Waterville Senior High School chorus members, center, sing for fifth-graders at the Albert S. Hall School in Waterville on Thursday. The high school students were at Hall School as part of an effort to encourage the younger students to pursue a field of music. There’s also a broader effort underway to gauge interest in launching a music school serving the region. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

Waterville truly is a burgeoning arts and cultural scene, drawing interest from far and wide.

And the opportunities keep growing.

The latest is that three women are launching a pilot project to gauge interest in whether people would want a music school serving the greater Waterville area. Such a school would offer lessons in various instruments, opportunities to take part in ensembles, attend music performances and connect teachers with students of all ages.

The pilot series, Elm City Music School, will be held 8 a.m. to noon Sept. 23 and 30, as well as Oct. 7 and 14, at Waterville Senior High School. People interested may register through Mid-Maine Regional Adult Community Education under the heading Music & Dance. More information is available at elmcitymusic.com, which has links for people to register.

The project is being developed by Rebecca Green, a pianist who holds a doctorate in musicology; Teresa McKinney, Diamond Family Director of the Arts at Colby College; and Sue Barre, chairwoman of the visual and performing arts department at Waterville Senior High School, band director for students in fifth through 12th grade, and music coordinator for the school system.

Green says the project is intended to amplify the great things already happening in the schools and support community music organizations that need a new home, such as the Pineland Suzuki School.


Waterville Senior High School string musicians play Thursday for fifth-graders at Albert S. Hall School in Waterville. The high school students were at the school as part of an effort to encourage the younger students to pick up an instrument and pursue music. There’s also a broader effort underway to gauge interest in launching a music school serving the region. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

“I’m doing this because I believe in the power of music in people’s lives,” Green said Thursday. “I also feel like there are people out there who probably will respond once we get going.”

Green also is chairwoman of the Waterville City Council and announced the pilot project at Tuesday’s council meeting, noting that the effort is a personal one, not connected to her role with the city.

“This is a partnership between the Waterville schools and Greene Block + Studios and others in the community who want to see more opportunities for people to take lessons,” she said, “particularly children who are already maybe taking lessons in the schools and want to do more, or people, frankly, of any age who want to have a musical experience, either private lessons or in a group.”

Private lessons will be offered for those 8 and older, at all levels of experience, in cello, clarinet, flute, horn, percussion, piano, saxophone, trumpet, trombone, violin, viola and voice. Those lessons will be 25 minutes long and focus on technique and repertoire. Then another 25 minutes will be for small ensemble performance, including duets, trios and quartets, and students will be paired with other students. Teachers will guide ensemble rehearsals.

Other classes for school-age students include recording and mixing, Taiko, or Japanese drumming, all-state prep for high school string students, baroque performance practice for violin and viola, beginner and intermediate fiddling and community dance and drumming.

Green, Barre and McKinney have been discussing the idea of a music school and pilot series for about a year. Two more pilot sessions are planned, one in January and another in March-April.


A Waterville Senior High School flutist plays for fifth-graders at the Albert S. Hall School in Waterville on Thursday. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

Green said ensemble work will be encouraged so people can feel a sense of connection after a long, isolating coronavirus pandemic. People who may have played an instrument but stopped for various reasons will be welcomed, she said.

She and Barre noted that piano and violin teachers in the area have retired over the past few years, creating a void, and many people must travel to places such as Portland for lessons.

“Students are constantly asking us how they can get private lessons closer to home,” Barre said.

McKinney, who has a background in building music and arts programs, agreed there are gaps and said she became interested in advising on how to raise access to music education in the greater Waterville area.

“Rebecca, Sue and I started having conversations, building momentum and interest over time,” she said.

Green, whose parents were musicians and whose children took lessons at the former Al Corey shop in Waterville and then traveled to area communities for lessons, said she has long held a dream of opening a music school.

“It’s a bit of an experiment and we’re very excited about it,” she said. “It really is a community-spirited thing — the idea of bringing people together. We’ve lost so many opportunities to do that.”

Those with questions may email info@elmcitymusic.com.

Amy Calder has been a Morning Sentinel reporter 35 years. Her columns appear here weekly. She is the author of the book “Comfort is an Old Barn,” a collection of her curated columns, published this year by Islandport Press. She may be reached at acalder@centralmaine.com. For previous Reporting Aside columns, go to centralmaine.com.

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