Participants, instructors reflect on their experience in BW Community Music programs

BW Community Arts School and other programs provide music opportunities and events on campus for all ages.


Steffi Burdick

Carol Ross in a classroom in Kulas on April 6, 2023, waiting for her next student to arrive. She is a member of the BW Community Arts School faculty, teaching violin and viola private lessons and the Suzuki Program.

The Baldwin Wallace University Community Arts School, along with other campus affiliated programs, offers music lessons and ensembles for learners of all ages.  

The Community Arts School is located on campus at 49 Seminary St., and it is open for ensembles and music lessons on weekday evenings and Saturdays.  

Carol Ross, a Community Arts School violin, viola and Suzuki program instructor, teaches around 20 students at the Conservatory three days a week. She said that she thinks her students and their families enjoy coming to campus.  

“I think families like the idea of coming into a conservatory building where there are college students and professional musicians working and teaching and learning,” Ross said.  

Caroline Niederhausen, first-year music education and trumpet performance major at the University of Cincinnati, said she was involved in many of Community Arts School music programs such as lessons, a wind ensemble and a camp. She enjoyed and appreciated all the opportunities available before college.  

The Community Arts School offers lessons to people of all ages. Ross said she teaches kindergarten through 12th-grade students, but the Community Arts school has classes for infants through adults.  

“There’s things for younger kids, and we have adults who are taking lessons too, so it truly becomes a whole community of people,” Ross said.  

Kym Cleal, a first-year music education major with a voice primary, currently interns for the Community Arts School Women’s Chorus. She said the role of the program is essential to build the BW community, and as an intern, she has been able to see and help older community members and some high school students.  

Outside the Community Arts School, other music events and opportunities take place on campus, such as masterclasses and adjudicated events.  

Cleal attended a masterclass at BW with her high school’s acapella choir during her senior year. They performed one of their pieces and received feedback from music education students. She called it “a cool experience.”  

On March 11, the National Federation of Music Clubs held a piano adjudicated event at the Conservatory. Katie Ayers attended as her son performed at the event for the first time.  

“We had never been there before. … [It] was cool for him to see what a college campus looks like,” Ayers said.  

Ayers, Cleal, Niederhausen and Ross said that BW’s music programs and events are a valuable addition to campus.  

Ross said these programs are valuable because of the skills students learn with their education. In addition to learning their instruments, they learn how to work with others and “persevere when things get hard.”  

“It’s important to the community at large that students are here learning to make music, and learning about the arts, and encouraging that education. … [The arts] are so important,” Ross said.  

Many of those involved in these music programs have found that they provide a lasting impression and great learning experiences for young musicians.  

“You can kind of get the sense of what you might want to do after school,” Ayers said. “Those kinds of experiences do leave impressions.”   

Niederhausen said that the BW programs she was involved in influenced her choice to pursue music “a thousand percent.” She said they enhanced her trumpet skills and built her endurance for her long practice hours in college.  

“At the camps, we practiced a lot in a day, and it was a lot for me, but it made me more prepared for when I came [to college] and practice four or five hours a day,” Niederhausen said. “I’m very thankful for what BW did for me, and it definitely helps me with where I am today.”  

Cleal said that the masterclass was so “hands-on,” and the feedback from the BW students showed the connections from what they learned in classes. She said that attending this masterclass also allowed her to see the BW community, influencing her decision to come here.  

“After we did the masterclass, we ended up getting lunch at the Union, and everyone was so nice,” Cleal said. “I definitely came here because of the community, and I stand by that to this day.”