Susan’s Civic Engagement

Susan’s Projects Engaging Voice Students with Community Partners

For several years now I have been looking for and implementing innovative ways to train our students at Cal State LA and in my summer programs of Angels Vocal Art (AVA), Vancouver International Song Institute (VISI), and CSU Summer Arts in Trossingen, Germany. By far, the most effective way to prepare our music students for the demands of 21st century society is to incorporate Civic Engagement into the music curriculum by developing community partners and collaborating in community projects. Below is the list of community partners and projects in which I’ve been fortunate to participate. For more information on each project, please see the tabs in this section.

I’ve also been fortunate enough to create curriculum required for our music performance majors and these are listed as well.

  1. CSULA Voice Students & Anne Douglas Center for Women in LA’s Skid Row Project — This ongoing project involves current students providing music that fits into the curriculum of the Women’s Rehabilitation Program.
  2. Campus Community Engagement Projects –We performed Hydrogen Jukebox by Philip Glass, an opera based on the words of Allen Ginsberg and did projects in the community in cooperation with our campus community partners: Charter College of Education, Center for Poetry and Poetics, and the Hydrogen Station as well as Student Life’s Earth Day Event.
  3. Faculty Fellowship for the Public Good — This is a research project using engaged scholarship. The question was: What does the City of Los Angeles value in the arts? I partnered with the Department of Cultural Affairs to observe and participate in their arts offerings and resources with the hope to retool my own training to create publicly engaged musicians who might come through the arts pipeline into civil service jobs in the town where they were trained.
  4. AVA Summer Program – Community Partners for this project include: Holy Grounds Coffee Shop & Lorena Heights Housing Project. Students took Spanish songs to these places and sang them for mostly Spanish-speaking children and adults.
  5. Music & Wellness Mini-Grant – Music students created repertoire that was about healing in collaboration with community partners. Partners included: Rio Hondo Subacute and Nursing Center, Upland Rehabilitation and Care Center, and the California Hospital in downtown Los Angeles. Students were also fortunate enough to get some training in singing for Alzheimer’s patients from Gayle Heuser from the Silverado Hospice. Gayle has a masters degree in vocal performance from Indiana University and has used her knowledge and talent to bring music to Alzheimer’s patients and other terminal patients to help ease the end of life.


Curriculum and Graded Projects

  1. MUS 3088 – Music as Service in the Real World – for Juniors, Perform with the intent of Public Good, focus on schools, churches, health & wellness venues (hospitals, nursing homes, hospice), and non-traditional venues (coffee houses, bars, lobbies)
  2. MUS 4088 – Music as Service in the Real World – for Seniors, Perform with the intent of Public Good, focus on governmental agencies, non-governmental agencies, for profit organizations, not-for-profit organizations, entertainment venues, street performance/public art, and online platforms.
  3. MUS 5088 – Music as Service in the Real World – For Graduate Students, Perform with the intent of Public Good, focus on all venues in 3088 and 4088 plus starting their own business (website) offering music to help solve a public problem and audition for professional gigs in the field.



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