Alumni Spotlight: CYM’s First Student, Meredith Hudock Hopkins, Part 3

Hopefully you have been following along on this three part interview with CYM’s first student, Meredith Hudock Hopkins! If not, you can catch up with part one here, and part two here! Then come back for the finale:

My last couple of questions for Meredith required more personal reflection on the impact of the Center for Young Musicians, as well as what she is doing today.

I asked Meredith what she wished people knew about CYM.  Here is her answer, which really embraces our philosophy!

I wish people knew about the community/family aspect of CYM. CYM is my family. They are supportive, encouraging, and caring to the growth and development of the students. CYM really embraces Dr. Suzuki’s vision that Every Child Can and that music is a gift that anyone can receive.

Looking more deeply into CYM’s impact, I asked how her time here prepared her for where she is now:

CYM helped in many ways in preparing for “adult life”. Discipline of practicing is one. Doing something every day and seeing your progress was a major component of CYM’s vision and mission. I also decided to take Suzuki Teacher training courses because of CYM. Seeing how my teachers taught, and what they could accomplish with a student, made me want to be like them. My technique of the instrument would not have been possible without the instruction I got from the school. Playing with other people/ensembles may scare most people, but because I was raised in group classes, I always thought it was a normal thing to play with other musicians.

Well said, Meredith! And what happened after life at CYM?

After graduating from high school and CYM, Meredith received her BM in Violin Performance from Baldwin Wallace Conservatory of Music. After graduation, she traveled overseas to study toward her masters degree in Traditional Scottish Music at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in Glasgow. Masters in hand, Meredith returned to the states and soon married. Today she teaches and performs full time in East Lansing, Michigan. She loves to play Scottish fiddle music whenever she can, and reaches the next generation of musicians through private and group instruction in the schools.

Congratulations, Meredith, and thank you for sharing your journey with us! You are an encouragement and inspiration to every parent, teacher, and student at CYM!

Meeting Sarah Chang, with Ms. Victoria, Ms. Alicia, and Madeline Marco-Scanlin

With instructor, Ms. Leah


Alumni Spotlight: CYM’s First Student, Meredith Hudock Hopkins, Part 2

In case you missed Part 1 of this series in three parts, check it out here!

I asked Meredith about highlights from her years at CYM. She replied that there were “honestly so many to choose from” – but here are a few she described:

-Playing at the White House Christmas party in 2006. Such an amazing experience and the whole process of rehearsals, to traveling there, to the behind the scenes tour of the White House we got after our performance was just so special.

-Playing in front of the PSO in Hienz Hall. This was for a Fiddlesticks concert …and a group of us were chosen to play the 1st mvt. of the Bach double. That rush of excitement when you walk onto the stage and the sound of the orchestra behind you, is a memory I will never forget!

A truly unique experience involved animals:

…there was one performance at an outdoor venue … where my group class and I were playing in a tent with a stage. Little did we know, we would be sharing the stage with a zoo keeper with animals for a later event time. One animal was a leopard…..The cat was in a cage! However, the leopard did not appreciate the “sound of music” and it started to get upset and banged the side of its cage. Unfortunately, we were in front of it, so none of us knew what was happening behind us! We eventually had to stop playing in order for the leopard to be moved off stage.

Since Meredith is a professional musician, I asked her to reflect on CYM and what she wishes people knew about it. The family and community atmosphere came immediately to her mind. CYM became her family, due to the fact that the faculty are supportive, encouraging, and caring, which all contribute to the growth and development of the students.  “CYM really embraces Dr. Suzuki’s vision that Every Child Can and that music is a gift that anyone can receive.”

Thank you, Meredith for that insight into CYM’s philosophy of music education! You are a gift to us!

Stay tuned for Part 3 of Meredith’s story, including how CYM prepared her for her profession, and what she is doing now!

Alumni Spotlight: CYM’s First Student, Meredith Hudock Hopkins, Part I

As most of you know, Center for Young Musicians recently celebrated 25 years of teaching music and touching lives here in Pittsburgh! We have a treat in store, as we hear from CYM’s very first student Meredith Hudock, now Mrs. Meredith Hopkins! Let’s go back to the beginning of Alicia and Victoria’s dream, and follow the path of one little toddler, whose mother understood the importance of learning the language of music in the early years!

Meredith began her studies at CYM in what was then called Kindermusik, now known as  ECM/Musikgarten. She was 17 months old, a great age to begin absorbing the sounds of music and developing steady beat! Her classes were held in the basement of Northland Library, before the Wexford location came to be. After laying the foundation of music learning through her toddler years, Meredith moved into violin at 3.5 years old.

Apparently young Meredith had an early desire for violin study. As her mother was signing Meredith up for piano lessons, little Meredith wandered around the lobby and started pointing to a violin. Mom took this as a sign, and signed her up for violin!

Violin study was always at Wexford, which became a second home for Meredith. She studied with Ms. Alicia, then Ms. Victoria, the Ms. Leah, and with Ms. Tanya.

Meredith has cherished memories of her group class, where she made many friends. As these friends grew up together in their class, they gained confidence through performing for each other. Once in Ms. Leah’s class in high school, they began working on fun chamber pieces together. One year they played the whole Bach double concerto at virtually every performance. They became so comfortable performing it that Meredith has a feeling they would still be able to play the whole work to this day!

Enjoy a few photos of Meredith over the years– and  there’s more to  Meredith’s journey at CYM, so STAY TUNED!


CYM Graduate Feature: Matthew Matisz

It is an exciting time for CYM when we have graduating seniors. Today we put a spotlight on Matthew Matisz, student of Erich Reibe.

Our marketing department caught up with Matthew to get his perspective on growing as a musician through Center for Young Musicians.

Matthew started in CYM’s Early Childhood Music program with Victoria, in order to lay the foundation for joyful music making, music learning, and literacy. Matthew recalls stepping away to Duquesne for beginning cello lessons, and reflected on a period shortly after where he took some time to be sure he knew what instrument he really wanted to play. He started to explore his instrument options, and began listening to music for fun, honing his musical tastes.  Soon he became captivated by guitar music, and felt motivated to learn some of the rock songs he was hearing. Matthew and his family decided to come back to CYM, and he teamed up with Mr Erich for guitar lessons at CYM. The rest is history, as they say, and anyone who heard Matthew on the solo recital will attest to the diligence in his music studies over the years at CYM!

When asked if any funny moment at CYM stands out in his mind, he recalled this story: In the middle of a recital, he was following the chord progression as he played with Mr Erich. He suddenly skipped an entire line of chords of the song. Mr Erich just adjusted and improvised until Matthew got back on track and then they ended the song! No one in the audience knew what had happened, thankfully! We have all been there, Matthew!

During high school, Matthew participated in three school musicals, Mock Trial (served as Captain his junior and senior years), and fundraisers for cancer research. For his studies beyond graduation, he will be attending St Andrews in Scotland. He promises that he will do his best to learn how to play golf, in between his theology studies. When he finishes, he will have a Masters of Theology, which in the U.S. is comparable a Bachelor’s with Honors. His first purchase in Scotland will be a new guitar so that he can continue to play. We think this is a great idea!

Matthew expressed deep appreciation for his time at the Center for Young Musicians. He is thankful for the opportunity it gave him to grow as a musician and to figure out what he really wanted to study. It means a lot to him that everyone welcomed him back “with open arms”. Matthew would like to thank Mr Erich again for the lessons, and for the fun in the Friday Night groups where he could relax, hang out, and play new music. All in all, he has come to realize that what CYM gave him was a place to grow as a musician, and to use his time there -and his music – to escape from the everyday.

Reconnecting with a CYM Alum! – Meredith Hopkins

We recently reconnected with one of our CYM Alums, Meredith Hopkins!

When we asked her about how her time here at CYM was, and how it impacted her life, she said,

“I honestly can’t remember a time that I wasn’t a student at CYM. Since starting kinder music at 17 months and then violin at 3 1/2, music has been the foundation of my life! I always looked forward to group class every week to see my friends. The instruction I received from my teachers at CYM over the years sculpted me to become the best person and musician I could be.

After CYM, I graduated from Baldwin Wallace University Conservatory of Music with a BM in Violin Performance and then went on to the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in Glasgow, Scotland to get my Masters in Traditional Scottish Music. I won the title of National Scottish Fiddle Champion this past September and, now teach private/group lessons in Ann Arbor, MI!”

-Meredith Hopkins (formally Meredith Hudock)

It was great hearing from you, Meredith!


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