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LU Music welcomes community

In just a year’s time, Longwood University has already expanded music education opportunities for community members of all ages.

Kristen Topham, director of the Longwood Center for Community Music (LCCM), said the classes attract students as young as 5 and as old as 70.

“The LCCM has brought in many people from the community in our first year,” Topham said. “We have many people coming to campus who wouldn’t have come to campus before.”

The program began a little more than a year ago when Professor Lisa Kinzer took a sabbatical to set up the program. The following spring, the university named Topham as director and she began offering piano classes.

In the year since, the program has expanded to include voice lessons. In January, LCCM will begin offering classes in guitar and ukulele, as well as a children’s choir class.

“We’re trying to get everything, but it’s just one step at a time,” Topham said, adding she wants to add band instrument lessons, early childhood classes and a string department.

Topham and Kinzer shared a dream to start the program even before Topham was hired about three years ago.

“When I moved here and interviewed with Lisa, we brought up the idea of a community music school and she said that was something that she had always been wanting to do for Farmville,” Topham said. “She was very excited that I was interested in that.”

The pair came up with the logo and name of the program and it has continue to grow ever since.

Topham has several goals for LCCM.

“The first goal is to serve the Farmville community with music education, to supplement what’s going on in the schools but also give students other opportunities that they’re not receiving or enhance the opportunities that they are, like private lessons with piano and instrumental lessons,” she said.

Topham said they would also like to enhance Longwood music students’ education. They want to add more opportunities for Longwood students to teach through LCCM with guided instruction from professors.

Topham said she and other LCCM professors guide college students through teaching lessons. Participants in the LCCM classes have both a group lesson and a private lesson each week, Topham said, adding that, often, Longwood students will teach the private lessons.

“It’s mostly music education people that will get first priority, but really all musicians, even if they go on a performance track, at some point or another are going to end up teaching music at some point in their life,” she said.

She said Longwood has a huge music education department to draw from. Some of the students use the teaching experience for internships, while others get paid for teaching.

“We want them to get the experience of music teaching as a career,” Topham said.

Because they utilize the university, students’ parents don’t have to pay as much.

She said it’s also really beneficial to the young students.

“Usually a young piano student would only come in and get like 30 minutes a week with a teacher,” she said, “but here they get an hour with a group class and they’re moving and they’re learning and they’re experiencing music, not just sitting down at the piano. We think if we can just get the music out there then it will advertise for itself. We want to affect the whole area and enrich it as much as we can.”

Topham said LCCM is still accepting students for the spring semester. Visit www.longwood.edu/music/lccm for more information.