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.  More than 400 students come to NIU from nearly 50 cities, towns, and suburbs to participate in CSA classes, lessons, and music ensembles.


Families may apply for financial assistance for students ages 18 or younger to participate in music studies at the NIU Community School.  Funding for scholarships is provided through private donations, fundraising activities, and support from the Farny R. Wurlitzer Foundation Fund.  The deadline for submitting a need-based scholarship application for the spring semester is Friday, January 10.   Scholarship applications are available online.

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 and guitar.  Many CSA teachers are music professionals in the community, some are music students or faculty at NIU, and all are committed to sharing their love for learning, music, and musicianship.

Students meet with music teachers for weekly lessons in the NIU Music Building.  All students are invited to participate in a recital at the end of each semester.  Registered students begin private music lessons the week of January 20.

Music Classes for Young Children

NEW AT THE CSA – Ukulele for Kids The ukulele’s small size and easy accessibility make it a great first instrument for kids developing their musical abilities.  Participants will learn basic ukulele skills by practicing children’s songs, Disney melodies and some pop tunes.  Teacher Tzu Tsen Wu has designed this class for children ages 6 – 12 to explore the musical world together as an ensemble.  Students should bring a ukulele to class and all types of ukuleles are welcome!  Class meets on Wednesdays from 5:30 – 6:30 p.m. starting January 29.

Prelude is a group music class with singing, dancing, and rhythm and music games for toddlers ages one to three and a parent or caregiver.  Prelude class meets Saturdays from 10 – 10:30 a.m.

Development is a group music class for children ages three to five that builds upon the activities of the Prelude class, with more songs, 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 Prelude and Development starting January 25 and meeting for 12 weeks.  Early registration is recommended for these fun and popular music education classes.

Piano Starter for Children meets Tuesdays from 4:00 – 4:40 p.m.  This small group class is limited to four children ages five to seven and is ideal as a beginning class for children to prepare for private music lessons.  Taught by CSA piano teacher Soo-Yon Choi, this class meets for 12 weeks starting on January 28.

Group Guitar for Kids CSA teacher Quentin Dover introduces children ages eight – 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 start to assemble 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 5:00 – 5:55 p.m. starting January 29.

Music Classes for Older Children and Adults

Guitar Basics and Intermediate Guitar classes are taught by guitarist and long-time CSA teacher Quentin Dover on Wednesday evenings.  Guitar Basics meets from 6:00 – 6:55 p.m., and Intermediate Guitar meets from 7 – 7:55 p.m.  Both classes begin January 29, meet for 12 weeks, and welcome students ages 13 – adult.

Adults learn to play piano in a fun, group atmosphere when Soo-Yon Choi teaches group piano classes for ages 13 – adult Monday evenings starting January 27.  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 the class 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 on Mondays from 5:00 – 6:00 p.m. starting January 27.

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 a concert in the NIU music building at the end of each semester.

CSA Symphonette is a strings orchestra for ages eight – 16 that meets Tuesdays from 4:30 – 6:00 p.m.  Directed by Linc Smelser, this group plays lively and challenging music and performs a concert twice during the year.  The first Symphonette rehearsal in spring is on January 28.

CSA Sinfonia is directed by Linc Smelser.  This full youth orchestra meets to rehearse Wednesdays beginning January 29 from 7:30 – 9:45 p.m.  Musicians ages 14 – 20 are admitted by audition.  CSA Sinfonia plays a wide variety of symphonic music and performs two concerts during the year.  Musicians or parents may call the CSA for more information about scheduling an audition and becoming a member of Sinfonia.

NIUkulele Ensemble offers fun for all beginning and intermediate ukulele players ages nine – adult.  This ensemble is directed by CSA teacher Eric Schroeder.  Beginners receive instruction, intermediate players can play the more complicated parts, and ensemble 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 to the group.  NIUkulele Ensemble rehearses Mondays from 7:30 – 8:25 p.m. beginning January 27.

CSA Guitar Ensemble meets for rehearsals on Wednesdays from 8:00 – 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 spring rehearsal is February 5.

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 concerts several times during the year.  CSA Steelband rehearsals are Mondays from 6:30 – 7:25 p.m. beginning January 27.

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 class schedules, teacher biographies, scholarship application forms, and online registration at, or call (815) 753-1450, or visit room 132 in the NIU Music Building.