Home Features AZ Giving AZ Giving: Community Music @ the Center

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Remember creating meaningful art and music projects in school? Those exciting moments during our childhood helped make us who we are today; creative, bold and expressive adults. Now, kids face looming budget cuts, tuition increases and teacher shortages that threaten their very development.  Art and music are not only important to children — our entire community benefits everyday from talented people who enjoy playing an instrument or painting a picture. And of course, most of us enjoy simply, “turning on and tuning out” with a great pair of headphones listening to our favorite musician. Fortunately, the arts are still alive and well throughout the Valley of the Sun. From live musical performances to educational opportunities and thought-provoking curriculum, there is something for everyone. 

Responsible for hitting all the right notes through a partnership program is Community Music @ the Center (CM@C). Launched in 2016, the series allows participants to engage in affordable music classes, such as singing, songwriting, creation of beats and learning to play instruments. The Phoenix Center for the Arts (PCA), Arizona State University’s (ASU), Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts (HIDA) and School of Community Resources (SCR), came together for this initiative.

Rob Koehler, program director of CM@C, and Roger Mantie, assistant professor of music education at ASU’s HIDA, discussed the development of the series with AZ Foothills. The origin of the project started when Dale Larsen, of the School Resources and Development, set up a meeting with me, Joseph Benesh and Leah Roberts. “Joseph and I followed up with a series of discussions, I submitted a Herberger Project Grant, and the rest is history,” says Koehler. “The program started out from a desire on the part of the PCA to expand its music service offerings to the community and a desire on part of ASU to provide instructional expertise aimed at serving the Downtown Phoenix community.”