The Community Music School offers affordable lessons for all


Courtesy of the Community Music School

Many university faculty have enrolled their children into lessons with the Community Music School to learn how to play a variety of instruments.

Situated in a corner in Pottle Music Building’s second floor is the Community Music School, a school that gives private music lessons for voice and various instruments.

The school provides lessons to people of all ages and skill levels. Jivka Duke, a professional violinist, is the Interim Director of the CMS.

Duke elaborated on the people who take courses with the CMS.

“The students do not need to be associated with Southeastern as college students, or as an employee in order to take advantage of the program, and there are no age limits,” said Duke. “We have students from the Hammond and the surrounding communities who are as young as three years of age and as old as retirement age.”

The lessons start at $280 for 13 weeks of one 30-minute course per week with a student instructor, which is about $21 per lesson. The lessons can be up to $400 for the same 13-week course with a university faculty member.

The courses can vary in length, depending on what the student wants. Duke discussed the options and lengths of the courses.

“The individual lessons can be 30 minutes, 45 minutes or 60 minutes according to the students’ preferences, and they take place once a week for thirteen weeks in the fall and spring semester and for seven weeks in the summer,” said Duke. “Our five-week strings orchestra class consists of 60-minute sessions.”

For commuter students and people not in the immediate vicinity of Hammond, there are satellite locations where students can take lessons.

“We do have two satellite locations, the Livingston Parish Literacy and Technology Center in Walker and the NTCC in Lacombe,” said Duke.

In the fall of 2020, the CMS will be celebrating its 25th anniversary. With the program having been a part of the Hammond community for so long, Duke commented on what she likes most about her position.

“It is a great honor to be leading an organization that is raising the next generation of young musicians,” said Duke. “It gives me a great sense of accomplishment to see our students’ musical skills grow and become more and more elaborate from year to year and their talent shines brighter with each performance.”

Students are able to take lessons for a variety of instruments. With the CMS being located in Pottle, there are plenty of instructors for a number of instruments. Duke shared what kind of instruments are the most common choices for students.

“The most popular instruments among our students are piano, violin, guitar, viola, cello, clarinet, saxophone and voice,” shared Duke. “The school is part of Southeastern Louisiana University, and its main location is in the Pottle Music Building on Southeastern’s campus.”

Duke shared her appreciation for the instructors that teach these courses.

“I am very grateful for a wonderful roster of experienced and dedicated instructors who do an amazing job nurturing all of our students’ musical gifts, helping them reach their goals and dreams,” said Duke.

Sophomore music major Joshua Hebert was one of those instructors. Hebert shared what he gained from instructing with the CMS.

“Working with CMS allowed me to get in-person experience for specific teaching techniques,” said Hebert. “After teaching the middle school summer camp, I had a much clearer understanding of how to work with kids.”

For many instructors, it gives a chance to reach out and be a part of the community and lets them see what their future profession might be like.

“I really loved getting a chance to work with people younger than myself,” said Hebert. “It let me get a taste of what my dream profession will be like, and it lets me help the next generation of musicians.”