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A & E

NIU Community School of the Arts taking fall registration

Students at the NIU Community School of the Arts have fun, meet new friends and learn music skills they will enjoy for their whole lives.
Students at the NIU Community School of the Arts have fun, meet new friends and learn music skills they will enjoy for their whole lives.

Northern Illinois University Community School of the Arts offers music lessons and classes for children and adults of all ages. The CSA offers year-round programming for more than 500 students who come to DeKalb from nearly 50 cities, towns and suburbs to participate in classes, lessons and music ensembles.


Financial assistance is available for students age 18 or younger who want to pursue their study of music or art. The deadline for submitting a need-based scholarship application for fall 2017 is Friday, Aug. 18. CSA scholarship applications are available online and by calling the NIU Community School of the Arts.

Music lessons

The CSA offers traditional private music lessons on nearly all instruments. Music lessons using the Suzuki approach (combining private and group lessons) for young children are taught on violin, cello, piano and guitar.

Students meet with music teachers weekly in the NIU Music Building and are invited to participate in a recital at the end of each semester. To begin private music lessons the week of Aug. 28, register by Aug. 21.

Music classes for
young children

Prelude is a group music class with singing, dancing, and rhythm and music games for toddlers ages 1 to 3. Prelude class meets Saturdays from 10 to 10:30 a.m.

Development is a group music class for children ages 3 to 5 that builds upon the activities of the Prelude class, with more music activities and fun demonstrations of musical instruments. Development class meets on Saturdays from 10:35 to 11:05 a.m.

Music educator and musician Laurie Rodriguez teaches these classes, starting on Aug. 26 and meeting for 12 weeks. Early registration is recommended for these popular early music education classes.

Piano Starter for Children meets on Tuesdays from 4 to 4:40 p.m. This small group class is limited to four children ages 5 to 7 and is ideal as a beginning class for children to prepare for private music lessons. Taught by piano and violin teacher Danielle Pivonka, this class meets for 12 weeks. Once the fall class has filled, registration for the spring section will be open. The fall class starts on Aug. 29.

Group Guitar for Kids teacher Aerie Bernard introduces children ages 8 to 12 to guitar playing through a fun, song-oriented approach to learning. Exposure to music fundamentals such as scales, chords, rhythm, melody, harmony and playing technique allows students to begin building their own toolbox of musical skills, promoting confident and comfortable playing. No previous guitar experience is required, and students should bring a guitar to class. Class meets on Wednesdays from 6 to 6:55 p.m. starting Sept. 6.

Music classes for older
children and adults

Guitar Basics and Intermediate Guitar is taught by guitarist and longtime teacher Quentin Dover on Wednesday evenings. Guitar Basics meets from 6 to 6:55 p.m. and Intermediate Guitar meets from 7 to 7:55 p.m. Both classes welcome students ages 13 to adult, begin on Sept. 6, and meet for 12 weeks.

Adults learn to play piano in a fun, group atmosphere when Jaina Krueger teaches group piano classes for ages 13 to adult on Monday evenings starting Aug. 28. Square One Piano: Group Basics Class meets from 6:15 to 7 p.m. and is for beginners. Piano Forte: Building Piano Skills meets from 7 to 7:45 p.m. and is for intermediate players.

Qi Gong (or Chi-Kung) practice renews energy, releases tension, and enables relaxation and concentration. A known precursor to Tai Chi, these exercises can be done at one time during the day, or interspersed amid music practice sessions, rehearsals or other tasks. Students learn 24 postures divided into three sets during class meetings on six Mondays from 5 to 6 p.m. starting Sept. 11.

Music ensembles

Musicians share a love of music and learn to play with others through the ensemble experience. The NIU Community School offers several music ensembles, some for young musicians and others for older children and adults. Every ensemble performs in concert in the NIU Music Building at the end of each semester.

CSA Symphonette is a string orchestra for ages 8 to 16 that rehearses on Tuesdays from 4:30 to 6 p.m. Directed by Linc Smelser, this group plays lively and challenging music and performs in concert twice during the year. The first Symphonette rehearsal is on Sept. 19.

CSA Sinfonia also is directed by Smelser. This full youth orchestra meets on Wednesdays beginning Sept. 6 from 7:30 to 9:45 p.m., and admits musicians ages 14 to 20 by audition. CSA Sinfonia plays a wide variety of music and performs two concerts during the year. Call for more information about scheduling an audition.

NIUkulele Ensemble promises fun for beginning and intermediate ukulele players ages 9 to adult. This ensemble is directed by CSA teacher Eric Schroeder. Beginners receive instruction and intermediate players can play the more complicated parts. All types of ukuleles are welcome, and participants must bring an instrument and a love for playing music in a group. NIUkulele Ensemble rehearses on Mondays from 7:30 to 8:25 p.m. beginning Sept. 11.

CSA Guitar Ensemble meets to rehearse on Wednesdays from 8 to 8:55 p.m. Directed by CSA teacher and musician Quentin Dover, guitar players ages 14 to adult work on ensemble skills, build confidence and skill on the guitar, and perform two concerts during the year. The first rehearsal is Sept. 6.

CSA Steelband welcomes people to experience the unique sound of the steelpan. Directed by Yuko Asada, CSA Steelband welcomes members ages 12 to adult. No previous experience on the instrument is needed, but it is recommended that students can read music. The steelpan family ranges from soprano to bass, and each student chooses an instrument. The group plays many types of music arranged for steelpan, including calypso, classical, rock, and rhythm and blues, and performs in concert several times during the year. CSA Steelband rehearses on Mondays from 6:30 to 7:25 p.m. beginning Sept. 11.

Art classes

Art Express is for ages 4 to 12 and meets on six Saturdays from 1 to 3 p.m. beginning Sept. 16. Students learn about art and the world as they create original arts and crafts. Taught by NIU art education students supervised by an NIU School of Art instructor, the curriculum is new every semester, and the classes are organized by age and limited in size.

The NIU Community School of the Arts is sponsored by the College of Visual and Performing Arts at NIU. More information, including the scholarship application form, registration form and online registration, can be found at, or call 815-753-1450. The NIU Community School of the Arts office is in Room 132 in the NIU Music Building.

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