CMS East Lansing Celebrates 20 Years

The MSU Community Music School marked two decades of providing musical education and services to Greater Lansing residents through Encore!—a special two-part celebration that included a family-friendly tailgate before an MSU football game, as well as an evening gala and fundraiser in late September.

"The anniversary events provided a way to thank our community and to celebrate the lives we've touched in 20 years," says CMS Executive Director Rhonda Buckley. "The gala also gave us the chance to showcase our new facility and to look ahead to continuing our mission of making music accessible to everyone."

Founded in 1993, CMS has grown from serving 200 students a year to more than 3,000 annually. In 20 years, this self-supporting outreach division of the MSU College of Music has provided comprehensive music experience, education, and therapy services to about 50,000 people of all ages and abilities. The CMS broadened its outreach to Detroit in 2009—a site that experienced 83 percent growth last year. In January 2013, the CMS in East Lansing moved to a new custom-renovated facility on Hagadorn Road after its lease ended at its previous home on Timberlane Drive.

Encore! featured performances by the Earl Nelson Singers, the DooWops, Paper Jam, the MSU Children’s Choir, and the Suzuki Strings Program. More than 200 attendees enjoyed food, drinks, and interactive musical experiences. Attendees also bid on an African safari and original artworks by Zarah Resh, a local artist who donated 20 percent of her silent auction sales to CMS.

In addition to honoring CMS faculty, students, and supporters, the gala raised funds for the school's financial aid program—something Buckley says will be increasingly important as more families turn to CMS to supplement the loss of music education in their schools.

“In 20 years, our crowning achievement has been to grow and stay strong in our community,” says Buckley. “That growth speaks to the need for music education and the relevance of music in our lives. Our goal is to continue to provide a place where children and adults can build community through their musical endeavors. It's like dropping a stone in water—the ripples keep expanding further and further.”

Encore! sponsors included the MSU Federal Credit Union, Jackson National Life Insurance, the Dart Foundation, Morgan Stanley, MSU Residential and Hospitality Services, Spartan Signature Catering, Good Fruit, Spartan Printing, Message Makers, Brimmer Family Design, and Melting Moments.

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