Community Music School honors young musicians


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The Community Music School is dedicated to recognizing the talents of young artists. Brennan and Alana Saenz exemplified that by winning the Sinfonia Division of the Greater New Orleans Youth Orchestras.

The university’s Community Music School gave accreditation to Charlie Byrd who plays the piano, Jonah Blades who plays the violin, Natalie Fulks who plays the piano, Katie Miranda who plays the bassoon and piano and Alana Saenz who plays both piano and violin.

These five musicians were named the CMS Outstanding Musicians for the fall of 2018. The audience members, who were asked to circle the names of their three favorite performers in each recital program, determined the winners. As a reward, the students with the highest number of votes from each of the recitals were announced as the Outstanding Musicians for the fall 2018 semester and were featured in the CMS press release.

Jivka Duke, CMS director, explained the significance of letting the audience choose the winners and the great pride that comes with the rewards allocated to the winners.

“Having been chosen by the audience is a confirmation for our young musicians that they are moving in the right direction in their musical endeavors,” said Duke. “Being featured in a press release is a moment of pride and joy for the students, parents and teachers alike. To earn the title Outstanding Musician and to see their hard work pay off is an incredibly rewarding experience.”

Duke described how the Outstanding Musicians program has boosted creativity and promoted performers to go all out.

“The Outstanding Musicians program has become our tradition, and it is unique in the way that it gives a little competitive edge to the recitals, which encourages the students to practice hard and perform at their best,” stated Duke.

According to Duke, CMS aims to push students to reach their greatest heights.

“We always strive to bring out the best in our students,” explained Duke. “We put a great effort into providing a quality instruction that allows each student’s talent to develop and shine at its brightest. Our students know and understand that putting on a great performance involves practice and effort on their part, but they also know that the end result is beautiful, meaningful and it is worth the effort they put into it. When performing at the recitals, the students are as proud of the musical skills they have acquired as we are.”

Fulks started playing the piano in June 2018, and her mother, Mindy Fulks, said that they were all “shocked that she was able to learn so many songs to play at the recital.”

Mindy Fulks described her daughter as a self-motivated person who tries her best at everything she does.

“Natalie loves playing the piano so much that she practices just about every day without being asked to,” said Mindy Fulks. “She also listens to piano music when she goes to bed at night.”

Alana Saenz is 9 years old and attends Magnolia Trace Elementary where she is a member of the 3rd grade choir. She started playing violin when she was 6 and began playing the piano when she was 7.

Diana Saenz, Alana Saenz’s mother, always encourages her to follow her dreams.

“I tell her she can do anything she wants to, but that it will always take hard work,” stated Diana Saenz. “She is auditioning for the St. Tammany Parish Talented Music Program at the end of this January. She told me she really wants to get in. I encourage her to do her best, and when she shows an interest in something, like a choir or orchestra, I do my best to help her.”

Duke shared that the CMS encourages its students to dare to dream big and put in the effort to achieve a goal.

“The message we want to send to the younger generation of musicians is that they can accomplish anything they are willing to work for,” said Duke. “The effort is always followed by success, and unless they quit, sooner or later they will succeed.”

For more information about the Community Music School’s spring 2019 programs and general registration, call 985-549-5502, or visit the CMS website at