New Expansion Plans Announced For 2016 – 2017 In Hendersonville Times-News – May 22, 2016

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Michael Ridenour, director of the Music Academy of WNC, teaches Savannah Barnwell, 10, on Friday afternoon. Patrick Sullivan/Times-News

Published: Sunday, May 22, 2016 at 4:30 a.m.

The Music Academy of Western North Carolina has announced significant expansion plans, which includes the rollout of an afterschool program for elementary students.

The academy’s director, Michael Ridenour, said he will begin phasing in a series of new programs at the Hendersonville-based academy over the next year, expecting to add 200 more students to the school.

Starting next school year, the academy will begin offering afterschool string instruments program for fourth- and fifth-graders in Henderson County. Flyers for the afterschool program will be distributed to fourth- and fifth-grade students in Henderson County Public Schools. The afterschool lessons will be taught in a classroom setting at the academy at 235 Duncan Hill Road several times a week.

“This program within itself is a pretty big undertaking,” said Ridenour. “I think it will benefit a lot of kids in Henderson County and prepare them for other programs that already exist.”

Ridenour said there isn’t any kind of string program for elementary kids in Henderson County. Academy leaders want the afterschool program to supplement the strong programs at the middle and high schools along with the Hendersonville Symphony Youth Orchestra.

“We’re trying to accomplish a couple of goals,” Ridenour said. “Number one is just to have a good extracurricular music activity for fourth and fifth graders. Number two is to start to develop, along with the Hendersonville Youth Symphony, an elementary school ensemble. Right now, they start they start at the sixth-grade level but they don’t have anything for the elementary school kids.”

The afterschool program will roll out in September at the elementary schools. The academy also plans to offer onsite classes at new FernLeaf Community Charter School next spring.

In addition to plans for an afterschool program, the academy will begin offering online lessons later this summer using an online program called JamKazam. It is an online meeting site where musicians can play together in real time over the internet. Similar to Skype, instructors will be able to teach their students from anywhere.

“What this does is it kind of takes us outside our brick and mortar building here to where we can offer online lessons,” said Ridenour. “We can offer them here, or since we have a lot of teachers traveling from Asheville and other counties, we can actually offer online lessons and they can do them from their home, but still come through the music academy.”

The academy has about 200 students right now. Ridenour expects the afterschool programs to add 100 to 150 more students and the online lessons to add another 50 for now.

“Just those things were probably looking at a good 400 students total, and that’s kind of being conservative,” Ridenour said. “That will pretty much solidify us as the largest private music school in the county once we get these programs up and going by the end of the year.”

An afterschool program and online courses aren’t the only new additions. The academy teaches many styles of music, including classical, rock, jazz, pop and country. Now they will be adding a folk music program to the mix.

“Western North Carolina is kind of a mecca to folk music,” Ridenour. “We’ve had a lot of calls for folk music like mandolin, banjo and things of that nature, but I’ve never really found someone that was an area expert of that.”

He found that someone in Tyler Cason, who holds a bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music education from North Greenville University and is pursuing a doctorate at the University of Georgia. Cason will be teaching folk guitar, harmonica, mandolin, banjo, songwriting and voice in the folk music program, which is expected to roll out in full this fall.

Next spring, the academy will also begin publishing method books and publications from instructors. The academy currently has 14 instructors, most of whom hold masters or doctorate degrees in music education.

The Music Academy of Western North Carolina was founded in 1997. In 2009, the academy moved to is current location at 235 Duncan Hill Road and had since expanded three times to accommodate student growth. Ridenour said it’s likely he’ll have to expand again next year after all the expansion plans are phased in.

For more information, visit wncmusicacademy.com or call 828-693-3726.

2016 Annual Spring Student Recitals Are This Coming Weekend

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We will be holding our annual spring recitals this coming Friday night, Saturday afternoon, and Saturday evening in the performance room at the Music Academy of WNC. We are very proud of all of our students, their hard work, and dedication and look forward to hearing them perform this weekend.

Our Faculty Members Are The BEST in Hendersonville

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Our faculty members are simply the BEST of any private music school in Henderson County. They are the backbone of the music education experience we offer to all of our students at the Music Academy of WNC. All of our faculty members hold a minimum of a Bachelor’s degree in their field of study (72% hold a Master’s or higher), possess decades of teaching and performing experience, are great with students of all ages, and have warm and inviting personalities. Check out our faculty members HERE and compare them with other area music schools. We believe you will not find a better educated, dedicated, and professional faculty for your music education experience. Give us a call at 828-693-3726 and discover why we are the #1 Choice, Best Value, and Largest Music School in Hendersonville, North Carolina.

Three Reasons Why We Are The #1 Choice, Best Value, & LARGEST Music School In Hendersonville, NC

Music Academy of WNC

Why is the Music Academy of WNC the #1 Choice, BEST Value, and LARGEST Music School in Hendersonville, North Carolina? Here are three reasons:

1. Our regular tuition rates start at $100.00 per month for weekly, 30-minute lessons. Some area music schools charge upwards of $125.00 for the same thing and regularly discount down to our every day rates for promotional purposes. We believe in giving our students fair, high-value tuition rates every day of the week without the promotional gimmicks.

2. All Music Academy faculty members have decades of teaching experience at the private studio, public/private school, or college/university levels. In fact, eight out of eleven (72%) hold a Master’s Degree or greater in their field of study (more than any other private music school in Henderson County). In addition to their teaching credentials, our faculty members have warm personalities, are extremely friendly, and dedicated to teaching the style of music you want to learn in your music lessons.

3. We serve over 200 students weekly for private music lessons, ensembles, and music classes (more than ANY private music school in Hendersonville). We have served thousands of families since 1997.

Give us a call to set up your FREE consultation to meet our faculty, tour our facilities, and register for private music lessons at 828-693-3726 or visit our website at http://wncmusicacademy.com and see why we are the #1 Choice, BEST Value, and LARGEST Music School in Hendersonville, North Carolina.

Three Important Questions To Ask Potential Music Instructors BEFORE Starting Private Music Lessons

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By:  Michael Ridenour

Choosing the right music school and music instructor can be a daunting task for anyone starting music lessons.  Not all music schools and private music instructors are created equal and students can spend a lot of time and money finding that out.  Asking the right questions and doing some research on potential instructors before starting private music lessons can maximize the learning process and eliminate a mountain of frustration. Neglecting to ask the right questions can leave a student feeling very frustrated to the point where money and time are wasted and the love of music is greatly diminished.  Here are three very important questions to ask potential music instructors before starting private music lessons.

1.  Q:  Where did the music instructor receive their education and what is their teaching experience? 

 A:  Many private music instructors teaching today, especially the more popular instruments such as guitar, bass, and drums, have little to no formal music education.  They have either received their musical training from lessons at a local music store or are self-taught.  Many might be competent performers but they are far from great teachers.  The best recommendation is to find a private music teacher with a minimum of a Bachelor of Music degree (or equivalent) on their instrument.  If a teacher is really serious about music education then they will take the initiative to educate themselves.  In addition, the training of a music degree allows the instructor to learn how to properly teach technique and musicianship on their instrument.   It also gives them the proper experience with many proven, time-tested teaching philosophies and methods to incorporate with their students.   You have to ask yourself – would you be comfortable with someone teaching your child math, English, or social studies without a college degree, proper training, and certification at a primary or secondary school?  If the answer is “No” then why should you lower your expectations and standards when it comes to music lessons you are actually paying for with your hard-earned money?

Ask the potential music instructor about their past teaching experience.  Have they taught music in the public or private school system, at a college or university, or in a private music studio?  How long have they taught in each of these settings?  Their answers will tell you a lot about their teaching experience and longevity.  What types of music curriculum and methods do they incorporate in their private lessons?  Their answer will tell you about the direction your lessons will go and what you can expect to learn from them.  What is their teaching philosophy?  Their answer will tell you a lot about their lesson organization and pedagogy beliefs.  The more teaching experience an instructor has the more likely you will find a well-educated and seasoned music instructor.  Do not settle for a music instructor without the proper collegiate music education, pedagogy training, or teaching experience.  It is really not worth the frustration and can be a potential waste of time and money.

2.  Q: Does the music instructor teach proper technique on their instrument? 

A:  The first inclination is to except an answer of “YES” but you have to investigate a little further to make sure proper technical training will be incorporated into each music lesson.   As a classical guitarist, with a Master’s of Music degree and over 20 years of teaching experience, the one thing I constantly see with students coming into my studio from other teachers is the lack of proper technical training.  Normally, students are coming to me from other teachers because they are frustrated and cannot play what they want to play.  One look at their hands and how they play makes the root of their frustration pretty obvious – they have never been properly trained in the playing technique of their instrument.

I once had an eighth grade student come to me from a previous teacher.  She had taken guitar lessons from this teacher for about a year and found herself not being able to play what she wanted to play.  I asked what method book she was studying and she told me it was the same book that I used.  Since she had been taking lessons for about a year, I thought she might be at the end of the first method book or just starting the second.  That is the normal progress a student that age would make in my studio with proper technique supplementation.  When she told me she was almost finished with book three I thought to myself that she was either the next Stevie Ray Vaughan or we were going to have problems.  Unfortunately, the latter was the case.  Her technique was so bad that she could hardly play and actually gave up the guitar in frustration.  Her parents basically wasted their hard-earned money on a year’s worth of guitar lessons and, instead, purchased their daughter a lifetime of frustration and disdain for the guitar.  I personally would have asked that former teacher for my money back.

Proper technique is different for every instrument and the voice but all should be deeply rooted in classical music.  There is just no way around that fact.  Students should find a private music teacher that incorporates proper, classical-based technique into their lessons for all musical styles (including rock, jazz, country, blues, etc.).  A student cannot play or sing what their hands or voice will not allow.  Proper technique, especially for beginning students, is crucial to a successful music lesson experience where progress can be made to advanced performance levels.  This is a rampant problem in the private music education world I see every day.  Don’t let it become a problem for your personal music lesson experience by taking lessons from a private music instructor that does not incorporate classical-based technique.

3. Q: Does the music instructor teach proper musicianship and music theory on their instrument? 

 A:  Make sure music reading is taught in all lessons.  There are teachers out there that do not teach their students how to read music because many cannot read music themselves.  That’s hard to believe but more common than you might think.  Many people think of “music theory” as some mystical term.  It really isn’t.  Proper music theory training in a private music lesson setting should include but not be limited to the following: music reading; the major and minor keys; chords and their extensions derived from these keys; the modes of the diatonic, melodic-minor, and harmonic minor scales with the chords and extensions derived from these scales; and the understanding, placement, application, and incorporation of these items on the instrument for performance, phrasing, improvisation, and music making.  If a student is interested in becoming a music major then any legitimate private music school should be equipped to offer and teach a college-level freshman music theory course and general music history to prepare students for college entrance and placement examines.

One item that has been lost, due to the aide of computers and software, is the art of transcription; especially for rock, jazz, blues, and other popular music forms.  Students are not developing their ears the way they used to because computers are taking over that task.  The best ear-training tool music students can learn is how to transcribe for their instrument.  True transcription is actually setting down with a recording, writing down the music on paper, and placing it on their instrument.  Transcription, in my opinion, brings all the elements of music theory and performance together for the student.  It makes music come alive on an instrument and fosters a greater understanding of the theoretical elements of music and how they are used in different musical styles.  It teaches the student how to become a musician on their instrument which, with the guidance of a good teacher, is the ultimate goal in teaching musicianship.

Your music education experience is very important and the right questions should be asked to maximize your music education investment.  Finding a private music teacher with a music degree, proper teaching experience, and insuring proper technique and musicianship training are incorporated into every lesson will help potential students find the right music teacher, maximize progress, and guarantee years of enjoyment in playing a musical instrument.

Please give us a call at the Music Academy of WNC at 828-693-3726, schedule a FREE Consultation to discuss music lessons, or visit our website at http://wncmusicacademy.com for more information about our music school.  We would love to discuss your musical direction and help you achieve your musical goals.

Michael Ridenour is the Director and founder of the Music Academy of WNC in Hendersonville, North Carolina.  He holds a Master’s of Music degree in Guitar Performance with over 20 years of teaching and performing experience.  He has taught music at the middle, high school and college and university levels as well as private studio settings.

Save 20% During March Madness at the Music Academy of WNC!

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It’s MARCH MADNESS at the Music Academy of WNC! SAVE 20% off our low monthly tuition pricing throughout the month of March! The Music Academy of WNC offers the most comprehensive and largest variety of music lessons than any other music school in Henderson County. Our faculty is the most educated and experienced in Hendersonville with the majority holding a Master’s degree or greater in their field of study. All of our music lessons incorporate classical-based musicianship and technique within the style(s) our students wish to learn. Plus, they are LOTS OF FUN! We currently offers private music lessons in the following:

* Guitar (Electric, Classical, Acoustic)
* Bass (Electric, Upright)
* Drums & Percussion
* Piano & Voice
* Violin, Viola, Cello, & Double-Bass
* All Woodwind and Brass Instruments

Give us a call at 828-693-3726 to schedule your FREE Consultation to discuss your musical direction at Hendersonville’s #1 Choice, Best Value, and LARGEST Music School.

Come Study Music At Hendersonville’s #1 Music School

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The #1 Choice, Best Value, & LARGEST Music School In Hendersonville, North Carolina!

The Music Academy of WNC offers the most comprehensive and largest variety of music lessons than any other music school in Henderson County. Our faculty is the most educated and experienced in all of Western North Carolina with over 73% (8 out of 11) holding a Master’s degree or greater in their field of study.  All of our music lessons incorporate classical-based musicianship and technique within the style(s) our students wish to learn. Plus, they are LOTS OF FUN! We currently offers private music lessons in the following:

* Guitar (Electric, Classical, Acoustic)
* Bass (Electric, Upright)
* Drums & Percussion
* Piano & Voice
* Violin, Viola, Cello, & Double-Bass
* All Woodwind and Brass Instruments

Give us a call at 828-693-3726 to schedule your FREE Consultation to discuss your musical direction at Hendersonville’s #1 Choice, Best Value, and LARGEST Music School.

The Music Academy Welcomes Freeburg Pianos and Perzina

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The Music Academy of WNC is excited to announce our new business relationship with Freeburg Pianos in Hendersonville, North Carolina. Freeburg Pianos has furnished the Music Academy with a brand new Perzina upright piano for our teaching studios.  “We are pleased to have Freeburg Pianos and Perzina represented at the Music Academy of WNC” states Music Academy Director, Michael Ridenour.  Please visit Freeburg Pianos on Asheville Highway in Hendersonville if you are considering an upright or grand piano purchase.

The Benefits of Music Education

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By Laura Lewis Brown – Original Article Appears HERE

Whether your child is the next Beyonce or more likely to sing her solos in the shower, she is bound to benefit from some form of music education. Research shows that learning the do-re-mis can help children excel in ways beyond the basic ABCs.

More Than Just Music
Research has found that learning music facilitates learning other subjects and enhances skills that children inevitably use in other areas. “A music-rich experience for children of singing, listening and moving is really bringing a very serious benefit to children as they progress into more formal learning,” says Mary Luehrisen, executive director of the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) Foundation, a not-for-profit association that promotes the benefits of making music.

Making music involves more than the voice or fingers playing an instrument; a child learning about music has to tap into multiple skill sets, often simultaneously. For instance, people use their ears and eyes, as well as large and small muscles, says Kenneth Guilmartin, cofounder of Music Together, an early childhood music development program for infants through kindergarteners that involves parents or caregivers in the classes.

“Music learning supports all learning. Not that Mozart makes you smarter, but it’s a very integrating, stimulating pastime or activity,” Guilmartin says.

Language Development
“When you look at children ages two to nine, one of the breakthroughs in that area is music’s benefit for language development, which is so important at that stage,” says Luehrisen. While children come into the world ready to decode sounds and words, music education helps enhance those natural abilities. “Growing up in a musically rich environment is often advantageous for children’s language development,” she says. But Luehrisen adds that those inborn capacities need to be “reinforced, practiced, celebrated,” which can be done at home or in a more formal music education setting.

According to the Children’s Music Workshop, the effect of music education on language development can be seen in the brain. “Recent studies have clearly indicated that musical training physically develops the part of the left side of the brain known to be involved with processing language, and can actually wire the brain’s circuits in specific ways. Linking familiar songs to new information can also help imprint information on young minds,” the group claims.

This relationship between music and language development is also socially advantageous to young children. “The development of language over time tends to enhance parts of the brain that help process music,” says Dr. Kyle Pruett, clinical professor of child psychiatry at Yale School of Medicine and a practicing musician. “Language competence is at the root of social competence. Musical experience strengthens the capacity to be verbally competent.”

Increased IQ
A study by E. Glenn Schellenberg at the University of Toronto at Mississauga, as published in a 2004 issue of Psychological Science, found a small increase in the IQs of six-year-olds who were given weekly voice and piano lessons. Schellenberg provided nine months of piano and voice lessons to a dozen six-year-olds, drama lessons (to see if exposure to arts in general versus just music had an effect) to a second group of six-year-olds, and no lessons to a third group. The children’s IQs were tested before entering the first grade, then again before entering the second grade.

Surprisingly, the children who were given music lessons over the school year tested on average three IQ points higher than the other groups. The drama group didn’t have the same increase in IQ, but did experience increased social behavior benefits not seen in the music-only group.

The Brain Works Harder
Research indicates the brain of a musician, even a young one, works differently than that of a nonmusician. “There’s some good neuroscience research that children involved in music have larger growth of neural activity than people not in music training. When you’re a musician and you’re playing an instrument, you have to be using more of your brain,” says Dr. Eric Rasmussen, chair of the Early Childhood Music Department at the Peabody Preparatory of The Johns Hopkins University, where he teaches a specialized music curriculum for children aged two months to nine years.

In fact, a study led by Ellen Winner, professor of psychology at Boston College, and Gottfried Schlaug, professor of neurology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School, found changes in the brain images of children who underwent 15 months of weekly music instruction and practice. The students in the study who received music instruction had improved sound discrimination and fine motor tasks, and brain imaging showed changes to the networks in the brain associated with those abilities, according to the Dana Foundation, a private philanthropic organization that supports brain research.

Spatial-Temporal Skills
Research has also found a causal link between music and spatial intelligence, which means that understanding music can help children visualize various elements that should go together, like they would do when solving a math problem.

“We have some pretty good data that music instruction does reliably improve spatial-temporal skills in children over time,” explains Pruett, who helped found the Performing Arts Medicine Association. These skills come into play in solving multistep problems one would encounter in architecture, engineering, math, art, gaming, and especially working with computers.

Improved Test Scores
A study published in 2007 by Christopher Johnson, professor of music education and music therapy at the University of Kansas, revealed that students in elementary schools with superior music education programs scored around 22 percent higher in English and 20 percent higher in math scores on standardized tests, compared to schools with low-quality music programs, regardless of socioeconomic disparities among the schools or school districts. Johnson compares the concentration that music training requires to the focus needed to perform well on a standardized test.

Aside from test score results, Johnson’s study highlights the positive effects that a quality music education can have on a young child’s success. Luehrisen explains this psychological phenomenon in two sentences: “Schools that have rigorous programs and high-quality music and arts teachers probably have high-quality teachers in other areas. If you have an environment where there are a lot of people doing creative, smart, great things, joyful things, even people who aren’t doing that have a tendency to go up and do better.”

And it doesn’t end there: along with better performance results on concentration-based tasks, music training can help with basic memory recall. “Formal training in music is also associated with other cognitive strengths such as verbal recall proficiency,” Pruett says. “People who have had formal musical training tend to be pretty good at remembering verbal information stored in memory.”

Being Musical
Music can improve your child’ abilities in learning and other nonmusic tasks, but it’s important to understand that music does not make one smarter. As Pruett explains, the many intrinsic benefits to music education include being disciplined, learning a skill, being part of the music world, managing performance, being part of something you can be proud of, and even struggling with a less than perfect teacher.

“It’s important not to oversell how smart music can make you,” Pruett says. “Music makes your kid interesting and happy, and smart will come later. It enriches his or her appetite for things that bring you pleasure and for the friends you meet.”
While parents may hope that enrolling their child in a music program will make her a better student, the primary reasons to provide your child with a musical education should be to help them become more musical, to appreciate all aspects of music, and to respect the process of learning an instrument or learning to sing, which is valuable on its own merit.

“There is a massive benefit from being musical that we don’t understand, but it’s individual. Music is for music’s sake,” Rasmussen says. “The benefit of music education for me is about being musical. It gives you have a better understanding of yourself. The horizons are higher when you are involved in music,” he adds. “Your understanding of art and the world, and how you can think and express yourself, are enhanced.”

Give the Music Academy of WNC a call at 828-693-3726 to set up your FREE Consultation and discuss your musical direction.

When Is The Best Age To Start Piano Lessons?

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Parents who give their children the gift of a musical education start them out on a path that will enrich their lives in so many ways. Studying music develops discipline, hand-eye coordination, intelligence, and creates a skill that can bring happiness to both the performer and to all who listen. According to a recent article in the LA Times, 6-year-olds who received keyboard instruction had more brain growth and better fine motor skills than their peers. Piano lessons are such a great thing, why not get started as soon as possible?

IS IT EVER TOO EARLY?

It is true that you can find videos on YouTube of three-year-olds playing Mozart, but that doesn’t mean that a three-year-old who likes plunking on the piano keys should be signed up for lessons. Children under the age of five who show an interest in the piano should be allowed to explore and learn on their own time table. They probably won’t respond well to an adult-imposed learning structure. Instead, parents of children under age five should be doing things to cultivate a general interest in music. Singing, dancing, listening to recorded music, and enrolling in a good preschool music program will allow a child to have fun exploring music and prepare for studying an instrument when the time is right.

THE REQUIREMENTS FOR READINESS

The best time to start piano lessons will be different for every child, but most will be ready between the ages of 5 1/2 to 8 years old. Here is a short checklist of things a child needs to get a good start as a piano student:

1. SIZE OF HAND

A child who is taking piano lessons should be comfortable placing five fingers on five adjacent white keys. For some five-year old childern, that’s a big stretch! Before beginning piano lessons, make sure your child’s hands have grown enough to be comfortable using a keyboard.

2. FINGER INDEPENDENCE

A child who is taking piano lessons needs to be able to move individual fingers.  A child who can only play by picking out the tune with one finger is probably not ready.

3. INTEREST IN MUSIC AND DESIRE TO LEARN

At any age, motivation is an important factor of readiness. If a child does not want to take piano lessons then the parent should instead spend time cultivating interest in music.

A WORD ABOUT READING

Piano students who use a book based method may do better if they begin at age seven or eight, after they are beginning to read words with more fluency. Students who begin with an ear-based method, such as the Suzuki Method or the Hoffman Method, can start earlier at age five or six.

IS IT EVER TOO LATE?

Piano students can start lessons after age eight and all the way up to adult, but it is true that there are some advantages to starting earlier. For one thing, children who are eight or younger have more supple hands. Older children who have never studied an instrument, and even adult learners, often have to deal with more finger awkwardness. This can be overcome with desire and practice, but it will take more effort. There are also studies showing that young children can learn complex brain skills like languages more easily than older children and adults because their brains are still developing. These years are really a window of opportunity to develop musical intelligence. Older students can learn too, it will just take more effort.

 Another reason it is easier for younger children to start piano lessons is the amount of available time they have to practice. Older kids and teenagers usually fill up their lives with other interests. A child who starts in first grade and gets in six years of piano by middle school is more likely to be advanced enough to want to stick with it even as life gets busier.

So what is the best age to begin piano lessons? For a child who meets all the requirements of hand size, finger independence, and desire, the answer is, as soon as possible! Take advantage of the opportunity to immerse your young child’s mind in the language of music. If those prime years of opportunity have already passed, it is never too late for a child with a real desire to learn. Studying music at any age is good for body, mind, and spirit, and something to enjoy for a lifetime.

Give us a call at the Music Academy of WNC to schedule your FREE Consultation for piano lessons at 828-693-3726.