For the past three years, Clara D’Onofrio of Ms. Clara’s Mini Musicians has been a one-woman traveling music act, renting locations across the area to educate infants and young children about the excitement of music.
Now, the Brookfield resident finally has the chance to call an Eight Corners-area storefront in Brookfield home.
On Sept. 7, D’Onofrio will celebrate the grand opening of Ms. Clara’s Joyful Learning Center located at 9213 Broadway Ave. The new business will be home to music classes for children between the ages of 4 months and 6 years as well as art and dance classes for children of all ages.
From 3 to 6 p.m., D’Onofrio will welcome local families to learn about and register for music education classes. Children can also get their faces painted and participate in family sing-alongs while adults tour the new facility and walk along Broadway Avenue to visit promotional stations from other local businesses supporting D’Onofrio’s venture.
D’Onofrio’s interest in music education stems from her heavy music background including playing trumpet, being classically trained as a singer (she studied voice for 15 years) and being the daughter of two symphony musicians.
“Music has always been a very integral part of my life,” she said. “My mom was in the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra in the first violin section for over 40 years, and my father was principal trumpet for the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra for over 30 years.”
In 2000, D’Onofrio moved to Chicago to attend graduate school at Northwestern University and credits her education with having great inspiration on her business.
“I have my master’s degree in marriage and family therapy, [and] I found a way to combine my musical background with my love of working with families into this educational center,” she said.
Since 2007, D’Onofrio has focused on teaching young children the fundamentals of music concepts including rhythm, pitch making and singing. She likes to emphasize education through both her original materials and traditional American folk songs, which she says seem to have lost their place in school classrooms in recent years.
Until now, D’Onofrio had been renting space by the hour at the Hollywood Community House, Brookfield Public Library, Riverside Recreation Department and DeMaira Dance Studio in Oak Park to offer her services to children in the western suburbs. While her students from Brookfield and Riverside will funnel into her new location, D’Onofrio will continue to teach music at DeMaira on Mondays and Fridays.
While D’Onofrio will only be teaching the music classes, she will also have four others teaching music, dance and art. The two music teachers come with strong backgrounds in singing and acting, the dance teacher comes with years of dance instruction in Chicago, and the art teacher is a local mother who has many years of experience teaching art to both children and adults.
D’Onofrio hopes her business attracts children and families who are looking to become a part of a unique learning experience, one she hopes will allow them to find peace in their chaotic schedules and learn more about themselves through the arts.
“I am a very spiritually driven business owner, and this is a sacred space for me,” D’Onofrio said. “It’s so important to me that this space has a positive energy. My classes definitely are not music therapy, but of course there are so many benefits to music education.”
D’Onofrio is excited to finally have a set location for her and her students to call home and hopes she can add to what she considers a community budding with possibilities for young families.
“I live here and I wanted my community to have something,” she said. “It just feels like Brookfield as a community is so close to being something that is so family focused.”
This story has been changed to correct the number of years D’Onofrio has taught on her own, to clarify her involvement in voice studies and to correct the name of her business.