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By Blog Master
Posted: 08/20/2022

The Pasadena Conservatory of Music Open House

On the afternoon of August 14, about a dozen Pasadena Village members met at the Pasadena Conservatory of Music to gather information on what the venue has to offer. The Conservatory, located on North Hill Avenue, is housed in a lovely old building, built back in 1929 in the Mediterranean Eclectic style. As we Villagers gathered, a common theme arose: “I've lived in the area for years and didn't know this place existed.” At the end of our time there, we knew that we had discovered a treasure.

The program began with introductory remarks from Stephen McCurry, the Conservatory's Executive Director for the past 30 years. Stephen shared with us some basic information about the Conservatory. It was founded in 1984 and moved to the current Hill Avenue site in 2000. It offers classes for students from preschool age up through retired adults and beyond, including private lessons for all ages. (Note that scholarships are available as needed.) Furthermore, the Conservatory has adopted Longfellow Elementary School, teaching music classes to students from pre-Kindergarten to Fifth grade.

In addition to the classes, the Conservatory gives concerts which are open to the public. The concerts are free except for three special events each year, which require the purchase of tickets.

Stephen then turned the program over to Rachael Doudrick. Among her several duties, Rachael is the Department Chair of Adult Studies. She reviewed some of the classes available for adults, which include:

Chamber music for strings, flute, or guitar

Jazz combos

Orff ensemble (For an example, see below.)

Recorder - Baroque to Folk

Ukulele, beginner and intermediate

World Music (Mariachi, Latin percussion, drum circle)

Music history and music appreciation

Rachael described the teaching staff as excellent, supporting camaraderie among the students and flexibility as needed. The teachers embrace the opportunity to teach adults, even if they are just beginners.  

Perhaps the highlight of our visit came next as Rachael led us in an audience participation exercise. First, she read a rhythmic poem entitled Foot-She-Put (derived from Hatshepsut, female Pharaoh of Egypt). Then she invited several volunteers from the audience to join her, instructing them on the use of some tubano drums. (The drums are similar to conga drums.) Next, she enlisted more volunteers to add “egg shakers” to the mix. (The shakers are similar to maracas, only smaller.) Calling on still more volunteers, she gave a brief lesson on how to strum a particular chord on the ukulele. Taken together, the result was a mini-orchestra in the Orff style! What fun we had as we beat, shook, and strummed to Rachael's lead! Finally, Rachael raised the exercise to new heights by replacing her reading with some improvisation on the recorder. Wow!

Throughout her presentation, Rachael's warmth, enthusiasm, and humor captured us in an experience we will long remember.

After some final remarks, we were dismissed for refreshments and a self-guided tour of one of the two story buildings on the campus. We visited classrooms, a second concert hall, and several other rooms of varying purposes. Embedded in the inner part of the structure, we found a beautiful courtyard decked with trees and a fountain.

Rachael's words at the end of her presentation provide an excellent summary of our experience. When she reached her 50s, she found she had the time to fulfill a dream and go for a Masters’ degree. As the first class of the program met, she was greeted by a room full of 20-somethings with the words “Oh, a late bloomer!” Rachael was not too fond of the remark, but her counter was right on target: “I'm not a late bloomer. I'm Ever Blooming!”

 Are you an “Ever Bloomer”? If not, would you like to become one? If so, the Pasadena Conservatory of Music may be just what you are looking for.

For more information on the Conservatory, including the classes offered and a calendar of concerts and events, please visit Pasadena Conservatory of Music . Alternatively, you are welcome to pick up a brochure on the classes or to call (626) 683- 3355.  

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