Carolyn Bogott: Bringing musical experiences to life

Published 6:00 pm Tuesday, January 3, 2023

Cheryl Berglund

is clearly and fiercely passionate about her mission in life — to bring musical experiences to people of all ages. She explains that music is her tool to open people’s eyes to opportunities.

Her personal story is compelling. She grew up in Kansas with a conservative background where girls and women were confined by cultural pressures to do only traditional female activities. Cheryl was tenacious in her desire to play the drums. Girls, especially girls who were small in build, played flute or clarinet, or if they wanted to do percussion, then playing bells was suggested. However, Cheryl wanted passionately to play the drums. She persisted and even found female drum teachers. Winning that battle was a major turning point in her understanding that no one should set limits for you. She has faced continued surprise and sometimes resistance to being a small woman drummer.

During her first seven years living in Minnesota, Cheryl was raising her family and giving lessons in a studio in her home. Her friend, Jennifer Lawhead, told her of the possibility of MacPhail Center for Music opening an outreach program in Austin. MacPhail’s mission to bring musical opportunities to everyone fit perfectly with Cheryl’s dreams. She applied and was hired as project manager in 2015, and was a vital part of developing the center we see today. At first, the MacPhail’s Austin location was housed at Riverland Community College. By 2017, the Austin site’s programming was reaching 1,500 students. The new facility was a collaboration of the Austin Public Schools, the Hormel Foundation and MacPhail . It opened in 2020. It is a one-of-a-kind facility, unique in the country and housing both a community music school and a public high school music program.

MacPhail’s Austin programming reaches 1,500 students a year, ages 6 weeks to adults. For the youngest, there is Sing Play Learn for preschoolers carried out at the preschool locations with 780 children served. Community Children’s choir is open to all third and fourth graders in Austin, serving 90-140 students per season. MacPhail provides orchestra/band support for grades 5-12 for Pacelli and Austin schools, reaching 214 students. A rock band project with six students is also supported. Those over age 55 may be involved in MacPhail Music for Life, Unwrapping the Orchestra and Back to Basics Group Piano.

Individual music therapy is also available and 213 students take individual lessons. This is quite a wide variety of experiences reaching impressive numbers of people.

Cheryl said all the opportunities of her professional life go back to her not letting others define what she could do. That experience also taught her that she could do anything she set her mind to if she worked hard. She has realized there are different stages in life and when this MacPhail project came along, she was at a stage to be ready to put in the hard work. She is thrilled with her opportunity to share music with others well beyond what she could do in her home studio. Her work with MacPhail Austin lets her fulfill her dreams of using music as a way to help people grow and to unite the community.

Thank you, Cheryl Berglund for your work to bring music to the lives of many in our community.

For more information about the Austin Branch of AAUW, contact Sue Grove sue.grove@riverland.edu or Carolyn Bogott csbogott@gmail.com. The American Association of University Women, now AAUW, is open to anyone who has completed a two-year degree or beyond. AAUW welcomes men who support our objectives and there are student memberships available. AAUW has been empowering women since 1881. We support equity and education for women. Scholarships are offered, as well as help in litigation in cases dealing with sex discrimination. We are the most important and highly respected research and lobbying organization dealing with women’s issues such as equal opportunity and job equality.