More than music: Community Music Center builds skills for life

November 14, 2022

Recent Community Music Center graduate Chris Flores, 18, has had rich experiences in his time at CMC. Chris developed not only skills and maturity that come through dedicated musical study, but he built professional know-how as he built and repaired musical instruments in a CMC internship. Chris is taking his CMC experiences, both musical and vocational, to the University of the Pacific, where he recently started as a freshman.

“CMC is very community oriented – it’s in the name.” – Chris Flores

CMC first came into Chris’s life through the tuition-free Mission District Young Musicians Program (MDYMP). He needed to find private viola lessons to support his acceptance to San Francisco’s Ruth Asawa School of the Arts (SOTA). MDYMP provided those lessons, along with ensemble classes and music theory, giving him a solid foundation to build on at SOTA.

“[Chris] was an absolute joy to teach. Because of his love for music and remarkable work ethic, he made quick progress–about as quick as I’ve ever seen.”– Michael Long, CMC Strings Faculty

Chris first studied with Michael Long, who taught him time management and goal setting, and then Chris worked with viola specialist Paul Espinosa. Michael and Paul helped Chris develop structures, habits, and communication styles he continues to implement in his studies and work outside CMC. MDYMP faculty gave Chris the opportunity to explore new genres and approaches to music-making. He also learned improvisation and soloing from MDYMP faculty member Tregar Otton.

“Chris is very curious and really loves music. Through his own volition, he made the program better for himself and the other students.” -Tregar Otton, MDYMP Faculty

Chris’s interest in learning about building and maintaining instruments started during his first year at SOTA on a field trip to visit two luthiers in San Francisco – Roland Feller Violin Makers and Jesse Maschmeyer Violins. He was inspired by what he saw and took matters into his own hands, asking Jesse Maschmeyer to teach him. After Chris demonstrated his dedication and commitment, Jesse agreed to teach Chris as part of a strings internship at CMC.

Throughout his internship, Chris developed professional skills he will use for years to come. In addition to learning how to fix and maintain instruments, he worked with CMC staff and faculty as coworkers, introducing him to professional communication styles and giving him, as he says, “a glimpse into the adult world.” Chris plans to focus on health studies in college and is confident that the breadth of skills he developed during his internship will support the deeply interactive work he’ll be doing.

Chris impressed CMC colleagues with his dedication, motivation, and consistent communication. According to Sylvia Sherman, CMC’s Program Director, working with Chris has “opened up our thinking about a new pathway for leadership for CMC’s Young Musicians Program students.” All the staff and faculty who have worked with him over the years agree that CMC has set Chris up for success wherever the future may take him.

When discussing his time at CMC, Chris shared how inspired he is by the organization’s focus on helping others in the community, especially those with low incomes. Chris shared, “CMC has helped me pursue my dreams. If I wasn’t at CMC, I don’t know where I would be. CMC gave me the tools and instruction I needed to stand amongst my SOTA peers, build my confidence, and learn skills I’ll use throughout my life.”

“Chris has been invaluable to the CMC team. He’s responsive, self-motivated, and kind. We’re so lucky to have him!” – Shannon Koehler, CMC Operations Manager

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