10 Years... 10 Stories

An interview project celebrating the tenth anniversary of Community MusicWorks.

Interviews conducted by:

Fidelia Vasquez,
Community MusicWorks cellist & board member
and Chloë Kline, Community MusicWorks Fellow

Special thanks to all of our interviewees for sharing their time and their stories, to Liz Hollander for the inspiration to start this project and brainstorming help, and to Liz Cox for her transcription heroics.

Quick Links

Tenth Year Violin

10 Years... 10 Stories

    Josh Rodriguez

    Vanessa Centeno

    Sara Stalnaker

    Karen Romer

    Zeeny & Patrice Wolfe

    Tae Ortiz

    Itza Serrano

    Sebastian Ruth

    Carolina Jimenez

    Jesse Holstein

Itza Serrano,

                                                                 Photo by Mary Beth Meehan

Chloe Kline: Itza, could you start by telling us a little bit about yourself, and how you got involved in Community MusicWorks?


Itza 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.

CK: Tell me about your first lessons. What did you think about starting violin with Community MusicWorks?


IS: 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.

CK: When did you first realize that CMW was important to you and that you wanted to keep doing it?

IS: 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.

CK: How has Phase II changed since you first joined?


IS: 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.

Fidelia Vasquez: Did you ever think about quitting?


IS: 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.

FV: Do you have a favorite workshop over the years?


IS: 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.

CK: Tell us a bit about being on the Board [of Directors].


IS: 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.

FV: What was your scariest moment in CMW?


IS: 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!

FV: Which retreat has been your favorite?


IS: 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.

CK: What's your proudest moment at CMW?


IS: My proudest moment was telling my mom I was on the Board.

CK: 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. 





About Us | Programs | Calendar | Media | Profiles | Get Involved | Contact Us | Home