Future K-12 Musicians Are Tuning Up This Fall at UVA Wise

Student with Professor Peter Ryan

Future musicians who are K-12 students will be tuning up for some new musical learning opportunities at UVA Wise this fall. Thanks to funding from a University of Virginia program called “3CAVS,” music professors Hannah and Peter Ryan are offering local elementary, middle and high school students the opportunity to take private lessons in clarinet, trombone, voice, piano and other areas after school during week days through the Appalachian Music Project.

Enrollment for the program is rolling, so students may join at any time during the school year. The program includes one lesson per week, at either 30- or 60-minutes, and three supervised practice sessions with UVA Wise music students, who are being paid to gain professional experience and share their learning with future virtuosos. At least three times throughout the program, musicians will have the opportunity to perform and show their skills in a public, but non-intimidating setting.

“There are many great programs for ensemble music-making around the region, but we wanted to ensure that more interested students could find private lesson offerings,” says Peter Ryan, assistant professor of music.

The Ryans’ idea was inspired by a Venezuelan program called El Sistema, popularized by Gustavo Dudamel, the conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, that teaches children to play an instrument. But, the Ryans are adding their own twist, studying the success of the program during this pilot year to inform and improve their work implementing the program for years to come.

The program not only benefits K-12 students but also the undergraduate students at UVA Wise who study music and education. Supervising practice sessions and assisting with private lessons for budding musicians will give UVA Wise students vital experience to add to their teaching and career portfolios.

“These moments are so valuable for our undergraduate students,” says Hannah Ryan, assistant professor of music. “Whether they are giving lessons under supervision or practicing conducting, these experiences help all the theory we teach them in class make sense and really work for them. Often, we have students say things like, ‘I see why warmup is so worthwhile now.’”

UVA Wise students will put to work learning from courses like Conducting, Vocal Pedagogy, education courses like Elementary Teaching Methods and Secondary Teaching Methods as well as their individual music lessons.

The program is provided at no cost to K-12 musicians or their families thanks to 3CAVS funding, a seed fund from the University of Virginia’s Office of the Vice President for Research and Office of the Provost, which aims to foster research across different departments or disciplines to explore future grant funding. The Appalachian Music Project was one of three projects funded at UVA Wise.