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Tuesday, September 12, 2017

The Music Academy expands program offerings | Centre Daily Times

"The Music Academy has been teaching students in the State College community for more than 50 years, but the fall semester that started this week brought big changes to the nonprofit music school" inform Jessica McAllister.

Violet Dombrowski smiles during her cello lesson on Tuesday at The Music Academy. 
Photo: Phoebe Sheehan

Now, the State College Suzuki Program — another community staple — is part of the school’s offerings. So in addition to traditional classes in a variety of instruments — piano, guitar, saxophone, euphonium, voice — students now have the option to receive instruction following the Suzuki Method, which originated in Japan and focuses on parent involvement, encouragement and constant repetition.

“It takes the idea of how children learn their first language and applies that to music,” said Sally Williams Minnich, director of the SCSP.

Under the Suzuki Method, students start learning an instrument early — usually at 3-5 years old. Early on there’s a focus on listening and learning by ear, and as with language learning, that evolves into reading lessons. Students take one-on-one classes where the parents are present, and just like parents would be expected to talk to children at home to facilitate language learning, music instruction continues in the home. 

There’s also group instruction and a major emphasis on creating a nurturing environment, Williams Minnich said.

“Teaching music is actually really our secondary goal. The primary focus is on developing the heart of the child,” she said.

The SCSP operated for years as its own nonprofit. That organization dissolved in 2013, but the SCSP continued as an independent teacher co-op. Williams Minnich said there were pros and cons to that setup, with major drawbacks being a lack of a home base and a legal umbrella to operate under. The collaboration between SCSP and The Music Academy has been in the works since January, with the fall 2017 semester officially launching the partnership, which brings SCSP into The Music Academy’s West College Avenue studio. It is now called State College Suzuki Program at The Music Academy.

“It adds another dimension to how people consider this school to be a beacon of music in their town,” said Jennene Lundy, director of The Music Academy...

Students can sign up for classes at any time during the 18-week semester. 
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Source: Centre Daily Times