This article is part of the Community MusicWorks “View from a Fellowship” monthly series. Ms. Latessa is a cellist and first-year CMW fellow.
We know that Santa’s not real because Mommy told us when she was mad at us!
This proclamation came from a smiling eight year old at the end of her cello lesson right before winter break at the end of December. Her brother, sitting on the other side of the room, immediately began to laugh; and their mother, looking a bit sheepish, also began to giggle.
“Yes,” said their Mom, “it’s true.” It was a moment of genuine love and happiness that also reflected basic realities of life: sometimes moms get angry, sometimes children discover secrets.
I remember that when I first visited CMW as a participant in IMPS (the Institute for Musicianship and Public Service), I had two basic impressions of place. First of all, I was awed by the strength of the organization, how smoothly things ran and how connected the faculty was with their students. My second impression was how much everyone at CMW laughed! Meetings, meals, lessons, rehearsals: the weekend was filled with laughter. Now that I have finished my first 3 months in the fellowship program, I am starting to realize that this laughter is more than a side-effect of the CMW experience. It is a core element of the community! I find it not only in my students’ stories, but throughout the organization. It represents and reinforces a level of comfort and friendliness that is shared by all.
CMW is one of the few arts organizations I’ve been a part of that has cultivated this level of joy. That’s why it caught me by surprise when I first visited as an IMPS participant a few years ago. I think it speaks to the essence of our mission here, something that is a basic truth of life: The fun is in the journey – the mistakes, the rehearsing, the learning and growing. We might as well enjoy it and laugh as we move forward!
Community MusicWorks is a community-based music performance and education program that provides free violin, viola, and cello lessons for students who live in the West side neighborhoods of Providence, RI. Its structure, as a storefront residency for professional musicians in an urban neighborhood, has become a new model of successful urban arts education over the past fifteen years. CMW’s Founder and Artistic Director, Sebastian Ruth, was a recipient of a MacArthur Foundation fellowship in 2010 for his work “forging a new, multifaceted role beyond the concert hall for the twenty-first-century musician.” Community MusicWorks offers four two-year positions to young professional musicians looking to gain a deeper understanding of the CMW model.