2002-2012 / Program Director at the Community Music Center in San Francisco
Here some of the highlights during my tenure as Program Director of the Community Music Center. I was instrumental in the creation and design of many of the following programs and I was responsible for administering them in collaboration with CMC staff. In some cases, I also was the musical director of the specific program and one of the teachers. This is true for Camp CMC, MDYMP, Willard Latin Ensemble and Horace Mann Music After-School Program.
2003-14 Camp CMC
One of the first projects I undertook as Program Director was the design and planning of a new music ensemble summer camp for children. It materialized for the first time in 2003 as Camp CMC. In addition to my administrative roll as Program Director, I also was its musical director and one of the teachers. I was part of Camp CMC for twelve consecutive years. After I left my position as Program Director in 2012, I continued being Camp CMC’s musical director for two more years. Today, the program continues to exist.
About Camp CMC: A weeklong summer camp, it offers children 9-15 years old the chance to play with other young musicians and develop ensemble skills. Activities alternate between chamber group, ensemble, theory and musicianship classes. After an audition, students are grouped in ensembles by instrument and level. Campers also participate in activities designed to develop general musicianship skills, such as playing percussion instruments, singing, and rhythmic movement. Camp CMC is designed for 25 students and a team of four teachers and two teacher assistants. This low teacher/student ratio allows for close individual attention and small chamber groups. Students are exposed to a wide range of musical styles, from classical to Latin and jazz. Musical arrangements are specifically written to fit the level of the students. Camp CMC players share their work at the end of the week in a performance.
2004-12 St. Joseph’s Family Center
St. Joseph’s Family Center provides housing and support services to homeless families. In 2004, the Community Music Center began providing music classes at St. Joseph’s Family Center, as part of their Children’s Activities Program. This program continued steadily until 2012.
2004-08 Cesar Chavez Elementary School After-School Music Program
From 2004 to 2006, this after-school music program provided private lessons in several string and wind instruments. After a one-year hiatus, the music program was reestablished in 2007-08. To adapt to a budgetary reduction, private lessons were replaced for a group class on choral singing and rhythmic games.
2004-12 Horace Mann Middle School After-School Music Program
CMC started an after-school music program at Horace Mann Middle School in 2004. With great deal of ingenuity and patience we were able to maintain it for eight years. It required close supervision and creative imagination to adapt to a constantly changing environment. Over time, the program took many shapes. Horace Mann was a troubled middle school with a high percentage of at-risk Latino population and a high percentage of diagnosed and undiagnosed children with disabilities. The high turnover rate in administrators and teachers accented the instability of the school. Often, the improvements attained over the course of a year didn’t carry over to the next year. Almost every year there was a new Principal with new ideas and no experience of the school. By the time the new Principal began to be familiar with the school, he or she would be replaced and the cycle would start again. Adapting to this environment was challenging but had the reward of knowing that our work was valuable and meaningful. Our continuous presence at the school was very important for many children for whom the program became a safe haven and a place to grow.
Thankfully, there were many people and organizations working at the school with a strong commitment to education and a persistent determination to make the best of the situation. Establishing partnerships and finding mutually beneficial collaborations was crucial to the successes of the music program. Here some examples. Jamestown Community Center was the umbrella organization that facilitated the coordination of activities between the various providers of after-school activities. They managed a monthly meeting with representatives of all organizations involved where we develop common goals and tackle problems jointly. Jeff Steeno, a teacher of the day-school, provided vital support to the music program by helping us having access to appropriate physician spaces to house our classes, selecting appropriate students for the program and encouraging them to participate, and serving as intermediary with other organizations. The San Francisco Education Fund brought to the school volunteer musicians to work with children. We integrated those volunteers in our program, therefore multiplying its impact. The Music National Service hired a music teacher to work in the school during the day-school and the after-school. We had ongoing communication with him to coordinate our programs.
Over the years, the music program adopted many shapes. We were always searching for a better way to reach and motivate the students. We also needed to react to budgetary ups and downs and to adjust to changes in political priorities or in musical interests of the student population. In the first years, the program consisted in private lessons covering violin, flute, clarinet and piano. Trying to have a deeper impact, we developed the position of Site Coordinator to facilitate communication with the students’ families and day-school teachers. In 2008 we introduced a Latin percussion group class. In 2009 we began a partnership with San Francisco School Volunteers who brought volunteer musicians who help us amplify the music program. The program continued evolving incorporating more elementals and the possibility for the students to spend longer time doing musical activities such as listening, music reading, singing and rhythmic training. The focus also veered from classical to Rock and Latin music. It motivated the students in a higher degree. As many students remained in the program for several years, their musical abilities grew and began to serve as role models for the next generation of students. Public presentations became more enjoyable and motivational.
In my last year as Program Director I had the opportunity to provide a special project for the students: the recording of a demo CD in a professional recording studio. Two pieces were chosen by the students: Stand by Me and Crazy Train by Ozzy Osbourne from Black Sabbath. We went to the studio after the students dedicated a few months to learn the pieces. The recording sessions took place at Coast Recorders, one of the most historic recording studios in San Francisco. It was originally built in 1969 by Mercury Records and later redesigned and run by the famous engineer, producer and businessman Bill Putnam as Coast Recorders. At Coast Recorders students met Greg Landau, an award-winning music/video producer, educator and music historian. Greg introduced the young musicians to the basics of the recording process. The recording sessions were videotaped by visual artist Adrian Arias, who created an edited 5-minute version. The video project was called Rock Paper Scissors:
2006-12 Adult Certificate Program
In 2006, I was instrumental in the design and implementation of CMC’s Adult Certificate Program (ACP). The ACP was created with the goal of providing a comprehensive, intensified and individualized course of study to Community Music Center adult students with a serious commitment to music learning. The ACP was designed for students who would benefit from a structured course of study uniquely crafted according to their personal characteristics and goals. An ACP Coordinator position was established to run the program and assist ACP students navigate through CMC, getting the most out of it. CMC faculty member, Jono Kornfeld, became the ACP Coordinator and also made substantial contributions to the design of the certificate program.
The Adult Certificate Program continues existing today at CMC as originally designed. Each individual certificate program is built around an instrument (or voice), musical style (such as classical, Latin or jazz), and the personal goals of the student. To design a program, the student works with the ACP Coordinator and a faculty member who serves as a personal advisor. The certificate can be completed typically in four or six quarters. Certificate programs are built with a minimum of eight courses selected from CMC’s four core areas of study below.
- Private Instrumental or Voice Lessons (Min. four quarters)
- Theory and Musicianship / Composition Classes (Min. two quarters)
- Ensembles (Min. two quarters)
2006-12 Mission District Young Musicians Program (MDYMP)
The Mission District Young Musicians Program is a tuition-free program that gives access to high quality music education to middle and high school students with a commitment to music learning. It has a focus on Latin music, which makes the program particularly relevant to the Latino community in San Francisco.
I was involved in this program since its incubation period in 2006. I was instrumental in its creation and design and I was the musical director and one of the group class teachers until 2012.
About the MDYMP: The goal of the program is to enrich with meaningful musical experiences the lives of low-income Mission District youth. Administered by the Community Music Center, in collaboration with the San Francisco Unified School District and the Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts, the MDYMP accepts applicants from 7th and 8th grades, and high school. The program is directed particularly, although not exclusively, to the Latino community in the Mission District. It has a capacity for 25 students. Every participant receives a two-hour weekly group class and a half-hour weekly private lesson with an instructor specialist in his/her instrument, including voice. Group classes take place at the Mission Cultural Center for the Latino Arts on Saturdays from 10am to noon. Private lessons take place at Community Music Center locations. The MDYMP curriculum focuses on Latin music, both popular and classical. The repertoire includes traditional music from Cuba, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Peru, Spain, and other Latin American countries, as well as Latin jazz and classical music. Concerts in December and in the spring serve as culminating events and help to provide concrete repertoire goals for the program.
The MDYMP faculty team is composed of three teachers and two teacher assistants to work with the 25 students during the weekly two-hour group classes. I collaborated with the other faculty members in formulating curricular goals and planning educational activities. I develop teaching materials and musical arrangements appropriate for the students, including full musical plays such us La Posarela and Persephone.
Here some MDYMP highlights and landmarks:
2005-06 – The Mission District Young Musicians Program (MDYMP) was launched in 2005 as a pilot program. This first phase started in October 2005 and concluded in October 2007. The first 6 months were used to structure the program, establish a support network in the Mission District, recruit the first group of students, plan the curriculum, secure teaching space at the Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts, and to develop a collaboration contract with this institution. Classes began in the spring quarter of 2006 with 17 teenagers.
2006-07 – The MDYMP grew to 20 students in the fall of 2006 and 22 in the winter of 2007. Outreach MDYMP performances during this year reached more than 1000 people.
2007-08 – The highlight of this year was a yearlong collaboration between the MDYMP and the ICYMP (Inner City Young Musicians Program, another CMC scholarship program) focusing on flamenco music. This included performances by flamenco artists: singer/guitarist Salvaora Galán and La Tania flamenco ensemble. The project culminated with a collaborative concert by the two scholarship programs.
2008-09 – Memorable from this year is a Picnic at the Golden Gate Park with students and their families that included potluck lunch, a jam session and a soccer game.
2009-10 – The highlights of this year were a dance and music collaboration project with ODC (Oberlin Dance Collective) and a collaboration concert in San Rafael with Enriching Lives through Music (ELM).
2010-11 – Improvements were made in organization and parent/student involvement. We implemented a requirement for students to take responsibility for the set up and put away of equipment. We also implemented mandatory meeting for parents. The goal of these meetings was to exchange information and plan their participation in the program. MDYMP parents provided a big part of the volunteer work needed for special events. The highlight of the year was the MDYMP annual performance as part of the Christmas musical La Posarela. This year the musical outgrew the Community Music Center and moved for the first time outside of CMC’s recital hall and into the 480-seat Victoria Theater. The show was sold-out.
2011-12 – A collaboration project between the MDYMP and the Marsh Youth Theater (MYT) culminated in the presentation of a new musical play, Persephone Cubana, at the Marsh Theater. Another highlight was a performance at the Golden Gate Festival at Crissy Field, as part of the 75th Anniversary of the Golden Gate Bridge celebrations.
2009-12 Bethany Center / Ruth’s Table
In September 2009, I was instrumental in developing a partnership between CMC and Bethany Center Senior Housing. The Music Center started to house private lessons and group classes at Bethany Center, which is located in the same block as CMC’s Mission Branch. Bethany agreed to allow CMC the use of its space for two days a week and total of 39 weekly hours of classes. In exchange CMC agreed to provide a series of concerts with the name of CMC Music at Ruth’s Table. Ruth’s Table is a community center within Bethany Center. In 2010, the partnership grew to three days of classes a week, and in 2011 to four days of classes a week. The partnership continued after my departure as PD.
2009-11 Willard Latin Ensemble
The Latin Music Ensemble at Willard was a collaboration project between Community Music Center, La Peña Cultural Center and Willard Middle-School in Berkeley. The program was funded by the California Arts Council and the Visual and Performing Arts Program from the Berkeley Unified School District.
I designed and taught this class for middle-schoolers from 2009 to 2011. I worked with a team of a Coordinator/Teacher Assistant and several volunteer musicians. The program was free and open to students with musical interest for Latin music and minimal musical background. All instruments and voice were welcome. Students received a two-hour weekly group class at Willard Middle School. They played in an ensemble and participate in various activities designed to develop general musicianship skills (playing percussion instruments, singing, rhythmic movement and listening to music). The curriculum focuses on Latin music, including Salsa, flamenco and music from Cuban, Peru and Mexico. There was a public performance at the end of every quarter. The number of students fluctuated between 8 and 12.
2011-12 Coro Solera (Solera Singers) / 30th Street Chorus (Coro de la Treinta)
In 2011, I was instrumental in designing and establishing Coro Solera, a free chorus for low income seniors. The Spanish word “solera” describes the process of aging fine liquids like sherry or brandy. Solera Singers, or Coro Solera, was supported by a Creative Aging/National Guild/MetLife grant. It was conceived as a partnership with the Mission Neighborhood Center (two blocks away from CMC’s main branch), where a vibrant Latino senior community already existed. Under the direction of Martha Rodríguez-Salazar and accompanied by Jennifer Peringer, the chorus had an instant success. After four months, the chorus had 20 committed participants and had performed five times. Cultural background and preferences of participants determined that the chorus would sing in Spanish and the repertoire would focus in Latin-American folklore and popular music.
Encouraged by the success of Solera Singers, we embarked on a second partnership with 30tn Street Senior Center. Another free chorus for seniors was formed with the name 30th Street Chorus (or “Coro de la Treinta”), also directed by Martha Rodríguez-Salazar and accompanied by Jennifer Peringer.
Coro Solera and Coro de la Treinta continue to exist today.
2012 – Community Choirs to Promote Healthy Aging and Independence of Older Adults
During 2011 I was instrumental in developing a partnership between CMC and the University of California in San Francisco (UCSF) and made substantial contributions to a grant proposal to the Nation Institutes of Health that would lead to the establishment of twelve choruses for seniors in twelve centers in San Francisco over a period of five years. These choruses would be run by CMC and UCSF would produce a research study evaluating the effects of choral singing on health and well-being in diverse populations of seniors.
At the time I left my position as CMC Program Director, this project was in its first phase. It was subsequently named Community of Voices (COV).