Tallahassee investing in its musical future
By: Brad Rowland
Music is at the heart of The Salvation Army’s ministry in many locations and, in Tallahassee, Florida, an investment is being made with the opening of the Beginner Music Academy. The instructional program opened its doors in mid-February, with a weekly gathering on Tuesday evenings.
The Beginner Music Academy currently has three tracks – piano, dance and guitar – and each child attending also participates in a united chorus. The academy, held at the Tallahassee Corps, utilizes two rooms that were overhauled for the program, with the unveiling of a dedicated dance studio. With the help of a partnership with Guitar Center, a keyboard lab is also in use to aid in the development of the piano program.
“Our community and our donors make this academy possible for these kids, and that is a gift” said Lieutenant Ryan Meo, corps officer. “It’s truly an enduring gift.”
The professional-caliber instructional staff includes a pair of graduate students from local universities. Beyond the staff’s artistic experience, however, is a dedication to the overall development of young people through The Salvation Army’s mission.
“All of our instructors understand the mission of The Salvation Army and use what they are teaching these kids to show them the love of God,” Lieutenant Meo said. “They’re passionate about what we do, and it shows in how they invest in the program and these children.”
The academy operates on a semester system, with a break engineered in the schedule for the summer. That is a purposeful choice that allows the potential to introduce children to the Army’s divisional music and arts programs and to promote the summer camping experience.
While the academy has only been officially underway for only a short time, it is already successful, and there is potential for growth and development as a result.
“The response has been great,” said Lieutenant Meo. “We wanted to take the first semester slow and work out all the kinks, but it’s filling out very quickly. We are looking at ways to potentially expand, while still keeping the quality of the program at a high level, and we’re thrilled with how it’s going so far.”
Ultimately, the promotion of musical and artistic development is intriguing and a centerpiece of the academy’s design. Still, there is greater power at work, and that thinking permeates the weekly instruction.
“The power of music should really never be underestimated,” Lieutenant Meo said. “It really has the power to change the course of these kids’ lives. When a child discovers for the first time that they have the ability to make beautiful music, sometimes that can just alter things in so many awesome ways. We just love to see the way the Lord uses music in their lives. It is something they can look forward to, no matter what home or school are like, and music opens doors and opportunities for a lot of kids.”