Cascade School of Music Needs Room to Grow

It’s been nearly 15 years since Cascade School of Music first struck a chord with the residents of Central Oregon. Beginning with 50 students, classes were held on the campus of Sagewood School, a small, private Waldorf School on O.B. Riley Road. Today, the nonprofit program serves more than 500 students from a Bend Park and Recreation District building on 200 NW Pacific Park Lane by the Deschutes River.
As the school’s student population continues to grow alongside the community, leadership is starting to discuss next steps to accommodate the increasing demand for music lessons.
“We’re starting to feel the squeeze in terms of space,” said Executive Director Dillon Schneider. “We’ve got a significant waiting list of students who want private lessons, and we’re doing everything we can to welcome them, but there’s no question that we’re outgrowing the building.”
According to Schneider, the school’s lease with BPR will expire next year and there are longer-term plans to remove the building as part of the Mirror Pond redevelopment project.
“We feel so fortunate to have this beautiful location and the support of the Bend Park and Recreation District over the past six years, but we have to start planning ahead so we can meet the future needs of our community.”
With more than 30 faculty members providing a wide selection of individual and group learning opportunities, Cascade School of Music is home to musicians of all ages and interests. Offering instruction in violin, guitar, piano, drums, harp, ukulele, mandolin, brass, woodwind and voice, it is one of the most comprehensive music schools in Central Oregon.
Beyond the eclectic mix of classes, the school also offers unique opportunities for students of all ages to interact and perform together as rock bands, blue grass groups, classical ensembles and more. Some of the adult groups even welcome young children to join them in the music experience.
“These inter-generational opportunities are exposing young students to music they might not experience among peers,” said Schneider.
Examples of this connection include 15-year-old Kierra Bonn and her 10-year-old sister Aubrielle, who play with the Cascade School of Music adult harp ensemble.
While harp may seem an interesting choice for a teen these days, Kierra explained that she didn’t know of anyone her age that played and thought it would be really different.
“I love that it’s so unique and it’s really beautiful,” she said. “When I play, the harp leans up against my shoulder and against my heart and it almost feels like I’m part of the instrument. It’s really emotional.”
Kierra’s love for the harp quickly rubbed off on her sister Aubrielle, who takes both harp and piano lessons at the school.
“My sister’s harp was in the living room and every now and then I would pluck at it and I enjoyed is so much,” said Aubrielle, who especially likes to play duets with her sister and members of the adult ensemble group.
Schneider explained that there are many families like the Bonns who have more than one child enrolled in music classes at the school.
“We know we have something really special here, and we want to welcome new family members long into the future,” said Schneider.
According to Schneider, the school’s board of directors has been working on the facility issue for the past six months. They have convened a community advisory board and held preliminary meetings with fundraising and strategic planning consultants. The next step, Dillon says, is to begin gathering additional community input.
“We want to be prepared and plan for our future, our families and our community,” said Schneider.
Cascade School of Music is a nonprofit organization dedicated toproviding quality music education programs for students of all ages and abilities. Located in Bend, Oregon, the school’s mission is to foster, develop, and encourage the musical community of Central Oregon by creating affordable and effective educational and performance opportunities that bring people together in music, regardless of an individual’s ability to pay.

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