Baldwin area children hone musical skills with help from Baker University students.
It's been about six years since Trilla Lyerala, a music professor at Baker University, organized a school within a school here.
Since then the Baker Music Preparatory Academy has grown into a program that pairs musically accomplished Baker students with about 50 area youngsters yearly for instruction in everything from band instruments and piano to violin and voice.
The matching of older students with younger ones has proved beneficial for all involved, program participants and managers say. The university students gain teaching experience and wages that help with college costs while area youngsters receive quality guidance at minimal price.
``It's very rewarding,'' said Summer May, a Baker junior from Paola who teaches violin. ``When you're trying to teach them something and they finally get it, it makes you feel good. The two students I have are very enthusiastic. It's not hard to get them to practice.''
Rayna Diers of Baldwin has enrolled her daughters, Cari, 13, and Kim, 10, in classes at the Baker music school. Both are taking voice lessons. Cari previously studied piano through the program.
``They love it,'' Rayna Diers said. ``We've been involved with it for some time.''
``I'm learning `Amazing Grace,''' said Kim.
Maria Williams, a Baker sophomore from Russell who plans to someday teach high school speech and debate, has been teaching piano and voice with the academy for four semesters and anticipates staying with the program until she graduates from college.
``I've really enjoyed it,'' she said. ``It's a good way to meet people around town, too, which makes you feel more comfortable here. This was my first experience teaching. It was an extra source of income, basically. Six dollars a lesson is a good price.''
``It's an opportunity for our college students to practice their teaching before they get their degrees and get out of school,'' said Larry Williams, interim director of the program while Lyerala is teaching abroad. ``They get a chance to practice to see if they really want to be teachers.''
Williams said most of the young music students come from Baldwin, but some travel from as far as Overbrook and Wellsville to take advantage of the program.
``They enroll for each semester session,'' he said, ``and the young students are assigned to teachers by a faculty member, who kind of keeps track of what's going on. I think this year we have everywhere from third to eighth grade with quite a few beginners on piano.''
Williams said a limited amount of scholarships also are available for young students whose families otherwise couldn't afford the music lessons.
The preparatory course mostly involves beginning students, Williams said.
``We encourage the younger kids when they get to a certain point of advancement to get with a special teacher here or in the area,'' he said. ``We do recommend after three or four semesters that they really ought to go on to a professional teacher, especially as their technique advances.''
-- Mike Shields' phone message number is 832-7144. His e-mail address is email@example.com.