Community MusicWorks congratulates alum AlexisMarie Nelson, who will attend The Boston Conservatory at Berklee this fall. Here, Alexis reflects on her ongoing connection to CMW and the experience of meeting a new pal, Yo-Yo Ma, in April.
In the spring of 2005, my grandfather pulled into a community car wash fundraiser on the West Side of Providence. As his car was being washed, he made small talk with another man who was also waiting there. Who would have known that this conversation between my grandfather and Sebastian Ruth all of those years ago would have led me to Community MusicWorks, one of the most influential parts of my life? And ultimately, to this point: preparing to attend The Boston Conservatory at Berklee in the fall.
CMW has truly helped form me into the person that I am today, and not only as a musician (even though that was a big part!) I learned how to set goals for myself in lessons and really apply myself while practicing at home. I was able to become a strong, informed member of the community at the same time that I was improving my technical skills and expanding my repertoire. At CMW I discovered my love for chamber music AND social justice. I became a member of amazing musical ensembles, and also a family.
Growing up, I had always known I wanted to do something to change the world. By the time I was in my early teens my sights were set on doing so through music. After graduating from high school and spending three years working in early childhood education as an AmeriCorps member and a teacher assistant, my vision for the future had shifted once again. It is now my goal to find a way to combine my love for working with the world’s youngest citizens with my passion for music. I’m still not sure how I’d do that yet (which is totally okay!), but I’m hoping these next four years will send me in the right direction! I’d also love to continue to be an active chamber musician because that is where my heart lies.
In April, I had the privilege of attending a convening on Cultural Entrepreneurship in New York with Sebastian. I spent the day listening and interacting with artists and innovators who were doing exactly what I hope to do: make a social impact. While there, I was able to speak with Yo-Yo Ma (omg) about my own observations of the day. I realized that there is so much that goes into being an artist who wants to make a change in the world. One has to have such strong intentions and well thought out goals within their artistry and beyond to really make the impact they hope for. It really made me think about how much thought, time and devotion goes into a program like CMW every day. This is something I will keep in the forefront of my thoughts as I move forward on my own journey.
Looking back at my time as a student of Community MusicWorks, I have so much to be grateful for. Some of my closest friends and greatest experiences have come from CMW. The staff have always been so supportive and caring of each and every student and I still feel that warmth every time I visit the office or attend a concert. I’d like to say a special thank you to Jesse Holstein, who was my private teacher, mentor and confidant from my first day in 2005, and who I can still call on to this day. Community MusicWorks has and will always be a part of me, and I hope to spread the spirit of the program with me wherever I go. I can’t wait to see where this journey takes me.