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Community School plans autumn music, art lessons

August 11, 2015

csa-violinRegistration is open for the fall semester at the NIU Community School of the Arts, sponsored by the College of Visual and Performing Arts.

The community school offers year-round programming for more than 400 students who come from nearly 50 cities, towns and suburbs for classes, lessons and ensembles. Programs for children and adults begin in late August.

For more information, call (815) 753-1450 or visit Room 132 of the NIU Music Building.


Financial aid is available for students 18 and younger who want to pursue their study of the arts, but who cannot afford the cost. Applications are available online and by calling the office. The deadline for the fall semester is Thursday, Aug. 20.


  • Group Guitar for Kids ages 8 to 12; class meets from 6 to 6:55 p.m. Wednesdays, starting Sept. 9
  • Qi Gong for ages 12 to adult; class meets from 5 to 6 p.m. for six Thursdays, starting Sept. 3
  • Cultural Exploration through Making Art for ages 4 to 12; parents attend with kids from 1 to 3 p.m. Saturdays, starting Oct. 31
  • Creativity through Drawing for ages 13 to adult; class meets from 1 to 2:30 p.m. Sundays, starting Sept. 6
  • CSA Chamber Music Intensive for ages 12 to 20; Director Linc Smelser coaches chamber ensembles; individual players should call to arrange auditions.


Traditional private music lessons are taught on a weekly basis and are available on all instruments. Private lessons are also available in art and theater. Music lessons using the Suzuki approach (combining private and group lessons) for young children are taught on violin, cello, piano and guitar.

Lessons are taught in the NIU Music Building on a weekly basis. Participating students are invited to participate in recitals at the end of each semester. Lessons begin the week of Aug. 31.


Prelude is a group music class with singing, dancing, and rhythm and music games for toddlers ages 1 to 3. It is taught by Laurie Rodriguez and meets from 10 to 10:30 a.m. Saturdays. The class begins Sept. 5 and meets for 12 weeks.

Community School of the Arts piano studentsDevelopment is for children ages 3 to 5 and continues with the activities of the Prelude Class, with some demonstrations of music instruments. The class meets from 10:35 to 11:05 a.m. Saturdays. Taught by Laurie Rodriguez, the class begins Sept. 5 and meets for 12 weeks.

Piano Starter for Children meets from 4 to 4:40 p.m. Tuesdays. This small group class is limited to four children ages 5 to 7 and is ideal as a beginning class for children who might begin private lessons in the future. It is taught by Jaina Krueger and meets for 12 weeks. If the fall class fills, spring registration will open.


Guitar Basics and Intermediate Guitar is taught Wednesday evenings by Quentin Dover. Guitar Basics is ages 9 to 12 and is from 6 to 6:55 p.m. Intermediate Guitar is for ages 13 and older and is from 7 to 7:55 p.m. The classes begin Sept. 9 and meets for 12 weeks.

Square One Piano and Piano Forte are for ages 13 to adult. The classes meet Mondays, beginning Sept. 7. Square One Piano meets from 6:15 to 7:10 p.m. and is for beginners. Piano Forte meets from 7:15 to 8:10 p.m. and is for intermediate players.


Musicians often enjoy an ensemble experience as a way to share a love of music with others. The community school offers seven ensembles in fall. Some are for young musicians and some are for older children and adults. A recital is scheduled for every ensemble at the end of the semester.

CSA Symphonette is a string orchestra for ages 8 to 16 that rehearses from 4:30 to 6 p.m. p.m. Tuesdays. Designed for early readers, this group plays lively and challenging music and performs twice during the year. It is directed by Linc Smelser. The first rehearsal is Sept. 22.

Smelser also directs CSA Sinfonia. This full orchestra for ages 14 to 20 meets from 7:30 to 9:45 p.m. Wednesdays, beginning Aug. 26. This high-level regional orchestra plays a wide variety of music and performs three times during the year. Call to ask about openings; this is an audition-only ensemble.

NIUkulele EnsembleNIUkulele Ensemble is a fun ensemble for beginning and intermediate ukulele players ages 9 to adult. The group is directed by guitar teacher Eric Schroeder. Beginners receive instruction; intermediate players are given more complicated parts to play. All types of ukuleles are welcome, but everyone must have an instrument. The group meets from 7:30 to 8:25 p.m. Mondays, beginning Sept. 14.

CSA Guitar Ensemble meets from 8 to 8:55 p.m. Wednesdays and is directed by Quentin Dover. Designed for beginning and intermediate players ages 14 to adult, the group works on building confidence and skill on the instrument. The first rehearsal is Sept. 17.

CSA Steelband is a great way for people to become familiar with an instrument with a unique sound. The group is directed by Yuko Asada and is for ages 14 to adult. The steelpan family ranges from soprano to bass and each student chooses an instrument. The group plays many types of music, including calypso, classical, rock, and rhythm and blues. The group rehearses from 6:30 to 7:25 p.m. Mondays, beginning Sept. 14. No previous experience on the instrument is needed, but it is recommended that students be able to read music.

CSA Children’s Choir rehearses from 4:45 to 6:15 p.m. Wednesdays, beginning Sept. 9. Mary Lynn Doherty is the director. Placement auditions are held Wednesday, Aug. 26, and Wednesday, Sept. 2, and are required for all members; call the office at (815) 753-1450 to arrange a time. The chorus rehearses challenging and varied repertoire from all over the world. Children ages 7 to 15 develop sight-reading and musicianship skills and learn to work together.


Art Express is for ages 4 to 12 and meets from 1 to 3 p.m. for six Saturdays, beginning Sept. 19. Students learn more about art and the world as they create original artwork. Teachers are NIU art education students supervised by a School of Art instructor. The curriculum is new every semester, and the classes are organized by age and limited in size.