by Mary Beth Meehan
Kline: Itza, could you start by telling us a little bit about yourself,
and how you got involved in Community MusicWorks?
Serrano: Well, I'm 17 years old, I go to Classical High
School, and I play the violin. It was actually my mom who got me
involved in CMW. At the time, I went to City Arts, like a lot of
the kids used to do, and she heard through that program about Community
MusicWorks, and put me on the list. Then I was on the waiting list
for like two years, and then I finally started Community MusicWorks.
Tell me about your first lessons. What did you think about starting
violin with Community MusicWorks?
Well, I'd played before for a year in elementary school.
I'd always liked the violin. My brother was the one that got my
hooked on it because he started playing when he was in elementary
and middle school, and although he's long since quit, I wanted to
do it too.
When did you first realize that CMW was important to you and that
you wanted to keep doing it?
When I started Phase II. Being in Phase I was great and
everything, and you got to experience a lot of different stuff,
but being in Phase II you are part of it more, you get to connect
with people more, and go on more outings. You get to be closer to
the teachers, closer to the kids, and you're actually trying to
do something together as a group. Especially when we go on the overnight
retreats, and we get to be ourselves and talk and gossip all night,
play pranks on each other, you know.
How has Phase II changed since you first joined?
I feel as though we're doing a lot more. We're certainly
meeting together a lot more, and also it's really close knit, because
a lot of the kids, we've been together for a couple of years, so
we know each other pretty well, so when we get together, it's a
really friendly environment. We're all really good friends. Also,
we started quartets last year. That's definitely different. It's
new. You definitely have to get a lot closer to your other group
members. It falls a lot on responsibility, learning this piece while
you're also learning your group pieces for Phase II and your solo
pieces, and also doing the whole community aspect of it, having
to actually do the going out and playing for somebody.
Vasquez: Did you ever think about quitting?
Yeah, I think about that a lot actually. I get really
nervous, so just as I'm about to play in the Performance Parties,
I ask myself, “Why am I still doing this?” But I never quit, because
I like the people too much. It's something to look forward to. I've
really grown close to a lot of these people, a lot of the kids I'm
with, and if I weren't to be in this program, I wouldn't be in touch
with any of them, and that would be a shame.
Do you have a favorite workshop over the years?
The one we just went to. Dobbs Hartshorne. I loved his
song …”Love was hard… for Billy and Brenda.” That song
was great! The Bug Opera was a really funny one, too. The dung beetle,
he was great. And the workshop beforehand, where we ate bugs, that
was awesome. I tried the cricket. It was something that all the
Phase II members had to do, or they couldn't live it down! We were
all over in a corner, and everyone tried a bug. It was fine as long
as you took off the head and the legs.
Tell us a bit about being on the Board [of Directors].
Well, I joined in December. I've been to two meetings.
You get to hear a lot of adults speaking about stuff you don't understand,
especially when they go into the figures, and bank accounts! Seriously,
I get to hear a little bit of the back side, the unknown side of
CMW, and that has been pretty interesting. But I think it's really
important that they have students on the board, to bring in a different
perspective. I mean, they're looking out for the best for us, but
then again, they are adults, and they aren't in the program themselves.
Having kids allows them to get our perspective, our story about
how we feel the program is influencing us, and what we feel could
be done better.
What was your scariest moment in CMW?
For me, that's would have to be performing for the first
time in front of people, at my first Performance Party. I'm pretty
sure I had Glademil there to back me up, but even so, even with
both of us, I'm pretty sure we each got lost at least once each.
But we still pulled through!
Which retreat has been your favorite?
I think the mountain climbing one. Seeing Sara's dog,
Tillie, go through the little gap in Fat Man's [Misery] was really
fun. We went to this place where it's two big rocks, and this little
gap, and you're supposed to climb down it, go through the gap sideways,
and then you come to the end, which is this little ledge, and then
a cliff. Sebastian was at the other end making sure we didn't fall
over the edge. And so I don't know whose great idea it was, but
somebody was like, “Let's put the dog in!” So they put Tillie down,
and Sara's at the other end, trying to get the dog to come to her,
but she's not going, and there was a traffic jam, because the kids
kept going through, but the dog didn't want to go. So in the end
Sara had to go down there, and pick up Tillie and bring her back
up the other end.
What's your proudest moment at CMW?
My proudest moment was telling my mom I was on the Board.
How do you the discussions in Phase II have changed how you think
either about CMW, or about life in general?
IS: Well, usually what we talk about in the discussions
is how music influences people, and the oppressed. And usually you
don't really think about that, and it kind of opens your eyes a little
bit. It opens you up to other people's opinions, and it allows you
to be more open-minded.