Classic Spooky Music

You know what is often missing in front porch Halloween décor? Music. For years, I hooked up a speaker to our front window and piped out Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in d minor to the delight of our Trick or Treaters. It was the perfect finishing touch that brought all of the physical elements together.

If you are looking for spooky music, look no further than the classical genre. Here are some of our favorites:

Bach, Toccata and Fugue in D Minor

Chopin, Funeral March

Dukas, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice

Saint-Saëns, Danse Macabre

Grieg, In the Hall of the Mountain King

Gounod, Funeral March of a Marionette

Mussorgsky, Night on Bald Mountain


Maybe keep the light on while you listen?!

Get to Know Your Faculty: “Favorite Halloween Candy” Edition

We are thinking you would like to know more about the faculty and staff at CYM. Insight into their personalities might be ascertained by revealing their favorite Halloween candy, might it not?

Who likes candy? A Good & Plenty number of teachers, I would say.

So, without further ado, here are the results, including favorite autumn-time treats:

Mr. Chris: Peanut Butter Cups (Jason’s, preferred!)   

Ms. Amy: m&m’s 

Mr. Erich: Kit Kat   

Ms. Grace: Skittles 

Ms. Leah: Candy Corn 

Ms. Lindsay: Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups 

Mr. Mark: Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups

Ms. Rochelle: Apple Cider 

Mr. Ryan: Peanut Butter Cups, “any and all”   

Ms. Simmi: Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups

Mr. Jake: Milky Way

Mr. Rob: Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups

Anyone else seeing a trend?

Happy Halloween! Hope you get your favorite treats!

An Online, Interactive, Music Dictionary

Here is a great way to keep music terminology straight: an online music dictionary! Curated by the folks at the Cincinnati Symphony, this is a tool for students to keep handy as they delve into their music studies this year.

Bookmark this link,  so it will be nearby the next time they wonder if timbre has something to do with a tree falling!

Click on a letter, then on one of the words to hear a pronunciation of the word, and to listen to a musical example. Very cool!

Quick – what’s the one word listed that starts with a U? How about X? Which letter has the most terms? How many of these words do you already know?

Share this with your teacher, and have fun!


Steelers Songs: A Look at the Music of the NFL!

Last week we enjoyed a glance into the popular fight songs of universities in and around Pittsburgh. If you missed it,  and want to get in the NCAA mood, take a look and a listen here!

Now let’s turn our attention to the Steeler Nation. If I told you that professional football teams have fight songs, would you be surprised? Apparently if you are from Pittsburgh you will not be surprised at all! This Ohio-girl is learning quickly that Steelers fans have a die-hard allegiance for their songs!


“Here We Go” is the official fight song of the Steelers. Interestingly it was written just over 20 years ago in 1994, but since that time it has become wildly popular! Here is the 2014 version of the song.


But our Pittsburgh team boasts other fan favorite songs, such as the Pittsburgh Steelers Polka! The story of Jimmy Psihoulis is the classic journey of the immigrant who finds success in America. But he’s probably best remembered as Jimmy Pol, who recorded the granddaddy of Steelers fight songs- take a listen here!

And there are many more- let us know what your favorites are in the comments below!




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

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:

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!

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:

The Center for Young Musicians