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CMS and C4A ~ Making Music in Urbana

Chances are, if you have visited local businesses in Champaign-Urbana, you have encountered someone within the CMS community, whether it be a current or past CMS student, family, teacher or board member. Over the next month, we will be spotlighting community members who have ties to CMS.

This week, we met up with Robin Kearton, co-founder of C4A, and music teacher at CMS.

How are you affiliated with CMS?

I am the music teacher at CMS. I teach 6th, 7th, and 8th grade music classes. I see each class for one period, twice a week. During our time together we learn about music theory and history, think about the role of music in our lives, and actively make music together. I also lead the after school ensemble once a week. This group is for playing music, but there's more to it than just learning pieces! The biggest lessons are about teamwork, and what it takes--in addition to learning notes--to play together in a band!

Tell us about C4A.

C4A, or Community Center for the Arts, is a community music school in downtown Urbana. My spouse, Tom Faux, and I founded the school together in 2006. We currently have over 20 teachers and about 250 students enrolled in lessons, classes, and ensembles. All of our teachers are professional musicians who live and work here in CU, and all of them are dedicated teachers. The range of performing experience among our teachers is vast, and includes: classical, jazz, rock, afro-pop, country, blues, folk, tango, Irish fiddling, electric violin, old-time fiddle, baroque music, punk, klezmer, and more. Our students have access to all of these performance styles through our faculty.

Our underlying philosophy at C4A is to meet the students where they are and empower them as musicians--from the earliest level of instruction through very advanced playing. Our teachers tailor the lessons to meet the needs and goals of each student, and we encourage everyone to play music with other people, whether they are kids or adults, beginners, or skilled players. We teach note reading, playing by ear, improvising, music theory, or anything else we know that the students want to learn!

What does C4A have to offer CMS students?

We're always happy to have new students in our teaching studios and ensembles. For CMS students specifically, we offer the Bow-Dacious String Band, a one-room schoolhouse for kids age 6-high school. We learn fiddle tunes, pop songs, video and movie music, classic rock, and even a few classical tunes. All of the music we play is arranged to be challenging for skilled players and inclusive for players with less experience. We emphasize teamwork, being in a band, developing ensemble skills and playing by ear, and we usually perform at least a few times each semester.

Interested in learning more about C4A? Check out their website at or their Facebook page at

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