University offers music lessons to the community

Published 4:01 pm Thursday, September 11, 2008

Fingers tickle across the ivories as students from around Shelby County learn the ins and outs of the piano, from how to play to music theory.

The University of Montevallo’s Community School of Music provides music instruction for a wide variety of instruments for all ages.

“It is truly a community thing,” said Laurie Middaugh, coordinator of the Community School of Music who also doubles as a piano instructor. “This area is growing and we just wanted to reach out.”

The Community School, which has been around since the 70s, recently expanded to offer instruction in band instruments, piano, voice, guitar and string instruments. The school, which has students at all levels of ability, allows students to pay for lessons a semester at a time and gives a wide variety of options to accommodate any aspiring musician’s schedule and needs.

“We have a very flexible schedule,” Middaugh said. “We are here five days a week at morning, noon and, generally, up to 7 p.m.”

The program is composed of three types of instructors: the artist faculty, the professional faculty and the associate faculty. The artist faculty is made up of music faculty members from the University of Montevallo who are experienced instructors and usually have their doctorate. The professional faculty is made up of performers or teachers who hold a degree in music and the associate faculty is made up of University of Montevallo students.

The Community School of Music is not just made up of good teachers, but can also make an enormous impact on a child’s life, according to Middaugh.

“I started out in the Community School when I was 12, so I came full circle,” Middaugh said. “I would not have known about the possibility of a profession in music had it not been for the Community School.”

And students from around the county are starting to see why Middaugh has such a passion for the program. Lacey Hamrick, 9, said she started taking piano at the Community School at the beginning of the summer. Now Hamrick has a passion for playing the piano.

“I love it,” she said. “I want to be a pianist.”

Hamrick’s mother, Laura, said she has seen a difference in her daughter since she began taking lessons only a few months ago.

“She has learned more responsibilities, she practices everyday,” she said.

The Community School also provides a good source of learning for musicians who are already accomplished.

“It is really nice, it has developed my skills,” said Eric Mobley, a 13-year-old pianist who composes his own music.

The Community School is more than just a place where kids come to get a quick lesson – many times students and teachers create a bond that lasts years.

“My first piano teacher here (at the Community School) still comes to my recitals,” Middaugh said.

For more information about the Community School of Music at the University of Montevallo, please contact Laurie Middaugh at 205-665-6678.