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Making Music and Building Lifelong Skills at Worcester Music Academy

By Pamela Sosnowski

Worcester Music Academy is a different type of music school thanks to the variety of programs offered to its child and teen students and the passion of its teachers. Learning to play music at the school is more than just learning notes and having fun; it instills lifelong confidence.

Many music schools for children focus on teaching classical and other traditional genres but at Worcester Music Academy, kids and teens are encouraged to study and play the type of music that truly makes their heart sing, whether they wish to rock out like Taylor Swift or play the violin like Joshua Bell.

Sarah Kelly, Executive Director of the school says, "We want students to love studying music so we make sure to teach them the kind of music they want to learn. We do offer traditional classical music lessons, but we also realize that students want to learn to play the music they hear on the radio (and) YouTube. We have teen rock bands and new this year, we're offering a steel drum band (for all ages!), and a teen acapella group that will focus on learning arrangements of pop songs. You don't find these kinds of programs anywhere else, so I think it is what helps make us unique."

The caring staff, many of whom are performing musicians themselves, also helps set Worcester Music Academy apart from other music schools. "We have about a dozen teachers who teach all the different instruments and voice," says Kelly. "The most important things I look for in teachers are patience, flexibility, passion, and enthusiasm. They are all passionate about music and teaching, which comes through in the progress we see in our students and the wonderful feedback I get about the teachers and their lessons. Every student is different and has different needs, so all of those qualities are really important to make sure the student has a positive musical experience and wants to continue with music in their lives."

Founded only five years ago, Worcester Music Academy wants its students to have fun -- and stresses that the benefits of music education have long reaching implications in every aspect of a child's life. Kelly lists the many rewards of learning music that studies have confirmed: "better grades in school, better test scores, higher graduation rates, (an) increased likelihood of going to college, (and a) less likelihood of using drugs and alcohol."

"That's just to name a few," she says. "But in addition to these, studying music provides you with tools that will assist you throughout your life. It helps foster discipline and focus, as well as how to communicate with others and work as a team. It also helps with both creative and critical thinking skills, as well as multi-tasking. All of these things not only help children and teens in school, but will also help them in college and when they join the workforce. Young students generally are not even aware that they are developing these skills, but I try to reinforce these ideas with parents so that they realize they are investing in their child's future success."

Worcester Music Academy is planning several events throughout the upcoming school year to celebrate its 5th anniversary and to get the community involved in sharing the school's success. "We've had tremendous growth over the last five years and I think it's in part because of the quality of the education we're providing and the types of programs we offer," says Kelly. Among the staff and student public performances being planned are guitar and flute recitals and several holiday concerts.

Kelly hopes that the success of Worcester Music School and the importance of teaching music to children will spill over into local elementary schools. "It is my hope that music education in our public schools will be given the same importance as other subjects and that music programs will be added instead of removed from the schools," she says. "In the meantime, our school will continue to foster the love of music in our community."

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