CMC leads free summer arts programs for San Francisco youth

July 19, 2021
It’s a musical summer for San Francisco youth with CMC leading arts programs at the Mission District Branch and in public school in San Francisco. 

Walking past the Mission District Branch on Capp Street in July, you’ll hear the grooves of Campamento CMC / Camp CMC. “It’s been really heartwarming to watch the campers light up around the music and open up to one another,” said Chantel Hernandez, Program Coordinator and MDYMP Coordinator. Campamento CMC is happening in collaboration with the San Francisco Unified School District serving students entering the sixth through twelfth grades. The SFUSD Mariachi program, which CMC has had a hand in teaching, and SFUSD music teachers nominated students for this tuition-free camp. Faculty members Tregar Otton (MDYMP and violin faculty) and Macro Diaz (MDYMP faculty) are teaching the camp with Cuban and Mariachi music and popular repertoire like El Manisero, Almendra, and Las Mañanitas. Diaz composed a special jam called Descarga CMC for the students to learn and write vocal parts (coros) as well, providing a compositional element to the camp curriculum. 

The campers have been enjoying the many opportunities at the camp to play music together again after a very long hiatus of in-person music classes. “This was the first in-person class experience for all of the students since the pandemic,” said Hernandez about the campers. “There was a bit of hesitancy at first. By the end of the first week the older students were explaining the music charts to the younger students, students were standing up confidently for their solos, and during break times the students would group up and practice together on their own! I can’t wait to see what they all accomplish by the end of the third week.” 

“I’ve learned so much in the last five days of camp,” said Gian Velasquez, age 16 and MDYMP student. “I’m not not only getting to practice as a timbalero, but I have the opportunity to learn piano. My favorite part of the camp so far is getting to play with people again.”

Gian’s younger brother Luca is also in the camp with him and following in his brother’s footsteps as a Latin percussionist. Gian gives Luca tips and practices with him.

CMC has teaching artists in three public schools in a six-week Summer Together program in partnership with the Department of Children Youth and Families (DCYF) and Jamestown Community Center as well. Vincent de Jesus is teaching Afro-Caribbean percussion at Longfellow Elementary, Beth Wilmurt is teaching singing at Cesar Chavez Elementary, and Andrea Rodriguez is teaching dance and healing arts at Buena Vista Horace Mann.

After the many long months of music being conducted remotely, the sounds of youth playing in classes and ensembles again is lighting up the courtyard of the Mission District Branch. It’s been wonderful for CMC faculty and the students to connect musically in real-time. CMC thanks its partners for their collaboration and support.


Descarga CMC by Marco Diaz, a jam for Campamento CMC students.

Remembering Michael Jordin

May 19, 2021
By Julie Rulyak Steinberg

We are very sorry to share news of the passing of our dear faculty member, Michael Jordin.

Michael was a part of the CMC community since 1999 as a dedicated winds teacher at the Richmond Branch. He was also an active performer throughout the Bay Area and a beloved teacher at the SF Waldorf School.

Michael was deeply committed to his students, who were frequently featured in the CMC All School Recital and other special performance opportunities.

He passed peacefully in late March at home, surrounded by those he loved.

Below we are sharing some tributes from Michael’s students and colleagues. It’s clear that he was deeply loved and his presence is greatly missed.


Clarinet lesson with Michael Jordin and Leo Safir. Artwork by Stanley Goldstein, father of Leo Safir.

From Leo Safir, student:

I stood with my clarinet, while Michael sat at his keyboard to my right. I looked out from the penthouse window at the Bay Bridge, where tiny yellow headlights cut through the blue mist. Our elite audience sat in anticipation. I cocked my fedora, our signal to start, and we began to play “Harlem Nocturne”. Sweet jazz drifted through the Embarcadero flat that night. We were proud. Our gala gig is one of my many memories of Michael that I will always cherish. He was my teacher for a decade, but he was also my friend. We sight-read together in quartets and played recitals, from Michael’s living room to CMC fundraisers. He invited me to see Martin Frost, Kugelplex, and Anat Cohen. Every lesson was initiated by a check-in with Michael. From my latest adventure, to my “homies”, to my cooking, Michael was up to date with the life of Leo. Although he is no longer with me to forge more memories, I am grateful that I was able to have such an exceptional music teacher and friend.

Ellinor Hagedorn, student:
I am still in mourning about Michael’s passing. Since he is gone I have not touched my clarinet. I told my son that almost every morning when I wake up with classical music, I hear a clarinet solo, as if Michael is wagging his finger at me to start again.

I am almost 83 years old. He was always interested in my well-being. When I had to interrupt my lessons for health reasons, he was never impatient. You always felt that you were the only person he cared about when you were around him. That is a very unique quality. Every time I saw him it was a special memory. He always had news to share and was interested in my family. He was not only a teacher—and he was a fabulous teacher! It was very personal studying with him.

Michael came to my 80th birthday. A friend of mine said he knew Michael from many years before, when Michael worked at a grocery store. My friend remarked that Michael was the nicest guy they had ever met. Michael made a real impression. He was one of a kind.

From Corey Weinstein, student:

Remembering Michael

Room D at 3pm every Monday was a sanctuary of meaning. As a novitiate I always arrived early to refresh the lesson of the past week. Michael would generously play with me so I could seek to match his command of the clarinet. But first our warm up scales and arpeggios, different each time to keep my mind from thoughtless repetition. Without criticism he noticed inadequacies in my playing and chose material to challenge my lazy habits. That was his way; a kindness that was rapier sharp and demanded facing and overcoming poor playing. But it was always kindness first, combined with insightful comments on the structures and meanings of everything from technique to concertos and etudes. I would ask questions just to sit back and listen to him dip into his deep and wide well of musical history, counterpoint, harmony and nuance. To be with Michael was to enter a special place in the world and be loved just as I was. While he was always concerned with my welfare, he never talked about his personal life, except his little dog. As he did with many students, he made a special effort to attend my performances and took a seat up front to show support. Finally if we had time he would bring out duets so we could make music together, and always chose material appropriate to my skill. That made us so happy together. Michael was my nurturing clarinet mother who only had my needs and hopes in mind as he brought me lessons in music, clarinet and life. I am so much a better clarinetist and a better person as a result. Oh, I miss him. I think I’ll be working on the Bach 15 Etudes for many years just to keep him with me.

From Annelise, faculty member:
I had the privilege of knowing Michael in a variety of capacities: he was my colleague at CMC, my clarinet and recorder teacher, a fellow performer, and a friend. Michael was fascinated by music of all sorts, the arts, nature, and people. He took an extraordinary interest in his students, carving out the time to attend their concerts in the midst of his own rehearsals, performances, and teaching commitments. I experienced first hand his zeal for bringing people together to make music—my lesson would often include the student who came before me or after me (or both). Michael enjoyed finding points of connection among students in the non-musical realm, as well, providing an informal bio of each whenever he introduced one student to another.

Michael started every lesson by asking me questions about my friends and family, my goings-on, delicious meals eaten, trips planned. In his presence, I always felt valued as a person. He made sure that I was aware of any enjoyable events on the horizon: one week he would tell me about the silent film festival, the next about the de Young Museum’s Bouquets to Art—there was little happening in San Francisco that he wasn’t keenly interested in. As someone who was constantly bringing people together, Michael truly epitomized the “community” aspect of Community Music Center. Every day I think of him, and I doubt I’ll ever stop missing his exuberant grin. Thank you, Michael, for all that you gave us.

Ben Barrett, parent:
Over the last eight years, Michael taught three instruments to our two kids, and they loved him. My wife and I loved him too. How could anyone adequately describe Michael? His constant kindness, his conscientiousness; the way he connected people; the way he listened! I sat in on many lessons and so admired his memory for the details of our kids’ little biographies. He took the time to write out songs our kids liked, using a ruler to make the notes perfect. He invited us to concerts around the city. He attended our kids’ middle school performances. If there wasn’t a student waiting for the next lesson, Michael would joyfully keep the lesson going long after the hour. He was a model for our kids, for all his students, for anyone lucky to have spent time with him. My kids, now high-schoolers, both tell me they keep seeing people who look like him on the street (we used to meet him randomly at bus stops, farmers markets, etc.). They miss this lovely, incomparable man. I am so grateful that he made an indelible mark on their forming lives. May his memory live on in all of us.

Michael Jordin. Artwork by Stanley Goldstein.
Clarinet lesson with Leo Safir and Michael Jordin. Artwork by Stanley Goldstein.

How to up your Field Day fundraising

An interview with Stephen Shapiro

May 19, 2021

Stephen Shapiro is an all-star Field Day fundraiser. He was the top fundraiser for Field Day in 2019. This year, he currently leads in Virtual Field Day fundraising. Steve has some great pointers for those who might need a little encouragement and tips for asking friends and family to donate to Virtual Field Day. It’s also important to mention that Steve Shapiro was the Executive Director of CMC for 33 years. He retired in 2011. He’s no stranger to fundraising professionally and knows CMC’s work first-hand having initiated many of CMC’s core programs.

You have already raised over $3,700. How did you do it? 

Stephen Shapiro: The first principal of fundraising is that you’re not raising money for yourself. You’re asking for donations to sustain the mission of the music center—making music possible for everybody. When I, or you, keep that in mind, the anxiety of asking for money from friends and family lifts a little. The second principal of fundraising is making a match. In the case of Field Day, you’re asking for money from people who might have dual motives in giving-—to support your music-making and who want to support the cause of CMC which is to help make music possible for someone who doesn’t have the opportunity. Making a match is choosing family members and friends, who are interested in supporting your music-making journey because they know what it means to you and they also believe in the mission of the music center. The more personal you can be when emailing and talking to people, the better. I use parts of the letter that CMC provides for Virtual Field Day fundraising tips, but I make it personal. When you personalize your message to people who are close to you, it has a completely different feeling than if you’re writing something that’s more generic. Adding your story to the letter is much more meaningful than a letter that simply has language about the mission of the music center. One other important thing to keep in mind is that your love for a friend is not on the line when you ask for a donation. Whether or not they give is not a test for their friendship.

What inspires you to raise money for CMC?

Stephen Shapiro: I really believe in communities and community organizations. I think we need communities and community centers so much more than ever. A place like CMC that brings people together is a treasure. I believe in the value of the arts and community. Music and art for everybody are needed more than ever. This is something I deeply believe in. 

Any tips for fundraisers out there?

Stephen Shapiro: I would suggest you have bullet points to help ground you in the email you write or the conversation you have. The more personal you can be, by connecting your message to your own life and the things that give you joy, will touch them the most. For me, I express what music means to me—which is everything! I tell them what the opportunity to play music at a community center means to me. I share with them how I love the idea that CMC makes the opportunity to learn music possible for people who wouldn’t otherwise have that chance. I talk about how CMC is for all ages, all backgrounds, and all kinds of music. If you have a collection of bullet points that reference personal things then it will give you something to hold onto when you’re writing an email or having a phone conversation.

What are you playing in your Virtual Field Day performance?

Stephen Shapiro: I’m playing Johannes Brahms Intermezzo, Opus 118, No. 2. Faculty member Matylda Rotkiewicz helped me prepare for my performance video. I hope I did it justice!

————————————————-
Virtual Field Day
June 1–7 12noon
*Saturday, June 5 will include a special edition of CMC Young Musicians Program performances and graduation, beginning at 11am

Donate to Virtual Field Day

“What we’re listening to” with Michaela Overall: Summer Madness!

April 2021
“What we’re listening to” is a series of Spotify playlists curated by CMC faculty.

This month’s Spotify playlist is curated by piano faculty member Michaela Overall. What do Bob Marley, Bach, John Coltrane, and Barbara Steisand have in common? Michaela Overall calls her eclectic, elegant playlist “Summer Madness,” and in the video, she talks about why it’s called that and why these artists all appear together.

Anything Goes Chorus turns 40!

April 15, 2021

CMC’s oldest vocal ensemble, Anything Goes Chorus, is celebrating its 40th anniversary! Since the chorus cannot produce an anniversary concert, they put together three professional videos, the first of which has just been released.

The Anything Goes Chorus began in 1981 in Oakland and was founded and continues to be directed by vocalist, pianist, guitarist, and arranger Ellen Robinson. The chorus launched at a time when, according to Robinson, there were not many opportunities for adult music students to learn to sing in a group. The chorus found its San Francisco home at CMC in 1985. The chorus steadily grew through the years with weekly rehearsals, annual performances, and outreach concerts at retirement communities and homeless shelters. After 25 years, the chorus at CMC was divided into two groups based on level: Anything Goes Chorus I for beginners without audition and Anything Goes Chorus II by audition for singers with more experience.

Through the years, the repertoire and the curriculum of the group have changed. When the group began, Robinson was a singer-songwriter who performed folk music, with the chorus doing the same. Robinson wrote a new arrangement every week at that time. Now the group focuses mostly on jazz, Broadway, and pop music, in keeping with Robinson’s own artistic journey as a jazz vocalist and performer. Anything Goes I has become a group where singers learn not only group singing, but receive individualized instruction from Robinson. Eventually Anything Goes I members can join the second level.

Ellen Robinson, Anything Goes Chorus Founder and Director

Robinson has stayed inspired as the chorus’s director through her love of music and her continuing amazement at hearing harmony sung together by many voices. Being director has taught her many important life lessons over the years, such as patience, acceptance, focus, and organization. As Robinson says about the chorus, “It gives meaning to my life and I see before my eyes that I’m doing good in the world by helping people find their voice.”

During the COVID pandemic, the chorus like almost all CMC programs moved to Zoom. The transition to online has not been easy and has required technological learning curves. Robinson has learned to be spontaneous and intuitive as a teacher once again, finding fun in her online classes. The chorus members have received some unexpected gains from the transition to online learning such as more one-on-one work with Robinson and developing important musicianship skills like working with a metronome and note recognition and location.

In lieu of having a 40th anniversary concert, the chorus has been creating a series of professionally produced performance videos with everyone singing together. The chorus raised more than $6,000 on Go Fund Me to hire a sound engineer/video editor. For the first video to the song “Why We Sing,” Robinson taught her singers how to make quality video recordings, advising them on appropriate backgrounds, lighting, and performing for the camera. She coached her singers on practicing to the rehearsal track that the sound engineer created. Robinson reviewed multiple drafts of videos and gave feedback to her singers, until the final videos were submitted. There are two more videos in the series, which will be released this year.

Remembering Richard Daquioag

March 17, 2021

By Sylvia Sherman, Program Director

In February, CMC lost a friend and colleague. Richard Daquioag, who was a CMC alum, concert hall manager, and most recently treasured accompanist for three of CMC’s Older Adult Choirs: the Aquatic Park, OMI, and Richmond District choirs, died peacefully in his Oakland home in the arms of his partner of 35 years.

Richard is remembered fondly for his love of music, his curiosity for diverse styles of music, and his commitment to working with the community. In his roles as an older adult choir accompanist and concert hall manager, he was kind, patient and friendly with students and performers with whom he came in contact. Richard is missed! Faculty, staff, and students shared memories of Richard below. Read his obituary here. Feel free to email Anne if you have memories to add.


BETH WILMURT
This was very hard news to get. I know it has been hard for the many choir members that he became close with as well. Richard made each choir class feel like a music party with his upbeat, fun loving presence. And after the party he was that friend who listened intently to whatever was going on in your life, and always sent you on your way with the most concise, thoughtful bit of wisdom. When he played the piano in class there would inevitably be some moment that was just so ear catching and uniquely beautiful. I would often ask him what he did to make it happen, and he always had time to share his process and musical knowledge. Sometimes however, it was unexplainable, and just the magic of music pouring out of him. I feel so lucky to have witnessed these moments. I have learned so much from Richard over the years about life and music. I’m going to miss him dearly.

SHIRLEY WONG FRENTZEL
We have lost an ‘essential worker’ in Richard’s passing.  He was a dear dear friend of CMC and his kindness at the front desk welcomed students with a bright smile. While being concert manager, he not only moved chairs in the hall, but greeted young students with verbal encouragement, which extended to the few times I was privileged to be under his ‘managing’ before performances. I received winks, and high 5’s and especially his knowing hands of a shoulder massage blessing before I went on stage. Sometimes I could hear Buddhist words being whispered as well! Richard was initiated into the SF Zen Center as a lay priest. Sometimes we would share our Buddhist moments at CMC, which are some of my cherished memories of dear Richard. I do miss his passionate piano jazz licks with a Latin kick. R.I.P. Richard!

CHUS ALONSO
It makes me very sad to hear about the passing of Richard Daquoiag, the coolest guy! What a loss! He was the impersonation of the CMC hero: a real community builder, a creative spirit with music in his blood, and a compassionate and generous person. I always enjoyed having him around. He always made insightful contributions to the conversation. He was part of my CMC ensemble, Potingue, at the end of the nineties and the beginning of the century (PICTURE BELOW). And, in the years after, he supported Potingue’s concerts as concert manager. I have very fun memories of him. I don’t know much about his personal story, but I am sure it was an interesting one. My sincere condolences to his family and friends, and to all of us in the CMC community.

 

JANET HOUSER
It was a bright part of Tuesdays here at RDB when Richard would arrive to accompany the Older Adult Choir.  Joyous sounds came from the Grand Piano Room when he played.

LINDA HITCHCOCK
I was greatly saddened by the news of Richard’s death. I will always remember him as an outstanding concert hall manager, talented musician, and caring friend. His compassion, love of music, and dedication to others was always evident as he went about his daily activities with patience, good humor, and kindness to everyone. He will be sorely missed.

MARIA CORA
So sad to hear this…Richard was a sweet man and I am honored to have known and worked with him. My heart goes out to his partner, his family and friends, and to Beth. 

ANNE MITCHELL
He lived such a beautiful life. His obituary is moving. I remember Richard through the devotion of the Older Adult Choir members who absolutely adored him. It’s quite a thing to bring joy and happiness to others. 

Older Adult Choir Member memories:

People shared fond memories of Richard’s last performance with the choir, when he played for their Christmas concert and surprised them by singing at the end!


One choir member remembers Richard being very down to earth and always 100% present when talking.

2019. Yerba Buena Gardens Festival. Aquatic Park Older Adult Choir. Photo: Judy Rosenfeld


Another choir member remembers talking about jazz of the old days – on the 19 bus after choir session. Others recounted what a joy it was to hear Richard  accompany one of the choir members during the session break on two favorite songs in particular “I’ll be Around” and “Again.”


Several choir members went to see Richard play in different clubs – and remarked on what a great performer he was and how he got people to sing with his trio!

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.

Musical haiku project helps YMP students reflect on current times

Karman Liang demonstrates the musical haiku composing process during a YMP Zoom workshop. 

February 17, 2021

By Sylvia Sherman, Program Director

Last spring, Teen Jazz Orchestra Director Marcus Shelby started a musical reflection process in his class to elicit responses from his students to the COVID-19 pandemic, the shelter-in-place lockdown, and racial justice protests, helping students to connect those responses to musical vocabulary as building blocks toward composition.

This winter, CMC’s Young Musicians’ Program is drawing from this experience to shape its annual composition project. On January 9, YMP Coordinator, Katie Wreede shared a framework for the project with Young Musicians Program middle and high school students to create “musical haikus.” That day, Berkeley poet Alan Bern did a brief presentation for the students emphasizing the importance of painting a picture with words and shared his own COVID-19 musical Haiku. YMP faculty member Christian Bonvin offered some of his prior compositions created from musical haikus. Then YMP student leader, Karman Liang shared a haiku she had developed in advance of this presentation to demonstrate with Katie Wreede how the composition process would work for the students. Karman started by sharing her poem:

This is a grim time.
Stress, fear, and loneliness loom.
But we’ll rise above.

In Karman’s words, “I wanted this poem to reflect on what many people, including myself, have felt during the pandemic but also to be a message of hope, because we will all overcome this battle together.”

Karman and Katie modeled how to create a musical reflection from the intent of the poem. Katie led the students through a “response” process in which they gave one word emotional responses to Karman’s poem. She next invited the students to share how to musically represent each word. From this process, Karman was given various kinds of musical sounds to create, such as long notes, low notes, low notes with tremolo, and high notes at the end to reflect the more hopeful ending of her poem.

Following this workshop and through the help of their theory teachers, each YMP student has worked on developing their own musical haiku, which were recently shared in an informal listening.

Following the workshop, we asked Karman Liang to reflect on her process of writing a haiku.

“I had three simple goals in mind when I was writing my haiku poems: short, vivid, and somewhat current. Since it was recommended that these haikus are based on current events, I drew inspiration from my experiences during COVID isolation and how it has affected me. For example, I asked myself how I was staying grounded or how I have survived distance learning.

“The writing process was a chance for me to sit down and reflect on everything that has happened to me during this pandemic. I reflected on the positive aspects of it, such as hiking through the serene forests, and the more negative aspects, such as feeling very anxious and lonely amid shelter-in-place. I also gave myself a very small timeframe to write each poem to avoid overthinking them. As I thought and wrote, I began to develop a deeper understanding of my experiences during these strange times. For me, translating my thoughts into haiku poems was a really interesting way to express them. All in all, I enjoyed the whole process of writing these haikus.”

“This is the haiku I chose to musicalize, which reflects how I felt during the dreadful summer:

The same off-white walls
The same worrisome thoughts
Suffocated by it all

“To be able to musicalize this haiku, I needed to have compositional elements to work with. I did that by turning descriptive words of the poem into musical terms. First, I thought of words describing how the haiku made me feel. The first line gave off a bored and lonely mood and the second and third lines made me feel pain and heaviness. After that, using the words bored, lonely, pain, and heaviness, I started to think about musical elements that reflected these terms. The words bored and lonely made me think of slow, smooth, soft, which translates to legato, adagio, and piano, in musical vocabulary. The words pain and heaviness reminded me of trembling and loud, which is put as tremolo and forte, in musical terms. With this information, I was ready to begin composing a motif.”