By Harley Nefe
The Community Music School at Appalachian State University has been offering private lessons to Boone and the surrounding areas for over 10 years and offers the private music lessons for all ages, which are currently being held online. Along with private music lessons, the Community Music School also offers group lessons. Registration for these group classes is open until Friday, Sept. 11.
The Community Music School is a nonprofit organization that proudly serves Boone and the surrounding communities by making the musical arts accessible for people of all ages.
A “Pay What You Can” model offers various pricing options for group classes, and tuition assistance is available for private lessons.
“You never know how much these experiences could mean to someone in their personal or musical journey, and we don’t want to turn anyone away for inability to pay,” wrote Nicole Sonbert, director of App State’s Community Music School, in an email. “Our ‘Pay What You Can’ program trusts each participating family to contribute what they can, and it’s inspiring to see the community come together to fund a group class. Tuition assistance is available for private lessons thanks to our donors. We welcome donations to help make this possible for more and more students!”
The Community Music School has 24 teachers and a large team of student workers, graduate and undergraduate.
“App State has really helped us build our administrative team through work study opportunities for several of our undergraduate students,” Sonbert wrote. “Additionally, we have an advisory council team that provides their expertise and guidance as we work toward our new mission of empowerment and engagement, inspiring creativity, and making sure we provide opportunities for everyone to make music.”
Sonbert also mentioned the names of two Boone community members who have been long time supporters of the Community Music School.
“Mary Horn gave Community Music School a home when space became more and more challenging in the Hayes School of Music as the department grew,” Sonbert wrote. “Without her building, years of lessons would not have happened nor the impetus to continue to grow our mission and reach into the community.”
Dottie Sykes is the other community member Sonbert mentioned.
“She is well known in the community as the founder of the Presbyterian-Methodist Area community children’s chorale in 1981,” Sonbert wrote. “Her commitment to the musical development of the youth of the Boone community and her support for the development of the Appalachian Youth Chorale has been key to its successful relaunch in Fall 2019. She truly is the patron saint for children’s choral music in the area and we are forever in her gratitude for the gifts she continues to give to music education.”
Appalachian Youth Chorale started last year and is back again this fall, along with some brand-new group programs and ensembles.
Sonbert further wrote in her email that high school students can join the Appalachian Vocal Academy to develop their authentic voice. Middle and high school students can play in the Appalachian Youth Orchestra to strengthen their instrumental ensemble skills, and produce their own song in Hit Maker! Students of various ages can join virtual group lessons in piano, guitar, and ukulele and sing in the Appalachian Youth Chorale, and babies and toddlers can join the online Discover Music! class with their parents.
In March 2020, the Community Music School team quickly moved all of its programs online, and two-thirds of the private lesson students made the transition to online lessons. The teachers have adapted their teaching methods to Zoom lessons.
“We hope that in the future the Community Music School will be a place where we continue to foster new partnerships, support our public schools and engage with surrounding communities and Boone,” Sonbert wrote. “We are hoping to continue to add programs for adults, begin working with retirement communities, provide more professional development and teacher training and performance opportunities for all! Music has a special place in the culture and community here in the mountains. I hope we can inspire new artists, new collaborations and support the next generation of passionate music makers.”
For more information about the Community Music School’s online private lessons and group classes, individuals can visit the website https://music.appstate.edu/cms. Registration for group classes is open until Friday, Sept. 11. Interested musicians can also email the Community Music School at [email protected] or call them at 828-262-3029.