Athens Community Music School Provides Accessible Music Education
Athens, Ohio is known for its many hidden gems, especially when it comes to music, and the Athens Community Music School is just one of them. Founded in 1979, Athens Community Music School, or ACMS, has been the primary source of music education in Southeast Ohio.
Located in Glidden Hall, the school offers a range of private lessons to learn a variety of instruments, including piano, woodwinds, brass, percussion, string instruments and voice. Additionally, those who wish to work on their musical skills can also take part in group lessons.
“We have quite a variety of lessons available, and the lessons are one-to-one, so if it’s private lessons it’s just the student and the teacher, then if a parent wants to sit down, they can also participate,” said Wendy Blackwood, director of ACMS. “These classes are specifically for this student, so it’s really specific to this student. Lessons are weekly, so children spend a lot of one-on-one time with their instructor.
Although ACMS offers music training, it also strives to help people through music therapy. The school currently partners with the Department of Music Therapy at Ohio University, enabling people of all ages with needs to develop behavioral, emotional, and social skills through music.
“Music therapy is taught by a graduate student who is also already a licensed music therapist, so she is licensed to practice in Ohio,” Blackwood said. “For students who already have a diagnosis and who already know music therapy is something they’re interested in or their parents know it’s something they’re interested in, this is a great place to start.”
Blackwood was hired in 2006 as a piano teacher and became sole director of ACMS in 2018, supporting the school of music and promoting music education for those inside and out. from Ohio University.
“I think (ACMS) serves a very important purpose in the community because there are music teachers teaching private lessons in the community, but there aren’t that many,” Blackwood said. “It’s a great place to come and get qualified music lessons from the students here. We really love the students from our community who come to us and having the chance to work with them here on campus is truly rewarding. .
ACMS voice teacher Melissa Brobeck says she enjoys working at the music school and teaching all age groups, her eldest being a 75-year-old woman.
“I like working for the Community Music School (Athens) because there is a wide range of students who come here, and often there are people who just want to sing or like to sing” , Brobeck said. “It’s an opportunity for me to help them find their voice – literally – and for them to find a new way of self-expression and to learn something about themselves.”
In terms of voice lessons, Brobeck says they are very accessible to those on campus, giving people the opportunity to express their passion for music in their spare time.
“I think for students on campus, music school provides an opportunity for people who may have a passion or a love for music or who play an instrument or sing to continue their education while they’re in school here,” Brobeck said.
Students also agree with Brobeck, delighted to see a school of music so keen on fostering creativity and inclusion.
“I think it’s really cool that this gives everyone an opportunity,” said Becca Cundiss, a sophomore studying music production and the recording industry.
Blackwood says ACMS will hold its annual winter recitals to introduce music students on Dec. 3, and Brobeck recommends checking out their Union Chorale concert on Oct. 9.
“I think singing is very personal for a lot of people, and it’s usually a journey of self-discovery,” Brobeck said. “It’s so great to have the space to take these journeys with people as they discover things about themselves and their voices.”