Published: June 11, 2015 By

students working together

The CU Middle School Ensemble Program and the new Piano for Dreamers initiative each received funding from the CU Office of Outreach and Engagement for 2015-16.

Several College of Music faculty members are getting creative with help from the CU-Boulder Office of Outreach and Engagement. Alejandro Cremaschi, David Rickels, Leila Heil and Margaret Berg received Outreach Awards to further two programs that help connect the college with the local community.

Piano pedagogy associate professor Alejandro Cremaschi says his $3,700 grant will go toward the Piano for Dreamers program. In partnership with the Boulder County I Have a Dream Foundation, the program will offer free piano classes to 28 low-income fourth and fifth graders in the coming year.

“Due to the high cost of piano lessons in the Boulder area, low-income families find it challenging or impossible to access quality piano instruction,” Cremaschi explains. “With the help of this program, students will learn to perform simple songs on the piano expressively and with good technique. They’ll also be able to compose simple pieces.”

The course will end with a recital open to parents and the public.

The $8,000 award for the music education department will go toward the Middle School Ensemble program. Hosted each spring, the program gives CU-Boulder music ed students the chance to teach local middle schoolers—from rehearsals to performances.

“The grant involves commissioning a work for combined middle school band, orchestra and choral students,” explains Assistant Professor Dave Rickels.

Rickels says there isn’t much in the repertoire for that combination, but the grant will help change that. “We’re hoping we can help foster the creation of something that will be a valuable experience for our MSE students, our CU students who teach in the program and potentially other schools and teachers in the future.”

The group has already found a composer to help create the piece, with final details still being ironed out.

Outreach Awards are given every year to fund projects that extend research, teaching and creative work through mutually beneficial partnerships with the community. This year, 37 projects across campus received funding.