App State’s Community School of Music continues to make the musical arts accessible to all ages; Registration for spring group classes open until February 5

The Appalachian Youth Choir at Community Music School pictured during a rehearsal in January 2020. Photo courtesy of Community Music School

By Harley Nefe

Appalachian State University’s School of Community Music is a nonprofit organization that proudly serves Boone and surrounding communities by making the musical arts accessible to people of all ages.

Community Music School has been offering private lessons in Boone and the surrounding area for over 10 years and offers private music lessons for all ages, currently taking place online. In addition to private music lessons, Community Music School also offers online group music lessons for ages 5-18. Registration for Spring Group Classes is open until February 5, with classes beginning the week of February 15.

Last fall semester was Community Music School’s first online semester, and Lisl Doughton, Community Music School’s program manager, said it was a great success.

“Our teachers have been creative in adapting their classroom materials to an online format and engaging students,” Doughton said. “We were able to create a virtual musical community and help our students express themselves through music.

As of fall, the Community Music School had 84 students enrolled in all online courses and lessons offered. Some students enrolled in more than one program.

Katie Snodgrass takes a piano lesson over Zoom with CMS teacher Molly Reid. Photo courtesy of Community Music School

“We were thrilled to see that we could bring music to so many people, especially when normal gatherings were limited, and online events are one of the best ways for people to connect,” said Doughton.

Classes and online courses were a necessity due to the COVID-19 pandemic; however, the new teaching method allowed the Community Music School to reach students from near and far – some students were as far away as Arizona and Washington. Online education is also a benefit for students who cannot drive into town to attend classes or classes, and the technology component allows students to be taught differently.

“After teaching online for several months, my students have not lost their motivation and have continued to grow musically,” said Community Music School flute teacher Bryan Culler. “Although the different format has brought its challenges, it has allowed me to maintain and develop my teaching style with my students by adapting and learning alongside them.”

Maggie Quigley, flute student at Culler, said, “I’ve been taking classes at Community Music School for four years, and the reason I’ve come to enroll again and again is the quality teaching provided by people anxious to see you progress. , whatever your level of play. Even if the situation was out of the ordinary, the program maintained its integrity. For example, even though my instructor and I couldn’t play together like we normally would, he sent me recordings of himself that I could practice with.

The community school also has a “Pay What You Can” model that offers various pricing options for group lessons.

“It is extremely important to our mission to invite all interested students to join our courses,” Doughton said. “A student’s musical abilities and creative passion are not tied to what he or his family can afford. Our “Pay What You Can” program allows the community to come together to make courses accessible to everyone.

Additionally, tuition assistance is available for students to help pay for private lessons and group classes. Tuition assistance is made possible through donations. Interested sponsors can donate to the Give Now! page to or they can contact the director of the community music school, Dr. Nicole Sonbert, by email at [email protected] for more information.

Online group lessons for ages 5 to 18 that will be offered this spring include piano, guitar, ukulele and drums in addition to the Hit Maker! (writing and producing), Appalachian Youth Chorale, Appalachian Vocal Academy and Appalachian Youth Orchestra classes.

Student Hannah Barton said, “My experience in Hit Maker! was really fun and different. I learned to do something new and write my own music for the first time. I thought that was great!”

New this spring, Appalachian Vocal Academy now offers three levels of classes and topics for high school students interested in developing their acting and auditioning skills.

Students who sign up for group lessons will also receive two 20-minute private lessons with the teachers or class assistants.

Also new this semester, Community Music School’s private online lessons now include drums, clarinet, trombone and yoga as well as lessons in piano, voice, guitar, violin, viola, cello, flute and trumpet. New students in private lessons can start at any time of the year; however, tuition assistance is available for private lessons in full semester packages. These students must register by the February 5 deadline.

Dr. Shawn Roberts demonstrates which drums to use in his online course “Let’s Play Drums!” Photo by Leslie Roberts

The Community Music School is also proud to announce its new “Let’s Play Drums!” online course for 12-18 year olds, which is supported by a grant from the North Carolina Arts Council, a division of the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources. The Community Music School would like to thank the Watauga Arts Council and Watauga Arts Council Executive Director, Amber Bateman, who helped make the class possible for the Community Music School through the Grassroots Grant.

“We are very happy and grateful for the Watauga Arts Council grant! Amber Bateman, Executive Director of WAC, has worked very hard to help deliver this music program with us,” said Community Music School Principal Dr. Nicole Sonbert. “We hope to continue to develop and expand accessibility to music programming and work with our community partners to collaborate on these efforts. We hope that by working together, our community will continue to feel empowered to connect, discover and create through the arts.

This spring, enrollees in any program will have access to live workshops on music theory and music making held on ZOOM and a series of pre-recorded workshops on mind-body connections for the performing artist.

Overall, Doughton said the teachers at Community Music School are looking forward to another great semester this spring.

“We have a lot of fun making music together and I love seeing young people being inspired by music for the very first time,” said Dr. Meg Stohlmann, director of the Appalachian Youth Chorale. “That’s why I love my job so much. Plus, I learned so much from all my students! »

Many students enrolled in the fall have already registered to return in the spring semester.

The Dean of the Hayes School of Music, Dr James Douthit, said, “The Community Music School is just one of the ways the Mariam Cannon Hayes School of Music brings music to our community. In a traditional year, we offer nearly 200 free concerts open to the public. We open our doors and share our space with neighborhood bands and orchestras, and of course we offer Cannon Music Camp in the summer. The Community Music School not only creates an opportunity for our community, but it serves as a laboratory for the students who teach and work with this program. We look forward to the continued growth of the community music school.

For more information about Community Music School’s private online lessons and group lessons, individuals can visit the website Registration for group classes is open until Friday, February 5. Interested musicians can also email the Community Music School at [email protected] or call them at 828-262-3029.

Lisl Doughton teaches a cello lesson on Zoom. Photo courtesy of Community Music School
David Harris, the teacher of the “Hit Maker!” writing and production classes. Photo courtesy of Community Music School
Jenna Kyber, teacher of “Let’s Play Ukulele!”, “Let’s Play Guitar!” and “Let’s Play Piano!” Photo courtesy of Community Music School
Katie Snodgrass writes a song using online software. Photo courtesy of Community Music School