family-oriented class encourages toddlers to become actively engaged in making music. Through the use of nursery poems and songs, children explore various musical traditions and styles.

 

As toddlers gain more motor development skills, they’re more likely to want to move, and this class encourages them to explore movement through music and imagination. Teachers also work with the young students to improve listening skills through play, songs, stories, and games. 

Our talented faculty brings nursery rhymes, make-believe stories, and folk tales to life in this class designed for two- and three-year-old children. With the aid of props and small percussion instruments, teachers and students create theatrical experiences through storytelling.

Students are treated to games and stories that will trigger their imagination, individual expression, and language skills. They engage in exercises to develop body awareness, concentration, group cooperation, coordination, and balance. Activities utilize rhythmic verbalization, pantomime, dramatic play, and creative movement.

Multi-cultural seasonal themes and festivals are the highlight of this class. Songs are chosen to reflect different celebrations around the world.

Super Singers begin working on vocal techniques through games, songs, and stories. Our knowledgeable teachers help students produce good tone quality and improve diction as well as correct vocal placement and singing in the proper register. They also introduce basic elements of music, such as tempo, dynamics, rhythm, phrasing, timbre, and style.

Classes are designed to initiate instrument instruction with a concentration on various rhythmic styles and techniques on Orff and percussion instruments. Teachers work with students to improve muscle and hand-eye coordination as well as a growing awareness of rhythmic and melodic patterns. Students even begin rhythmic notation reading. Creativity is promoted through improvisation activities.

Students are treated to games and stories that will trigger their imagination, individual expression, and language skills. They engage in exercises to develop body awareness, concentration, group cooperation, coordination, and balance. Activities utilize rhythmic verbalization, pantomime, dramatic play, and creative movement.

The class provides musical experiences in the development of motor and ear-training skills, hand-eye coordination, a sense of keyboard geography, finger dexterity, and concentration.  This course offers pre-reading exercises to develop the child’s keyboard sense.  Students must have access to an acoustic piano or keyboard for daily practice. Students will be required to bring their own portable keyboard for use in class. We recommend the following item which can be purchased on Amazon, limited supply will be available at school. Link to purchase roll up keyboard

Pathways through the Performing Arts

See how your child can progress through our age-specific curriculum, from Early Childhood to instrumental, drama, and dance programs in the Community School and Trudl Zipper Dance Institute.

View Brochure

Alumni Feature: Lucinda Chiu

After studying at the Community School of Performing Arts, students are equipped to pursue a diverse range of careers. Violinist Lucinda Chiu chose to utilize her skills developed at Colburn to pursue a classical music performance career.

Lucinda Chiu graduated from the Community School of Performing Arts in 2011, where she studied violin with Richard Schwabe and participated in chamber music and in the Colburn Chamber Orchestra. After her time at Colburn, Lucinda completed her undergraduate degree in music from the Peabody Conservatory and her master’s degree from Rice University. Currently fulfilling her dream of playing in an orchestra, she is a violinist with the Los Angeles Opera Orchestra.

This interview has been edited for style, content, and clarity.

Tell us about your start at Colburn. What drew you to enroll and what was your initial experience like?
I began my studies at Colburn in eighth grade, when I first moved to Los Angeles from Hong Kong.

At that time, I had already been playing the violin for about eight years and was looking to further my musical education in a serious environment. A family friend highly recommended Colburn to my parents, and we immediately enrolled in private lessons with Mr. Richard Schwabe, the former chair of the Community School’s string department.

My initial experience was absolutely wonderful. My first year at Colburn was a significant transitional period for me, as I had to adjust to a new school, new friends, and new lifestyle. Mr. Schwabe made sure that I was well taken care of. I felt incredibly welcomed in his studio and quickly made friends—it was undoubtedly a nurturing and supportive environment. I felt I was a part of the community in no time.

How did you get started in music?
I started the violin at the age of five. My mother enrolled me in a group class to see if it would spark any interest. Since then, music has never left me; my interest grew into a passion, and I became determined to turn it into my profession. I strongly believe that music is essential to our lives and well-being. It has a special healing power that not only brings joy, but also eases pain. Music is a universal language that connects all of us, no matter what language you speak. This is why I am involved in the arts, to strive to light up people’s lives, one note at a time.

Tell us about the Community School programs you were involved in? What was impactful about them?
I participated both in the Colburn Chamber Orchestra and the [Ed and Mari Edelman Chamber Music Institute]. Both greatly contributed to my musical education and experience. Playing under the baton of the legendary Ronald Leonard was an eye-opening experience, and I loved the challenging yet motivating environment. While orchestral playing is generally an experience that is only emphasized in college studies, the Colburn Chamber Orchestra gave me a head start on learning the skills and etiquette of playing in a big ensemble.

My first ever string quartet experience was at Colburn. It led me to develop a strong love for chamber music. During my senior year, my group had the wonderful opportunity to perform at the annual Honors Recital; not only was it an incredibly rewarding experience, I also formed a strong bond with my quartet colleagues who I am still close to today!

What are your musical/professional goals?
One of my biggest goals has been to play professionally in an orchestra. The Colburn Chamber Orchestra has helped me develop ensemble sensitivity and responsiveness at a young age. I am so fortunate to be able to perform across the street at LA Opera now and live out my dream!

How has Colburn helped you achieve those goals?
My studies at Colburn have also made me a more compassionate and thoughtful musician. That is why my next musical goal is to become more involved in teaching. My hope is to give back to the community by teaching students not only how to play the violin, but also to be thoughtful, disciplined, and sensitive human beings. I would love to start my own private studio and start a chamber music camp for young musicians.

What is your advice to young musicians looking to study music in college and to pursue a professional career in music?
Studying music takes immense passion and dedication. My biggest advice to any young musician would be to always pour your heart into your work and never forget the reason you are pursuing this career: because you love music. Take advantage of all the resources you have in college! Attend as many concerts and master classes as you can, ask to play for your peers, and don’t be afraid to ask for feedback. The best way to learn and the quickest way to improve is to keep a humble attitude and always try to learn from others.

Are we going to see more YouTube videos from you? We love seeing the content!
I would love to continue!

What’s on your Spotify playlist lately?
In 2020, I have been obsessed like everyone else with Billie Eilish! I just love her songs! I also really enjoy listening to jazz! To be honest, I don’t listen to much classical music on the side because I think it’s important for us as musicians to listen to other genres as well.

If you ask me about classical, I have been listening to Leon Fleisher a lot. He actually just passed away in August 2020. He was a legendary pedagogue and musician, and he taught at Peabody. That news [of his passing] shocked a lot of us. So, for a period of time, I listened to his recordings over and over again.

What is one great thing about Colburn that people don’t see unless they are taking classes or working with a teacher?
One thing I love about Colburn is how closely knit the community is. Everybody knows each other and you receive great personal attention in all the programs you enroll in. Not only are your teachers invested in your musical progress, they also sincerely care about you as a person.

One of my favorite memories at Colburn was my Saturday lunch hour with friends in between lessons and orchestra. We routinely explored new restaurants together in Little Tokyo and sight-read chamber music together—Saturday was my favorite day of the week! Over the years, I’ve built such meaningful relationships with my mentors and friends that I will treasure for the rest of my life.

Learn More

Follow Lucinda on YouTube and Instagram and her website.

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 and Advanced Orchestras.

Stay up to date on all the latest Community School news by signing up for our monthly newsletter.

Nita Baxani

Born in Hong Kong to a Chinese mother and Indian father, she immigrated to the United States at a young age. She grew up in Virginia and received her Bachelor of Music degree in Music Education from Virginia Commonwealth University before moving on to attain a Master of Music in Vocal Performance from the Manhattan School of Music. As a professional singer, she performed in U.S. National Tours, as well as at numerous venues across the United States and Europe as a soloist in operas, oratorio, and world premier works.

In her capacity as an educator, she has held leadership roles in arts programs and schools in both the United States and Germany. Her career includes leadership roles as Director of Music at elementary schools, Head of Music at an international school, and Head of Elementary school where she oversaw the day-to-day management and curriculum alignment between two campuses. Her work in creating new programs and curriculum design and implementation in early childhood and elementary school music programs are collaborative in nature and cover a variety of pedagogical approaches that foster an inclusive child centered environment. As an arts advocate, Dr. Baxani enjoys creating programs and cultivating partnerships with schools and community and cultural organizations.

Dr. Baxani is passionate about early childhood education and received a Doctor of Education degree from Teachers College, Columbia University, where her dissertation focused on the musicality of infants within a childcare community. At Teachers College, she was the music instructor and researcher at the Rita Gold Early Childhood Center working with children aged 3 months to 5 years. She also taught fieldwork courses in Early Childhood Music Education and supervised student teacher candidates. Her experience as a curriculum designer range from music and movement-based curriculum for infants ages 6 months to 36 months to music in elementary school classrooms. Dr. Baxani presents at conferences in the U.S. and internationally including at ISME and ECME. Her publications and work in research focus on young children, music, and community and include special research topics such as BambinO, an opera for babies, that was presented at the Metropolitan Opera.

A versatile educator, Dr. Baxani has experience teaching music to students in K-12 classrooms in both public and private schools, as well as serving as music facilitator in after school music programs, applied voice instruction, and group music instruction. Most recently, Dr. Baxani served as Director of Music at Carlthorp School, a K-6 independent school in Santa Monica. In higher education, she has served as Adjunct Assistant Professor at CUNY, teaching early childhood and elementary school music education courses. Dr. Baxani’s training also includes Elemental Music and Dance Pedagogy from the Carl Orff Institute in Salzburg, First Steps in Music, Conversational Solfege, Orff Schulwerk Level 1, and World Music Drumming Level 1. She focuses on the whole child and community, and she is passionate in her commitment to engaging students through collaboration in music making, inspiring students of all ages “to music” together.

Student Feature: Andrés Engleman

Community School student Andrés Engleman 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. He now studies privately with violin faculty member Aimée Kreston.

This interview has been edited for style, content, and clarity.

Tell us about your start at Colburn. What drew you to enroll at the Community School?
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. It felt more legitimate and important than I had ever imagined due to the impressive facility, its location in the creative heart of downtown LA, and the caliber of the students. It was an honor to join her studio a few months later!

How did you get started playing the violin?
When I was around three years old, I visited an exhibition with all the orchestral instruments available for children to play and experience. I barely even remember this, but when I held the violin, I asked my parents if and when I could start playing this instrument. They said no, I was too young. I continued to ask “am I old enough yet” every month or so, and when I was four and a half, we finally found a program that accepted very young kids. I played piano for six months as an introduction to music, and at the end of the six months my parents asked if I was enjoying piano and wanted to continue with it instead of violin. “No,” I said, “I want to play violin.”

Tell us about the Community School programs you are involved in right now? Why did you choose them? What has been impactful about them?
I’ve been involved in the chamber program for many years now. I had really enjoyed being in a quartet before I came to Colburn, so I really wanted to continue ensemble music. There’s something so fun about playing music with other people. You get to meet new people and experience their playing style and make friends.

Last year, I took Music Theory for the first time. I hadn’t ever taken a theory class, so it was an interesting new experience, and it really does help me identify all the roots of the music I play. It makes so many of the choices composers made make complete sense. Music Theory sounds like the kind of thing that could have the potential to be dry, but everyone raved about the class and the teacher, including just random students we’d run across in the elevator. And everything they said ended up being true!

What are your musical goals? How has Colburn helped you achieve them?
I normally do have a specific piece in mind that I want to work towards. Even when I was really young, I would hear a piece and would imagine myself playing it eventually. I look forward to getting new pieces and playing something fresh and challenging. I really like figuring out the piece, like a puzzle. I even like making my own fingerings, and my teacher has been really supportive of that. Of course she lets me know if I need to get them from an official source, but it teaches me the process of finding the best fingerings on my own. It’s really cool that she lets me do this and has that kind of confidence in me.

What has it been like working with your violin teacher Aimée Kreston?
I have noticed the incredible amount of progress studying with her over the years. It’s awesome to look back to when I started with her; the progress has been incredible!

What is one great thing about Colburn that people don’t see unless they are taking classes or working with a teacher?
Something that all students can say is that the teachers and faculty are incredibly kind and helpful. 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.

What do you see for your future? Will you continue to pursue music?
I don’t know if music as a profession is in my future; I’m still young and I have a lot of time to think about that. Either way, playing music will always be a part of my life. The skills and mindset musicians develop are important parts of any career. But I don’t have any idea what will happen, so music could very well be my career!

Learn More

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.

Stay up to date on all the latest Community School news by signing up for our monthly newsletter.

Student Feature: Elijah Alexander

For trombonist and Herbert Zipper Scholar Elijah Alexander, the Colburn Jazz Program has been central in his musical development. After his time in high school, this talented young instrumentalist and composer is looking forward to a career in music composition.

This interview has been edited for style, content, and clarity.

How did you get started in music?
I didn’t initially have a moment where “the music spoke to me” or I felt like “I couldn’t imagine doing anything else” when I first started playing—I really only got into music by pure chance. A girl I liked in elementary school picked up the trumpet, and I, wanting to have her and other people see me as “cool,” picked up the trombone. I’ve stayed in music as it opens up another side of me that I find hard to express sometimes. Being a shy and reserved person, I sometimes find it hard to open up to others, but whenever I’m doing something in music, whether that be composition or jamming with my friends, I find that all of my insecurities melt away, and I can express myself freely.

How did you hear about Colburn? What drew you to enroll in the Jazz Program?
I became interested in the Colburn School after watching some videos of older Big Bands and Jazz Combos on YouTube. The musicians in the videos looked like they were having so much fun, and it just made me want to be a part of that hang.

Tell me about the Community School programs you are involved in right now? What has been impactful about them?
Currently I’m taking private trombone lessons with Shelly Suminski, as well as playing in the Monday Night Jazz Band under Lee Secard. Being in classes led by Lee has been one of the biggest impacts on my own personal growth. He has been one of my biggest supporters and a strong critic and has always pushed me in the right direction when I feel lost. Taking lessons with Shelly has also been important to me, as she’s opened me up to so many different approaches to playing trombone and has been one of my biggest cheerleaders whenever I doubt myself.

What is some advice you would give students looking to enter the Colburn Jazz program?
One is really simple: Come prepared because it’s only a short time. You don’t want to waste time in that class.

Also, come willing to take criticism and willing to learn from Lee Secard and the other students.

Because of COVID-19, all programming at Colburn has been virtual. How has online learning been at Colburn?
Weirdly, it’s actually helped a little bit. I have been a lot more concentrated on what I want to do. I get nervous playing while in front of other people and having that barrier helps for my nerves!

If you aren’t listening to jazz music, what are you listening to? What’s on your Spotify playlist?
Recently, I have really gotten into Björk. I have been listening to a bunch of her albums. She also has a jazz background as well, which is really cool! I have also been listening to Blur and Radiohead.

You were a 2019–20 fellow in the LA Phil Nancy and Barry Sanders Composer Fellowship Program. That is incredible! How was that experience?
Without this program, I would have said that I only wanted to do Jazz. That program opened up a whole new area of music that I was super scared of doing before then. They put us in groups and then we studied with specific instructors.

What are your musical goals and how has Colburn helped you achieve them? 
I want to be able to effectively match my compositional voice with my technical voice on the trombone. Colburn has helped me with this especially, with the teachers helping me on gaining a stronger understanding on what I need to work on, and what directions I should head in.

What do you see for your future? Will you continue to pursue music? 
Although I don’t know what exact job I want in the future, I hope to see myself making a career out of writing music, whether that be in a band, for an orchestra, or even writing music for commercials.

What is one great thing about Colburn that people don’t see unless they are taking classes or working with a teacher?
The awesome environment. The students I meet in my classes take their learning and growth super seriously, and it creates a super supportive environment that always motivates me to improve.

Learn More

Inspired to start private lessons with one of our experienced faculty members? Submit your inquiry today.

Learn more about Colburn Jazz Program.

Stay up to date on all the latest Community School news by signing up for our monthly newsletter.

A New Online Experience: Virtual Open House at the Community School

As summer quickly approaches and optimism rises, the Community School of Performing Arts is focused on keeping its programs open and accessible to all students! With the upcoming Virtual Open House on June 5, the Community School is utilizing the online experience to continue adapting and providing opportunities for students of all ages and experiences to connect with Colburn’s faculty, staff, and programming.

Virtual Open House

June 5
9 am–4 pm

The Virtual Open House is a pathway into discovering the perfect program for children or adult learners! With department chair panels, open classes, expert seminars, and engaging video content, participants will have the Community School on full display. The Virtual Open House exemplifies the Community School’s resilience, accessibility, and commitment to recruiting students of all ages and experiences.

Resilience and Technological Solutions

The upcoming event testifies to the resilience of the Community School. With over 70 years of music education experience, not even a pandemic can prevent the school from reaching students. In 2019, the Community School put on its first Open House. With over 500 attendees, the event took place at Colburn’s beautiful downtown LA campus bringing students and families in contact with all the amazing faculty, staff, and programs. While this year continues to present unique challenges due to the pandemic, the Community School has shifted the event online to continue to showcase the incredible opportunities at the school.

The Community School will be utilizing an online hub for all registration, information, and exciting video content for prospective students and parents to interact with. This creative approach will allow the school to safely interact with students while expanding our reach from the greater Los Angeles area to anywhere in the country or world, time zone permitting.

Utilizing the skills, knowledge, and technological advances at Colburn, the Community School will also premiere a new video at the Virtual Open House. The student narration will bring prospective families through the mission, history, and programs of our school.

The Open House and the Commitment to Accessibility

The Community School is committed to opening up our doors and allowing students to see the full extent of what we do. Accessibility is a priority. The Community School wants prospective students to meet the teachers and staff and see what Summer and Fall 2021 would look like at Colburn, especially with brand new summer camps such as Zippy Toons, a songwriting camp, and returning favorites like the Jazz Camp and Chamber Music Intensive.

The Community School is often the first step of a student’s journey in the performing arts. In knowing this, we aim to provide as much information as possible to parents and adult learners to enable a productive journey. . As part of this information effort, the Virtual Open House will present a seminar with Dr. Sean Hutchins about Early Childhood Music and Cognitive Development.

Dr. Sean Hutchins is the Director of Research for the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto. He founded and currently leads the Royal Conservatory’s Research Centre, focusing on experimental studies of music neuroscience and performance. At the Virtual Open House, he will be walking parents through the impact of Early Childhood Music on young students.

In addition to the seminar, the department chairs will host a panel and Q&A with parents, students, and parents.

Community School of Performing Arts Department Chairs

Gina Coletti, Ed and Mari Edelman Chamber Music Institute
Henry Gronnier, Strings
Jeff Lavner, Piano
Karen Lundgren, Winds, Brass, and Percussion
Kathy Sawada, Music Theory
Lee Secard, Jazz Studies
Michael Stevens, Voice

Whether you have a question about private lessons, juries, or music theory placement, the department chairs can answer it! These experienced faculty help students and families navigate Colburn and provide them with the advice to make the Community School their performing arts home.

Opening Up New Audiences

During this last year, we confirmed our commitment to diverse student recruitment with new and expanded Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion initiatives, furthering the Community School’s emphasis on reaching the broad, multi-generational and cultural population in Los Angeles with access to high quality performing arts education.

The Virtual Open House is one of the ways to reach new people! The event opens up the Community School to those beyond the sprawling reaches of Los Angeles. Students from around the country can talk to faculty and participate in classes. The lack of commute or drive time opens up the availability of students and families who maybe can’t make the drive downtown to see Colburn’s campus.

Learn More

RSVP to the Virtual Open House event today!

Stay up to date on all the latest Community School news by signing up for our monthly newsletter.

Learn more about the Community School of Performing Arts.

Register today for summer classes and private lessons.

On Campus Open House

July 31, 10 am–4 pm

Photo on left of young pale skinned girl with curly blonde hair holding a mallet, photo in middle of two boys playing violins, photo on right of young girl with black hair in pigtails holding a pencil and smiling

The Community School is hosting an On Campus Open House on July 31 from 10 am–4 pm. Take an open class, meet faculty, listen to student performances and explore everything the Community School of Performing Arts has to offer!
 

 

Arrival Information

If you are driving, park for free in Colburn Lot 1 (off Lower Grand Avenue) and enter the event through the building.

If you are arriving via other means, enter the event through the Colburn Plaza.
 

On Campus Safety Protocols

With safety foremost in mind, we have developed protocols to protect you and our community. Thank you in advance for carefully following our guidelines below. We look forward to welcoming you to campus!

  • Proof of vaccination is required for all attendees 12 and older.
  • Masks must be worn at all times on the Colburn campus.
  • All attendees must complete an online health check before arriving at the Colburn campus. Your temperature will also be taken when you arrive.
  • Learn about the additional steps we’re taking on campus to ensure a safe environment on campus for our students, families, faculty, and staff.

 

On Campus Open House Schedule

Download Campus Map and Schedule (PDF)

To continue the important work of early childhood education at Colburn, the school is pleased to welcome Dr. Nita Baxani, as Department Chair, Early Childhood Program, beginning the 2021-22 academic year. Dr. Nita Baxani offers a broad range of experiences as musician, educator, and researcher and is enthusiastic about advocating for music in community. Dr. Baxani is passionate about early childhood education and received a Doctor of Education degree from Teachers College, Columbia University, where her dissertation focused on the musicality of infants within a childcare community. Dr. Baxani will present on the Early Childhood curriculum and answer questions regarding class placement and registration.

Our specially trained instructors work with parents and infants to cultivate developmental listening skills with activities to help children absorb music concepts. Teachers design sensory experiences to fascinate and captivate children. As classes progress, infants move from being merely receptive to engaging in an active role.

Please note: An adult must accompany the child for the entire duration of the class. In most classes, parents are invited to participate at the level of involvement determined by the teacher. Only one parent or caregiver may participate in the class; siblings or other family members are not allowed to participate or sit in the classroom.

As toddlers gain more motor development skills, they’re more likely to want to move, and this class encourages them to explore movement through music and imagination. Teachers also work with the young students to improve listening skills through play, songs, stories, and games. 

Please note: An adult must accompany the child for the entire duration of the class. In most classes, parents are invited to participate at the level of involvement determined by the teacher. Only one parent or caregiver may participate in the class; siblings or other family members are not allowed to participate or sit in the classroom.

Students develop the three essential techniques for a comprehensive mastery of the guitar – strumming, arpeggiation and single-line – through repertoire that ranges from classical, jazz, pop and ethnic music.  Kenton Youngstrom, one of the world’s most versatile guitarists with over 45 years of teaching experience, has compiled a unique collection of pieces that develops technical fluency using three forms of music notation: standard, tablature and chord symbols.  In addition, students in group guitar classes learn about improvisation, practical music theory and get inside knowledge about how to play in various ensembles.

Students develop the three essential techniques for a comprehensive mastery of the guitar – strumming, arpeggiation and single-line – through repertoire that ranges from classical, jazz, pop and ethnic music.  Kenton Youngstrom, one of the world’s most versatile guitarists with over 45 years of teaching experience, has compiled a unique collection of pieces that develops technical fluency using three forms of music notation: standard, tablature and chord symbols.  In addition, students in group guitar classes learn about improvisation, practical music theory and get inside knowledge about how to play in various ensembles.

Students develop the three essential techniques for a comprehensive mastery of the guitar – strumming, arpeggiation and single-line – through repertoire that ranges from classical, jazz, pop and ethnic music.  Kenton Youngstrom, one of the world’s most versatile guitarists with over 45 years of teaching experience, has compiled a unique collection of pieces that develops technical fluency using three forms of music notation: standard, tablature and chord symbols.  In addition, students in group guitar classes learn about improvisation, practical music theory and get inside knowledge about how to play in various ensembles.

Students develop the three essential techniques for a comprehensive mastery of the guitar – strumming, arpeggiation and single-line – through repertoire that ranges from classical, jazz, pop and ethnic music.  Kenton Youngstrom, one of the world’s most versatile guitarists with over 45 years of teaching experience, has compiled a unique collection of pieces that develops technical fluency using three forms of music notation: standard, tablature and chord symbols.  In addition, students in group guitar classes learn about improvisation, practical music theory and get inside knowledge about how to play in various ensembles.

Group piano classes are ideal for the absolute beginner with no prior experience

In this class, get a taste for our drama program, which is filled with improvisation, body movement, and theater games, and progresses to monologue, scene work, script analysis, and character development. Experience a learning environment in which students are free to explore and take risks — to work without fear of judgment. 

Preparing student for Introduction to Music Theory. Basic note and rest values, including dotted notes and rests.

This class allows students to gain a firm grasp of the core skills of ear training, sight singing, and rhythmic concepts. Students use this knowledge to expand their appreciation and analysis of music, and elevate their performance abilities.

This class combines the curriculum of 3 different levels of music theory into one. Students learn major and minor scales, intervals, and triads. They also expand their ear training with aural recognition of the concepts studied in written theory. Students begin working on sight singing using solfege.

Meet the Department Chairs for each division of the Community School of Performing Arts: Gina Coletti, Chamber Music, Henry Gronnier, Strings, Jeffrey Lavner, Piano, Karen Lundgren, Woodwinds, Brass, and Percussion, Michael Stevens, Voice, and Kathy Sawada, Music Theory. Learn about private lessons, ensembles, and performance opportunities at Colburn.

Meet Dr. Connie Sheu and learn about the Suzuki guitar program at the Colburn School! The Suzuki method is a philosophy of music education founded on the belief that every child can learn to play a musical instrument beautifully. Classical guitar is an incredibly accessible instrument to children of all ages that can be played both solo and in a group class setting.

 

Register for Summer Classes and Camps

Sign up for classes this summer at Colburn! Classes begin June 7.

Apply today for summer camps!
 

Audition For The Community School

Private Lesson Auditions

If you are interested in private lessons, please fill out the inquiry form. Our Community School staff will put you in contact with the appropriate Department Chair for placement.

Submit an Inquiry
 

Orchestra and Chamber Auditions

Both the Advanced Orchestras and the Ed and Mari Edelman Chamber Music Institute are currently taking applications.

Advanced Orchestra Audition Information

Ed and Mari Edelman Chamber Music Institute Audition Information

In-depth Look into the Summer Percussion Workshop with Director Ken McGrath

Summer with the Colburn School is a tremendous opportunity to learn new skills, develop technique, work with talented faculty and guest artists, and meet new musical peers. As the summer fast approaches, the Community School is excited to host the Colburn Summer Percussion Workshop, directed by Ken McGrath. He gave us the scoop on what makes the camp unique, the exciting guest artists, and why this workshop is important to him.

Ken McGrathKenneth McGrath is a highly regarded performer and educator in Los Angeles. He has performed with many of the major orchestras in Southern California including the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, Los Angeles Opera Orchestra, and Hollywood Bowl Orchestra. He currently serves on the percussion faculties of California State University Fullerton, the Colburn Community School of Performing Arts, and Pasadena City College. Ken is an alumnus of the University of California, Los Angeles and the Eastman School of Music.
 


 
My name is Ken McGrath and I am thrilled to be directing and teaching the Colburn Percussion Camp Workshop! This summer, the workshop will bring student percussionists from all over the country together for an exceptional online and in-person experience.

Open to a Wide Age Range

First of all, the Colburn Percussion Workshop provides a world-class education experience to a wide range of ages:

• very young percussionists ages 9-11
• middle school students; students who have some footing with their craft
• high school students; students who are farther along in their musical journey

Designed for Diverse Goals

With three separate sections of the workshop, students will receive targeted group instruction filled with technique, discussion, performances, and master classes perfectly geared to their level of experience.

Music education is such an important element of a student’s development, and the workshop recognizes the skills learned with their current percussion studies will stay with them their entire lives as active musicians, concert-goers, administrators, patrons, and appreciators.

Students will learn the musicianship and technique needed for top-level performing, but at a deeper level, workshop participants will develop musical communication, confidence, and artistry.

Virtual and On-Campus Learning

We are pleased to be offering a combination of online and in-person instruction. June 14–18 will use the online format for middle and high school students. More mature percussionists will be able to experience this exceptional training from anywhere in the country.

June 21–25 will be taught in-person on the Colburn campus. For young percussionists in the greater Los Angeles area, this will enable a more hands-on experience.

Both formats will give students a wonderful opportunity to explore their music making, and I’m pleased the Colburn Summer Percussion Workshop offers a significant contribution to that endeavor.

My Teaching and Performance Experience

Under my direction, our work together will be fun, informative, and based on my uniquely varied career. I’ve been extremely fortunate to perform under artists as diverse as Pierre Boulez and Aretha Franklin; toured extensively with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Pacific Symphony; recorded major motion pictures with composers such as John Williams, Randy Newman, and Michael Giacchino; played Broadway shows such as Wicked and The Lion King; and participated in numerous premieres including works by John Adams, Philip Glass, Thomas Ades, and Unsuk Chin. My teaching contains a broad perspective that is helpful in guiding each student with their particular musical journey.

Stellar Guest Artists

Students will have the opportunity to interact and learn from some of the most learned, experienced, and creative musicians working today. Collectively, the faculty and guest artists of the workshop bring an unparalleled breadth of knowledge and experience.

Christina Cheon playing a marimba

Christina Cheon

Marimba Artist, Executive Director–Southern California Marimba

An established marimba artist and educator, Christina is Executive Director of Southern California Marimba. She is also leading the way as an administrator and advocate by promoting marimba performance, education, competitions, as well as giving a voice to marimba composers of the BIPOC community.

Greg Cohen

Greg Cohen

Principal Percussion–San Diego Symphony

Holding the position of Principal Percussionist of the San Diego Symphony since 2008, Greg has also performed with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, St. Louis Symphony, and Kansas City Symphony. In addition, he is a highly regarded educator as head of percussion at San Diego State University.

Cory Hills

Cory Hills

Multi-percussionist, composer, and Grammy award-winning artist

Cory’s uniquely creative artistry is influenced by many different worlds, including performing as a virtuoso soloist, ensemble player, and member of the Los Angeles Percussion Quartet. Cory is also a prolific composer and his audiences range from those with a love of the avant-garde to captivated young listeners of his Percussive Storytelling.

Pete Korpela sitting at a drumset

Pete Korpela

LA based studio and touring percussionist

With his vast knowledge of percussion techniques from around the world, Pete’s performance experience includes stadium concerts with artists like Josh Groban, soundtracks for major motion pictures, Broadway musicals such as The Lion King and Hamilton, and the Academy Awards show.

Mike Packer sitting at a drumset

Mike Packer

Drum set artist/educator

In the world of drum set performance, pedagogy, curriculum and administration, Mike is a highly sought-after artist. He has played and toured extensively, worked at schools such as Los Angeles College of Music and Musicians Institute, given clinics around the world, authored texts, and developed the design for DW’s 5000ADH bass drum pedal.

Derrick Spiva Jr.

LA based composer/multi-cultural musician, Artistic Advisor–Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra

Representing what is possible for an artist in the 21st century, Derrick’s innovative style has received accolades around the world. His multi-cultural approach to performing, composing, and education has created a unique and innovative voice that the Washington Post recently featured in their article “21 for ’21: Composers and Performers Who Sound Like Tomorrow.”

Putting It All Together

When I was a pre-college student, there was very little available in the way of intensives. I certainly participated in festivals, master classes and the like but an intensive like the Colburn Summer Percussion Workshop would have been extremely valuable to participate in and help accelerate my development in many areas of percussion.

This camp is important to me because it gives students an opportunity to learn and grow in the arts. It’s an intrinsic element to what makes us human: to communicate, to develop a voice, to create, and to explore. Perhaps now more than ever, we realize the importance of the arts in our lives, especially with the challenges of the current pandemic. The Colburn Summer Percussion Workshop gives percussionists an opportunity to enhance the skills they’ve already developed and expose them to other avenues of musicianship and creativity. I hope you can join us this summer! Applications are due June 1.

Learn More

Submit your application for the Colburn Summer Percussion Workshop!

Want to start private lessons with Ken McGrath or with another one of our experienced faculty members? Submit your inquiry today.

Learn more about the Summer Camps at the Community School of Performing Arts.

Stay up to date on all the latest Community School news by signing up for our monthly newsletter.

Learn about how Colburn is keeping students and families safe as we return to campus.

Community School Students Win Selection to National Youth Orchestra

The Community School of Performing Arts is proud to announce the selection of our students to the National Youth Orchestra (NYO) of the United States, NYO2, and NYO Jazz, all prestigious national music programs by Carnegie Hall. This year, five Community School students and two Music Academy students and alumni were selected for this exciting opportunity!

Every summer, the Weill Music Institute (WMI) at Carnegie Hall recruits the brightest young players from across the country to form the National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America. This free program provides aspiring musicians with a multi-week training residency with leading professional orchestra musicians as well as a tour across musical capitals of the world.

We wish these students all the best as they embark on this thrilling musical journey this summer! Congratulations again to all the students and their teachers on this amazing accomplishment.

NYO

Dara Moayer, Violin *
Noah Jung, Clarinet *+
Sarah Kave, Cello ~

NYO2

Esteban Lindo, Bass *
Abigail Hong, Oboe *

NYO Jazz

Kai Burns, Guitar *
Gianna Pedregon, Violin *

* Community School of Performing Arts student
+ Music Academy student
~ Music Academy alumnus