Christ Church in Ponte Vedra, Florida has created an arts school open to anyone in the community, offering at a nominal cost instrumental and vocal private lessons, instrumental group lessons, music education and appreciation classes, theatrical training, dance classes, and visual arts private and group lessons for children and adults.
Bravo to Rachel Root, the church's director of music ministries, who is spearheading this effort. In a story in this morning's Florida Times-Union, she said, “Everybody is welcome. You don’t have to be Episcopalian or have any religious views. This is for personal growth. Music is good for the brain. It helps focus, concentration, and self esteem. It teaches patience, perseverance and discipline.” Several parishioners will be among those teaching in the new program. The Times-Union story reports:
While the school is a welcomed opportunity for those who want to learn, it’s also an outlet for those who desire to teach. According to Emily Knowles, who will teach at the school, the Ponte Vedra Beach area has a lot of talent.
Much of that talent is already part of the church. Root, who has coached and taught voice lessons for many years, will teach voice at the school. Felicia Rhoden, the director of the dance ministry program at the church, will continue her program through the school. Private and group lessons will be offered in classical ballet, jazz, lyrical, modern, pointe, liturgical, acrobatics and tap.
A variety of experienced musicians will offer private lessons in guitar, piano, violin, woodwinds, brass, flute and drums.
Group lessons will include a beginners’ piano class for children aged 5 through second grade, courses for children in Suzuki violin, and an African Caribbean Drum Circle class.
Music appreciation and education classes include beginning musicianship; Mozart and Me, for 4- and 5-year-olds; Music for Mommies, designed for expectant mothers; and music theory, musical form, aural perception, and sight singing for all ages.
Theatrical offerings will include a “mini-musical” camp in mid-August and a mini-musical after-school program in the fall. Monica May, who taught acting classes in New York City for many years and worked with renowned actor/director Lee Strasberg, will teach private and group lessons in theater.
Visual arts lessons in drawing and painting will also be available privately and in groups.
What a generous gift to the community, and an opportunity to share God's love through the inspiring power of creative arts. Grace Memorial Church in Portland, Ore., has offered similar programs since 1996 through its Grace Institute. Do you know of other parishes offering similar outreach? How do they do it, and what are some of the results?