Longwood Center for Community Music helps make connections
Published 3:45 am Thursday, March 9, 2023
FARMVILLE – Dr. Lisa Kinzer wanted to create a space for Farmville families to make music and memories. In 2014, with a sabbatical semester, the professor of music at Longwood University did just that. With a small team, Kinzer launched the Longwood Center for Community Music (LCCM). This program was made in order to teach music to anyone with a song in their heart.
The LCCM, currently under the direction of Dr. Kristen Topham, is a program run through the Longwood Department of Music that offers both private and group piano and string lessons for the younger residents of Farmville. Originally created and championed by Kinzer, the LCCM has done an incredible job of bringing families together under a shared love of music.
While Topham has not been sitting director of the Longwood Center of Community Music for its entirety, she has been there through every step of its development. She stood alongside Kinzer during its initial start in 2014 and after Kinzer returned to the classroom, Topham took up the helm and has been serving as director ever since.
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She sees it as making slow, yet steady progress, building popularity and just general awareness in the community. While COVID may have hindered the program’s speed in the past few years, it certainly didn’t hinder the passion. As the years have gone on and the worst of it has subsided, the Longwood Center of Community Music has picked up with the same momentum it left off on.
A closer look at the program
LCCM has previously offered both piano and string classes for all ages, but currently they have steered most of their focus towards younger age ranges, specifically young children. You heard that right. We’re talking toddlers and above. The program Topham was most excited about was the “Music Together” class which is geared towards ages 0-5. This class is offered to those who have recently welcomed a bundle of joy and want to strengthen both their minds and their bond.
“The power of live music and making music together in a live setting is amazing to watch the babies understand the music in a natural way,” Topham said. “Not only does the access to live music give these tiny tots a way to bond closer with their parents, but it also gives their brains a way to grow and expand outside of colored blocks and toys.”
Topham added that the results have multiple benefits
“You see these kids become more academically inclined,” Topham said. “Children and families performing together is immensely good for both academic and family value.”
Building a band
Now even if you’re not familiar with the Center itself, you may have heard about one of its projects. LCCM offers a volunteer symphony named the Heart of Virginia Band (HoV Band). The HoV Band is always open to all ages and skill ranges and has served as a staple of support in the community for years, down to performing for the High Bridge Half Marathon to literally cheer on the community. The Band has recently been ramping up to perform again in the near future with much anticipation.
When asked about the impact of the HoV Band seen around Farmville, Topham remarked on the band’s ability to create a beautiful, wholesome environment.
“I’ve seen it bring families closer, bring families together, and impact kids who can now create music that they couldn’t before,” Topham said.
The Heart of Virginia Band has proven that live music and performances that incorporate the community are essential for not just the growth of not just Farmville, but to also strengthen bonds between neighbors. Having the space to just vibe in and hang out with your friends and family is crucial to living a full and happy life and the Heart of Virginia Band provides just that.
What’s coming up?
Preparations for the upcoming season of music are well underway with the next semester of Music Together (ages 0-5) beginning on March 18 with registration currently open. More Music Together classes will be opening up for more availability very soon. Currently, they have piano lessons from beginner up to level one available. Violin lessons, taught by Dr. Lauretta Werner, are also available for younger students with hopes of developing and expanding the curriculum in the coming future.
Future classes will be announced on July 1st on the Longwood University website. Along with curating further plans in the following semesters, there are also talks of possible upcoming performances by the Heart of Virginia Band in collaboration with various other organizations like the Longwood Center for Visual Arts.
Music is one of the most basic and primal ways that humans have to communicate with each other. The staff believe the Longwood Center of Community Music has crafted a beautiful way to connect with the community and family around you as well as expanding talents within yourself. As the spring flowers start to bloom and the sun starts to shine, what better way to welcome the sunshine than with live music and memories.
For any further information on the Heart of Virginia Band please visit heartofvacommunityband.org or email any questions to heartofvacommunityband@gmail. com.
Evelyn Wozniak wrote this piece for The Farmville Herald.