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NIU Community School of the Arts semester begins

Registration is open for the spring semester of lessons, classes and ensembles at the Northern Illinois University Community School of the Arts. Programs for children and adults begin in late January and early February.


Traditional private music lessons, taught on a weekly basis, are available on all instruments for people of all ages. Private lessons also are available in art and theater. Music lessons for young children using the Suzuki approach are available on violin, piano, cello and guitar. The Suzuki approach combines private and group lessons.

Adult and teen music classes

Group Piano for Adults: Adult classes in piano for both beginners and intermediate players ages 18 and older are taught on Monday evenings. These 12-week classes are taught by piano teacher and educator Susan Breitner-Hurm,

Guitar Basics: Guitar classes for ages 13 and older meet on 12 Wednesday evenings and are taught by guitar specialist Quentin Dover. Students gain a working knowledge of the instrument.

Music classes for children

There are several options for children to get a head start on a lifetime of musical enjoyment.

Prelude and Development: Two classes meet for 12 weeks on Saturday mornings. Prelude is for ages 1 to 3 and Development is for ages 3 to 5. These classes offer musical activities that build skills in rhythm, dynamics and musical patterns. Both classes are taught by violin and early education specialist Laurie Rodriguez.

Piano Starter: This is a small group piano class. Children learn the basic notes and position of the keys and play simple tunes. This class has space for four children, ages 5 to 7, and is taught by Barbara Wirz-Ellsworth for 12 Tuesdays in the late afternoon.

Classes for older children

Guitar Basics: Children ages 9 to 12 learn how to read music, play songs and construct and play scales and chords. The class meets on Wednesdays for 12 weeks. Quentin Dover teaches the class.

Art Express: This popular class meets on five Saturday afternoons. Students ages 4 to 12 are divided into classrooms by age and enjoy a wide variety of interesting art projects taught by NIU art education students.


Ensemble-playing is a great way to consolidate musical skills and at the same time have fun with others.

CSA Steelband: This new ensemble is for ages 14 to adult who want to learn to play or to improve on the steel pan. This amazing instrument has six voices and every student rehearses on a different pan. Beginners are welcome, although the ability to read music is required. Yuko Asada directs the group, which rehearses on 12 Monday evenings.

NIUkulele Ensemble: This new ensemble offers a wide variety of music to beginning and intermediate players ages 9 to adult who want to learn to play melodies, chords and songs on the ukulele. Guitar teacher Eric Schroeder directs the group, which rehearses on 12 Monday evenings.

CSA Symphonette: This string ensemble is for string players who are ages 8 to 16. The ensemble is directed by Linc Smelser and meets on Tuesdays in the late afternoon for 12 weeks.

CSA Sinfonia: This full orchestra is for high school students ages 14 to 20. This group is directed by Linc Smelser and meets for 14 weeks on Wednesdays evenings. Players are expected to audition; call the office to ask about openings and to arrange a time.

CSJazz Band: This jazz big band is for high school players, ages 14 to 20. The ensemble is directed by Chris Johnson and meets on 13 Sunday evenings. Players are expected to audition; call the office to ask about openings and to arrange a time.

CSA Children’s Choir: This choir for children ages 7 to 15 rehearses and performs a wide variety of music. The choir is directed by Mary Lynn Doherty and meets on 14 Wednesdays. Placement auditions are scheduled for all new students on Jan. 30. Call the office to arrange a time.

CSA Guitar Ensemble: This ensemble is for ages 14 to adult. Directed by Quentin Dover, the group is for beginning and intermediate guitarists and meets on 12 Wednesday evenings.

Bring A Friend Days: The children’s choir and both orchestras welcome interested students to an open, free rehearsal early in the semester. The dates are Jan. 30 for CSA Sinfonia, Feb. 13 for CSA Children’s Choir, and Feb. 12 for CSA Symphonette.

More complete course descriptions, scheduling information, teacher bios, and forms are available online at or call 815-753-1450. The NIU Community School of the Arts is located in Room 132 of the Music Building on the campus of Northern Illinois University.

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