Meet Andy Huber: CMC Senior Staff Accountant

Interview: Andy Huber, CMC Senior Staff Accountant

Over the summer, we welcomed a new member to the CMC community. Andy Huber started as Senior Staff Accountant in July. Like so many staff, in addition to being a nonprofit professional, he’s also a wonderful musician. If you see Andy around the building say “Hi!”

What’s your background?
I went to school for Music Education and Acting focusing on voice, choir teaching, and conducting. While I was an undergrad, I interned at Michigan State University Community Music Center. That’s where I became familiar with the administrative side of community music schools. In the last semester of my undergrad, I student taught a middle school choir. I learned to value educators, but decided not to pursue music education as a career. I moved to New York, and after a quick stint as an intern at a classical music artist PR firm, started out as a registrar at Turtle Bay Music School in New York, which is a community music school similar to CMC. From there, I got an “on the job” education in community music organizational life. I learned business management from a colleague who mentored me, becoming the Business Manager of Turtle Bay, managing all financial, accounting and human resources functions.

How did you first come to CMC?
After being at Turtle Bay Music School for five years, I was looking forward to something new and to expand my horizons. It was an exciting step to move from New York to the Bay Area.

What are you passionate about in your work?
I’ve been a both a musician and a music student. I value paying musicians, and I like that my job is paying musicians on a regular basis. The fact that CMC is a place that provides a livelihood for musicians and is a place for people to learn music is something I take pride in.

One of the other things I feel passionately about is working at a vibrant center for people to receive a music education, when the arts often don’t exist in the classroom. Cities need a resource like CMC to provide an arts education, where it otherwise might not be accessible.

How is going so far?
After being in Michigan and then New York, the Bay Area weather is consistent, which I like. The amount of programming and assistance CMC provides says a lot about what’s at the heart of this organization. The fact that CMC works very hard to provide both quality programming and tuition assistance is great.

What do you like to do in your spare time?
I like to jog. I love eating interesting cuisine. I live in Berkeley, which is optimal for eating out. I like to play video games. I listen to a lot of podcasts and NPR. My favorite podcasts are the Vergecast, The Brian Lehrer show on WNYC, and Spilled Milk where comedians talk about food. Very funny!

Don’t bite off more than you can chew: Practice tips from CMC faculty Erik Pearson

Erik Pearson teaches CMC students how to play guitar, banjo, and ukulele at CMC. Erik works with students of all levels and has tried and true methods of helping students to progress.

From the series: Practice Tips from Community Music Center Faculty

Don’t bite off more than you can chew

  • Don’t bite off more than you can chew.
  • Maximize your focus by developing an aware mind while practicing/playing.
  • Identify your stumbling blocks (passages, licks, transitions) and focus on those in concentrated bites.
  • Always play in a groove, in rhythm, even if it has to be very slow.
  • Work on these things and walk away for a while.
  • Don’t overwrite the progress you’ve made by trying to cram a bunch of other issues into one session.
  • Don’t be afraid of repetitions!

Bonus Tip!
Erik teaching Sugar Babe on banjo.

CMC launches neighborhood jam series at Bissap Baobab

On Tuesday October 16, CMC launched a new jams series at Bissap Baobab just around the corner from the CMC Mission Branch. Led by Eduardo Corzo with Miguel Govea, CMC students from the Charanga Ensemble, Teen Jazz Orchestra, Latin Vocal Workshop, and Jazz Ensembles participated along with other CMC faculty and staff.

The Tuesday night jam focused on Latin music with pieces that included Sabor a Mi, Philly Mambo, Blue Bossa, El Cuarto de Tula, Girl from Ipanema, Autumn Leaves, Footprints, Wave, Obsesion and more.

CMC Jams continue monthly the first and third Tuesday of the month alternating with jazz music jams led by Charlie Gurke on the first Tuesday and Latin music jams led by Eduardo Corzo on the third Tuesday.

CMC Program Director Sylvia Sherman who attended the jam had great things to say about the session, “Bissap Baobab is a fun place to gather—with great food and drink. We were happy to see folks from the neighborhood. We welcome musicians to sit in and audience members to come listen. Bring your instrument!”

The next jam is Tuesday, November 6, led by CMC Jazz Ensemble Director Charlie Gurke.

Community Music Center Music Jams at Bissap Baobab
3372 19th Street, San Francisco (between Capp and Mission Streets)
1st Tuesday – Jazz Jam with Charlie Gurke
3rd Tuesday – Latin Music Jam with Eduardo Corzo


Starting a Mindful Practice Routine: Practice tips from CMC faculty Rachel Condry

Rachel Condry is clarinet faculty and the Chamber Music Coordinator and one of the chamber music coaches. Through her many years of teaching, she has developed a mindful practice routine that is useful for all music students, no matter the instrument.

From the series: Practice Tips from Community Music Center Faculty

Starting a Mindful Practice Routine

Usually the first question a student or their parent asks me about practice is “How long should I practice?” My answer is that you should practice for as long as you can hold your attention on the process of practicing. Most of us lead hectic lives moving from activity to activity (or device to device) and it can be a struggle to focus our attention on anything, especially the rather complex activity of practicing our instruments. A well-thought-out and mindful practice routine can improve your focus and attention during each practice session, improve your listening, help you make steady progress and discover deeper connections to your self, to music and the world around you.

A good practice routine is a set of simple and progressive exercises that move through all the elements of playing technique before music is played. My mindful practice routine includes performing a simple yoga pose at the start of your practice session and using your breath to help quiet your mind and connect to your body. It is the body that you will use to play your instrument so this is a critical and often overlooked step! Special attention should be made to “flow” from one exercise to the next, bringing the focus of the first activity into the second and both of those into the third etc. Over days and weeks and months this process will become routine and bring new perspective on your playing. You will become more efficient at moving through the routine and spend more time playing music while still improving your technique.

The first step of my practice process is performing Mountain Pose. It can be done by any body of any ability and can be performed seated or standing. The pose focuses on alignment (for standing version: knees over ankles, hips over knees, shoulders over hips etc) as well as grounding, feeling energy moving down from hips to feet and connecting the body to the earth. From this grounding, one can feel the strength of the lower body and from that strength, the upper body can rise and discover new freedom to breath and move. From this position take three big breaths, in through the nose as you raise your arms above your head and out through the mouth as you lower your arms back to your sides. If you need any energy because you are tired and scattered, imagine that you are gathering what you need from the air around you and bring it into your body through the breath. Imagine that this energy is installed on the exhale so you can take it with you. How do you feel? Ready to work? Noticing the length and strength of your body, move in to your first warm-up exercise and then on through the remaining steps of your practice routine. For example, my routine goes 1. Mountain Pose 2. Longtones 3. Articulation exercises at various speeds and in varying meters and rhythms. 4. Scales (including scales in all keys, scales in 3rd, running scales and arpeggios- played with a metronome at the same speed with attention to being in control.) 5. Etudes and musical studies. After I complete these steps, I am fully warmed up, very focused, and ready to play whatever music I need. All in all this practice routine takes up very little of my overall practice time but it is the foundation of everything that follows and so the most valuable part of my practice. Should I not have time for a full practice session, this is the minimum I do each day.

This practice routine is a type of listening that moves beyond our ears. It connects our mind and body to our practice and we NEED this kind of connection to maintain our focus. Listening internally and externally with body and mind grounds us and makes us feel heard. When we feel heard, we are refreshed and ready to work. Our practicing can take on new significance and become quite enjoyable. Over time it extends our listening out in time and helps us to acknowledge our progress, focusing our attention on how far we have come and giving us confidence about what more we can achieve. This mindful practice process has been a game changer and a true inspiration for me and my students. I hope that you might give it a try!

Welcoming Polly Moller Springhorn to CMC

Interview: Polly Moller Springhorn, CMC Grant Writer

We’re welcoming Polly Moller Springhorn to our staff as the new Grant Writer. Polly is no stranger to CMC. She’s visited many times as a concert goer and serves on the Board of Directors for Outsound Presents, which puts on a new music summit in the Concert Hall every summer. Polly’s passion for music runs deep. She is an accomplished performer and published composer as well. Welcome aboard Polly!


What’s your background?
I was born and raised in the Bay Area in Walnut Creek and on the Peninsula. I started playing flute when I was eight. I want to San Francisco State and got my undergrad in Flute Performance. I went on to study at UC Santa Cruz and received my masters in 20th Century Performance Practice. I’ve taught flute lessons to a 40 plus cohort of elementary aged children through older adults. I am a published composer with three published pieces of flute choir music and a solo piece for piccolo, available through ALRY Publications. I also have written many unpublished improvisation frameworks for my colleagues in the free improvising musical community in the Bay Area.

What are some of your career highlights?
I worked for the San Francisco Girls Chorus, where I wrote the proposal for the Wallace Foundation Excellence Award. I was a grant writer at the San Francisco Art Institute and wrote an NEA grant for a mobile app. I also worked at SFJAZZ and wrote the proposal for a Google grant. I have served on a review panel for the California Arts Council, which was really informative for learning what’s going on in the arts statewide.

How did you first come to CMC?
I have visited CMC many times to attend performances given by the free improvisation musical community. After I joined the Outsound Presents Board of Directors, I started volunteering at the Outsound New Music Summit, which is held at CMC in the last week of July.

What drew you to the position?
I have a lot of experience in arts grant writing. I already admire the organization and I know people who have worked and taught here. I can relate to everything that happens at CMC, as a former student and teacher, and in my present life as a performer and composer and improviser.

How is going so far?
It’s going really well. CMC has an impressive portfolio of foundation funders. It’s no surprise given the organization’s long history, great reputation, and potent mission. I’m enjoying being here every day. I am enjoying hearing the practicing and the taking of lessons as I work. It’s great!

What are you passionate about in your work?
I’ve always been a writer. In my undergrad, I was doing a double major in both music and creative writing. At one point, I had to choose between the two. I chose music, but I never stopped writing. I found out I could write grants and write them well. I love that my job is to secure money for arts organizations. I feel driven by that mission.

What do you like to do in your spare time?
I like to rehearse and play gigs and record with my band Reconnaissance Fly. I like making music with Usufruct, a duo of computer music, flute, and voice. I like to rehearse and perform with Ghost in the House, a free improvisation band, in which I play bass flute. I like to spend time with my parrot Murphy. I like to cook vegetarian food and eat vegetarian food in restaurants. I also like going on hikes and visiting the desert, specifically Wonder Valley which has a superb underground arts scene.

Concert with Conversation 2018-2019 season announced!

The free Concert with Conversation series, where world-class musicians grace the CMC concert hall in performance and Q & A session has been announced! This series presented by San Francisco Performances kicks off with Cuban pianist Alfredo Rodríguez on Friday, October 5.

Community Music Center is looking forward to all stellar performers scheduled to take part in the 2018-2019 season. We are grateful for the continued partnership of San Francisco Performances making these concerts free for our community.


Friday, October 5, 2018 from 6:00-7:00pm
Alfredo Rodríguez, Piano
Cuban pianist and composer Alfredo Rodríguez has become a globally recognized Grammy Award nominee with multiple critically-acclaimed releases on Mack Avenue Records since being discovered and produced by the great Quincy Jones. Rodríguez is leading the way for the new wave of Cuban musicians, including past collaborators Ibeyi and Pedrito Martinez, exposing the rich musical history of Cuba to a wider audience. Not only does he infuse his music with jazz and messages of hope for other young immigrants, but aims to incorporate philosophies of improvisation into everyday life.


Friday, January 25, 2019 from 6:00-7:00pm
Dashon Burton, Bass-Baritone
Praised for his rich tone and powerfully thrilling voice, bass-baritone Dashon Burton has proven himself to be a voice to be reckoned with since graduating from Oberlin Conservatory of Music and Yale University, winning multiple international competitions and performing with opera companies and orchestras across the country and in Europe. His talents make him equally at home performing Bach and Mozart to Stockhausen, as well as touring with the Grammy Award-winning contemporary vocal ensemble Roomful of Teeth. Burton’s repertoire includes classical and sacred music, as well as programming with deeper political meaning.


Friday, March 1, 2019 from 6:00-7:00pm
Pablo Sáinz Villegas, Guitar
Pablo Sáinz Villegas has been acclaimed by international press as “the soul of the Spanish guitar” and as the most outstanding classical guitarist of his generation. The New York Times has recognized his “virtuous and moving interpretation.” He has an outstanding artistic career and emotional delivery on stage, both in recitals in intimate rooms and sold-out stadiums. Sáinz Villegas has studied at the Royal Superior Conservatory of Music in Madrid and Manhattan School of Music, and won countless international competitions and prestigious awards for his playing, which encompasses traditional Spanish guitar and avant garde orchestral music.


Friday, March 15, 2019 from 6:00-7:00pm
Sean Jones, Trumpet
Sean Jones has established himself as one of the most outstanding trumpeters and composers on today’s scene. Apprenticing with Gerald Wilson, Frank Foster, Jimmy Heath and Nancy Wilson, he served as lead trumpeter with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra. He has toured with Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter. Heavily involved in education, Sean has recently joined the Berklee College of Music’s distinguished faculty as the Chair of the Brass Department. He has also taught at Duquesne University and at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music. Sean is current Artist-in-Residence at SF Performances and is a member of The SF JAZZ Collective.

The Hows and Whys to memorize: Practice tips from CMC piano faculty Elyse Weakley

Whether you’re learning to play piano or another instrument, follow these practice tips from CMC piano faculty Elyse Weakley.

From the series: Practice Tips from Community Music Center Faculty

The single most efficient practice strategy for mastering a piece of music is to begin by memorizing it. Many instrumentalists will never need to perform from memory however I still strongly encourage the effort as it reaps many benefits including muscular dexterity, freedom of expression and greater ease of reading.

Follow these steps:

1. Analyze the form. Where does section A start and end? Does it ever repeat? What small or large variations are made in the repetition?  Does it start in one key and end in another?

2. Break section A into individual phrases, usually 4-8 bars long, and memorize them one at a time. I often ask my students to sing along while they play the melody as it enhances listening and retention (If you know solfege, use it. Note names or finger numbers work well too).  Pianists must memorize hands alone at first then combine them.

3. Before moving on to section B, make sure that section A is memorized as a whole, now repeat the above steps for each new section.

Why I give to CMC? A donor testimonial of Roland Feller

Pictured (L to R) Lois Feller, Roland Feller, and Jane Kumin. Photo by Drew Altizer.


“I can’t imagine a life without music.” -Roland Feller

Violin-maker Roland Feller first experienced music as a child at home, where his parents made sure that he and his five siblings each learned to play an instrument. Home is also where he learned the joy of playing music with others by playing duets with his mother – a treat that made it worth his required 30 minutes of practice per day.

Roland’s first interest in violin-making came at 12 years old when his father took him to buy his first full-size cello. He was fascinated by a man in the shop who was carving a cello bridge and decided then and there that he wanted to make violins. Years later Roland is living out that dream at his own shop on Divisadero Street.

His shop may be the first place Roland learned about Community Music Center. He has been supporting CMC for so long that it is hard to remember for sure! Former CMC Executive Director Steve Shapiro frequently came into the shop to get evaluations of instruments donated to CMC and see how they could best be used to support the CMC mission. Roland’s children, now grown, also studied music at CMC – maybe before he met Steve, maybe after… who knows!

These encounters with Steve and CMC faculty taught Roland about CMC’s mission of providing access to music for all. He knew the importance of music in people’s lives and found CMC to be an inspiration. That inspiration led Roland and his wife Lois to become supporters of CMC more than 30 years ago and they have been donating ever since.

Roland knows that everyone should have a chance to experience music, whether as an audience member or a player, and whether they are old or young. His older customers regularly ask Roland if it is too late to study music and he tells them about CMC, where everyone has a chance to study, no matter their age, experience, or financial circumstance.

Roland can see how much effort the dedicated faculty and staff put into making CMC work. He loves going to concerts and events to hear incredible work faculty do with their students. He knows that as a donor he plays a role in making that possible.

What would Roland say to someone thinking of supporting CMC? He would remind them of the importance of music in everyone’s lives. Music unites people from different backgrounds and brings so much both to individuals and to society as a whole. CMC helps everyone experience that unity, joy, and community through music.

Meet Gabi and Leo, new staff at CMC

CMC is welcoming new staff this summer! Gabi Díaz-Hernández is the new Mission District Young Musicians Program Coordinator and Associate Registrar. Leo Harrington is the new Young Musicians Program Coordinator.

Though Gabi and Leo are new staff at to CMC, they are not new to CMC. Gabi is a CMC student and Leo is alumni.



Meet Gabi Díaz-Hernández, CMC’s new MDYMP Coordinator and Associate Registrar

How did you come to CMC?

I used to work two blocks from here. Last fall, I started taking classes. My sister and brother in-law were in the Latin Vocal Workshop with Martha Rodríguez-Salazar and recommended it. I loved the class. The class was an amazing way to make friends and to explore my voice as an instrument, both solo and in harmony. Martha is a brilliant teacher. She helped me see the importance and value of my own voice, bringing out the best in myself.

What drew you to the position?

Being the MDYMP Coordinator allows me to work alongside music teachers and work with youth. Education is so important to me. I wanted to be in a role where I could support that. I love the idea of working with families and recent immigrants, as well as with students that are second generation. I find this opportunity to be very interesting and inspiring. Families are a core part of MDYMP, and I look forward to fortifying those family connections.

What are you bringing to the job, what do you see the coordinator’s role as?

I see my role as building bridges between teachers, families, and students, along with the community at large. I want to help students feel more connected to the Mission community through offering performances to the community. The instructors in MDYMP are amazing. All the faculty have important things to contribute. I am really grateful for the people I’m working with, the instructors, Martha, Sylvia, and the parents.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I’m from a very small town in rural Georgia. So, I love exploring in the arts scene in the Bay. I love the arts in the Bay Area, theater, and music. I love walking around the city.


Meet Leo Harrington, CMC’s new YMP Coordinator

How did you come to CMC?

I’m CMC alumni. I was born and raised in San Francisco. From an early age, I’ve been connected to CMC. I am a trumpet player and was a student of John Frank at Hoover Middle School. Mr. Frank has had a long relationship with CMC through the years nominating his students to Young Musicians Program. As a teenager at CMC, I was part of the Teen Jazz Band with Ken Rosen. I went to Oberlin and got a double degree in trumpet performance and history. After college, I went to Vienna on a Fulbright scholarship teaching English and completing coursework in the Musicology Department at the University of Vienna.

When I moved back to San Francisco last year, I wanted to work more directly on the ground with students. What drew me to CMC is its commitment to financial accessibility. I wanted to come back to a context where I had deeper community roots and to a role where I can work with students who wouldn’t be able to study without the accessibility. I really identify with CMC’s mission.


What drew you to the position Young Musicians Program Coordinator?

I have explored a lot of teaching and administrative roles and know my strengths lay in working directly with students, as well as administering programs. As the YMP Coordinator, I can utilize both these interests. I’m in a support role for faculty and also a liaison between students, teachers, staff, and the community at large. I derive a lot of satisfaction seeing the progression of students, seeing moments of growth in rehearsals and concerts, and what students learn about themselves through studying music. I enjoy working directly with people. I’m really inspired by the YMP faculty and the CMC faculty. There’s such a wealth of talent and creativity. It’s fun interfacing with them and seeing what they bring to students.

What do you see the Coordinator’s role as?

Practically speaking, I run the auditions in spring for the program. I put the ensembles together. I coordinate the schedule for the year and hold the orientation for parents and am the point person for them. I also think about the program design of YMP and implement the student leadership program, where students volunteer and do outreach at CMC events.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

As of the Summer Quarter, I am CMC student again! I study voice with Jonathan Smucker. I’ve sung with different choirs and vocal ensembles. I enjoy running and biking. I feel connected to San Francisco in that way. I spend a lot of my time thinking about equity and education and how it relates to broader social problems. This interest forms my motivation for doing college access work as well. I like to go to live music when I can. I took my first dance class at City College this past spring in Salsa.

Donate today to CMC and you’ll be entered into a raffle!

Community Music Center is close to reaching our financial goals this fiscal year, but we still need to raise $30,000 in the next 3 weeks. Your support will help us continue providing access to music for all.

Can you help?

Everyone who donates by June 30th will be entered into a raffle for a grand prize of four tickets to any regular season San Francisco Giants home game (subject t0 availability*). 

Second chance prizes include:
•    One year of private 30-minute lessons (1 winner)
•    One year of group lessons (1 winner)
•    One quarter of private 30-minute lessons (2 winners)
•    One quarter of group classes (2 winners)
•    CMC tote bag (25 winners)

Click here to make a donation and enter the raffle.

Donate $100 or more and get TWO raffle entries! A $500 donation gets TEN raffle entries!

Thank you, as always, for being a part of our community, and for your always-generous support of CMC.


*Tickets will not be available to sold-out games.