Cindy Lewis, Operations Manager

PCM is excited to welcome Cindy as our new Operations Manager! Cindy has spent over 23 years as a home school educator. In addition to successfully educating her own children from birth through university level, she developed curricula for other homeschoolers based on their individual needs and circumstances. Her children’s passion for music led her to become immersed in the classical music scene, from early childhood music lessons to national and international solo and chamber music competitions.

Woman smiling at the camera

You have been connected with PCM for over ten years, through the chamber music program and also the PCM Chamber Music Competition. What are some highlights or your impressions from these past experiences?

My overall impression as a parent is that PCM is incredibly supportive and inclusive, values excellence and hard work, and offers wonderful opportunities to their students. That is the reason why I made the commute from Orange County to Pasadena for chamber music lessons! A highlight from those years was when my daughter’s quartet won the Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition; it was the culmination of many years of hard work. My involvement with chamber music eventually led to managing the PCM Chamber Music Competition. The highlight of that experience was being able to work closely with Andrew Cook to bring the competition to life. Thinking about the competitions PCM hosted and numerous events I attended as a parent brings to mind so many wonderful memories – too many to list!

Who is your favorite musician and why?

I’ve never had a single favorite musician; rather I have preferred interpretations of favorite pieces. So when I listen to Bach’s cello suites, I’ll choose a Pieter Wispelwey recording and for Gregorian Chants, I listen to The Benedictine Monks of Santo Domingo de Silos. What draws me to those interpretations is that they have the power to shut out the rest of the world while I’m listening, and the works become a form of meditation. I would be remiss, though, if I didn’t also mention my obsession with Lin-Manuel Miranda and his musical Hamilton – I have easily seen the movie over 100 times. I marvel at his mastery of lyrics.

Three of your children are accomplished musicians. Can you share about your experience in nurturing their musical development and individual aspirations from childhood to adulthood?

Of course. My experience began by creating a “prepared environment” in the home following the principles of Montessori education. (I’m qualified to teach Montessori from infancy to 12 years of age.) During this time, the kids experimented with sound and learned the basic structure of musical notation using Montessori bells, a felt staff and little disks to represent notes. We had a piano they could play at any time. Occasionally I would leave a picture book on the piano and suggest they make up a song to go along with the pictures, but mostly the piano was something to play with the same way blank paper and crayons were set out to encourage coloring in whatever form that might take.

When my oldest asked to learn the bassoon, I had to pivot to thinking about formal music lessons. I was told it would be years before he would be big enough to handle a bassoon and that I should think about the violin for him – thus began our Suzuki years. I read all of Shinichi Suzuki’s books and took a semester of violin lessons myself learning all of Twinkle Variations. My son began violin lessons and two years later my daughter chose the cello. These were years filled with individual and group lessons, practice charts, summer camps and book parties. What I learned during this time is that there was so much I didn’t know! Had I only understood the importance of the bow hold back then… But I diligently took notes during all of the lessons and set up my own system at home to support the teacher’s plan. Eventually we shifted from Suzuki to traditional music studies at different times and for different reasons for my son and daughters.

Once it became evident that music was turning into more than a regular extra-curricular activity, the focus became finding the right teachers to address the different needs and aspirations of each of my children. One of my daughters enjoyed competitions, the other did not. One wanted to attend conservatory; the other was interested only in universities. My job during those years was to follow the lead of each child and support their goals while keeping doors open for future possibilities. Those years involved lots of chamber music practice sessions, travel to chamber music competitions, and applying to colleges. It involved working with my children’s teachers and coaches and making sure I supported those relationships. Sometimes my role was very active and other times it was more passive. Much like all aspects of parenting! Through it all, though, I really just wanted my children to be happy, to follow their dreams (as opposed to anyone else’s dreams) and to be polite. #parentinggoals

Is there anything about yourself you’d like to share with our families that we might not already know about you?

I have always loved to organize things and create order from chaos – closets, kitchens, anything and everything really! I even studied the KonMari method with Marie Kondo to learn more about her philosophy of living a joyful life through decluttering and tidying up.

What are you looking forward to most in joining the PCM team?

I am most looking forward to collaborating with the incredible staff and faculty to support the mission of the school which is to educate, advocate, inspire, and share. This is a vision that aligns with my personal values and life experiences so I am thrilled to be a part of the team!