Colorado Springs Conservatory: An inside look at myths and truths with Founding-CEO Linda Weise
Colorado Springs Conservatory (CSC) has been inspiring, motivating and challenging all students to aspire to their highest potential as artists and as human beings through arts immersion studies and community arts advocacy since 1994. “We are fortunate to have this great institution serving thousands of students in our region for more than 20 years,” said John Suthers, Mayor of Colorado Springs.
The CSC offers the community a wealth of performing arts programs and classes. Whether it’s music maker classes for newborns to four-year-olds, after-school programs for Pre-K to 12th graders, A Positive Note: music-making program for young adults with special needs, Citizen Soldier: music classes for active duty and retired military and veterans, or general adult classes, CSC works to encourage all students to contribute to the world in meaningful and creative ways.
There is still a chance to enroll your kid in one of the many exciting summer programs or workshops. Musical Theatre Camp for Disney’s The Jungle Book runs from July 31-August 4, for kids ages 7-13. Upcoming multi-day workshops include a Recording Arts Summer Workshop: July 24-28; A Capella Summer Workshop: July 31-August 4; and A Positive Note: Tuesdays and Thursdays July 11-August 3. Enrollment for fall semester opens in August as well.
Those interested in – but apprehensive about – enrolling their children can benefit from an inside look into this magnificent conservatory. Oberlin Conservatory and Julliard School-educated Founding CEO of CSC, Linda Weise, dispels some misconceptions, misinformation and myths – opening the door for young people throughout the region to discover their creative essence.
Myth: My child gravitates toward the arts, but I don’t believe he/she is creative enough.
Truth: “That’s all the more reason to bring your child over. Society presents children with choices like band, choir, orchestra (if they are fortunate at their schools) – but it has been our experience that children might gravitate toward song writing or jazz guitar, which may not be part of the prototype that’s out there,” Weise said. “Then, kids walk in here and see something like recording arts studio or exploratory theater and think ‘that’s what I want to do.’ And that’s a viable place to start – not to mention that these studies present a viable livelihood in the future. When parents say I don’t think my child is creative enough, but they gravitate toward it – they can come here and find something that is not in the everyday choices a young person might have.”
Myth: My child is too old to begin to study any instrument.
Truth: “You are never too old to begin the journey. We’ve seen every situation at every age. With the right mentorship, environment and encouragement coupled with very intentional goals and performance opportunities – anything is possible. I’ve seen child after child rise to those benchmarks, and get into great schools. It’s all about desire and action,” she said.
Myth: My child is so shy.
Truth: “I would pair a parent with this concern with another parent whose child was shy – key word: ‘was.’ It takes just a little while, but they overcome it. Every student takes a studio class every week where they announce their name, explain what they will be performing and then perform it, so there is not enough time to think about being shy. They get used to expressing themselves in front of others and realize that it’s not that bad, it’s fun,” Weise shared.
Myth: Theater and music will not get my child anywhere in life.
Truth: “We create an ecosystem here that encourages not only creativity, but courageous creativity. So in the long term how does that serve them? Well, whether they’re architects or professional composers or they become a lawyer, there’s all of those elements of work ethic, self-discipline and courage to continue despite any kind of challenge,” said Weise. “This is part of the strength of any performing arts agenda – we know how to handle rejection, and if you teach a kid to deal with that early on, they’ll be so courageous down the road.”
100 percent of students who participate in the CORE after-school program at CSC attend the colleges, universities and conservatories of their choice, often with significant scholarships. Many alumni pursue careers in the arts, go on to Broadway and Off-Broadway, win Tony awards, and join national touring companies and arts organizations. Others excel in a wide range of professions including technology, medicine and the humanities
Myth: My child already plays in his school’s jazz band, so further training is not necessary.
Truth: “Many are not aware of what exactly a conservatory is. A conservatory puts emphasis around the performing arts, and the directive is each and every unique soul that walks through the door. Our goal is not to manifest great ensembles, we are geared more toward the individual student. The definition of conservatory is exemplary curriculum that is manifested around every individual student where they are,” said Weise.
“All of the performance opportunities here are extraordinary – it’s not just one recital or show a year. All enrolled CSC students are afforded numerous performance opportunities throughout the year, including musicals and plays, jazz nights, recitals, operas, community gigs and outreaches,” said Weise. “When folks come and say that their child is already in jazz band, that’s great; but playing saxophone as one of eight saxophone players is very different than being in a quintet that has a gig for two hours straight. Some of our older jazz students can gig four to six times a week. Imagine your child playing at the Broadmoor at a reception for a large community function – they get really good really fast, and that’s typical here.”
Myth: It’s too expensive.
Truth: “When you break it down hour per hour the cost is so minimal. Tuition covers about half of what it costs to teach a student here, and we have no intention of paring down or watering down our curriculum. Our students that come from this part of the country are competitive when they audition on either coast, so the programs are vital to adequately prepare them,” said Weise.
The CORE after-school program is a comprehensive music and performance education that covers piano lab, music theory, studio performance, exploratory theater, recording arts and more. Students receive 30-45 minute weekly private lessons of the student’s choice, and are presented with numerous performance opportunities.
Myth: The conservatory is a closed environment that doesn’t allow parents in.
Truth: “We encourage parents to participate, but we also aim to give kids a safe space where they are not being judged and there is no expectation of what’s possible – save for us affording them to realize their own expectation. When mom or dad is within earshot, it can make a kid feel like they have to be on or to perform. We encourage parents, but at the appropriate times, because we do want to honor this space for the kids,” Weise said.
The best place to get your questions about CSC answered is at the Open House on Saturday, August 26 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. The event will provide the opportunity for kids and parents to ask questions, meet teachers, watch performances and hear students speak about their experiences. It is set up in a way where potential students are given a tour by current students around their age – so they can better grasp what the classes are like.
Colorado Springs Conservatory is located at 415 South Sahwatch Street, Colorado Springs. To learn more, call 719-577-4556 or visit ColoradoSpringsConservatory.org.