Shirley Robertson|A Beginner’s Mind

A retired clinical social worker, adult student Shirley Robertson has always enjoyed creative activities. After suffering from asthma for twenty years, she took up singing in hopes of improving her lung function. She has since enjoyed singing a variety of musical styles including classical, jazz, and musical theater.

Woman in brown shawl singing outside with a music stand

Shirley first learned about PCM in 2016 when she attended ArtNight on campus. “I remember being impressed by the students and faculty, but I didn’t immediately envision myself here. I loved music and I loved singing, but I wasn’t an aspiring musician.”

A couple years later, however, a friend told her about PCM’s classes for adults and encouraged her to try Glee Club. After just one class, she was hooked. “Singing in Glee truly lifts my day. Lindsay [Dodoras] is an amazing teacher. She has just the right touch and helps us find the confidence to try new things.”

It wasn’t long before Shirley enrolled in Musical Theater, Ukulele, and other classes for adults, including “Creativity Through Logic,” a class with Dimitris Dodoras that explores the technology and methods behind the music software, Logic Pro X. “I believe in the beginner’s mind and that our brains benefit from the process of learning something new. These classes have truly been eye-opening and have revealed previously unrealized skills and possibilities.”

Two women with glasses posing happily in front of a wall of ivy.

In 2019, when she was diagnosed with lung cancer, Shirley never missed a class. “My classes at PCM have become part of who I am, what I do. They’ve been a lifeline for me. I just can’t imagine not being part of this community.”

At the onset of the pandemic in March 2020, Shirley and her classmates stuck together and powered through the challenges of distance learning. “At the time of the shutdown, we were learning Family Reunion, a musical my husband Don wrote. Having Glee Club and working on this project together, even remotely, kept us connected during such an uncertain time.”

The majority of PCM’s programs for adults continued online last year, providing important opportunities during a particularly isolating time for adults to stay engaged and connected. Classes have now returned to campus in hybrid formats, with some students in person and some students online. For more information about current classes for adults, visit our Adult Studies page or contact the PCM office at 626-683-3355.