Indiana, PA - Indiana County

IUP launches Community Music School

by on August 18, 2013 1:50 AM

Where can you learn to play the oboe, sing in a choir or practice Scottish bag pipes — all at the same place?

A new Community Music School out of Cogswell Hall on the Indiana University of Pennsylvania campus aims to connect music lovers of all ages to the faculty, students and facilities available in the music department.

“It’s a way to put the public in a public space,” explained Jane Potter Baumer, the school’s director. “This building and everything you see here is (publicly funded).”

The music school is offering both group and private lessons. Group lessons include piano and guitar for adults, choirs for both adults and children, a Kindermusic program for small children, an existing symphonic ensemble, and an introductory class to Scottish piping by the Laurel Highlanders.

Private lessons are bounded only by what teachers have agreed to hold classes in. In the catalogue now are teachers in bassoon, oboe, clarinet, trumpet, saxophone, horn, percussion, tuba/euphonium, flute, trombone, voice and piano.

“Private music instruction is kind of decentralized. This is kind of a centralized way for people to come,” Baumer said.

Costs range from $100 a semester for the group classes to anywhere from $12 for a half-hour lesson to $40 for an hour-long lesson (depending on whether the instructor is a music student at IUP or is a degreed music teacher or is an IUP faculty member.)

“It’s a great opportunity. All it requires (to start) is a program and people. We have everything else,” Baumer said.

The classes will all be held in Cogswell Hall, where existing practice rooms — all of which are outfitted with Steinway pianos — are available for lessons.

Baumer said she’s been interested in a community music program since she moved to Indiana with her family in 2004. Looking for a way to keep up her voice practice, she tried to join a community choir — but had to drive all the way to Pittsburgh.

Meanwhile, when Spotts Music along Oakland Avenue closed, a local hub for music lessons was lost, she said. And as public schools struggle financially, music teacher positions are often reduced or eliminated, she said.

“I felt since the day I moved here that there was a need for it,” she said.

She started working on the plan in January, with the particular goal of creating a self-funded school.  (A $25 registration fee — less for lessons purchased individually — go to cover administration costs, but the tuition fees go to the teacher.)

But the program also benefits the students in the music program. When IUP ran a lab school on campus, music students could practice teaching music there. But that opportunity was lost with the lab school.

“Now when we bring the students to us, they now have the opportunity to teach,” she said. “They’re making money doing something they love.”

And Baumer hopes bringing young music students to campus will encourage them to attend IUP as music students in the future.

Registration opened Aug. 6 and will stay open through the fall. Classes begin Sept. 3.

“We’re open to everyone; we want you to come,” Baumer said. “It’s an exciting thing. … I see the Community Music School as being the beginning of something that could be much greater.”

A full class catalogue is available at www.iup.edu/communitymusic.



Heather Roth covers White Township and the Armstrong School District, police and courts and general assignment stories. She can be reached at hroth@indianagazette.net.
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