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!

 

Coming Attractions

It’s time to enroll in one of our new classes!

You’ve probably read about our Crossover series that began this summer. If not, follow this link to read up on the ways visual art and music intersect! This is a group for teens in Sewickley. If your student has interest in the visual arts, video game music, anime music, etc. they should definitely check out these sessions!

Musikgarten is here!  So glad to be offering this curriculum with expanded options this year! Music Makers at the Keyboard is brand new to CYM, but has been taught by Ms. Amy for over 10 years! This year, make this the path for your 6-9 year old to learn piano, because data over the last 15 years is showing 98% retention rate in private piano for graduates of MMK!  Read here for more information! Continue reading below for other new offerings in Musikgarten including Music Makers at Home for 4-6 year olds, and Family Music for Babies (birth to 18 months)! Call our office for more info, or email Ms. Amy at arucker@youngmusicians.org

Prelude Classes are informal classes in Sewickley held in conjunction with Night Mart! Come explore instruments with CYM faculty Mr. Ryan, and enjoy participating in dancing, singing, and ensemble activities with Ms. Amy! Click here for more details.

Cello Crew is here and ready to go for all cellists! What a great opportunity to develop ensemble skills, and learn from Mr. Ryan as well as other cellists! Read a recent blog about this new Monday class here!

More NEW groups in Musikgarten:  Family Music for Babies is a class designed for babies up to 16 months with a caregiver. To learn more about the importance of this early music learning, please visit Ms. Amy’s blog post here. Rock, bounce, sing, dance, finger plays, instruments abound in this delightful class aimed to envelop your baby in the language of music! Also check out Music Makers at Home, (Mondays, Wexford) which is a pre-piano course that puts the emphasis on all things 5-6 year olds love, including animals and their habitats. Through these familiar and intrinsically interesting themes, students become purposeful listeners as they joyfully sing and learn folk songs, hear and play patterns, learn complex dances, and play instruments! All things to guide them systematically into music literacy!

Visit our website to get enrolled – there is still time to join in on the group dynamic – a great way to learn and have fun with friends!

Oh, and spread the word!

New at CYM this fall: Group Piano Classes!

Now enrolling!

We are thrilled to announce new sections of group piano designed for beginners! Starting this fall, Music Makers at the Keyboard will be offered in our Sewickley and Wexford locations. This Musikgarten curriculum is designed to capitalize on the dynamic of a group environment to instill music skills that are applied to the piano. A three year method, Music Makers at the Keyboard focuses on singing, movement, ensemble, writing, notation games, and more, in a fun group setting. Concepts are applied to the piano from day one, resulting in fluid sight reading, creative improvisation, composition, ensemble playing, and performance.

Sign your child up to learn in an engaging environment with certified Musikgarten instructors! Classes are for beginners ages 7-9, and will be offered in Wexford on Saturdays at 1:30, and Sewickley on Mondays at 5:30, and Tuesdays at 4:30.

For more information about these classes, contact Amy Rucker: arucker@youngmusicians.org.

Spaces are limited, so visit CYM today!

Coming Soon to CYM!

With the fall semester on the horizon, the faculty at CYM has prepared all sorts of new and exciting group lessons, just for you! Check out our “Coming Attractions” below!

Enroll today at www.youngmusicians.org!

Call our office for more information  (724) 935-0505

New Research Points to the Simplicity and Necessity of Child’s Play

You don’t have to look too far to find the latest research on children and the necessity of play. More and more studies are showing that it is play, and not early reading, early math, or memorizing facts, that the young child needs for healthy and natural development. We see more and more that this play is crucial, not just for the immediacy of the moment in childhood, or the joy that it brings, but for the feeding of the brain in ways that translate into healthy, well-adjusted adults.

Two articles that came out within months of each other proved to have significant overlap. One was about having too many toys. With multiple toys to explore, the child stays in exploration mode and rarely makes it to the creative thinking and imaginative play side of the toys. So the fewer, and simpler, the toys, the better. In the other research article, the author shows us that play, including recess (which is often missing in our U.S. schools and pre-schools) boosts mental and physical health, develops the executive function of the brain, and leads to improvements in academic performance, concentration, and behavior. These are well-written articles, very much worth the read:

Read the article on PLAY here!               Read the article on TOYS here!

And know that here at CYM, we are aware of the necessity of play, including exploration and creative thinking. In our early childhood music classes, the emphasis is on getting the child started and then stepping back, and allowing the child to discover and to create on their own. We may set the stage for an activity, but it is the children who take it to the next level, using their creative thinking and storytelling abilities to improvise! Our trained teachers know even when handing out instruments such as our wooden rhythm sticks that we will allow the child time to explore, and to come up with ways to play and use the sticks, and it isn’t until that urge for creative play is satisfied, or at least begins to wane, that the teacher then directs the activity, bringing the sticks to their intended use for the musical concept in the lesson. Which, by the way, the children are ready for, because they had that opportunity to play and try their own ideas, first!

Check out our new line-up of early childhood music classes today.

We will help your family PLAY!

Which animal has the best hearing in the world?!

Believe it or not, biologists and entomologists around the world have found that moths have the best hearing in the world!

But what about the human ear? Let’s look at the facts about our fascinating sense of hearing, and CYM’s philosophy of developing listening skills through music:

Early Childhood Music Classes: More Than Just Fun and Games!

Because there is FUN, and there are some GAMES….but why stop there?

If you are going to invest in music for your young child, then you will want to be sure there is more to it than just fun and games. But you might not know what that “more” is! That’s OK, most people don’t! After all, what could be taking place in a class of toddlers? Sounds pretty much like a recipe for mayhem, amirite?

Thankfully, the research has been going on for decades regarding young children and music, and we know a lot about what that early childhood music and movement class should look like. Much of what we do in the early years at the Center for Young Musicians is driven by the work of Dr. Lorna Heyge, who wrote one of the first childhood music programs in the United States. Working in Germany in the 1970s, she and other music educators pulled together the best of Kodaly, Orff, Suzuki, Jacques-Dalcroze, and others, to build a comprehensive music program designed to create lifelong lovers of music!  More recent studies in the neurological development of children and music language acquisition have informed our work as ECM educators, and Musikgarten has put this all together to create an up-to-date, essential program for early learning.

So it’s OK- we know what to do, and we do it well. Our music classes for little ones include:

  • Active, thoughtful participation
  • Focused Listening
  • Steady Beat Development
  • Purposeful Movement
  • Language Learning
  • Singing
  • Instruments and Ensembles…..and more!

Our lessons are designed to meet the needs of your growing child at every stage of their development, laying a foundation for success in future instrumental study!

And the fun and the games are all included; and OK, maybe a little mayhem here and there.

For a good time, visit www.youngmusicians.org

 

CYM Spotlight: Réka Götz and her Journey to the Ambassador Young Artist Certificate

When Réka was just a baby, she listened to music all the time. She heard music in the car, watched Baby Einstein, took early childhood music and movement classes with her mom, and listened to her Hungarian great grandmother sing as she worked around the house! Fast forward just a few short years, and you’ll find a poised young lady of 16 years who loves the arts, and embodies all that we strive for here at CYM.

This past weekend, Réka fulfilled a major requirement for the Ambassador level of the Young Artist Certificate Program. She presented a recital, along with two other students, as partial fulfillment of this second level of the Young Artist Program. As mentioned in an earlier post about the Ambassador Certificate, not only do the students perform three or four pieces of advanced literature, but they also present a brief lecture on each composer and composition.

Just how did Réka manage to take this pathway to such a high level of musicality? A junior at Allegheny Senior High School, Réka has been studying piano at CYM for 11 years. She studied first with Miss Rowena, then Miss Sonia, and currently studies with Ms. Grace. She also participated in the American Legends group classes, from which she has made lifelong friends! Réka also studied cello, and played in the school orchestra for six years. Enriching experiences with her family continually provide Réka with a well-rounded education in the arts: her grandmother has been taking her to hear the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra since Réka was in elementary school.

Réka’s performance included two Preludes by Gershwin, and the Prelude in B minor by Rachmaninoff. Of her pieces, Réka says the Rachmaninoff is her favorite because: “I can play my heart out, it’s pretty, and like a roller coaster!”

Ms. Grace, Hafsah, Réka, Manus

Réka, pictured here in the middle of the three three performers, has a few more requirements to complete to receive the Young Artist Certificate for the Ambassador level. Stay tuned for her progress through the coming year!

Congratulations, Réka, and Ms. Grace!

Free Piano Classes!

Who doesn’t like free?! The Center for Young Musicians is offering FREE Musikgarten Group Piano sessions for any child between the ages of 6 to 9 years old. Classes will be held August 4th and 5th from 3:30 p.m. to 4:45 p.m. at CYM Sewickley. Sign up for both days; parents join in for last 15 minutes of class each day. NO PRIOR EXPERIENCE NEEDED!

These classes are presented as a part of a National Teacher Training for Musikgarten. Teachers in attendance will observe these classes taught by Amy Rucker. If you’re interested in registering, please e-mail Amy at arucker@youngmusicians.org.

 

Who’s your #WCW?

On May 8th, CYM started posting our #WomanCrushWednesdays, celebrating the lives and achievements of numerous women who have made an impact in the music world. So far, we’ve highlighted 12 incredible women on our social media pages. Since it has been been met with such an amazing amount of support, we thought we would share some of the women we’ve highlighted so far the past couple of months.

But there’s one more thing, we want to hear from YOU! Who’s your #WCW? Who should we write about next? Be sure to write in the comments who you want to see as our #WCW in the future!

 

Nadia Boulanger

One of the most prominent composers, conductors, and educators of the 20th century. She studied with Charles Marie Widor and Gabriel Fauré at the Paris Conservatoire at the age of 10, and studied organ privately. She won top prizes across Europe in composition, and recorded many little known organ works. She is best known for teaching composition to some of the great composers of the 20th century- Copland, Quincy Jones, Denoe Leedy, Walter Piston, George Peter Tingley, Roy Harris, Virgil Thomson, Michel Legrand, Joe Raposo, Philip Glass, Robert Shafer, and Elliott Carter. Her legacy has extended to shape and establish classical music in America.

 

Anoushka Shankar

Hailed as one of the greatest Indian classical soloists of our time, she has released 11 albums, been rewarded numerous Grammy nominations, and has collaborated with leaders in music across many cultures and genres. Her body of work increasingly reflects her passion for women’s rights and social justice around the world, connecting a large scope of demographics through her music. Nitin Sawhney wrote, “no one embodies the spirit of innovation and experimentation more evidently than Anoushka Shankar.”

 

Aretha Franklin

An 18-time Grammy Award winner, a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom and National Medal of Arts, and the first woman to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the accolades spanning her 50-year career are endless. Her gospel-voice and songs “Respect” and “Natural Woman” were anthems for social change and civil rights. Her cultural and musical contributions will live on forever!

 

Martha Argerich

Martha Argerich is a legendary pianist and a highly celebrated classical musician for the last 60 years. A Deusche Grammaphon artist and recipient of many awards, Argerich made her professional debut at the age of 8. Early in her youth, she won elite competitions, the Geneva International Music Competition, the Ferruccio Busoni International Piano Competition and the Chopin Piano Competition in Warsaw, championed for her technical proficiency and emotional depth. She has toured around the world, and has performed with many notorious musicians including Gidon Kremer, Alexandre Rabinovitch, Nelson Freire, Mstislav Rostropovich, Mischa Maisky. Her latest release was 2018 album “Prokofiev for Two,” recorded with Sergei Babayan.

 

Ella Fitzgerald

“Dubbed “The First Lady of Song,” Ella Fitzgerald was the most popular female jazz singer in the United States for more than half a century. In her lifetime, she won 13 Grammy awards and sold over 40 million albums. Her voice was flexible, wide-ranging, accurate and ageless. She could sing sultry ballads, sweet jazz and imitate every instrument in an orchestra. She worked with all the jazz greats, from Duke Ellington, Count Basie and Nat King Cole, to Frank Sinatra, Dizzy Gillespie and Benny Goodman. (Or rather, some might say all the jazz greats had the pleasure of working with Ella). She performed at top venues all over the world, and packed them to the hilt. Her audiences were as diverse as her vocal range. They were rich and poor, made up of all races, all religions and all nationalities. In fact, many of them had just one binding factor in common – they all loved her.”

 

Meredith Monk

Meredith Monk is a composer, singer, director/choreographer and creator of new opera, music-theater works, films and installations. Recognized as one of the most unique and influential artists of our time, she is a pioneer in what is now called “extended vocal technique” and “interdisciplinary performance.” Monk creates works that thrive at the intersection of music and movement, image and object, light and sound, discovering and weaving together new modes of perception. Her groundbreaking exploration of the voice as an instrument, as an eloquent language in and of itself, expands the boundaries of musical composition, creating landscapes of sound that unearth feelings, energies, and memories for which there are no words.” -bio and photo from meredithmonk.org

 

Christina Aguilera

Did you know Christina Aguilera was raised in the same town as CYM’s main location, Wexford, Pennsylvania? The breakout star has earned 5 Grammy awards and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for her singing and songwriting, and is one of the world’s best-selling artists. She lists Etta James, Billie Holiday, Otis Redding, Aretha Franklin, Nina Simone, and Ella Fitzgerald as some of her biggest vocal influences. Today, in addition to continue producing studio albums, she serves as a judge on the popular competition “The Voice.”

 

Hilary Hahn

Performing both contemporary and classic music around the world, Hahn has already recorded a number of albums and have over 1500 live performances before turning 40! A graduate of the Curtis Institute, she began studying one month before her 4th birthday, starting with #Suzuki training. In addition to premiering works alongside the greatest orchestras and conductors, Hahn expresses a special love for Bach, claiming she has played his music every day since the age of 8.

 

Tania Leon

She has received commissions from renowned ensembles and has conducted orchestras around the world. A founding member of the Dance Theatre of Harlem, León instituted the Brooklyn Philharmonic Community Concert Series, co-founded the Sonidos de las Américas festivals with the American Composers Orchestra, and served as Latin American Advisor to the American Composers Orchestra and New Music Advisor to the New York Philharmonic. She is the founder and artistic director of Composers Now Festival and the Composers Now organization, “a nonprofit in New York City founded in 2010 and dedicated to empowering all living composers, while celebrating the diversity of their voices and honoring the significance of their contributions to the cultural fabric of society.”

 

Jacqueline du Pre

Launched into international stardom at just age 20, she is noted as one of the greatest cellists and soloists of the 20th century despite her untimely death at age 42. Her first teacher was her mother, a music educator, and she later studied with legendary cellists Pablo Casals and Mstislav Rostropovich. Her recording of Elgar’s Cello Concerto launched the then little known piece into the standard repertoire. Though her career was sadly cut short by multiple schlerosis, her emotive, energetic style has inspired countless musicians for many decades to come.

 

Lizzo

With music that combines R&B, soul, hip-hop, rap, and flute elements, her charismatic, positive and often humorous music gets everyone on their feet. Lizzo began flute in 6th grade, and short after formed her first rap group. After studying flute performance at the University of Houston and dealing with the passing of the father, she decided to take a new path in the indie scene of Minneapolis. Her first album launched her to national success, and for the last few years she has been dancing and singing her way around the world, flute in hand. She is currently on tour with her new album, “Cuz I Love You,” and serves as an icon of body positivity and diversity for the next generation.

 

Maria Callas

A vocalist known for her remarkable range and musical intensity. Beginning piano at age 7, it wasn’t long until she proved to have an impressive voice. After many rejections and struggling to find work, she debuted in a performance of “La Giocanda” in Italy, and gained notoriety over the next few years by working in Florence. Nicknamed nicknamed “The Tigress,” Callas was fiercely resilient and said of audience members’ jeers, “Hissing from the gallery is part of the scene. It is a hazard of the battlefield. Opera is a battlefield, and it must be accepted.” Her American debut in opera “Norma” established her as a magnanimous force in classical music. Her influence continues to inspire today as one of the greatest vocalists of all time.

 

Be sure to follow us on social media so you can find out who the next #WomanCrushWednesday will be!

The Center for Young Musicians