Established 1874.

The Oberlin Review

Established 1874.

The Oberlin Review

Established 1874.

The Oberlin Review

Community Music School Celebrates 20 Years

Abe Frato
The Oberlin Community Music School.

This Sunday, May 12, the Oberlin Community Music School will celebrate its 20th anniversary from 1–5 p.m. with a plethora of workshops and events. Events include a Soundpainting workshop, Creating Musical Graphic Scores with Cookies, a Rhythm workshop, Music and Writing, Videogame Orchestra, and Musical Storytelling. The celebration will conclude with a faculty recital and potluck dinner. 

Oberlin Conservatory established the Community Music School in 2002. Currently, the CMS offers private lessons and small classes to over 270 students. The school resides in the College-owned Burrell-King House on East College Street, where this Sunday’s events will be held. 

Director of the Community Music School and Associate Professor of Community Engagement Louise Zeitlin organized the anniversary celebration. 

“I wanted to do a fun, celebratory event,” Zeitlin said. “At the end of the school year, we usually do a faculty recital followed by a potluck supper. So I thought we would end with that, but also add some more workshops that would engage people in the community who might be interested in music.” 

The inspiration for one of the events — Creating Musical Graphic Scores with Cookies — came from a Composition student in Zeitlin’s Community Engagement for Musicians course. A graphic score is a form of musical notation that incorporates shapes, illustrations, and colors. Instead of creating a graphic score on paper, participants will transcribe the recording of the Soundpainting workshop performance with frosting and cookies. This event is appropriate for all ages. 

String instrumentalists are invited to participate in a Video Game Orchestra, facilitated by Oberlin students in the Video Game Cover Collective. Associate Professor of Bassoon Drew Pattison, OC ’10, will also be running the Soundpainting workshop for all interested instrumentalists and vocalists. 

Zeitlin reflected on the participation of faculty and students in the upcoming celebration, highlighting the importance of community engagement. She also noted that Conservatory students and faculty members accompany recitals, coach chamber ensembles, and teach private lessons at the Community Music School. 

“I just think there’s a whole world of work that we can do that pays but also nourishes us,” Zeitlin said. “So, in my Community Engagement class, we look at work in prisons and hospice and with young children; we look at all different ways that you can engage with different kinds of communities. To me, it’s the most rewarding work. … There’s something about that work that I just feel is so fulfilling and so needed in our society. And I think musicians — I think artists are the people that need to do that kind of work.”

Conservatory third-year Sabrina Schubert is helping sell merchandise at the Sunday event. After taking one of Zeitlin’s classes, she began working for the Community Music School last fall, writing newsletters and assisting the early childhood class MusicPlay.

“I think it’s just really great to get kids involved in music from an early age,” Schubert said. “It doesn’t seem like in the MusicPlay class that it’s anything super challenging, but these classes are honing important skills, like recognizing minor versus major and repeating a certain melody. So I think that, without even knowing, they’re learning a lot of important stuff.”

The Community Music School was founded to fill the void in the Oberlin community and beyond. While 50 percent of students are from the City of Oberlin, 25 percent are from outside of Lorain County, commuting from Cleveland, Sandusky, and Akron. 

“All these life skills that we have to learn, they learn from studying music, from playing with each other, from getting up on stage,” said Zeitlin. “Music teaches. When I took over CMS, I remember saying to our dean, ‘The school’s going to grow fast.’ And it did, only because there was not a lot going on. We’re in this hugely rich musical community and arts community in general. There were a few teachers teaching privately out of their homes at the time. I take the word community in Community Music School really seriously. So I try to do as many community events within our school and then also without out, you know, like Sunday’s event, bringing people to the school just to enjoy themselves and to enjoy music.”

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