CYM Faculty at the International Musikgarten Festival in NC

Our Musikgarten and Piano faculty, Amy Rucker, recently coordinated an international biennial event for Musikgarten. Held in Charlotte, NC, Musikgarten’s Festival, which celebrated Musikgarten’s 25th year, featured four National Teacher Trainers, pictured here:

Ms. Amy, far right, presented an active session on movement, which explored the purpose and application of movement at all levels of the Musikgarten Curriculum.  The focus in the Babies and Toddler curriculum  was identifying characteristics of the music that can be experienced through moving, such as tiptoeing every time the strings play pizzicato.  Looking at Music Makers  levels, Ms. Amy had the teachers create a “movement round” which puts characteristics of movement into a story-telling experience, then mixing the levels of movement by forming groups that begin the “movement story” at different times. CYM uses Musikgarten to instill musical experiences in young children, through movement, listening, playing instruments, and singing!

Teachers use this kind of continuing education event to work toward certification in National Teacher Associations such as ECMMA (Early Childhood Music and Movement Association).

Great job, Ms. Amy!

To learn more about Musikgarten at CYM, contact Ms. Amy!



Did we get your attention? This is not just something your 7 year old says, this is the title of one of two pieces performed recently in a music festival in North Carolina!

CYM faculty member, Mr. Ryan, performs with the Beo String Quartet, which was featured in the Charlotte New Music Festival and the Small Batch Concert Series in Charlotte, NC. The quartet performed in a radio broadcast in the John Clark Performance Studio; the link to that interview and performance is here.

Hosted by WDAV General Manager and Content Director, Frank Dominguez, the show highlighted two new compositions for string quartet, including the title above, composed by Kerrith Livengood. Livengood’s website describes her composition this way:

This is My Scary Robot Voice “features speech rhythms intoning an anxious inner monologue, which the New York Times described as ‘sketchy seeming.'”

This composition won 1st place in the CNM National Composition Competition in partnership with the Beo String Quartet! Up next for Mr. Ryan and the Quartet: a studio recording of This is My Scary Robot Voice!

A second selection was titled “Winter”, from String Quartet No. 5: Waníyetu by award-winning composer, Marc Mellits. “Waníyetu” is the native American Lakota word for “winter”. Listen to the music and see if you can feel and imagine the icy coldness of winter! Composed in 2015, the music alternates between calm, snowy, serene landscapes, and flurries of complex rhythms, with strident, accented motifs that take the listener into the harshness of wind, sleet, and deep snow!

Tell us what you hear in both of these pieces in the comments- we would love to get your reactions! You never know, there might be a follow-up to this blog featuring the thoughts and interpretations of our CYM students!

Congratulations, Mr. Ryan, on all your marvelous performances and collaborations this summer!


CYM Welcomes New Communications Manager, Jake Niehl!

The Center for Young Musicians is proud to announce that Jake Niehl has joined our team as Communications Manager! Jake came to us on a part-time basis a few months ago to work on graphic design and marketing, but recently was promoted to be the manager over all CYM communications. You have probably already noticed his amazing artwork on our website, our posters, and our social media. Here is a little background on Jake:

Jake hails from Irwin, PA. He attended Penn-Trafford High School and graduated from Robert Morris University in 2013 with a degree in Media Arts with a focus in Graphic Design. Mr. Niehl worked for three years as a camera operator/floor director for WPXI Channel 11 News, one year as the Social Media Manager/Graphic Designer for Premier Promotional Solutions, and most recently worked for My BFF Social before accepting his new position at CYM.

Jake says: “While I do not have a music degree, I’ve been involved in music since I was a child. In high school, I played the trumpet, trombone, and baritone. I was an assistant drum major of the marching band, and was in the musicals my junior and senior years (even learned how to tap dance!). I’m extremely excited to formally become a part of the CYM family and cannot wait to begin my journey here.”

Jake is pictured below with his sister, Julie. Enjoy a sampling of his artwork to date:



Welcome, Jake!

Who’s Who at the Center for Young Musicians- Grace Burns

Grace Burns received her Master’s Degree from the University of Colorado – Boulder, where she studied with Dr. David Korevaar and was a graduate assistant for the collaborative piano department. Previously, she graduated Magna Cum Laude from Rice University with a degree in Piano Performance, where she studied under Jeanne Kierman Fischer. She has had the privilege of playing in solo and chamber masterclasses for Richard Goode, John Perry, Paul Kantor, and Howard Karp, among others. As a soloist, Ms. Burns has performed in a wide variety of concerts and venues, ranging everywhere from informal house concerts to Carnegie Hall.

A musician with widely ranging interests, Ms. Burns is equally comfortable with standard piano repertoire as she is with experimental music. Her musical experience continues to be enhanced by her work with living composers, chamber ensembles, and combining the disciplines of art, music, and theater into unique performances. Ms. Burns is very involved in new music. She is a co-founder and pianist for the Meraki Trio, a contemporary ensemble committed to commissioning and performing new works for the piano-flute-viola ensemble. Recent new music performances include premieres on the Pendulum New Music concert series, and a Cleveland residency with the Meraki Trio.

Ms. Burns has had a private studio of piano students for the past 8 years, and most recently taught for the Youth Piano Program at the University of Colorado-Boulder. She has taught students ranging in age from 4-65, and loves connecting with students through music!

We took a moment to sit down with Grace and get to know a little more about her. Enjoy this fun Q+A!

CYM: What if your favorite piece of music to play and/or favorite composer?
GB: I’ve always had a soft spot for Brahms. I revisit certain pieces every few years, and Brahms’ works always seem to take on a new meaning every time I play them. He wrote the kind of music that grows with you. And from a physical standpoint, I love the way it feels to play Brahms! So many of the phrases in his pieces require a very specific physical gesture, and it often ends up feeling like a workout! I recently performed the massive 45 minute-long Brahms Piano Sonata No. 3, and I walked offstage feeling like I had run a marathon.

CYM: Do you play other instruments other than the instrument you teach/study?
GB: I play the organ, and always love getting a gig in old church with a wonderful instrument! Other than that, I also dabbled with the flute and clarinet in high school. Oh, and I can play four chords on the ukulele.

CYM: What things would people would be surprised to know about you?
GB: I can juggle, I was a Colorado State Champion in Archery, and I’m an avid backpacker and hiker.

CYM: What was your favorite childhood book?
GB: This is such a hard question! I was/am a huge book nerd, so I don’t think I can pick one favorite. A few childhood favorites are The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister, Orlando the Marmelade Cat by Kathleen Hale, and anything by Patricia Polacco.

CYM: What is your favorite treat to eat?
GB: Caramel ice cream.

The Center for Young Musicians