CYM Student Highlights

Cello Crew Gets Creative with Collaboration

May 29, 2020

Lessons, group classes, recitals and more are all happening virtually here at CYM: with a little TLC the aural experience is excellent and having the internet at your fingertips gets needed info to our students very fast! Of course, our chamber music groups have had one special challenge…LATENCY!
Unfortunately, because participants are miles apart, it takes time for the signals to be exchanged between devices. This delay is enough to prevent students (and everyone else) from playing together in sync. Individual instrumentalists can play along with reference recordings or those made by their teacher, and clever use of metronomes and mute buttons can facilitate a review session, but the delay caused by distances cannot be avoided.
CYM’s CelloCrew is using Soundtrap to work around the latency issue. Soundtrap is a multi-track (this means more than one part) browser-based (this means no special software or equipment required), super-user friendly software that allows students to collaborate in real-time on recorded projects. 
CelloCrew students conference in, begin recording, and then discuss how the parts fit together and rerecord as needed. It takes more precise skills to put a piece together this way than it does in person! With Soundtrap, groups can continue refining their performance of works even though we are not able to get together in person.

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Benjamin Solomon Graduates

May 15, 2020

Ben attends Pine-Richland High School where he is a senior. He plays acoustic and electric guitar, tenor sax, ukulele, banjo, and piano. Ben began his academic career at CYM in the “Babies” class when he was not even one year old, and has been continuously enrolled at CYM for eighteen years! Ben could read notes before he could recognize letters. After the Toddlers class, Ben began with Mark Marston as a Twinkler, then took up Classical Guitar in the Suzuki program. Aside from CYM, Marching Band was a favorite school activity. At school Ben was a member of the National Honor Society and Ski Club, Vice President of Math Club, and Founder and President of Bike Club. Ben volunteered his time playing guitar and helping with Sunday School at Temple Ohav Shalom. He played Soccer and Tennis for his school teams, and holds a Black Belt in Tae Kwon Do. Ben will take his memories of CYM and his music with him to the University of Pittsburgh, where he plans to study Computer Science.

From Mr. Mark:

  • I have had the honor of being Ben’s teacher for longer than I have with any student in my career so far. Ben was in one of my first Twinkler classes when I returned to CYM, and is now the first student I have taken all the way from early childhood music through all nine of the Suzuki guitar books. Ben has been part of just about every milestone of my time at CYM, including many performances on the Saturday Light Brigade radio program, the annual performances at Wintergarden, the first guitar Chamber Music classes, as well as many solo and ensemble recitals. I’ve also watched him work with other students at Suzuki Institutes and other workshops.
  • If I had to pick one part of Ben’s character that has impressed me the most, it would be how he balances a strong desire to learn independently with a willingness to learn from others with an open mind. Ben has always polished music that I had assigned until he could perform it at a high level, but he also often surprised me with music he discovered on his own. And usually this music was very challenging! He also made his own arrangements of favorite songs, and branched out into jazz and piano on his own. Just this year, he had prepared to play in his school’s orchestra pit, which is always a challenging experience for a classical guitarist, but even more so as his part included switching between guitar, banjo, and ukulele. And he played them all well.
  • I am having trouble imagining the time when I will not have regular lessons with Ben any longer, but I know that as he moves on to college and beyond, he will take the abilities he has developed and be able to excel in whatever paths his life takes. Ben, we all wish you well!

From Ben’s Mom:

  • When I reflect on the 18 years I spent at CYM with Ben (and the time before that, with his older sister Julia), you might expect that what would come to mind would be the exciting times playing on the radio, at museums and Heinz Hall, and even in the White House. But that’s not it. Most memorable to me is the focused time I spent with my children, day in and day out, as their home teacher. Practicing at home. Practicing at their grandparents’ homes. Practicing in hotel rooms. Practicing at the beach and poolside. Practicing on ski resort balconies. Ben remembers practicing guitar in our moving car once, buckled into his booster seat. Julia practiced cello once at a highway rest stop. We didn’t have instruments with us, but for one week during a 200 Day Practice Challenge, we even “practiced” (reading music) on a cruise ship.
  • Ben is our youngest. Parents of grown children know that childhood is fleeting. If not seized in the moment, those chances to spend time with our children at any particular stage will never come again. While our children learned music and perseverance at CYM, my parent takeaway is different. Just like parenthood itself, being home teacher for my children was a challenge. But the value of those precious moments spent together, every day over the many years, fighting and loving each other at the same time, learning to work together, is immeasurable. The days are long but the years are short, and I’m so glad we spent them making music together!

From Ms. Victoria: 

  • The long-term commitment of the Solomon Family has given vibrancy to the stated mission of our music school. Seeing the pictures shared here brings amazement and a few tears! and makes us reflect on why we still want to study and play music – to be ready to meaningfully connect with others, at any age, in any venue, for any reason. Ben (and Julia) you have done just that, with quiet yet steady affability, and we are so proud of you!
  • Thank you for sticking with your lessons and practice, for the generosity with which you regularly shared through performance, and for the kindnesses you showed your teachers and fellow students. We are grateful. Congratulations Ben!

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Thirteen CYM Students Participate in Achievement Day

May 1, 2020

Thirteen students prepared solos for CYM Achievement Day last weekend. The event included students of all ages, performing on piano, guitar, and violin. Mr. Mark, Ms. Rochelle and Ms. Grace listened to each performance and wrote comments with regard to the following categories of performance:

  • Musicality
  • Poise
  • Technique
  • Tone
  • Preparedness

The encouraging observations and helpful suggestions, along with scores, were shared with the families via email at the end of the day. This kind of event is a wonderful way to hear objective perspectives on a student’s progress and musical growth. The comments are discussed in the next lesson, and integrated over several weeks of practice. Performance experiences such as this often become turning points for young artists!

Congratulations to all who participated, their families, and teachers!

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Piano Students’ Virtual Broadcast With SLB

April 24, 2020

On Saturday morning, April 18, CYM piano students from my studio, Abby, Will, Sami, and Yazan, participated in the Saturday Light Brigade radio show, performing from the comfort of their homes! The host of the show, Larry Berger, chatted with the students on various topics including the switch to online school and music lessons, hobbies they’re spending their time on now that they’re home, and their feelings and thoughts on the current pandemic. One student replied that it was difficult, not to be able to see his friends, yet he liked being able to stay at home and spend more time than usual doing things he loves to do: draw, play tennis, and play piano. Parents of the performers said that the session gave their family members who live far away, a positive and much appreciated experience. The four piano students performed their solo pieces absolutely beautifully; their friends and family who were streaming the broadcast live (from all over the world) called in to cheer them on! Bravo to these young pianists!

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CYM Instrumentalists at Saturday Light Brigade

April 16, 2020

Last Saturday, CYM students Lily, Elijah, Sydney, Daniel, and Rosa participated in a call-in to the Saturday Light Brigade radio program called Youth Express. The program allows K-12 Pittsburgh-area students to showcase their performing arts skills. Each of the five students performed individually and were asked about their other interests and hobbies. They also explained how lessons and classes are taking place online at CYM. Lily, Sydney, and Daniel each played the violin, while Rosa played cello, and Elijah played the guitar. The musicians performed and spoke with poise and professionalism – we are proud of you! Listen to the broadcast here.

This Saturday, April 18, piano students of Simmi Tripathi will be featured on the same show, that starts at 10:05 am. These students also are ready to play, having enjoyed this performance experience before, and excited to be interviewed, rehearsing their pieces and practicing their answers to potential interview questions. Compositions by Williams, Bober, and Debussy will be featured. We look forward to hearing them play and speak on the airwaves – good luck! Listen to the live broadcast here.

Ask us about upcoming opportunities to perform live with your CYM Friends on the Saturday Light Brigade Radio Show!

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CYM Book 3 Recital via Zoom – Claudia’s Accomplishments Celebrated

April 16, 2020

Claudia, CYM cellist, performed her Book 3 recital this week. She played her pieces with a piano accompaniment track and delighted an audience of 37 friends and family from around the country! Folks joined the performance by Zoom from the comfort of their homes. At the end of the recital, Mr. Ryan asked audience members to switch to “gallery view” so that they could see all those “in attendance” enjoying the music. Everyone was happy to show Claudia their appreciation through applause, smiles, signs, and good words. Congratulations to you Claudia, to your parents and family members, and to Mr. Ryan!

Recitals, Individual and Group Lessons, Achievement Day, Serenades, are all moving along with wonderful success online at CYM. Why not share your ideas to have fun while studying music with us? We have received great suggestions from parents who have answered our survey – let us know what you are thinking – we would love to hear back from each family!

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Young Artist Students Closing in on Awards

March 20, 2020

We have three students who have been diligently working toward goals in their music studies, and two are currently on track to be recognized at the Solo Recital this spring.

The three are students of Ms. Grace, and include Hafsah S., who will be receiving her Ambassador certificate at solo recital, and Reka G. and Manus M. who are both working toward their Mentor Certificates.

Part of earning the Mentor Award includes visits to Musicianship classes or early childhood music classes such as Suzuki Readiness and Musikgarten. Students will attend classes, assist the teachers, and perform for the students.

Congratulations to all on your accomplishments thus far! Keep up the great work- you are making CYM proud!

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Students Accomplish “Year of Practice” Goal

February 14, 2020

As many of us have been immersed in the February Challenge, a different achievement has come into focus. Students of Ms. Leah have reached the extraordinary goal of practice every day of the year.

I’ll let that sink in.

Practice every day for 365 days.

How is this possible, and how did it go, you might wonder!  The brother and sister team took this goal on by their own initiation. I asked Jonah and Chloe’s mother if she would reflect on the past year and  be willing to share the journey with us. Here is what she shared with me.  Enjoy, and be encouraged!

“Jonah and Chloe finished the February practice challenge last year (2019) and asked about doing a whole year practice challenge. We were excited that they would show this initiative, but nervous about that level of commitment. We are professional musicians and music teachers, and we have never practiced every day for a year! But we buckled down and supported the kids. It became a team effort in our family. The kids were encouraging towards one another most days. We really felt like we were all working towards this goal together. There were days when practicing was fun and fruitful. And then there were days when the kids didn’t want to practice and it felt like a chore. However, more days than not they were agreeable – especially when reminded of their goal. The second half of the year went more smoothly than the first. We found a rhythm by then and we think the kids were noticing the results of their daily practice. They each made significant progress on their repertoire, as well as improvements in their bow technique, posture, and tone. There were weeks when progress felt like it was plateauing, but being musicians ourselves – we were familiar with this phenomenon and told the kids to be patient with themselves. In the busyness of our lives, there were days when we almost forgot to practice but inevitably it was Jonah and/or Chloe who reminded us that we needed to fit it in. We were amazed by how it became a priority for them and we are very proud that they saw it through to the end. We would encourage other parents to take on this challenge, recognizing that there will be difficult days ahead but the results are worth it – not just in skills gained and music learned, but also in the character building traits of persistence, discipline, patience, and collaboration.”

Thank you, Sasha, for such an inspiring story of commitment to a goal that resulted in musical and personal growth. Congratulations to Jonah, Chloe, parents, Sasha and Jeff, and teacher, Ms. Leah!


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Music and Art at CMA for the Holidays

December 11, 2019

On Thursday, December 19th, CYM students and their teachers will regale museum-goers with beautiful music. Holiday selections and other favorites will be offered by several violin and cello students.

Enjoy browsing and taking in the arts- visually, and aurally. The current exhibit of Carnegie Trees and Neapolitan Presepio will delight the whole family! The Presepio was constructed originally between 1700 and 1830, and is an incredibly detailed panorama of life in the 18th century. Read more about this tradition here.

The CYM performance will take place from 6:30-7:30 pm. For more information, contact Ms. Rochelle at

Come support the arts in Pittsburgh!

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CYM Cellists to Perform in Allison Park

November 22, 2019

CYM cellists will be performing Saturday afternoon at the Cumberland Woods Village in Allison Park.

Mr. Ryan will be leading the concert that will feature selections from Robert Frost’s Christmas Kaleidoscope.

Not the Robert Frost of The Road Not Taken, poetry fame, but Robert S. Frost, pedagogical strings composer, conductor, and teacher. Kaleidoscope is a collection of 14 Christmas Carols, which may be performed on a variety of instruments. For this, the instrument of choice is the cello!

Come out and support our student performers in this secluded, wooded, hilltop setting!

November 23, 4:00 pm – 5:00 pm

Cumberland Woods Village

700 Cumberland Woods

Allison Park, PA 15101

For more information, contact Mr. Ryan at

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