Students successes on recent exams

February 18, 2021

Students of piano faculty Christian Bonvin and Matylda Rotkiewicz recently took ABRSM and MTAC Certificate of Merit Exams with wonderful results. 

Bonvin’s students Kelsey Wong (age 13) and Elaine Chen (age 14) took and passed the ABRSM exams. Kelsey Wong, who is a CMC Merit Scholar, passed the grade 4 level with merit. Elaine Chen, a freshman at SOTA, passed grade 8 with distinction. Grade 8 is the last grade before the professional degree. “I was happy to finally have finished by passing grade 8,” said Chen. “I had prepared for at least half a year. I started preparing last year, but due to COVID I couldn’t do the test. I’m excited about the next grade because the pieces are more interesting. It’s a challenge for me.” 

The students who took the MTAC Certificate of Merit exams were tested on February 15. Piano faculty Matylda Rotkiewicz created a Zoom study group for two of her students, Jason Mei (age 11) and Peilin Yu (age 12), to work on the theory portion of the level 3 exam. “It was so much fun teaching them, watching  them interact, and seeing them diving into music,” Rotkiewicz reported. “No matter how high the score will be I’m so proud of them, and I’m so thankful for the support of their parents. We went from not knowing what the  difference between major and  minor was to analyzing short excerpts of music, identifying chords, inversions, intervals, primary triads, key signatures, and even cadences…Even during the pandemic we can make things happen!”

About the study groups Jason Mei said, “ It was fun because sometimes I didn’t know the answers to the questions, but my study partner did. So, it was helpful to get another person’s perspective.”

Another of Rotkiewicz’s students, Zen Wold (age 12), also took the MTAC exam. He took the level 7 test and is also applying for the MTAC State Convention Recital, which is a very prestigious honor if he’s accepted. “This is my first time taking an exam like this,” commented Wold. “I’ve only played piano for a couple years. I thought the theory was very easy. It was fun to know the answers.” For the technique and performance portion of the exam, the exercises and pieces had to be played while being filmed. Zen said, “Recording the songs and technique exercises took me hours. The pieces were really hard. I played a level 9, 20th Century piece Hesitation Tango by Samuel Barber which was different for me, since I hadn’t played contemporary music before.” The results of the MTAC exams are given in early March. 

Have a story about a CMC student who has recently taken a music exam? Feel free to share the news with Anne.

Hear Zen Wold from his performance at Virtual Field Day 2020

Welcome, Diana Jones, Mission District Branch Registrar!

February 18, 2021

CMC is delighted to welcome Diana Jones as our Mission District Branch Registrar. She brings creativity, experience, humor, and a passion for arts access to our team.  We look forward to all the ways she will help people connect with music-making and reaching their musical goals.


You’ve been with us a short time. How have you been settling in?

My first day was November 23, and it’s going well. Everyone is really kind and willing to jump in. I love that! I really like the vibe at CMC. My role as the Registrar looks different because of the pandemic; there are some of the same elements as would be present for in-person learning, but supporting the fully online experience for teachers and students presents ongoing challenges and creative opportunities. Even though it’s pretty quiet around the Mission Branch, I’ve met some of the Mission faculty in-person, and it’s been lovely. CMC has character— it feels quirky and lively— full of people with robust personalities, who are creative and fun, and who like to give of themselves and to music.


What drew you to CMC and to the Registrar role?

I’m excited to be in this role because I’m an artist and a performer. Also, I like creating structure, organizing information, and helping people connect. I love that CMC’s mission has been about making music accessible to everyone. In all my work accessibility has been at the core of what I care about. I am a brown lady, and I pride myself on building bridges and defying stereotypes, exemplifying much more than the mainstream narrative would say about me. I feel like I have the opportunity to do all those things here and help people make music by being in this role!


What are some of the things you’re most proud of so far in your career?

I’ve really enjoyed working in arts education. I am proud of the time I spent working in development with a nonprofit called Youth Alive. I am proud of the time I spent working in financial wellness. I’m proud of performing on the Globe Stage. I’m proud of finding ongoing opportunities to continue to perform in this day and age. 


What are you passionate about in your work?

I am passionate about seeing people light up and do more, achieve more, be part of more than they perceived themselves to be a part of or do. I get really excited when someone doesn’t like their job and then they tap into a project or a piece of their work that makes them light up. I really enjoy bringing disparate groups together in my work. It brings me joy.


What do you like to do in your spare time?

I’m writing a web series and taking voice lessons with Nena Aldaz. I love open water swimming, yoga, and running. During the pandemic, I took my first stand up paddle board class and I’ll probably do that some more. I have a little dog and a man I love…and we are healthy, so I am grateful and pretty content.