Register now for NIU Community School of the Arts classes

The Community School of the Arts at Northern Illinois University will offer a new Ukulele for Kids class for ages 6 to 12 this spring, private lessons on most musical instruments, and more.
The Community School of the Arts at Northern Illinois University will offer a new Ukulele for Kids class for ages 6 to 12 this spring, private lessons on most musical instruments, and more.

Spring registration is now open at the Northern Illinois University Community School of the Arts. The school offers music lessons, classes and year-round programming for children and adults of all ages.

More than 400 students come to NIU from nearly 50 cities, towns and suburbs to participate in CSA classes, lessons and music ensembles.


Financial assistance is available for students age 18 or younger who want to pursue their study of music. The deadline to submit a need-based scholarship application for spring is Jan. 10. 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, are also taught on violin, cello, piano and guitar. Many CSA teachers are music professionals in the community, some are music students or faculty at NIU, and all are committed to sharing their love for learning, music and musicianship.

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. Registered students will begin private music lessons the week of Jan. 20. 

Music Classes for children

New at the CSA is Ukulele for Kids. The ukulele’s small size and easy accessibility make it a great first instrument for kids developing their musical abilities. Participants will learn basic ukulele skills by practicing children’s songs, Disney melodies and some pop tunes. Teacher Tzu Tsen Wu has designed this class for ages 6 to 12. Students should bring a ukulele to class and all types of ukuleles are welcome. Class meets Wednesdays from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. starting Jan. 29.

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 Saturdays from 10:35 to 11:05 a.m.

Music educator and musician Laurie Rodriguez teaches Prelude and Development, starting Jan. 25 and meeting for 12 weeks. Early registration is recommended for these popular early music education classes.

Piano Starter for Children meets 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 CSA piano teacher Soo-Yon Choi, this class meets for 12 weeks starting Jan. 28.

In Group Guitar for Kids, CSA teacher Quentin Dover 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 Wednesdays from 5 to 5:55 p.m. starting Jan. 29.

Music Classes for Older Children and Adults

Guitar Basics and Intermediate Guitar classes are taught by guitarist and long-time CSA 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 begin Jan. 29, meet for 12 weeks, and welcome students ages 13 to adult.

Monday evenings starting Jan. 27, adults can learn to play piano in a fun, group atmosphere, when Soo-Yon Choi teaches group piano classes for ages 13 to adult. Beginners enroll in Square One Piano: Group Basics Class, which meets from 6:15 to 7 p.m. Piano Forte: Building Piano Skills is for intermediate players and meets from 7 to 7:45 p.m.

Qi Gong (pronounced chee-gong) is an ancient Chinese exercise and healing technique that involves meditation, controlled breathing and movement exercises. The exercises can be done at one time during a day, or interspersed amid practice sessions, rehearsals and other daily activities, to renew energy and release tension. Not for musicians only, Qi Gong also enables greater relaxation and concentration when practiced immediately before a music performance. Teacher Eric Schroeder leads class participants, focusing on 24 postures divided into three sets, during six class meetings, Mondays from 5 to 6 p.m. starting Jan. 27.

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 for young musicians and for older children and adults. Ensemble members rehearse together and perform concerts in the NIU Music Building at the end of each semester.

CSA Symphonette is a string orchestra for ages 8 to 16 that meets 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 in spring is Jan. 28.

CSA Sinfonia is directed by Linc Smelser. This full youth orchestra meets Wednesdays beginning Jan. 29 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. Admission to Sinfonia is by audition; call the CSA for more information and to schedule an audition.

NIUkulele Ensemble promises fun for all beginning and intermediate ukulele players ages 9 to adult. This ensemble is directed by CSA teacher Eric Schroeder. Beginners receive instruction, intermediate players can play the more complicated parts, and members prepare for a concert performance each semester. All types of ukuleles are welcome, and participants must bring an instrument and a love for playing music in a group. NIUkulele Ensemble rehearses Mondays from 7:30 to 8:25 p.m. beginning Jan. 27.

CSA Guitar Ensemble meets for rehearsals 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 Feb. 5.

CSA Steelband provides community members a chance to experience the unique and beautiful 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 are able to 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 rehearsals are Mondays from 6:30 to 7:25 p.m. beginning Jan. 27.

The NIU Community School of the Arts is sponsored by the College of Visual and Performing Arts at NIU. Find more information, including schedules, teacher biographies, scholarship application forms and online registration at www.csa.niu.edu, or call 815-753-1450 or visit room 132 in the NIU Music Building.

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