Phase II at Musical Flexplorations


Last Friday, Phase II guest taught CMW’s Drop-In class, Musical Flexplorations. We had a great time introducing some wonderful kids and their parents to the Phase II experience – playing and listening to music, eating dinner together, and engaging in discussion.


Among other activities, Jesse taught the basics of rhythm machine to our young friends, and Federico and Nohely explored the concepts of rules and fairness through a cookie-based activity.


It was a lot of fun, and we were well rewarded with hugs after the group dinner. Hopefully, we’ll see all of the drop-in kids with CMW instruments in their hands before long!

–Chloe Kline, with Phase II

Beat, Rhythm and Listening with Mr. Mark

Mark at DOP 1 3-2015

Last Friday the members of the Daily Orchestra Program eagerly welcomed our dear friend and CMW board member Mark Hinkley for the first time in 2015. “Mr. Mark,” as we fondly call him, has been leading us in improvisation activities and helping us to think outside the musical box since the program’s pilot year in 2012. Every week we play improvisation games on Fridays, and Mark’s periodic Friday visits are always a special treat.

Last Friday was all about beat, rhythm, and listening for what might be missing. Mark brought in some very cool drums gathered from all over the world and chose groups of three to improvise with each other on those drums. Jimmyla was assigned the “heartbeat.” She drummed a bold but steady beat on her large drum. Gavin listened intently for what might be missing, and after some thought he added a faster moving repeating pattern. Then, after listening and contemplating what she could add to the mix, Mary joined with her own dotted rhythms complementary to the drumming patterns of the other two. “Mr. Mark” then shook things up with complex, irregular rhythms on his double drum. They were jamming!

The moments I have to step back and admire my students are always heartwarming. As I watched each small group listen to each other and work together thoughtfully to create their own piece of music, I had one of those treasured moments of realizing how far they have come and how much they have grown individually and together through music.

We hope to see Mr. Mark again very soon!

–Lisa Barksdale

How Playing an Instrument Benefits Your Brain

Ever wonder what goes on in the mind of a musician?

From the folks at TED:
When you listen to music, multiple areas of your brain become engaged and active. But when you actually play an instrument, that activity becomes more like a full-body brain workout. What’s going on? This TED-Ed video explains the fireworks that go off in musicians’ brains when they play, and examines some of the long-term positive effects of this mental workout.

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Music Is All Around


Jayden, a cello student in the Daily Orchestra Program surprised me the other day when he said in a tone of frustration, “It’s going to snow more, and school’s going to be closed again!” I always liked the snow when I was a kid (and I still do). “What’s wrong,” I asked, “don’t you like snow days?” “I do,” he explained, “I just don’t like missing music!”

I shouldn’t have been surprised, as Jayden has shown a lot of motivation to learn as much as he can in the orchestra program. Daily Orchestra Program students don’t take their instruments home, but Jayden recently taught himself to play May Song at home in his head from a YouTube video, and then surprised me by playing it for me on his cello after orchestra rehearsal. Now he has started memorizing songs he learned to play on the recorder at school so he can play them on the cello when he comes to orchestra. I’m touched by Jayden’s enthusiasm for the cello, and our conversation reminded me of a school project he shared with me in the fall. I’ve included a copy of Jayden’s school project here- complete with illustrations.

–Adrienne Taylor

Jayden's cello project

A Month of “Sparkle”: Volunteer Nellie Freed


Thank you, Nellie!

For the month of January, CMW was incredibly lucky to have Nellie Freed, a violist and Oberlin student, volunteer in the office and in lessons. Nellie worked tirelessly to update our waiting list – calling hundreds of families to make sure their information was up to date (and that they were still interested in music lessons!), as well as working on attendance spreadsheets and helping out in countless other ways.

Nellie also spent a lot of time working with the Daily Orchestra Program (apparently they nicknamed her “Sparkle”), and also working with Phase I+. We miss her already, and hope that she’ll be back to visit soon!!

–Chloe Kline

Just a Little Taller: A Daily Orchestra Program Moment


“Wait, so do you have rehearsals too?” asked James as we both packed our violins into their cases. We had just finished a lesson, in which we had spent a lot of time focusing on being prepared. Rests are never idle in orchestra music, and James had worked very hard during the lesson to set his bow silently on the string during each rest in order to be ready for his turn to play. At the end I told him that being prepared is something I still have to think about during my own orchestra rehearsals. My statement must have sparked his curiosity.

I responded to his question, “Yes, definitely. Sometimes I rehearse with other people at Community MusicWorks. Sometimes Adrienne and I play together. Sometimes I even have rehearsals with really large orchestras. Of course I also practice every day to make sure I can play as well as I want to.”

James looked thoughtful and responded “Hmmmm. So you’re just like us really!”

“Yes!” I agreed and then added “ just a little taller” as we shared a laugh on our walk down the hallway towards the orchestra room.

It’s these moments of connection with my students that remind me of what Community MusicWorks is all about!

–Lisa Barksdale