CMC choirs receive local and national recognition

CMC’s choirs and the choir program have been recognized in several ways this summer! The 30th Street Senior Center included its older adult choir in its beautiful new mural which had its unveiling this month. CMC’s Older Adult Choir Program was honored with an award by the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (n4a). Grantmakers in the Arts features an article about the program on its website and newsletter.  We are proud to share the model of this program with others on a national level!

Mural unveiling portraying 30th Street Older Adult Choir

This past weekend, the 30th Street Older Adult Choir performed as part of a mural unveiling at the 30th Street Senior Center. The mural was created by the center’s senior community in partnership with Precita Eyes artists. The 30th Street Senior Center has a long history of supporting the arts and creativity for older adults. The mural reflects this dedication by vividly depicting the 30th Street Older Adult Choir in their signature royal blue stolls flanked by Martha Rodríguez Salazar (conductor), Jennifer Peringer (accompanist), Lisa Larribeau (flutist), and Leo Suarez (bassist), in addition to many engaged and active senior center members.

“It was inspiring to see the choir depicted in the mural as a reflection of the important role they play in the 30th Street community,” said Sylvia Sherman, CMC Program Director, “It was great to see District 8 Supervisor Rafael Mandleman there, along with a packed audience in the exquisite garden. The choir sang beautifully.”

Grantmakers in the Arts publishes article featuring Older Adult Choir Program

Grantmakers in the Arts, a national network of arts funders that support the growth of the arts and culture, recently featured an article on its website about CMC’s Older Adult Choir Program and the Community of Voices (COV) study.  “Joyful Singing, Healthy Living: How Community Choirs Benefit Older Adults and Contribute to Age-Friendly Cities” was written by Sylvia Sherman, CMC Program Director; Shireen McSpadden, DAAS Executive Director; and Julene K. Johnson PhD, Professor at the UCSF Institute for Health & Aging and UCSF Center for Aging in Diverse Communities, principal investigator of Community of Voices research study . The article shares the innovative and creative approach to providing a high-quality, culturally responsive, older-adult choir program designed to help reduce loneliness and increase interest in life for older adults. The article also provides information and resources for those interested in learning more about developing community choirs. The COV study, supported by a grant to UCSF from the National Institute on Aging (award numbers R01AG042526 and P30AG15272), found that singing in a choir reduced loneliness and increased an interest in life. CMC’s Older Adult Choir Program, which expanded through this study, continues to grow and supports the emotional and creative well-being more than 400 older adults in San Francisco. The publication of this article by Grantmakers in the Arts is a wonderful recognition of the impact of creative aging programs and the value of the older adult choir program model and resources developed through the Community of Voices study and CMC’s Older Adult Choir Program.

Older Adult Choir Program receives national award 

CMC’s Older Adult Program is being honored with an award by the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (n4a). The choir program and the agencies providing it are receiving an Aging Achievement Award in the Social Engagement category. The award will be given at the n4a national conference on July 28 in New Orleans to a team from the San Francisco Department of Aging and Adult Services (DAAS), including DAAS Executive Director Shireen McSpadden and DAAS Deputy Director of Community Services Cindy Kaufman, along with CMC Program Director Sylvia Sherman and CMC Older Adult Choir Program Coordinator María Cora. Many thanks to the City and County of San Francisco, Department of Aging and Adult Services who nominated the choir program for an award.

Save the date: “Getting There Together” 

CMC Older Adult Choirs from across San Francisco will gather in song at the first annual “Getting There Together: A Celebration of All Ages and Abilities.” The event is Sunday, September 8, 2019 from 11am–4pm in the San Francisco Civic Center, and is presented by CASE (Coalition of Agencies Serving the Elderly) in partnership with Livable City/Sunday Streets, Department of Aging and Adult Services, Age and Disability Friendly San Francisco, and the Dignity Fund Coalition.


Strength in numbers: The benefits of group classes at CMC, an interview with Erik Andersen

“It’s easier than you think. You’re connected to a larger community through your class. You won’t be doing it alone.”
Erik Andersen, CMC faculty member (cello, Cello Ensemble and Technique,  Introduction to Viola da Gamba, YMP, MDB Chamber Music Camp Director)


Group classes and ensembles at CMC can be the next important step in honing hard-won skills developed through private lesson study. Group classes and ensembles are unique learning environments where students from diverse musical backgrounds play music together. They are musical communities of mutual support and encouragement.

CMC faculty member Erik Andersen teaches the Cello Ensemble and Technique and Introduction to Viola da Gamba group classes, both of which cater to beginning music students. He is the Mission Branch Chamber Music Camp Director and is part of the faculty for the Young Musicians Program. He also teaches private cello lessons. Since Erik teaches all ages and all levels of private lessons, group classes, and ensembles, he has valuable perspectives on the benefits of group learning.

Group classes as stepping stones
From Erik’s perspective, private lessons, group classes, and ensemble-playing complement one another, inherently reinforcing and utilizing many of the same skills. However, the group class experience has the added benefit of group learning through playing music together. Trying something new and difficult for the first time as a group, can take some of the pain out of the learning process. Playing in a group class can also teach important skills a student will need when they’re ready to try an ensemble, like blending and framing the overall sound with your playing. A group music class can be a crucial stepping stone between private lesson study and a larger ensemble. Playing in a music ensemble, a student can learn other unique skills like supporting the larger sound while being the only instrument of your type (in the case of a cellist in a chamber group) or following a conductor (in the case of a larger ensemble like the String Orchestra Workshop). The inherent vulnerability of putting yourself out there that exists in ensemble playing, is an exciting and rewarding experience for music students.

Erik’s student Susie Zacharias shared her first-hand perspectives transitioning from the group class experience to the large ensemble String Orchestra Workshop, “In Erik’s group cello class, I am learning different cello techniques that profit from practicing in a group. I consider it a very efficient way of learning new things on the cello. For the string orchestra (since I’ve only been playing three years) it’s like being thrown into the deep end of the pool and you just swim. For me it’s invaluable also in a different way from the group class—you gotta keep going! Don’t overly worry what it sounds like. And since I want to play ensemble, this is what I need. It’s so much fun.”

The musical community of a group class
From Erik’s point of view, a group class that caters to beginners or beginners with some basic skills, is a fun environment of mutual support and learning. Especially at CMC, a music student can expect to be in a group class with students from all musical backgrounds and training. For Erik, this diverse learning environment is wonderful. He enjoys witnessing his students encouraging and supporting one another. As Erik says, “The group class can be unique. Where else can you get support and sympathy from your peers, who are also trying to learn the same challenging skills as you are?”

Erik’s student Greg King shared his personal experiences about the benefits of playing in a group class,“I have found the teachers at CMC inspiring whether private lessons on the cello with Erik or theory classes with Jono Kornfeld. They both make learning music a joy. The added benefit are the other students in my group classes. Each of us comes from either different instruments or musical interests, and that adds to the experience.”

For people interested in learning an instrument from scratch, such as the Baroque viola da gamba in Erik’s class Introduction to Viola da Gamba, he is encouraging, “It’s easier than you think. You’re connected to a larger community through your class. You won’t be doing it alone.”

Registration for Fall Quarter classes opens August 5. To make an appointment to register, visit, or enroll online where available.

Meet Jose Hernandez, CMC’s new Associate Registrar

Interview: Jose Hernandez, Associate Registrar

We have a new face at our Mission District Branch. Help us welcome Jose Hernandez as CMC’s new Associate Registrar. Jose brings his passion for music, arts access, and social justice to his work. He is also an accomplished tenor appearing in local opera productions, in addition to playing many other musical instruments.


What’s your background?
I’m from a small town near Fresno. I’ve been singing my whole life. I grew up playing piano in church, singing in church, and in my highschool choir. I had a great choral music teacher, who had a good understanding of the voice. Even though the school was rural and small, we had excellent choral training and sang some difficult pieces. Not what you’d expect from a farm town school! She encouraged me to pursue music. I came to San Francisco in 1992 to get a music degree. I’m a tenor, and I’ve been singing professionally since 1998. 

I’ve worked with non-profits for a long time. I’ve been on the receiving end of non-profit services and at a certain point, I became really interested in working on behalf of organizations with a social mission. I’ve worked with organizations who help people address health issues, such as HIV advocacy and outreach. A few years after working for non-profits, I found myself working for an orchestra, which led me to go back to school to finish my music degree in 2001. I lived in New Orleans and studied with Raquel Cortina at University of New Orleans. Then I moved to Houston and got a Masters of Music at the University of Houston. In Houston, I performed with the Houston Grand Opera (HGO) Chorus. I came back to San Francisco, and am now finishing up a masters degree in jurisprudence in labor and employment law online through Tulane University. 


What are some of your career highlights?
One of my most memorable experiences was performing at Houston Grand Opera in Aida, and the staging was such that I was able to stand next to one of my favorite opera singers, Dolora Zajick who performed the role of Amneris. It was a powerful feeling standing next to the enormity of her sound. She was lovely and great to chat with too! Another highlight was getting a call out of the blue to sing a concert with Ben Folds at the Houston Symphony. 


How did you first come to CMC?
In the 90’s, when I was applying to go back to school, they required a recording, so I came to CMC to record my audition tape. 


What drew you to the position?
My first love is music. I am also a strong believer in providing educational opportunities. It’s a no brainer for me to be part of a music school. I always knew I’d be involved in music education in some way. 


How is it going so far?
I started on July 1. So far, it’s going great! It’s good to see all the happy faces headed to their lessons. 


What are you passionate about in your work?
I am very happy to be here working at an organization that provides music training for the local community and serves all ages. I love that CMC offers and teaches music in Spanish. CMC’s Latin music program is great. It really makes me happy to hear the music. 


What do you like to do in your spare time?
I’m finishing up my graduate degree. I finish in August. Once I have free time again, I’ll enjoy going to the theater and symphony. I like seeing movies. I also want to start volunteering at an organization that serves LGBTQ asylum seekers. My next performance is with Pocket Opera doing the Barber of Seville on July 21 in Palo Alto and on July 28 in San Francisco at the Legion of Honor.