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Community School of the Arts plans
several classes, ensembles for spring

Community School of the Arts

Suffering from the winter blues? Try an age-old tonic with a new venture and enroll in art, music or theater classes, lessons and ensembles.

The NIU Community School of the Arts offers a variety of arts programming for all age groups. All activities are held on campus.

For a complete listing of class and ensemble offerings and information about teachers and prices, visit For more information, contact Renee Page at (815) 753-1450.


Art Express (ages 4 to 12) is a creative adventure for children. Divided into classes by age, the groups create exciting art projects in this five-week class that meets at 1 p.m. Saturdays, beginning Jan. 30.


Private music lessons on all instruments are taught on a weekly basis in the Music Building. Teachers are students and faculty in the NIU School Music, as well as community artists; all are specialists in the instrument they teach. Suzuki music lessons on violin, piano and guitar are for children ages 4 to 8 who have not yet studied an instrument. The Suzuki method focuses on learning to play the instrument by ear and has been used successfully all over the world. 


Piano Players (ages 6 to 8) is a small group class for beginning piano players that is a great way to start a child on the piano. The class is limited to four children and meets at 4:30 p.m. Tuesdays beginning Jan. 26. The teacher is children’s music specialist Barbara Wirz-Ellsworth.

Three Saturday classes for pre-school children begin Jan. 16. Prelude (ages 1 to 3) uses songs, dances, rhythm and music games to give children a great beginning music class. The class meets at 10 a.m. Development (ages 3 to 5) takes the activities in Prelude one step further. The class meets at 10:35 a.m. Music Time for Siblings (ages 1 to 5) brings siblings together for a beginning music class. This class meets at 11:15 a.m. Teaching all three classes is early education specialist and violin teacher Laurie Rodriguez.


CSA Children’s Choir (ages 8 to 13) is a chorus for children who love to sing and enjoy singing different kinds of music. Challenging and varied repertoire inspires children in this fast-paced and fun ensemble. No auditions are necessary. Children’s choir expert Mary Lynn Doherty leads the group at 4:30 p.m. Wednesdays. “Bring A Friend Day” is Wednesday, Jan. 13: All those interested in trying the group are invited to a free rehearsal.

Symphonette (ages 8 to 16) is an ensemble for intermediate string players. Challenging and fun music make this group enjoyable and a great educational experience. Conductor and cellist Linc Smelser teaches the class at 5 p.m. Tuesdays beginning Feb. 2. “Bring A Friend Day” is Tuesday, Feb. 2: All those interested in trying the group are invited to a free rehearsal.


CSA Sinfonia (ages 14 to 20) is a full orchestra for high school students. Music is by Beethoven, Brahms, Bach and the Beatles! Admission is by audition only; call the office at (815) 753-1450 to learn about openings in this semester’s group. Rehearsals are at 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays beginning Jan. 20. Conductor Linc Smelser is the director.

Group Piano for Adults (ages 18 to adult) is for those who want to experience the joys of learning to play the piano. Taught in a state-of-the-art piano lab in the Music Building, the class is for beginners with no prior piano experience or who have forgotten long-ago piano lessons. Piano teacher Susan Breitner-Hurm teaches the class at 6:15 p.m. Mondays beginning Feb. 1.

Paper Free Music Theory (ages 12 to adult) introduces music theory skills such as reading, memorization and improvisation. Students bring their instruments to class. Guitar teacher Eric Schroeder instructs the class that meets at 6 p.m. Mondays beginning Feb. 1.

CSA Brass Ensemble (ages 13 to 18) is a chamber experience for players of the trumpet, French horn, trombone, baritone and tuba. Experienced band director Gene Vanden Bosch directs the ensemble that meets at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays beginning Feb. 4.


A variety of guitar classes is available that includes classes for acoustic and electric guitar,

Guitar Basics shares the fundamentals of guitar for adults and teens ages 9 and older. Beginning Wednesday, Feb. 3, the class meets for 12 Wednesdays. Section One is for children ages 9 to 12 and meets from 5 to 5:55 p.m. Section Two is for ages 13 and older and meets from 6 to 6:55 p.m. Teacher Quentin Dover is a graduate of NIU, where he majored in music and studied with Fareed Haque. He has taught guitar lessons and class to children and adults for many years.

Guitarists who would like to experience an ensemble experience are invited to join the CSA Guitar Ensemble. The curriculum will be adapted to the skills students bring to class and is for ages 9 to adult. The group meets from 7 to 7:55 p.m. for 12 Wednesdays beginning Feb. 3. Dover directs the ensemble.

Electric Guitar for Beginners and Intermediate Players are two classes for those ages 14 and older. The intermediate class is for those with limited experience on the instrument or for those who took the beginning class in fall. 

Both classes meet for six Tuesdays. The intermediate class begins Jan. 12 and the beginning class begins March 2. Both classes meet from 7 to 7:55 p.m. Teacher Lisa Baker is a graduate student in the NIU School of Music where she studies with Haque. She has taught and performed for many years in Nashville.

Baker also is teaching a new short course this spring, Flash Guitar Techniques, for ages 14 to adult who want to learn some special electric guitar techniques, such as speed picking, heavy metal, clean tapping and raking. Beginning and intermediate players are welcome. The class meets from 6 to 7:55 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 9.


Does your child enjoy the dramatic? Does he make up stories? Does she have a vivid imagination? Theatre Boot Camp, a new class, promises to be a great learning experience and a lot of fun. 

The class meets in the Music Building on the NIU campus from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. for three Saturdays beginning Jan. 16. Children ages 8 to 13 learn to make dramatic choices, interpret text, show emotions, gain focus and understand what it means to take a risk on stage. Directed theater games and activities help children learn more about the fine points of being on stage.

Teacher Alice Pacyga is an actor, improviser and drama teacher who received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in fine arts in acting from NIU. She has taught acting and improvisation for Prologue Theater, LifeLine Theater Co. Outreach, the Improv Playhouse, and for several schools in the Chicago suburbs. She has taught at the NIU Theatre Arts camps for many years.