CMW Family Night

CMW's first Family Night, on November 20, was a big step forward for our ongoing evaluation project–and it was also a fun evening for all involved! About fifty parents, students, and siblings gathered at the Met School to enjoy a pre-Thanksgiving pizza dinner, and to engage in some colorful arts and crafts work. The activities, designed by Dr. Dennie Palmer Wolf, included a large family tree featuring each family member's involvement in creative activities, and a diagram of the family's weekly involvement in CMW and other musical endeavors. Keep your eyes open for some of the products of the evening to appear in the CMW office starting in mid-December!

-Chloe Kline, Writing Coordinator



Photos by Jori Ketten.

Visiting The Academy

On Monday morning, Sebastian and I were up before dawn to catch a train to New York City to visit The Academy. As part of their professional development seminar series, we were invited to present about Community MusicWorks to participants in the post-graduate fellowship program jointly sponsored by The Juilliard School, Carnegie Hall, and the Weill Institute.


WIth everyone sitting in a large circle in Carnegie Hall's 6th floor Kaplan Space, Sebastian presented a compelling and detailed summary of Community MusicWorks' growth over eleven years, including the inspiration he drew from philospher Maxine Greene's writings, his realization early on that the goals he had set forth would take much longer than one year to begin to achieve, and his relief to learn of the "third year slump" at a talk given by anthropologist Shirley Brice Heath.


In the second half of the morning seminar, Sebastian guided the ACJW fellows through a kinesthetic excerise about "aligning interests." Through role-playing, this was an opportunity to see how a project can take shape by building alliances that work for all parties involved (without "pretzeling" to achieve one's goals).

[Exiting Carnegie Hall through the entrance to the Weill Recital Hall brought back memories of the last time CMW had been on the premises.]


Because our 3 pm meeting at Juilliard was canceled, we were free to enjoy ourselves for several hours before catching the train back to Providence, including visiting the Apple Store, the Petrossian Cafe, the Joan Miro exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art, and my personal favorite, lunch at Le Pain Quotidien (Thanks Rachel!).

-Heath Marlow, CMW staff

Bach & Britten weekend

  1. Minna & Co. rehearsing Bach E Major at the JCB Library
  2. Hector warming up in the basement of All Saints'
  3. Hector performing Bach's Musette at All Saints'
  4. CMW and Music Haven brunch
  5. Jesse and Barack
  6. Pre-concert "hearty snack" by Liz
  7. Bach E Major in concert at the JCB Library
  8. Ben Rous leading Britten's Simple Symphony









Dear CMW folks,

My  visits to Community MusicWorks are always the most inspiring and endorphin-rushing experiences  of the year, and on these visits, I actually look forward to trekking up I-95. This past visit was the perfect antecedent to the spirit of Thanksgiving week.

From Sebastian’s big bear hug welcoming us at the first rehearsal, to Fred’s generous hospitality at our farewell meal, and all the jovial banter and enthusiastic music-making in between, the CMW Bach and Britten weekend is one that will stay in my memory for many years to come.

My highlights of the weekend were:

  1. Walking into the JCB Library and listening to Minna rock out on her Bach concerto while watching everyone else smiling in the audience (including the ghostly bust of JCB on the mantelpiece)
  2. Shaw Pong taking pity on my chattering teeth and lending me her fuzzy hat on the way to grabbing yummy AS220 tacos.
  3. Listening to Hector perform Bach Musette with confidence and aplomb
  4. Jessie M.’s blueberry French toast – was there a controlled substance in that dish?
  5. All the smiles exchanged during the last movement of the “Simple Symphony” at the JCB performance.
  6. Reflecting on the weekend on my drive home to New Haven and determining that building community for CMW is not just some theoretical “pie-in-the-sky” goal; CMW folks make it a real, palpable experience for everyone in their sphere. They put into action what most of us only hope for, and they have an astounding ability to be open and support each other each and every day.

Thank you, CMW, for inspiring all of us and for keeping it real.


[Editor's note: Tina is the founder of Music Haven

Evaluation Project

CMW’s evaluation project is shifting into high gear over the
course of the next several months. Our fearless Phase III students have already
piloted a round of “audio diaries” in which they talked with their teachers during each
lesson about their practice work on a specific piece, and how their work at CMW
impacts their lives outside CMW. The audio diaries project will be rolled out
to include Phase I and Phase II students in the coming weeks. In addition, we’ll
also be hosting a CMW Family Night on November 20th to talk with our
families in our program about the role of CMW (and of the arts) in their lives, and about
their social networks within and outside of CMW.

Our evaluation project is
designed and supervised by Dennie Palmer Wolf, Senior Scholar at the
Annenberg Institute and a Principal at WolfBrown. The goal of the project is
to get a better understanding of how students’ engagement with CMW changes over
time, and how this engagement affects their lives outside of CMW. Drs. Shirley Brice Heath and Eileen Landay have also made key contributions in the development of this exciting project.

-Chloe Kline, Writing Coordinator

Hellp, my brain (and stomach) is full!

Tools, Terms, and Thought:  Empowering Community Schools of the Arts

“Help, my brain (and stomach) is full!” This was my overwhelming thought last Sunday as I boarded the plane on the way home from Philadelphia, PA, where Adrienne, Rachel and I attended the Conference for Community Arts Education hosted by the mid-Atlantic chapter of the National Guild of Community Schools of the Arts.

This conference brought hundreds of representatives of community arts schools from across the country together to share, explore, learn, and reflect on ideas that can help improve and increase arts learning in our country. As a young participant with only a year and a half of experience as a professional in the community arts arena, I was wide-eyed and hungry for new knowledge. It was striking to see so many other professionals—executive directors, board members, teaching artists, coordinators and researchers—also ravenous for new tools and thoughts to fuel and energize their own organizations. Not surprisingly, our collective appetite for ideas and yummy food (e.g. Philly cheese steaks) was satisfied at this conference.

National guild

On a practical level, this conference has helped me add to my “essentials toolbox” of professional knowledge:

  1. Adrienne, Rachel and I learned about “The Art of the Ask,” why people give, and how to cultivate relationships with donors in a wildly entertaining and informative session with Brian Moore, Professor at Drexel University, nonprofit management consultant, and improv actor.
  2. Jan Norman, Ph.D. led an engaging presentation on effective strategies to carry out student assessment not only to respond to our current “Age of Accountability,” but also to continually seek improvement in our organizations on all levels. 
  3. In “Strategic Planning/Strategic Thinking,” Michael Kumer, Executive Director of Duquesne University’s Nonprofit Leadership Institute, led board members, executive directors (and me) in a thought-provoking workshop where together we created an exceptional virtual organization, its own vision, mission statement, and strategies—all in under thirty minutes. 
  4. In a session with the National Endowment for the Arts, I was able to jot down notes on some key realities and helpful information about the grant application review process.

I also learned some really cool terms that are new to me and shed some additional light on everything that we do as community arts organizations:

  1. Creative Learning: a more descriptive synonym for “arts education”
  2. Community Benefit Organization: a more descriptive synonym for “non-profit organization”
  3. Creative Capital: “A person’s, family’s, or community’s capacity to express, imagine and invent in their personal lives and with others.” (Dennie Palmer Wolf)

Dennie Palmer Wolf and CMW Fellows also had the opportunity to speak about Community MusicWorks in the session “Building Creative Capital: A New Way of Looking at Effectiveness.” Rachel spoke beautifully and at length about the ways Community MusicWorks cultivates sustained creative capital pathways. Adrienne offered keen insight on the intricate and symbiotic “learning layers” within our organization, and I gave a brief testimonial on “How the Fellowship has Changed my Life” and opened my eyes to endless possibilities and variations of making a meaningful musical career. 

When I attend any discussion, training, seminar, or an extensive conference such as this one, I always try to extract one or two key “zingers”—simple and significant thoughts or ideas that I can carry near and dear to my heart as I go forward in my work.

From the keynote address, to “The Art of the Ask,” to strategic planning/thinking, to assessment, to higher education partnerships, one command was clear—we need to listen. Before knowing and asserting what we can do as community arts organizations, we must work to listen to and ascertain the needs and values of the community we serve and the individuals within that community.

Zing and hooray! 

-Arlyn Valencia, Fellow 07-09