For more than 30 years, NIU Community School of the Arts has offered music education and instruction for children and adults of all ages.  The CSA offers activities for personal enrichment year-round for community members who participate in classes, lessons, and music ensembles in person or online.

Registration is open now for a variety of programs in person and online for the 2020-2021 school year.  The programs and activities that meet in person in the NIU Music Building will strictly adhere to the safety measures outlined by Northern Illinois University and the NIU Community School of the Arts.  Program and safety information is available at the CSA website


Financial assistance is available for students age 18 or younger who want to pursue their study of music.  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 fall semester is October 15 and families with an adjusted gross income less than 75K annually are eligible to apply.   Scholarship applications are available at the CSA website and by calling the NIU Community School of the Arts.

Music Lessons – Traditional and Suzuki

Learn to play a musical instrument!  The CSA offers traditional private music lessons on nearly all instruments – violin, guitar, piano, percussion, brass, woodwinds and many more.  Music lessons using the Suzuki approach, combining private and group lessons, are taught on violin, cello, piano, and guitar.

Music teachers meet with students weekly in person or online for private lessons, and students are invited to prepare for and participate in a recital at the end of each semester.  Music lessons begin the week of August 24.

Music Classes for Young Children

Piano Starter for Children Limited to four children ages 5 – 7, this small group class is an ideal beginning class for children to prepare for private music lessons.  Piano Starter meets in person in the NIU Music Building on Tuesdays from 4 – 4:40 p.m. and begins on September 8.  Taught by piano teacher Soo-Yon Choi, this class meets 12 times.

Guitar for Kids Teacher Quentin Dover 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 each student will use their own guitar during class.  Class meets online on Wednesdays 12 times from 5 – 5:50 p.m. starting September 9.

Music Classes for Older Children and Adults

Guitar Basics and Intermediate Guitar are taught by guitarist and long-time CSA teacher Quentin Dover on Wednesday evenings.  Students bring their own guitar to this online class and learn to play songs, scales and chords along with beginning music theory and guitar techniques.  Guitar Basics meets from 6 – 6:50 p.m. and Intermediate Guitar meets from 7 – 7:50 p.m.  Both classes welcome students ages 13 – adult, begin on September 9, and meet online 12 times.

Square One Piano: Group Basics Class meets from 6:15 – 7:00 p.m. and is for beginners.  Piano Forte: Building Piano Skills meets from 7:15 – 8:00 p.m. and is for intermediate players. Both classes meet in person for 12 weeks in the NIU Music Building.  Adults learn to play piano in a fun, group atmosphere when popular CSA teacher Soo-Yon Choi leads group piano classes for ages 13 – adult in person on Monday evenings starting September 14.

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, some for young musicians and others for older children and adults.  Every ensemble performs a concert in the NIU Music Building or online at the end of each semester.

CSA Symphonette is a string orchestra for ages 8 – 16 that rehearses in person in the NIU Music Building on 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 is on September 1.

CSA Sinfonia is directed by Kishwaukee Symphony Orchestra conductor Linc Smelser and meets in person for rehearsals on Wednesdays beginning September 2.   For fall 2020, the youth orchestra has been divided into three groups for rehearsals to reduce density: Strings will meet from 7 – 7:45 p.m., Woodwinds from 8 – 8:40 p.m. and Brass from 8:55 – 9:30 p.m.  CSA Sinfonia plays a wide variety of music and performs two concerts during the year.  Musicians age 14 – 20 are admitted by audition and first-time members should call the NIU Community School to schedule an audition.

CSA Guitar Ensemble meets online on Wednesdays from 8 – 8:50 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 on September 9.

CSA Steelband encourages everyone to experience the unique sound of the steel pan.  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 steel pan family ranges from soprano to bass, and each student chooses an instrument.  The ensemble plays many types of music arranged for steel pan, including calypso, classical, rock, and rhythm and blues, and performs in concert several times during the year.  CSA Steelband rehearses in person in the NIU Music Building on Mondays from 6:30 – 7:25 p.m. beginning on September 14.

The NIU Community School of the Arts is sponsored by the College of Visual and Performing Arts at Northern Illinois University.  More information, including the scholarship application form, activities registration form, teacher biographies, safety protocols and online registration can be found at, or call (815) 753-1450 from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.