East Bay Community Music Project

Music Is Community!

EBCMP Stories: Faye Stevenson

Faye has a busy life as a small business owner and a mom, so we wanted to know what motivates her to invest time in the East Bay Community Music Project. For the past several years, Faye has regularly attended our Sunday Gatherings, Seasonal Festivals, House Parties, and Family Campouts, and also serves as a Board Member.

Recently we sat down with Faye to learn a bit of her story…

What role did Music play in your life before EBCMP?

“My most memorable and influential music experience was being in high school choir for four years. When I graduated from high school I didn’t really continue with music because I wasn’t on a performance track, and I wasn’t part of any organized religion. There was a real absence of music in my life for over 20 years, basically until I came to EBCMP. I definitely felt the lack and I missed it. But I didn’t know how I could do music without being a pro in some way.”

Faye beaming from a difficult Pilates pose
Faye teaching at East Bay Pilates

What about your Dance background?

“After high school, I switched over to dance and in college became interested in vernacular dance. I studied the ways that dance could be used as a vehicle for social change – and for building awareness around issues of social justice. I was fascinated by African dance forms as well as the English Folk dance tradition. I aspired to be a dancer for a while but I had too many varied interests and I was really more interested in healing. I realized that I had to earn money so I became a Pilates instructor.”

What was the turning point in your life that brought you back to Music?

“When I had my son Liam, my body suffered during the childbearing process. My core was a mess and here I was, a core instructor. I was really struggling in my life! I had kept in touch with my high school choir teacher and she said, “Faye, you have to have music in your life.” I thought: she’s right– it’s just been way too long! A friend told me about EBCMP. I came to my first gathering and I was in it from day one! In the beginning it was kind of intense– I hadn’t looked at a piece of sheet music for 20 years, and my son felt overstimulated, but eventually we found our groove. We both have a sense of belonging, contentment and joy in going.”

Faye with her son Liam and husband David

How do you experience the community aspect of EBCMP?

“Oh, We love our EBCMP friends! I really appreciate having these friendships with these people. We have playdates with folks outside of the gatherings and it’s really nice for both Liam and me to feel like our EBCMP friends are friends for friends sake. They’re friends because we have a common interest and passion. We do have a few family members in the area, but we don’t interact with them much and we’re not part of any organized religion, so it’s very nice for us to have and feel that sense of community.”

How has EBCMP impacted your musical life?

“I would say that the East Bay Community Music Project has overall just brought me back into the fold of music. After EBCMP helped me reconnect with my musicality, I joined the Revels Solstice Ensemble, so now I am singing in another context too, which has been really great for me! Then, In 2018, I took Doug Goodkin’s Orff workshop series for song leaders. That was great because I learned some other participatory music activities that now I’ve been able to share with people – at Liam’s school and at Cazadero Performing Arts Family Camp.

In a way, attending Cazadero for the first time this past summer was a test of what it was like to dive into a new musical community with the skills and experience I’ve acquired from EBCMP. I actually felt really comfortable! I ended up taking three different singing classes. In addition, last year I was able to organize a four week drumming class for my son and some other children. The classes were taught by Yari Mander, who I met at EBCMP. It was really neat that through the East Bay Community Music Project I had the connections to make it happen. It was great for my son and it was great for all of us. I now feel like I have more agency over music in my life. I feel like I can participate and create community music experiences.

We hope you will join Faye in supporting us financially and we hope to see you at one of our upcoming programs. Learn how you can get involved.

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EBCMP Stories: Wendy Landerholm

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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