Community Music School offers powerful benefits of music education ::


For more than two decades, Melanie Doerner has worked as an artistic leader and fundraiser in the performing arts. It’s a career that began when Doerner was a young business lawyer in Toronto after meeting her husband, Michael, then a dancer with the National Ballet of Canada.

“I fell in love with the arts, literally and figuratively,” she tells me. “As a powerful advocate for the arts, I have worked ever since to support arts organizations and artists. “

The couple moved to Raleigh from San Jose, Calif., In 2010 attracted by the economy, more affordable housing, good public schools and a strong arts community. For the past decade, Doerner has worked as Director of Development for the North Carolina Theater. And in March, she went in a new direction, becoming the executive director of the longtime Raleigh company. Community music school, which offers affordable music lessons to children in need. “I am so inspired to be part of this organization which empowers young people through music”, she shares.

Doerner lives in North Raleigh with her husband and their three children. I checked with her to find out more about Community Music School and its work. Here is a Q&A.

Go ask mom: what is the history of the community music school? Why did it start?

Mélanie Doerner: The Community Music School was founded in 1994 by former Raleigh Councilor Mary Cates. His vision was to remove financial barriers to a high quality music education, so that all young people have access to the benefits of a life changing music education. Imagine a city where every student passionate about music could learn to play an instrument. For over 25 years, Community Music School has been engaged in this work in Raleigh.

GAM: Tell us about the program. Who is it for and how do you do it?

MARYLAND: The community music school is about access to high quality music education. We offer private lessons for students – music lessons for piano, violin, guitar, drums, cello and harp to name a few. Our teachers, who are all paid artists and educators, have doctorates in music, masters in education, four languages ​​spoken, and make a living as professional musicians.

Because the community music school is all about access to this high quality music education, we charge $ 1 per lesson, or $ 32 for a school year of weekly music lessons. And we supply all instruments, violins, keyboards, cellos, guitars and other instruments, and we cover the cost of maintenance and repair. Our students are exclusively those who are traditionally underserved, and all of our students are entitled to a free and reduced lunch.

Community music school student

GAM: How has COVID changed everything for school? And how did he respond?

MARYLAND: COVID hasn’t changed our programming, but it has changed our delivery as instructors have turned to virtual education. The community music school is proud to have maintained a continuous and uninterrupted programming during the pandemic. For over a year, music lessons have continued on Zoom. And we were the Zoom that the students were impatiently waiting for, to be able to see their music teachers. This is the only time they’ve turned on their cameras because it was their creation time. Our staff made numerous deliveries of instruments to the car parks. We had dates for violin chords. We delivered strings and coordinated instrument repairs.

And now we are working to safely reunite our students and teachers. On May 16, we held our spring recitals, courtesy of the North Carolina Museum of Art in their open-air amphitheater. It was the first time in over a year that students could see their teachers in person and perform in front of their families from a stage. Looking forward, we are delighted to resume teaching in person in the fall. We are open to registrations and accept new students for the 2021-2022 school year.

GAM: How can music education really transform the look of a child, even if he doesn’t plan to become a professional musician one day?

MARYLAND: The benefits of a music education are powerful and life changing. I know firsthand that arts education can change a life trajectory. Every time I saw a youngster bow, he got a little taller.

Studies clearly show that the benefits are for all students, not just those who aspire to become professional musicians:

GAM: What are the most important needs of the school and how can people help?

MARYLAND: The community music school grows and accepts new students if your readers know of young people interested in learning to play a musical instrument. We only charge $ 1 per music lesson or $ 32 for the year and provide the instruments. Students should be entitled to free and reduced price lunch. More information is available online at

It costs about $ 1,700 to provide professional music education to a student for a year, and we only charge $ 1 per lesson. This means that our financial model works on donations from individuals and through grants. People can help by donating to

Finally, I invite your readers to celebrate with us by joining our next Virtual celebration and musical event at 2 p.m. on May 26. There is no charge to attend this virtual event, and the event features performances by Tift Merritt and special musical guests.

Go Ask Mom features local Moms every Monday.

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