Kristopher Rudzinski recently completed his first year as director of the Germantown Branch of Settlement Music School.
Longtime Plymouth Meeting resident Kristopher Rudzinski recently completed his first year as director of the Germantown Branch of Settlement Music School. His tenure in Germantown follows nearly 11 years as the director of the school’s historic Mary Louise Curtis Branch, located in the Queen Village section of Philadelphia.
A trained percussionist, Rudzinski first came to Settlement’s Germantown Branch in 2002 as an instructor of individual lessons initially, but then classes and ensembles, as well.
“I was brought into Settlement Music School in October of 2001 as a substitute teacher, covering schedules for a number of the percussion faculty who had busy performance schedules,” he said. “This led to my own day of teaching that same year at the Mary Louise Curtis Branch. By the beginning of the following year, I was teaching at the Kardon-Northeast, Germantown and Camden Branches, as well.” Over the years, Rudzinski has taught at all of Settlement’s branches except the school in Willow Grove.
Eric Anderson of Glenside, at the time the director of the MLC Branch, invited Rudzinski to teach his own day at SMS’s first branch. By the end of the 2003-04 academic year, he was teaching a full five-day schedule. He was named director at MLC in October of 2011.
“That was my introduction to arts administration,” Rudzinski explained. “Being at the ‘main’ branch, with so much activity, it really taught me the importance of multitasking and time management.” He considers the immense increase in enrollment at the central branch as one of his most important accomplishments as its director.
“MLC is the ‘original’ branch,” he pointed out, “and really the center of the Settlement Music School ‘universe.’ There is so much history which lives in the studios and hallways of the branch. The sense of those who have walked its hall is palpable.”
Continuing, he said, “As much as I enjoyed my time at MLC, the daily commute for more than a decade from Plymouth Meeting where I live became taxing. When the opportunity presented itself to move closer to home, as well as to return to the branch where I spent the majority of my years teaching, I jumped at the chance. Germantown was really the branch I identified with most and felt most at home.
“Sometimes, when you have been away from ‘home’ for a very long time,” he added, “although it’s always very familiar, places change and evolve. And while there are many familiar places and people I have known for a long while, I’m still having to learn these new rhythms which informs me how to best serve the branch.”
Rudzinski expressed a belief that each of Settlement’s branches reflects the communities in which they are located.
“This makes the ‘feel’ of every branch unique but, at the same time, there is a universal thread which ties all the branches and programs together,” he assured. “Each branch is a melting pot of cultures, backgrounds, music, but we are all here for one common purpose: our love of the arts -. whether it is faculty passing on that knowledge, parents who want their children to experience the arts, staff who help families to access the programs we have to offer.”
Rudzinski hopes to continue the momentum of his predecessors regarding development of programming and enrollment, stewarding the school’s strengths while continuing to innovate.
“Settlement’s history and reputation for the highest quality of instruction is what sustains us, but it is how we evolve and adapt to the world changing around us which will best help us continue to serve our students and their families in the most responsive manner possible. Settlement is an all-inclusive community which fosters the love of the arts. It is a sanctuary where students can allow the stresses of everyday life to melt away and focus on their artistic pursuits with others who share their same interests.”
Speaking of that evolution, Rudzinski said, “This was a year of change and growth for the Germantown Branch, beginning in late September with the official opening of the Playformance Park, which serves the branch community as a play space for our young students as well as a performance space via the park’s Timken Foundation Stage. The stage came to life with a Faculty Spotlight concert in early October that featured faculty member and jazz pianist, Scott Edmunds. The music continued through June when the branch hosted Settlement’s annual Karin Fuller Capanna Faculty Recital featuring Germantown Branch coordinator and faculty member Mervin Touissant. He presented music from his recently released recording, “Lakay.” The branch additionally hosted 40 student and community partner performances, including the Gleeksman-Kohn Children’s Concerto Choir.”
As a member of Settlement’s piano faculty since 1986, I can testify to the school’s incredible legacy of music education. I teach in a studio at the MLC Branch where, many years ago, a young fellow named Alex North from Chester took piano lessons and studied music theory and composition. After attending and graduating from both the Curtis Institute of Music and the Juilliard School of Music, he headed west to Hollywood, where he became one of the greatest of all film score composers. His credits include “Cleopatra.”
The Germantown Branch of Settlement Music School is located at 6128 Germantown Ave. For more information call 215-320-2610 or visit settlementmusic.org.