The Community


 Lynn Fleck of "Move Over Mozart" piano fame, found
an old upright with yellowing keys at Zone Music in Cotati
to bring back memories of her own beginnings.
Nowadays, it's mostly plug-in electronic keyboards for kids.
 But they still need lessons.

By Jud Snyder  September 17, 2009 06:23 pm


Tots have fun playing with colorful toy keyboards. Older kids have access to many varieties of plug-in keyboards of different sizes. The days of maple-cased upright pianos with yellowing keys in living rooms are gone. Next to guitars, plug-in keyboards are the most popular entry for kids into pop music.

Many schools have eliminated or sharply curtailed music studies due to drastic budget cuts. That's no secret.

Still holding firm is Lynn Fleck with her "Move Over Mozart" piano classes. It's a different sort of music teaching in elementary schools using groups of four or five students in 30-minute sessions held after school one day a week, October through May. The cost is $30 a month plus a one-time $17 enrollment fee to cover books and materials. Fleck and one of her assistant teachers do the work. The kids are armed with the basics and drills to practice what they've learned at the school class every week.

"They can be whatever they want to be," said Fleck. "It all depends on their desire or ambition and their parents goals. We use four-octave keyboards in the classes.

"I'm hoping to set up classes in Monte Vista and Thomas Page schools by September 30. We'll need at least a dozen students to get started."

Move Over Mozart is aimed at beginners but kids with some experience, even if it's just tinkling around with a piano at home, are also welcome. If they don't have a keyboard at home, Fleck has some scholarship programs and sources to assist them.

She's no stranger to the Cotati-Rohnert Park Unified School District for she's been teaching here for nearly a dozen years. Fleck's the coordinator for the Move Over Mozart system. Her staff works with other school districts in Sonoma County including Petaluma, Waugh, Wright, Piner-Olivet, Sebastopol, Oak Grove, Forestville and Windsor. For young students in daycare, transportation can be arranged.

She admits it's tough these days to reach the kids and their parents. The Cotati-RP School District has banned flyers for students to be stuffed in their backpacks to bring home. It was Fleck's only direct pipeline to the children. The excess number of flyers got to be too much. Now they're only allowed 20 flyers on the school office counter for students to pick up. "The school district is very supportive of our program. But they had to do something to curb all those flyers they were getting."

Naturally, Fleck's been a pianist practically all of her life. She grew up in the Sebastopol area and she and her husband live in the Hessel district just northwest of Rohnert Park. They have two adult children, Aly, 23, and Joel, 21. Fleck herself, now 50, has a degree from California Baptist University in Riverside where she majored in business.

To get in touch with Mozart and Fleck, his number one local fan, call her at 824-0307.

"What it comes down to is the kids have to practice a lot at home," she said. "We provide the beginning, set down the basics of fingering and the musical rules. They take over at their own pace."