Melodic Connections, a music therapy-based nonprofit organization, will open its new community music studio in Silverton on Saturday, June 24, with a celebratory community open house. The organization’s former Norwood studio and much of their equipment was destroyed by flash floods in August of 2016.  

Serving more than 700 individuals with different abilities through community and school programs, and reaching thousands of Cincinnatians through community outreach and performances, Melodic Connections is dedicated to their mission of preparing their students for the community, and the community for their students. 

Following the flash floods, that same community turned out in large force to support Melodic Connections, logging thousands of hours of volunteer labor and donations. Renovations of their new studio space at 6940 Plainfield Road in Silverton began in December 2016 and were completed in June of 2017. A quick glance at the numbers: 

- 100,000+ hours of volunteer labor were spent
- 25+ Family-size pizzas from Italianette Pizza on Plainfield Road were consumed
- 100+ Panera bagels, 512+ ounces of coffee, 30+ burgers/sandwich & fry meals consumed
- Approximately 30 bags of lawn and construction debris were cleared 
- The Melodic Connections staff put in four additional staff-only work days to paint 
- 3 coats of paint were applied to the walls and tin ceilings of the new studio in 8 days of consistent painting by more than 30 volunteer painters.
- Approximately 60 electrical outlets/light switches were removed and replaced.
- More than 60 conservatory musicians, 60 K-12 music students, five board certified music therapists, and two music educators will move in and start making music again the week of June 26, 2017, almost 10 months to the day after the devastating flooding in Norwood on August 28.

We caught up with Executive Director, Betsey Zenk Nuseibeh, to learn more about the road to this new facility. 

AW: Congratulations on the new facility! Tell us more about those volunteer hours – that’s a lot of time!

BZN: We are so grateful to the community for the outpouring of support. More than 1,000 people donated, hundreds volunteered, and so many people cheered us on.  It confirmed our belief in the power of music to build community, and we can't wait to take it to the next level and see what happens. We would like to say how grateful we are for the support of John Molander, a retired P&G engineer who spearheaded the rebuilding effort and coordinated more than 100,000 hours of volunteer labor to get this job done. 

AW: That’s fantastic. Were any Melodic Connections students involved in the process? 

BZN: We had a really wonderful day in which our students stopped by the new space and sang for all of the volunteers. Due to the nature of the work, we had mostly skilled volunteers. It was a pretty messy construction site for several months!  Many of our students' families and extended families chipped in and helped with painting and light construction. As for our students, we actually wanted to keep the space under wraps, and surprise them with a big reveal on opening day. Students will be coming to our open house party to see the space, and the first day the conservatory will be open for classes is June 26th. We can't wait to see their faces!

AW: In addition to the facility damage, the instruments vital to Melodic Connections were damaged. Were you able to restore or replace any? 

BZN: We lost all our instruments in the flood. Every instrument we lost was replaced.  Hubbard Radio listeners responded to a call-a-thon and replaced our drums, guitars and keyboards. The Down Syndrome Association of Cincinnati donated replacement sound equipment, the entire community brought hundreds of donated instruments to Willis Music stores, and generous donations from grants and individuals helped us buy the specialized equipment we needed. The outpouring of support from the community was amazing.

Melodic Connections instruments

AW: What a testament to your mission of preparing your students for the community, and the community for your students. What is your community perspective in this new location? 

BZN: This move to a new hub in Silverton has allowed us to expand our thinking about community, and how music can unite all of us in community, despite our differences. We are branching out into new program areas that use the power of music to build community and help our musicians be in community with others. We will be unveiling some really exciting new program directions, too. 

AW: We can’t wait to check out the new space next weekend: June 24, 2 – 5pm, with entertainment from The Sycamore Community Band and Melodic Connections musicians. Anything else we should new about the facility?

BZN: There are so many exciting things about our new space – but one thing this move has prompted us to realize it that our impact extends far beyond the four walls of our studio. We have some wonderful new spaces for collaboration, and we invite members of the Cincinnati arts community to stop by and explore how we can work together. 

Learn more about Melodic Connections here