Raleigh program gives $1 lessons
When Myriah Luke’s middle school orchestra teacher suggested her students hire a private tutor outside class, the pre-teen knew her family couldn’t afford the extra cost and mustered courage to quietly say so.
Her teacher’s answer: Raleigh’s Community Music School, which loans instruments for 30 weeks of 30-minute, one-on-one music lessons to students who qualify for Wake County’s free-and reduced-lunch program and would otherwise be unable to afford to buy instruments or pay for private lessons. The cost at CMS: $1 per lesson.
Myriah, now a high school sophomore at Broughton, still plays cello. On Saturday, she and about two-dozen other young musicians showcased their talents on piano, guitar, violin, snare drums and the alto saxophone during the CMS Intermediate Recital Series. Myriah played “Gigue” from “Sonata in D Minor” alongside her CMS teacher, Jake Wenger.
“A lot of successful musicians have actually had tutors up through high school and into college,” said Myriah, 16. “I definitely will continue at Community Music School for as long as possible.
“It’s been so enjoyable. I’m so glad I did that.”
This year, CMS, founded in 1994, opened its recital series in the old sanctuary of its first-ever permanent space at St. Savior’s Center at 618 Tucker St., off Glenwood Avenue.
For the past 16 years, CMS has borrowed classroom and performance space from churches like the Church of the Good Shepherd and St. Augustine’s College, CMS executive director Carol Walborn said.
“We didn’t have our own presence,” she said. “It’s been a tremendous boon to have our own location.”
Since it began, CMS has taught more than 1,600 children. Currently, 166 children are enrolled in classes that also include vocal, flute, clarinet, tenor saxophone and other musical programs, including opportunities to attend concerts and learn under the tutelage of artists in residency.
For the past two months, for instance, some CMS students have stepped out of the box of classical music to learn a new repertoire and new instruments from the Magic of African Rhythms cultural arts group. The groups will perform Sunday at the N.C. Museum of History’s Music of the Carolinas Series, sponsored by PineCone.
Such partnerships make it possible for CMS to both pay its teachers and expand its offerings to students beyond its music classes, as does funding from the Raleigh Arts Commission, the United Arts Council of Wake County, and support from the N.C. Arts Council, individuals and corporations, Walborn said.
In January, CMS was approved as an affiliate member of the Berkley College of Music’s City of Music program and will create a digital music lab to offer students free online music curriculum, Walborn said. Students who complete the course will be eligible to attend Berkley’s Summer Music Camp in Boston next summer and to compete for eight, four-year college scholarships to Berkley, she said.
In addition to teaching voice and piano, Waltye Rasulala, a former WRAL television personality who holds a bachelor’s degree in music and a master’s in conducting, teaches a CMS class that helps students understand the basics of music – how to listen to it, how to hear it, how to understand rhythms, recognize intervals and read notes.
She also sits on the CMS board of directors.
“I firmly believe every child should have the opportunity to have private lessons in instruments they might be interested in,” said Rasulala, whose introduction came during a benefit concert she performed at St. Augustine’s.
“Music should be as much a part of total education of a child as anything else,” she added. “Music can go hand in hand with academics, supporting academics. Understanding rhythm and theory is a very mathematical game.
“It’s another level of learning for them.”
It also acts as therapy for kids, replacing insecurities with a can-do spirit, Rasulala said.
That’s why Anjanee Molock continues to teach flute at CMS eight years after she completed a college internship.
“I truly enjoy the students,” said Molock, 30, a Washington, D.C., native. “I was around 8 when I started playing the flute.
“Children need an outlet,” she said. “When I was younger, music was my outlet. It’s nice to give children that outlet for self-expression.”
Aside from getting a letter from Julliard, expressing the music and notes he hears in his head and learning to put in black and white, is what young pianist Ari Moore revels about CMS – and sharing his original composition, “Morning Light,” during the recital last weekend.
“It’s made me a better person,” said Ari, a seventh-grader at Carnage Middle School. “It makes me feel good, by the way it shows on the outside of me when I play, the way I express the music when I play, the feeling of it.
“It’s something I want to always do.”