Community Music School of Buffalo’s Executive Director, Jennifer Guillow, on Relocation to East Side

Community Music School now resides in its new home at 217 E. Delavan Avenue in the Hamlin Park Historic District and has been breaking barriers ever since. The BPO Diversity Council recently honored the Community Music School of Buffalo (CMS) for creating access and opportunities for music learning regardless of age, socio-economic status or geographic location with a special focus on breaking down real or perceived barriers for our underserved community members. 

Following is a look into the world of Community Music School, as seen through the eyes, and heard through the ears, of Executive Director, Jennifer Guillow.

Tell us about the decision to relocate CMS in 2021.

For nearly six decades, Community Music School of Buffalo made its home in the Elmwood Village. Our building was in major disrepair and no longer suited our needs. Additionally, we recognized that we were only reaching a fraction of Buffalo’s families. We knew we needed to relocate.

CMS is now located in the heart of Hamlin Park Historic District, right?

Our extended search led us to the former Lutheran Church Home building on East Delavan Avenue and it was just what we were looking for. The move to the heart of the Hamlin Park Historic District transformed our reach. We could now better fulfill our mission by serving historically underserved neighborhoods, reaching families with whom we couldn’t quite connect from Elmwood Avenue.

How did the move turn out, right off the bat, and right up to today?

We were graciously and overwhelmingly welcomed by our new Eastside community. We deepened our roots by hiring from within, bringing on new Board members, and engaging new families and students. In this vibrant setting, we found the opportunity to add additional programming to our existing catalog of offerings. We made fast friends with the treasured grandmothers of Buffalo’s cultural Eastside, staunch advocates for their families and their futures. Inspired, we launched a free Jazz and Beginner Band Club for Kids, and it was quickly filled with excited students. The kids all became true friends and found CMS was a safe space to hang out after school.

So the students are excited, the word is spreading, and performances are underway?

Their inaugural performance in June was a resounding success, followed by a beautiful family dinner provided to them by Ristorante Lombardo. We’re currently seeking funding to expand this wonderful program, as it was such a success this past year! Not only are all of our jazz students eagerly returning, there’s also a growing waiting list!

What’s new at the school?

This school year we’ll introduce a free children’s choir, harmonizing beautifully with our established, free, non-auditioned community chorus for adults, which has been in place for the past six years – even continuing to meet virtually throughout the global pandemic. 

What about adults?

Since we moved across Main Street, our adult enrollment has burgeoned, with folks expressing how welcomed and safe they feel at CMS. This is music to our ears!

Anything else?

As we approach our Centennial Celebration, we’re immensely proud to call 217 East Delavan Avenue both our home and a sanctuary for all who enter.”

(CMS) is a nonprofit organization which has been committed to providing quality music education to the residents of WNY since 1924.

The post Community Music School of Buffalo’s Executive Director, Jennifer Guillow, on Relocation to East Side appeared first on Buffalo Rising.

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