CCUSD Music Program is Taking Young Musician to New Heights

CCUSD’s music program has had a profound effect on CCMS student Hailey Gomberg and her family. Not only did her parents, James (class of ’89) and Missy (Young) Gomberg (class of ’90), meet as young musicians in CCMS/CCHS’s Marching Band. But at the age of 14, Hailey will take the stage on Sunday, February 16, at 3 pm with the professional Culver City Symphony Orchestra at the Frost Auditorium, playing the entire program with them. In addition, she will play in CCUSD’s District Music Concert (with both CCMS Strings and AVPA Orchestra) on Wednesday, February 12, at 6:30 pm, also at the Frost.

Hailey and her family are proof positive that a school-based music education can take you places. Hailey started playing the violin as an El Marino student in 4th grade, under the director of Andy Pascoe. “I fell in love with the instrument then,” she says, “and continued in the music program through 5th grade, entering Mr. Witt’s orchestral program in 6th grade at CCMS.” Now in 8th grade she’s the concertmaster (lead violinist) in CCMS’s Symphonic Strings, and also plays regularly with Culver City High School’s AVPA Orchestra.

How did Hailey become so accomplished at the violin? Practice, practice, practice. Even though she takes zero period, most mornings she arrives at CCMS even earlier to practice in Mr. Witt’s band room. “Hailey always seems to have a violin in her hands and is practicing,” says Mr. Witt. “She also composes music and generally shows a great deal of drive, confidence, and intelligence.”

In addition to CCUSD’s elementary instrumental program, Hailey was inspired by not only her parents, but her grandparents too. “My grandmother, who’s passed away, loved to hear me play. I was inspired to keep playing for her. And now my grandfather continues to support my music.”

Hailey studies at the Colburn School and last summer won the concertmaster spot in their orchestra. “She is constantly on the lookout for new challenges musically including many things that, typically, would be way beyond the abilities of other musicians her age,” adds Mr. Witt. “Because of all of the above, and with the blessing of her teacher at Colburn, I suggested she contact our local Culver City Symphony Orchestra. The idea was Hailey might be able to play in the orchestra and broaden her musical skills by being exposed to older, more experienced musicians in a professional setting.

“When a person, especially a young person, can take a collection of wood boxes, nylon strings, metal or wood tubing, or the other very pedestrian and common physical components of a musical instrument and, through the sheer force of their will, coax music out of them and touch other people’s hearts, they know there’s nothing they can’t accomplish with enough hard work and dedication.”

Culver City Middle School, besides a great Choir program, offers beginning, intermediate, and advanced classes in band and string instruments. All the classes, and all levels, are available to 6th, 7th, and 8th, graders, so it’s never too late to start.

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