Debora Wondercheck: Mentoring aspiring young musicians
Updated: Jul 18
An accomplished musician, instructor, and conductor, Debora Wondercheck is making a difference in the lives of thousands of youth in Calfornia.
Debora is the first featured artist in the Beethoven 250 Series. I was honored to interview her and learn more about her involvement in the community.
Coming from humble beginnings as the youngest of seven children, Founder Debora Wondercheck, saw the life-changing impact that music had on her family. Through hard work and dedication, she and her siblings were able to attend the universities of their choice as string musicians. Recognizing the profound effect that high-quality arts opportunities had on her own life and those around her, Debora used her passion to establish the Arts & Learning Conservatory (ALC).
Inspired by her mother's faith in God, and determination to see that her children would have equitable access to an arts education, Debora embarked on a similar journey to give all children this same high-quality exposure to the arts regardless of their background or experience.
Debora Wondercheck (MS Ed.Admin) is the Founder and CEO of the Arts & Learning Conservatory (ALC), an inspirational arts education program of theater and music now celebrating 16 years of influential growth in Orange County, California. What began as a summer camp for just thirteen string musicians and eight actors, grew to four programs a year and today has expanded to over 40 schools county-wide. Under the leadership of Debora, the conservatory reaches over 1,200 students yearly, with audiences that now extend to over 10,000 annually. As an accomplished teacher of string pedagogy, Debora is an Adjunct Professor of Music and currently serves as an Arts Consultant to school districts. She has taught in the Irvine Unified School District as a Master Teacher, and in Newport Mesa Unified District. As for awards, Debora is a recent recipient of the 2019 Orange County Influencers for Good award, presented at the Segerstrom Center of the Arts, by the Institute of Leadership, other awards include being inducted as a Gianneshi Fellow of the California State University of Fullerton, Outstanding Arts Organization of the year, from Arts Orange County, and many more.
Significant community collaborations of the Arts & Learning Conservatory include Arts Programs serving ten school districts, Pacific Symphony Heart Strings Partner, Arts Orange County Member, and Disneyland Community Arts Partner, and more. Debora's dream of "paying it forward" through creating high quality, equitable and accessible arts opportunities to help children experience and fulfill their potential, is the heart of the Arts & Learning Conservatory.
“Thousands of people cultivate music, but few have the revelation of this great art.”
Ludwig van Beethoven
“Our tagline at the Arts and Learning Conservatory is “Confidence and creativity for life.” Music and the arts nurture creativity in the child; it will change their lives and set them up for success.” Debora Wondercheck
What is your favorite Beethoven musical work (s), and why?
“I love Beethoven’s Pastorale Symphony No. 6. It is beautiful and serene, playful, and sweet-sounding. It is one of the symphonies where you know where it is going. I like to know where I’m going in a piece, being able to follow it. And then, of course, Beethoven’s 5th, because it was revolutionary. The emotion that it releases catapults you to a different place with strength behind it... Beethoven’s symphonies moved us from the classical into the romantic era.”
Beethoven was a man of great faith who saw music as a medium that could be experienced anywhere. What are your thoughts on the power of the arts to transform lives?
“The arts transform children, and it transformed me. Looking at it from the perspective of what I do now, running a music conservatory that reaches 1,200 kids each year, we make sure the arts are equitable and in their space. The arts and music keep children engaged. When you put an instrument in their hand or work with them on a piece of music, you see a different child, transformed into something that they would not otherwise have been or done. It is that engagement and connectivity because music connects your senses, connects you to your body and mind.”
Copyright 2020, William S. Barnett