United Conservatory of Music December 2019





How 2019 Changed UCM

I’ll always remember 2019 as the year we sawed a hole in the wall. Our class of students doubled in size over the last year, and we desperately needed more space. Fortunately the suites next to ours were unoccupied, so we knocked down a wall and were able to spread our arms again. We started the year with 250 students learning music at the United Conservatory of Music. We go into the new year with over 500 students enrolled, on track to see that number double again in 2020. This time, we won’t be able to knock down anymore walls to make room for everyone. This is why we’ve been considering moving spaces for a while. The plan is to move into a new home by April 2020 — one that will be able to hold everything UCM can become. There will never be another year like this one. My plan from the beginning was to see our student body, our teachers, and our staff grow in number. But it’s one thing to plan and another to see it become a reality. This year reminded me that when you put your mind to it, you can realize your dreams as long as you’re willing to do the work. And 2019 was a year of hard work. It can be difficult to drive your plans to fruition, but it’s really exciting when things pay off. “The United Conservatory of Music is dedicated to being that place and contributing to the growing culture of music and arts here in Fresno.”

This year, UCM was a finalist for the Music Academy Success System’s School of the Year award. This was a huge honor. The winner is selected by their peers, and while UCM didn’t win this

year, it was still great to be recognized for our growth. It was always really cool to meet with other schools and learn from one another. There is a huge drive to bring music back and make it more accessible in our communities. I’m proud to be a part of this movement and see music grow in Fresno. I’ll never forget what we accomplished in 2019; it laid the groundwork for where we will go in the future. I’ve spoken many times about my plans to make performances a more integral part of UCM. I am incredibly optimistic for what the future will bring. We have a lot of families moving to Fresno and looking for safe places where their kids can come together after school to have fun and make friends. The United Conservatory of Music is dedicated to being that place and contributing to the growing culture of music and arts here in Fresno.

Here’s to a bright future!

—Christopher Scherer

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MORE THAN JUST ‘YOU’LL SHOOT YOUR EYE OUT!’ Lessons Families Can Learn From ‘A Christmas Story’

In 1983, one movie introduced Red Ryder BB guns, fishnet-clad leg lamps, and bright red bars of soap into America’s everlasting Christmas mythos. Now, over 35 years later, “A Christmas Story” continues to delight audiences every holiday season with timeless lessons for viewers of all ages. In a story where kids are clever and kind, and parents are bumbling and wise, “A Christmas Story” has more lessons to offer families than just, “You’ll shoot your eye out!” Your kids are listening to you (oh, fudge!). They aren’t always obedient, but that doesn’t mean they’re not listening. After Ralphie lets slip the “queen mother of dirty words” in front of his father, the narrator reminisces about first hearing that word from his old man — possibly when he was trying to get their furnace to work. He doesn’t admit this to his mother, but it’s a lesson for parents everywhere that kids may hear more than they let on. Kids won’t believe in magic forever. Magical stories about Santa or even “Little Orphan Annie’s” Secret Society fill children’s hearts with wonder but won’t enchant them forever. Belief in certain parts of the Christmas season can fade slowly or die as quickly as the spin of a decoder pin, but parents can always be there to remind children about what’s really important during the Christmas season.

YURT SWEET YURT Glamping in Beautiful Locations

The allure of the great outdoors calls to many, but pitching a tent and cooking over a fire isn’t for everyone. If that describes you, consider the yurt: a small, permanent structure often outfitted with electricity, plumbing, and other modern amenities. Expertly nestled in remote locations, they provide comforts of home in the midst of nature. Here are just a few around the United States available for rent.

Treebones Resort, California

For those new to the glamping scene, this is a great choice for an easy transition. With picturesque views of the Pacific Ocean, the Treebones Resort in Big Sur has an array of spaciously comfortable yurts to choose from. The resort has heated pools, a cozy lodge, and even a sushi bar. About an hour up the coastline, you can find a few shops, restaurants, and art galleries if you decide you’ve gotten your dose of nature for the day.

Sometimes ‘disasters’ lead to new adventures.

Spruce Hole Yurt, Colorado

Christmas Day can be hectic, and, in the hubbub of it all, sometimes disaster can feel inevitable. Ralphie’s parents certainly experience their fair share of disaster in hilarious fashion when the Bumpus Hounds destroy their holiday turkey and leave nothing but the heavenly aroma. But, when Ralphie’s father takes them out to eat at a local Chinese restaurant, it creates a whole new Christmas tradition for the Parker family. Our holiday mishaps, no matter how tragic, are rarely the end of the world.

Nestled in the San Juan Mountains about 10 miles north of New Mexico, this yurt is a snow-lover’s paradise. Skiing, snowshoeing, and hiking trails are plentiful in this backcountry location. At the end of a chilly day, come home to comfy beds, cooking supplies, and decor made to feel like you’re camping — but with sturdy walls to keep out the cold.

Falls Brook Yurts, NewYork

For the glampers who truly want to get away, hike just under 1 mile into the woods of the Adirondack Mountains to discover rustic yurts beckoning you to cook over a fire or bundle up with a book. At night, the yurt’s domed skylight offers excellent stargazing. For those keen on winter activities, skiing and snowshoeing trails start right outside the front door. In the summer, enjoy hiking, fishing, and swimming.

Consider one final tip: Do not stick your tongue to any flagpoles this winter! Happy holidays!

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WHAT ABOUT DUNDER AND BLIXEM? The Strange History of Santa’s Reindeer

We all know reindeer visit our rooftops every Christmas Eve, but what brings them there? Follow the unique and complicated history of Santa’s reindeer to find out.

as Santa’s companions. In the late 1890s, the Sami natives of Northern Europe, who were longtime reindeer herders, made their

A visit fromwho on what night? In the 1820s, Clement Clarke Moore penned a holiday poem that became the foundation for a phenomenon still alive today. Commonly known as “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas,”“A Visit From St. Nicholas” is a beloved story shared by every generation. It is in this poem that reindeer were first credited with powering Santa’s sleigh around the globe. Many popular songs, movies, and plays have preserved Moore’s vision of St. Nick, and his reindeer and their names are no exception. (Well, kind of.) Rudolph wouldn’t join the squad until a department store added him as part of their promotions in the 1930s. What’s in a name? Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, and Cupid were all brought to life by Moore, but have you ever heard of Dunder and Blixem? Though we now know the duo as Donner and Blitzen, Moore originally named themDunder and Blixem— the Dutch words for thunder and lightning—but publishing companies wanted names that would rhyme better with the rest of the poem. Still, it was a few decades before Donner and Blitzen made their appearances in the version of the poemwe know today. Reindeer burgers, anyone? Moore’s poem paved the way for Santa’s most famous form of transportation, but it was actually Carl Lomen, an Alaskan businessman, who mass-marketed reindeer

passage from Norway to the U.S. with a herd of reindeer to invigorate the Alaskan landscape and help their native neighbors. Lomen saw the reindeer as an opportunity and partnered with the Macy’s department store

company to create a promotional Christmas parade in which Santa, led by his reindeer, a sleigh, and Sami herders, were prominently featured. Lomen’s goal was to promote his massive reindeer conglomerate for the production and sale of reindeer meat. Instead, a holiday story was born.



Inspired by Ina Garten



1 chicken, approx. 5–6 lbs


Heat oven to 425 F.

Kosher salt


Rinse chicken inside and out, removing giblets if included. Move to a work surface, pat dry, and liberally season with salt and pepper. Stuff cavity with thyme bunch, lemon halves, and garlic head. Brush outside with butter, and then season again. Tie chicken legs together with kitchen string. Meanwhile, in a roasting pan, toss onions and carrots in olive oil and season with salt, pepper, and 20 sprigs of thyme. Place the chicken on the vegetables and roast for 1 1/2 hours. Remove from oven, and let stand for 20 minutes covered with foil.

Freshly ground pepper

1 large bunch fresh thyme, 20 sprigs removed

1 lemon, halved


1 head garlic, cut in half crosswise

2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted


1 large yellow onion, thickly sliced 4 carrots, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces


Solution on Page 4


Slice and serve with the vegetables.

Olive oil

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559.869.8263 www.unitedconservatory.org Mon-Fri: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sat-Sun: 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.


INSIDE 1 What’s Next for UCM? 4747 North First Street, Ste. 185 Fresno, CA 93726


Yurts: Glamping at Its Finest Lessons Families Can Learn From ‘A Christmas Story’ How Santa Claus Became Powered by Reindeer Classic Roast Chicken



Peyo the Therapy Horse

HORSING AROUND Meet a Different Kind of Therapy Animal

Horses have been loyal and useful companions to humans for centuries. But unbeknownst to many who fear these long-legged, 1,000-plus- pound mammals, horses are also naturally intuitive and extremely sensitive to the moods of people around them. These traits make them excellent therapy animals for those with autism, cerebral palsy, chronic illnesses, and PTSD, among many more. In fact, there are dedicated horse- riding camps geared toward chronically ill children and adults all over the world. However, riding horses isn’t the only way to benefit from equine therapy; horses are also fantastic comfort animals

Meet Peyo, the 14-year-old “love stallion” from Dijon, France, who is cheering up chronically ill patients one nuzzle at a time. This accomplished artistic dressage competitor accompanies his owner, Hassen Bouchakour, on visits to hospitals and nursing homes, bringing joy with every clop of his hooves. Patients suffering from all manner of ailments blossom when Peyo comes to visit, laughing and smiling while being nudged by his soft nose. He seems to have a keen sense for patients who are truly suffering, and though his handler is always nearby, Peyo often chooses which rooms to enter of his own volition. Having a horse in a hospital room may not sound very sanitary, but Peyo goes through a strict grooming regimen to be deemed hygienic enough to be around patients. His hooves are greased, his mane and tail are braided, and his entire body is rubbed down with antibacterial lotion before being covered by a blanket. Before Peyo became a therapy horse, he was almost put up for sale by Bouchakour, who had a hard time wrangling Peyo’s fiery personality. But, over time, when they traveled to shows and competitions together, Bouchakour noticed the horse was drawn to the injured and disabled and would instantly calm at their touch. “It is one of the most pure, honest, and sweet things,” Bouchakour says. “They like each other very much without asking for anything else.”

that can relieve anxiety and promote a positive environment for bedridden patients — as long as the doorway is big enough.

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Q: What is your favorite thing about the piano/violin? A: The unique sounds they make. Q: What do you like most about lessons? A: That I get to spend an hour with Chris learning the instruments. Q: What is your favorite piece that you’ve played? A: “Ode to Joy.” Q: What are some other hobbies or activities you participate in? A: Golf, soccer, chess, designing ships, and playing Roblox with my friends.

Staff Spotlight: Joshua Bravo

Mr. Josh is an active vocalist in the Fresno/Clovis area. He has been performing around the valley since 2014, singing various jazz standards for special events and the Fresno Fair. He’s in school for choral education at Fresno City College. He also specializes in musical theater, having been in over 30 musicals and vocal directing for CMT (Children’s Musical Theaterworks). Mr. Josh teaches piano, voice, and guitar and has had an awesome time getting to work with the UCM team. He also plays accordion! We are so grateful to have you with us, Mr. Josh!

Q: What are things YOU like most about teaching? A: My favorite thing is being able to watch my students grow as musicians and people. Q: How do you inspire student practice more? A: I try to talk about the importance of practice in making steady progress in whatever instrument they’re learning. Focusing on music the students are passionate about helps them become a bigger part of the process. Q: What do you feel are the benefits of a child learning music? A: I believe that music can be a great discipline for young students to take up; most every instrument can become a career or a lifelong skill. And it’s fun! Q: What is your favorite type of music? A: Jazz or musical theater. Q: What do you like the most about teaching at UCM? A: I think it is a great place for students to learn all different types of music. It’s also a great opportunity for teachers to share ideas and concepts. The staff are awesome!

Follow our Facebook and Instagram to see more! www.instagram.com/unitedconservatory www.facebook.com/unitedconservatory

Christmas Break Dec. 22, 2019 – Jan. 3, 2020 Upcoming Dates to Note:

Musical Ladder Achievements Here are just a few of the wonderful students who received a Music Ladder Award recently. Congrats, everyone! Follow our Facebook and Instagram to see more! www.instagram.com/unitedconservatory www.facebook.com/unitedconservatory

Upcoming changes for the new year:

Dear UCM family,

As we look forward to new year, I just want to inform you of a few changes. The invoices will now be for the entire year, and the registration fee will be $30 per enrolled student for the year, which you will see in January. We charge a registration fee for many reasons, one of which is because we want to make sure everyone’s account is properly taken care of. Another is to make sure the billing is correct for each month, so whether there are three, four, or five lessons per month each month, it will be charged accordingly. And as always, we are a month-to-month school, and if you would like to unenroll, please let us know by the 15th of the month before you’d like to unenroll so that we can make sure to properly take care of your account. Happy holidays!

Best, Chris

P.S. If you’d like to pay for 3–6 months or more in advance and receive a big discount, please contact the office at Info@unitedconservatory.org to learn more about our special limited time offer!

Recitals are HERE! Talk with your teacher about what you will be playing for the recital! All recitals will be held at University Presbyterian Church, 1776 E Roberts Ave, Fresno, CA 93710. Dec. 7: 4–8 p.m. Dec. 14: 6–8 p.m. Dec. 21: 5–8 p.m.


Write us a review on Google or Facebook, and we will put you in our review raffle. Refer your friends today for your chance for the big prize.

PLEASE WELCOME THE NEW STUDENTS WHO ENROLLED IN OCTOBER Naomi M., Briella Y., Hayden E., Lilyana A., Jean-Marcus K., Jo S., Niki G., Ewan P., Soleil P., Cash L., Parker L., Joselynn M., Stephen S., Caleb H., Lainey H., Molly H., Jeffries A., Katelyn S., Ella B., James B., Valery S., Caleb H., Helena M., Kinsie G., Lily L., Ayven N., Jonathan B., Nicholas K., Santana H.

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