Category Archives: News

Support Crescendo Academy of Music

November 12, 2018 – This year marks the 30th Anniversary of Crescendo Academy of Music; would you consider a gift to support us? Along with our celebrations we have reflected on our core values and all of the ways we bring music to people regardless of their age, ability or income.

People.  We nurture the growth of musicians: Crescendo’s teaching artists, students, families, and audiences nurture talent, excitement, and musical spirit.

Inclusion.  We invite everyone to make music: We offer programs for ages zero to adult, adaptive lessons, group experiences for teens and adults with mental and physical challenges, and need-based financial assistance so everyone can participate.

Community.  We engage our community in musical experience: While you can find us in the lower level of the Epic Center downtown Kalamazoo, that is not where we stay. We are in the community every day teaching, performing, and enjoying music.

Quality.  Together, we elevate musical excellence: The expertise of our high quality teaching artists raises our students and their musical experiences to new heights.

Our values are what makes us a great community music school. They are as large as the goals and dreams our students have and that we have for them.  These dreams become possible through your gifts. In recent years we have been able to award over $25,000 annually in scholarships to students who would otherwise not have the opportunity to have music in their lives.

We value people, inclusion, community and quality; and we value you. Your generous gift and support will help us continue this valuable work. Thank you for your gift as we look ahead to the next 30 years and beyond.

I’ve been singing my whole life (from singing in the shower to my weekly new favorite musical), but my voice and skills truly changed for the better when I started taking lessons with Shannon Scoles at Crescendo. Previously, my throat would hurt, my range was minimal, and I knew I needed professional help to grow as a singer. Thanks to the scholarship program with Crescendo, my dream has been made available to me – and has made all the difference.

I adore my teacher, and my lesson time with Shannon is the very best part of my week. We work on anything from Italian classics to lesser-known jazz pieces, and each one is simultaneously challenging and exciting. Each lesson furthers my musical education in ways I didn’t expect.

I’d also like to note that my participation in the Epic Broadway summer camp was illuminating. It gave me a very well-rounded experience in the different forms of musical theatre, facilitating my education in the arts. It was fun and exciting, and I learned to work in ensemble singing, as well as dance and acting techniques. To that end, I enrolled with the Education for Fine Arts Musical Theatre class this year, and am enjoying working with Epic Broadway faculty member Corlyn Longer-Schreck there.

None of this would have been possible without the gracious generosity awarded to me via the scholarship for my lessons with Shannon. It has changed my singing, my musical career, and my life all around. Thank you ~~~~Lillie, voice student of Shannon Scoles

Since she was tiny, Lillie has been singing. When we moved to Kalamazoo several years ago, I learned of Crescendo Academy, and applied for a scholarship for voice lessons for her. Luckily for us, she was awarded one, and it has been transformative. She has moved from singing for enjoyment to singing as a central focus of her life and career goals. She has grown, musically and talent-wise, in more ways than I could ever have imagined. It has brought us such joy to see her talents evolve exponentially. Thank you so much for investing in her music and future. ~~~~Jessie, mother of Lillie

To hear Lillie singing, “I Love Paris,” accompanied by piano teaching artist Anthony Healy, visit our Facebook page!


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Ben Schmidt-Swartz Joins Crescendo Teaching Faculty

November 1, 2018 – Ben Schmidt-Swartz has joined the ranks of the our teaching faculty! Ben brings an extensive background in saxophone and jazz to Crescendo, and is currently accepting students of all playing levels. Ben earned his Master and Bachelor degrees from Western Michigan University, where he had the opportunity to play with some of the world’s leading jazz musicians including Paquito D’Rivera, Kurt Elling, Fred Hersch, Billy Hart, Bob Mintzer, Stefon Harris, and Donny McCaslin. Also through WMU, Ben had the opportunity to perform at the Detroit International Jazz Festival, The Monterey Next Generation Jazz Festival, and at the Jazz Educators Network (JEN).

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Violist/Violinist Ann Cirvencic Joins Teaching Faculty

October 8, 2018 – Violist and violinist Ann Cirvencic has joined the Crescendo Academy of Music teaching faculty. Ann returns to Kalamazoo after time spent performing and teaching in the Cleveland area. Her undergraduate studies were completed under Gerald Fischbach and David  Updegraff at WMU. After a semester of graduate pedagogy studies and assistant teaching with Mimi Zweig at Indiana University, Ann moved to the Cleveland area to study viola with Lucien Joel at the Cleveland Institute of Music. Other teachers that have greatly influenced her playing include Bob Vernon, Lynne Ramsey, Tadeusz Wronski, Heidi Castleman, Alan Bodman, Laurence Shapiro, Linda Cerone and Cory Smith.

Ann is currently enrolling students in both viola and violin.

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Executive Director Audrey Lipsey Awarded Gayle Hoogstraten Arts Leadership Award – Arts Administrator

August 10, 2018 – Crescendo’s Executive Director Audrey Lipsey has been awarded the Gayle Hoogstraten Award for Arts Leadership – Administrator by the Arts Council of Greater Kalamazoo for her many years of service to the Kalamazoo Community. The award ceremony will be held on Sunday, August 26 at 4:00 pm at the Kalamazoo Civic Theater. Congrats, Audrey!

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Henry Rensch Joins Crescendo Teaching Faculty

July 30, 2018 – Henry Rensch has joined Crescendo as a bass instructor. Henry is a multi-instrumental performer, educator, composer, and engineer from Kalamazoo, MI, and has been working in the west Michigan area for over 10 years. Rensch received his Masters degree from Western Michigan University in 2017, and holds undergraduate degrees in both jazz studies and electrical engineering from the University of Michigan.

While at UofM, Rensch studied with world renown jazz bassist Robert Hurst. He also received instruction from eminent jazz veterans John Clayton, Christian McBride, and many more. At WMU, he served as graduate assistant, providing dedicated bass lessons to students ranging from undergraduate seniors to non-majors at the request of professor of both jazz and classical bass, Tom Knific. He also performed onstage with an incredible array of jazz legends including Rufus Reid, George Garzone, Terrell Stafford, Billy Hart, Jimmy Cobb, Peter Erskine, Chico Pinheiro, and Ed Simon.

An accomplished doubler on electric and double basses, Rensch is in demand in the Kalamazoo area, and has enjoyed being part of a wide variety of performances and recordings in jazz, folk, prog-rock, hip hop, avant-garde, funk, country, and numerous other genres. He has performed numerous times with American Idol finalist Matt Giraud, and has been the sole bassist for the local Dan Willenberg Trio, which performed weekly at Kalamzoo’s The Union Cabaret and Grille for over 3 years. He is an alum of the award winning WMU-based Latin jazz ensemble, Mas Que Nada, and the Nashville-based piano rock trio We Know Jackson. Rensch co-founded the commercial music practicum ensemble Groove Lab, and is the host and bandleader for a new performance series at Rupert’s Brewhouse. In addition to musical performance and education, Rensch is also a skilled audio engineer who has worked on numerous performances and productions, provided instruction in audio engineering, served as graduate assistant to the WMU Multimedia Arts Department, and enjoys building and repairing audio equipment in his spare time.

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  • Music Instruction for All Ages & Abilities



    Our Mission:
    … to provide individualized music instruction in a positive and supportive atmosphere to all persons regardless of age, ability or income.

    Epic Center, Suite 12
    359 S. Kalamazoo Mall
    Kalamazoo, MI 49007

    269 / 345-6664

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    March 17:
    Student recital
    Sunday, 2:00 pm
    First Presbyterian Church

    April 20:
    Student recital
    Saturday, 2:00 pm
    First Presbyterian Church


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