I recently enrolled my 3 (almost 4) year old daughter in piano lessons at the Academy. The enrollment process was simple and the office staff was pleasant to work with. When I brought my daughter for her first lesson, I wasn't sure how she would do focusing for 30 minutes, since she's only 3 and full of energy. However, the teacher was incredible. She provided a lot of variety within the lesson and kept my daughter engaged and excited about the instrument. The teacher took time at the end of the lesson to help me learn how to help my daughter practice, and I was impressed that there was a nice variety of practice activities (i.e. drawing notes, clapping rhythms, wiggling fingers, as well as playing notes on the piano). My daughter was thrilled to have her own books/music to practice with and has asked to practice every night after dinner. She's so excited to go to her lessons at the Academy and loves her teacher. I definately recommend this school for music lessons!
Our first introduction to this organization was as a birthday gift for my 2 year old granddaughter. She was enrolled in the Family Music classes, and from there started private piano lessons. She was with the organization until she left for college. I was so impressed with the organization and all the things that they offered for children with a special need and seeing hte happiness on those children's faces with these teachers that I started to volunteer to help. I am now employed as a staff member, and I still see the loving expression on the faces of the children when they see their teacher.
"The Academy" -- as we called it growing up -- was a big and important part of my family's life. I can say, years later and living halfway across the country, that this is still true.
I was very young when I started going to the Academy--first as I watched my older brother's violin lessons (he was three at the time), then I began my own private violin lessons. This trend continued for my three younger siblings as well, so that at one point all five of us were playing the violin and taking lessons at the Academy. I remember some people joshing that with five musicians in the family, shouldn't somebody play the cello, or the viola, so that we could play together in a group? But the Academy was always proactive about teaching students to play together in ensembles, no matter what the instrumental combination. There were violin performance groups, orchestral ensembles, student/teacher duos... and these varied groups performed at venues ranging from the Academy of Music in Philadelphia, to radio and t.v. appearances, to community projects where the music would be offered as a contribution to the event. My family, and I know many other Academy families, pursued this combination of performance and service in other, personal and community events.
I had the great fortune to study music from such a young age, which provided another dimension to my experience and understanding of a thing. The skill and sensitivity that I developed playing the violin later translates to working with my own body, as a sort of primary instrument, as I study somatic education. In this field, I recognize an intuition and creativity in myself that I can trace back to learning to become a violinist, musician and artist with the Academy.
The Academy of Community Music is an exceptional organization. Aside from offering a variety of music lessons with renowned teachers, The Academy is the home of the Crescendo outreach program, which is what really makes this school stand out as a unique place . Through Crescendo, music therapists from ACM go into low-income schools in Philadelphia and surrounding areas and teach music classes. Not only are students exposed to the joy of music, they are given take-home CDs and worksheets that encourage family involvement. The Crescendo outreach program is truly a gem and would be beneficial in all schools across the country!