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Community School of the Arts opens fall registration

August 8, 2016

A photo of six jars of colorful paintRegistration is now open for fall music lessons and classes at the NIU Community School of the Arts.

Children and adults of all ages will find something perfect: The CSA offers year-round programming for more than 500 students who come to DeKalb from nearly 50 cities, towns and suburbs to participate in classes, lessons and music ensembles.

The NIU Community School of the Arts is sponsored by the College of Visual and Performing Arts at Northern Illinois University and is located in Room 132 in the NIU Music Building.


Financial aid is available for students age 18 or younger who want to pursue their study of the arts and need tuition assistance. Applications are available online and by calling the office at (815) 753-1450.

The deadline to submit an application for a need-based scholarship for fall 2016 is Thursday, Aug. 18.


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

Students have lessons weekly in the NIU Music Building and are invited to participate in recitals at the end of each semester. Registration for private lessons is due Monday, Aug. 22, and lessons begin the week of Aug. 29.


  • Prelude is a group music class with singing, dancing, and rhythm and music games for toddlers ages 1 to 3. Taught by Laurie Rodriguez, Prelude class meets Saturdays from 10 to 10:30 a.m.
  • Development, a group music class for children ages 3 to 5, builds upon the activities of the Prelude class with more music activities and some demonstrations of music instruments. Development class meets on Saturdays from 10:35 to 11:05 a.m. These classes begin Sept. 3 and meet for 12 weeks.
  • Piano Starter for Children meets on Tuesdays from 4 to 4:40 p.m. This small group class is limited to four children ages 5 to 7 and is ideal as a beginning class for children to prepare for private music lessons. Taught by piano and harp teacher Jaina Krueger, this class meets for 12 weeks. Once the fall class has filled, registration for the spring section will be open.
  • Group Guitar for Kids teacher Aerie Bernard introduces children ages 8 to 12 to guitar playing through a fun, song-oriented approach to learning. Exposure to music fundamentals such as scales, chords, rhythm, melody, harmony, and playing technique allows students to begin building their own toolbox of musical skills, promoting confident and comfortable playing. No previous guitar experience is required, and each student should bring a guitar to class. Class meets Wednesdays from 6 to 6:55 p.m. starting Sept. 7.



  • Guitar Basics and Intermediate Guitar is taught Thursday evenings by guitarist and longtime teacher Quentin Dover. Guitar Basics meets from 6 – 6:55 p.m. and Intermediate Guitar meets from 7 to 7:55 p.m. Both classes are for ages 13 to adult, beginning Sept. 8 and meeting for 12 weeks.
  • Jaina Krueger teaches group piano classes for ages 13 to adult Monday evenings starting Aug. 29. Square One Piano: Group Basics Class meets from 6:15 to 7 p.m. and is for beginners. Piano Forte: Building Piano Skills meets from 7 to 7:45 p.m. and is for intermediate players.
  • Qi Gong (or Chi-Kung) is a precursor of Tai Chi. Students learn 24 postures divided into three sets. These exercises can be done at one time during the day, or interspersed amid music practice sessions or rehearsals, to renew energy and release tension, enable relaxation and concentration. Class meets from 5 to 6 p.m. for six Thursdays starting Sept. 1.


Musicians share a love of music with others through the ensemble experience.

csa-stageThe community school offers several music ensembles, some for young musicians and some for older children and adults. Every ensemble performs in concert in the NIU music building at the end of each semester.

  • CSA Symphonette is a string orchestra for ages 8 to 16 that rehearses on Tuesdays from 4:30 to 6 p.m. Directed by Linc Smelser, this group plays lively and challenging music, and performs in concert twice during the year. The first Symphonette rehearsal is Sept. 20.
  • CSA Sinfonia is directed by Linc Smelser. This full youth orchestra meets from 7:390 to 9:45 p.m. Wednesdays beginning Sept. 7 for musicians age 14 to 20. CSA Sinfonia plays a wide variety of music and performs two concerts during the year. Call (815) 753-1450 to ask about openings; this is an audition-only ensemble.
  • CSA Chamber Music Intensive ia for ages 12 to 20. Director Linc Smelser coaches the chamber ensembles. Call (815) 753-1450 for more information or to arrange an audition.
  • NIUkulele Ensemble is fun for beginning and intermediate ukulele players ages 9 to adult, directed by CSA teacher Eric Schroeder. Beginners receive instruction and intermediate players are given more complicated parts to play. All types of ukuleles are welcome, and everyone must have an instrument. The group meets from 7:30 to 8:25 p.m. Mondays beginning Sept. 12.
  • CSA Guitar Ensemble meets from 8 to 8:55 p.m. Thursdays. Directed by Quentin Dover, beginning and intermediate guitar players age 14 to adult work on ensemble skills, build confidence and skill on the guitar, and perform two concerts during the year. The first rehearsal is Sept, 15.
  • CSA Steelband is a great way for people to experience the unique sound of the steelpan. Directed by Yuko Asada, CSA Steelband welcomes members age 12 to adult. No previous experience on the instrument is needed, but it is recommended that students be able to read music. The steelpan family ranges from soprano to bass and each student chooses an instrument. The group rehearses from 6:30 to 7:25 p.m. Mondays beginning Sept. 12, playing many types of music including calypso, classical, rock and rhythm and blues, and performing in concert several times during the year.
  • CSA Children’s Choir directed by Mary Lynn Doherty rehearses from 4:45 to 6:15 p.m. Wednesdays beginning Sept. 7. Welcoming children age 7 to 15, the choir learns challenging and varied repertoire from all over the world and performs in concert in fall and spring. Children develop sight-reading and musicianship skills and learn to work together in a fun and dynamic atmosphere. Placement auditions for CSA Children’s Choir are Aug. 24 and Aug. 31; call (815) 753-1450 to arrange an audition time.


Art Express is for ages 4 to 12 and meets from 1 to 3 p.m. for six Saturdays beginning Sept. 17. Students learn about art and the world as they create original arts and crafts. Taught by NIU art education students supervised by an NIU School of Art instructor, the curriculum is new every semester and the classes are organized by age and limited in size.