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Shepherd University music department welcomes community

By Staff | Jan 16, 2017

Photo submitted by Sherry Sykes Parents and children participate in the Shepherd University preparatory division early childhood music program last fall.

Community involvement and participation is an important aspect of the Shepherd University music department according to Sherry Sykes, preparatory program coordinator at the university.

Sykes said the preparatory division of the music department is geared toward community involvement. The division is currently working to expand community engagement even further within the next couple months.

“Music is a lifelong passion and hobby,” Sykes said. “It’s something to pursue even after school, which is why we think it’s important to give the community a place to express that.”

Although the division sponsors many programs open to the community, Sykes is most heavily advertising an early childhood music class led by Frauke Higgins.

The early childhood music class is a 10 week program that will begin Jan. 20. Sykes said the program is for children between 18-months and three years old. The class, which will be held at the Frank Music Center at Shepherd University, will cost $120 per child.

Sykes said the class will benefit children attending in many ways.

“Kids will learn rhythm, clapping and high and low pitches. Kids love it. It encourages an early love of music kids might pursue as they get older in the form of music lessons. Early music education is also associated with better science and math scores. It’s good for overall brain activity,” Sykes said. “It teaches discipline, listening and other skills that can transfer to other things as they get older as well.”

Although a lot of the community music opportunities the university offers are aimed toward middle and high school students, Sykes said the university is focusing on expanding to better accommodate adults as well.

“Music is intergenerational and younger students can gain a lot from working with older musicians,” Sykes said.

According to Sykes, the preparatory division served between 200 to 250 local families last semester. Some families took advantage of the private music lessons offered, some performed with the junior string ensemble, some attended the early childhood music classes and others performed in the junior choir – which includes children third through eighth grade.

Sykes said the children in the choir not only engaged in the program, but they also gave back to the community by performing at a local Jefferson County nursing home.

“The nursing home performance was wonderful,” Sykes said. “It’s definitely a tradition we’re going to continue in the future.”

Although the division schedule roughly corresponds with the semester schedule at the university, Sykes said the division will gladly accommodate students seeking private music lessons at any time as long as a teacher is available.

“The prices for individual lessons are based on each teacher’s rate,” Sykes said, “But overall it’s a very affordable program with a very high standard and great teaching level.”

For more information contact Sykes, at 304-876-5248, or email prep@