BCMN On the Road: Community Music School

This post is #2 in a guest series by BCMN Registrar Andrew Sammut from his visit to 4 BCMN Sites this spring.

Community Music School Raleigh

Arin and Andrew continued their tour of BCMN’s southeastern region at Community Music School of Raleigh. NC. Founded over twenty years ago at around the same time as City Music, CMS provides private lessons at virtually no cost to students in elementary school all the way up through high school. Beginning musicians receive introductory instruction in music reading and advanced students have the opportunity to play in CMS ensembles and perform at local community events, including through partnerships with local symphony orchestras.

Our day at CMS began with meeting acting interim executive director Debra DeCamillis, school operations manager Erin Zanders and PULSE coordinate Matt Douglas. Once again it was great to put faces to all of the names we were so used to emailing and calling over the phone! We also enjoyed the tour of CMS’s facilities, including the main building where students study everything from piano to ukulele and the community center next door, which CMS uses for performances while sharing it with other community organizations.

CMS Raleigh Percussion Ensemble
CMS Raleigh Percussion Ensemble

We then broke for a lunch discussion of CMS’s history and programming (as well as the finer points of Carolina barbeque!). Matt shared some of his successes with PULSE in his Composition Workshop, and a common theme of eagerness to recruit more students, a desire to share the craft and confidence-building of music with even larger audiences, had already emerged on this trip. That was the perfect segue to head back to CMS and continue our discussion while students began filling the halls and rooms for their after-school instruction. We also got to observe a high school percussion ensemble, a piano student learning the harmonies and chord scales for John Legend’s “All Of Me” and a first grader practicing her solfège.

Matt teaching his Saturday Composition Seminar at CMS Raleigh
Matt teaching his Saturday Composition Workshop

We came back the next day to observe Matt’s Composition Workshop, which allows students of all ages to write original material. It was rewarding to see a teacher incorporate PULSE into his own curriculum, inspiring to see and hear his students using that City Music platform to channel their own creativity. This was yet another example of what makes our Network so strong and so important. We left looking forward to meeting other Network partners, learning more about their work and doing more to promote it.

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Composition Workshop at Community Music School

Students singing songs to each other on a break during the Composition Workshop
Students singing songs to each other on a break during the Composition Workshop

On October 5th, Berklee City Music Network member Community Music School in Raleigh had their first Composition Workshop, taught by PULSE administrator Matt Douglas.  Ten students attended, and the workshop was a success.  After a fun music listening session featuring Bach, Chopin, and Lionel Ritchie they focused on the basics: call and response harmony writing, diatonic triads, and harmonizing melodies using those triads. This workshop will be built upon over the course of the school year, and we’ll be utilizing PULSE lessons in the process.