Ridgefield School of Music teaches children the basics of music

Sebastien Rubino / [email protected]

Ridgefield’s Opus School of Music teaches children as young as 18 months the basics of music through enriching activities that keep students engaged.

Owner Rob Melton was forced to open the school after earning his master’s degree in music education from Portland State University in 2005.

“I knew I wanted to open a studio,” Melton said. “I didn’t want to teach at school, travel or be a composer. I wanted to open a music school like the one where I would have liked to be able to take lessons.

Melton said that from age 9 to 11, he took music lessons in basements, but wanted to take lessons with other musicians so he could collaborate with them.

Melton said Opus’ core mission is to provide students with an excellent education through great teachers. The school also strives to teach music to its students in a space that allows for collaboration and aims to serve as a resource for children who want to play music in the community at events like farmers markets or the BirdFest in Ridgefield.

For families who do not wish to take in-person lessons, the school offers an option for Zoom lessons.

Group lessons are important, Melton said, because they help students develop their rhythm.

“For me, the core concept is rhythm, and a lot of these preschool music programs just don’t have that,” he said. “They focus on dancing to the music or learning to play a beat, but they don’t focus on the basic rhythm part.”

Opus has a preschool program called “Mini Music”, which is aimed at children from 18 months to 5 years old. The program focuses on creating a rhythmic foundation with the use of drums, while teaching students different notes and the musical alphabet. Melton also uses rice and beans in egg shakers to help kids learn about different levels of sound.

There are also “Superstars” for children aged 5 to 7. Students in the program learn to sing and play drums, ukulele and piano.

“These four areas are the exploratory instruments that we use to learn music, so there’s a lot of drums, there’s a lot of rhythmic notes lined up, and they play drums, which they transfer to the piano,” said Melton. “It’s an easy transition because they are not afraid of the symbols since they learn them the moment they start their instrument.”

Since children often want to play instead of focusing intensely on music, Melton tries to make the lessons as fun and engaging as possible, while turning them into a game.

Children do not need to bring their own instruments since the school provides them.

When a kid goes from Mini Music to Superstars, Melton said his graduation gift is a ukulele.

“It’s worth it, covering the costs for them, because I like developing the artistic spirit,” he said. “I love seeing them smile and grab the instrument. I remember how it felt at their age. It’s magical.

Melton specializes in classical piano. He remembers having to practice Beethoven six hours a day for six years. Despite the isolation he experienced, he said he enjoyed the skills he learned, “sitting at the piano, opening a book and reading music that I had never heard. It’s something that will never get old. It’s hard to describe, but it’s pretty special.

Opus School of Music is located at 414 Pioneer St., Ridgefield, and their second location is at 726 NE Second Ave., Camas.

More information can be found online at opusschoolofmusic.com.


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