Spring registration is open now at the NIU Community School of the Arts.  The school offers music lessons, classes, and year-round programming for children and adults of all ages.  Currently, more than 500 students come to NIU from nearly 50 cities, towns, and suburbs to participate in CSA classes, lessons, and music ensembles.


Financial assistance is available for students 18 years or younger who want to pursue their study of music or art.  The deadline to submit a need-based scholarship application for spring is Friday, January 19.  CSA scholarship applications are available online and by calling the NIU Community School of the Arts.

Music Lessons

Learn to play an instrument!  The CSA offers traditional private music lessons on nearly all instruments.  Music lessons using the Suzuki approach, combining private and group lessons, are also taught on violin, cello, piano, and guitar.  CSA teachers are music professionals in the community and NIU music students, each committed to sharing love for learning, music, and musicianship.

Students meet with music teachers weekly in the NIU Music Building and are invited to participate in a recital at the end of each semester.  To begin private music lessons the week of January 22, register by January 15.

Music Classes for Young Children

Prelude is a group music class with singing, dancing, and rhythm and music games for toddlers ages 1 – 3.  Prelude class meets Saturdays from 10 – 10:30 a.m.

Development is a group music class for children ages 3 – 5 that builds upon the activities of the Prelude class, with more music activities and fun demonstrations of musical instruments.  Development class meets Saturdays from 10:35 – 11:05 a.m.

Music educator and musician Laurie Rodriguez teaches these classes, starting February 3 and meeting for 12 weeks.  Early registration is recommended for these popular early music education classes.

Piano Starter for Children meets Tuesdays from 4 – 4:40 p.m.  This small group class is limited to four children ages 5 – 7 and is ideal as a beginning class for children to prepare for private music lessons.  Taught by piano and violin teacher Danielle Pivonka, this class meets for 12 weeks, starting on January 30.

Group Guitar for Kids CSA teacher Aerie Bernard introduces children ages 8 – 12 to guitar playing through a fun, song-oriented approach to learning.  Exposure to music fundamentals such as scales, chords, rhythm, melody, harmony, and playing technique allows students to begin building their own toolbox of musical skills, promoting confident and comfortable playing.  No previous guitar experience is required, and students should bring a guitar to class.  Class meets Wednesdays from 5 – 5:55 p.m. starting January 31.

Music Classes for Older Children and Adults

Guitar Basics and Intermediate Guitar is taught by guitarist and long-time teacher Quentin Dover Wednesday evenings.  Guitar Basics meets from 6 – 6:55 p.m., and Intermediate Guitar meets from 7 – 7:55 p.m.  Both classes begin January 31, meet for 12 weeks, and welcome students ages 13 – adult.

Adults learn to play piano in a fun, group atmosphere, when Jaina Krueger teaches group piano classes for ages 13 – adult Monday evenings starting January 29.  Beginners enroll in Square One Piano: Group Basics Class, which meets from 6:15 – 7:00 p.m.  Piano Forte: Building Piano Skills is for intermediate players and meets from 7:00 – 7:45 p.m.

Qi Gong (pronounced chee-gong) is an ancient Chinese exercise and healing technique that involves meditation, controlled breathing and movement exercises.  The exercises can be done at one time during a day, or interspersed amid practice sessions, rehearsals, and other daily activities, to renew energy and release tension. Not for musicians only, Qi Gong also enables greater relaxation and concentration when practiced immediately before a music performance. Teacher Eric Schroeder leads class participants, focusing on 24 postures divided into three sets, during six class meetings, Mondays from 5 – 6 p.m. starting February 5.

Music Ensembles

Musicians share a love of music and learn to play with others through the ensemble experience.  The NIU Community School offers several music ensembles for young musicians and for older children and adults. Ensemble members rehearse together and perform in concert in the NIU music building at the end of each semester.

 CSA Symphonette is a string orchestra for ages 8 – 16 that meets Tuesdays from 4:30 – 6:00 p.m.  Directed by Linc Smelser, this group plays lively and challenging music and performs in concert twice during the year.  The first Symphonette rehearsal in spring is on January 30.

CSA Sinfonia is directed by Linc Smelser.  This full youth orchestra meets Wednesdays beginning January 17 from 7:30 – 9:45 p.m. and admits musicians ages 14 – 20 by audition.  CSA Sinfonia plays a wide variety of music and performs two concerts during the year.  Admission to Sinfonia is by audition; please call the CSA for more information about scheduling an audition.

NIUkulele Ensemble promises fun for all beginning and intermediate ukulele players ages 9 – adult.  This ensemble is directed by CSA teacher Eric Schroeder.  Beginners receive instruction, intermediate players can play the more complicated parts, and members prepare for a concert performance each semester.  All types of ukuleles are welcome, and participants must bring an instrument and a love for playing music in a group.  NIUkulele Ensemble rehearses Mondays from 7:30 – 8:25 p.m. beginning January 22.

CSA Guitar Ensemble meets for rehearsals on Wednesdays from 8 – 8:55 p.m.  Directed by CSA teacher and musician Quentin Dover, guitar players ages 14 – adult work on ensemble skills, build confidence and skill on the guitar, and perform two concerts during the year.  The first rehearsal is February 7.

CSA Steelband provides community members a chance to experience the unique and beautiful sound of the steelpan.  Directed by Yuko Asada, CSA Steelband welcomes members ages 12 – adult.  No previous experience on the instrument is needed, but it is recommended that students can read music.  The steelpan family ranges from soprano to bass, and each student chooses an instrument.  The group plays many types of music arranged for steelpan, including calypso, classical, rock, and rhythm and blues, and performs in concert several times during the year.  CSA Steelband rehearsals are Mondays from 6:30 – 7:25 p.m. beginning January 22.

Art Classes

Art Express is for ages 4 – 12 and meets on six Saturdays from 1 – 3 p.m. beginning February 3.  Students learn about art and the world as they create original arts and crafts.  Taught by NIU art education students supervised by an NIU School of Art instructor, the curriculum is new every semester.  The classes are organized by age and limited in size.

The NIU Community School of the Arts is sponsored by the College of Visual and Performing Arts at Northern Illinois University.  Find more information, including full schedules, scholarship application forms, and online registration at, or call (815) 753-1450, or visit room 132 in the NIU Music Building.

Photo: Piano students of Georgia Price pose after performing for family and friends at the NIU Community School of the Arts Fall Showcase Recitals.