East Bay Community Music Project

Music Is Community!

EBCMP Stories: Wendy Landerholm

on December 19, 2019

For the past 4 to 5 years, Wendy Landerholm and her family regularly have attended our Sunday Gatherings and Family Campouts. When not hiking or making music, Wendy serves as Firm Administrator of Landerholm Immigration, A.P.C., an immigration law firm she and her husband Otis started in 2011, and they have two kids, River and Koah.

Given all the demands on her time, we were curious to know what motivates Wendy to volunteer for the East Bay Community Music Project, where she is finishing her second term as Board Treasurer. 


If Wendy’s first love is music, then her second love is being outdoors in nature, especially hiking, backpacking (her favorite was through the Himalayas in Nepal), camping, gardening, and living sustainably.

What is your musical background?

“I have played music my entire life. I don’t even really remember when I started taking piano lessons from my aunt, maybe in first grade. I also took flute lessons from third grade through college and was always in band or orchestra. I’m a classically-trained musician at heart, but I was also in jazz band in elementary school and junior high.  I didn’t feel comfortable improvising on my own, however. Band and orchestra taught me that there is something very special about playing with a group of people, about blending yourself within that group and creating something that’s really beautiful. I miss doing that…”

What did you discover when you came to EBCMP?

“We went to our first East Bay Community Music Project gathering after I saw an announcement in the Berkeley Parents’ Network. At EBCMP, I found that, unlike classical music, it wasn’t about perfection. It was about improvisation and going with the flow, and that was a very different view on music than I was used to, and it was very refreshing!”

What keeps you and your family coming back to EBCMP?

“We go for ourselves as much as for our kids…One of the reasons that we continue to go back is that there’s a deep sense of community that is hard to experience anywhere else.  At EBCMP, it feels easy to sing with other people and you don’t have to worry about your level of singing (or dancing). It’s like seeing your friends every other Sunday, and also seeing new faces. It’s nice to know that the organization is reaching other people and that people are drawn to it.”

How has participating in EBCMP impacted you musically?

“I do feel much more comfortable with improvisation, even just playing around with harmony during the events. And there are lots of songs that both my husband and I are very comfortable sharing with our friends and families because the songs are so accessible.  Even though I love playing classical music, in my opinion, it isn’t always as accessible for everyone at the very beginning, because you have to have a certain skill level.”

Tell us more about how you’ve shared some of your EBCMP experience with other communities in your life!

“It is remarkable how the songs we learn through EBCMP show up in our daily lives— on our way to school and work, at bedtime, when we are with friends, family, and co-workers… We sometimes have huge family reunions and my husband, Otis, brings out his guitar, sits out on the porch with my cousins’ kids, and plays songs we’ve learned from EBCMP.  He plays and the kids are just sitting there watching and singing with him, and they seem very calm and grounded. We also just had a team campout with our law firm staff. This was our second year having the campout, and it’s a tradition to sing a song we learned at EBCMP,  James Harding’s “Round the Oak Tree,” around the campfire – it gets requested now!”

Any parting thoughts?

“I grew up with music and know intimately the special energy and joy that comes from making music. To have a space where that can be shared in community is truly special.”

If, like Wendy, you believe that spaces where people can make music in community are truly special, we hope you will join her in supporting EBCMP. And we hope to make music with you soon at one of our upcoming events!

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