Opportunities for music abound at Peoria Citadel
Cornet. Piano. Ukulele. Pickle bucket? No matter the instrument or vessel, students from the Peoria Citadel, Ill., Corps and community are learning to make and appreciate music as students in the dynamic Academy of Performance Arts program.
“We saw music as an opportunity to make a greater impact on the youth in our community,” said Major Heath Sells, corps officer.
Over the past two years, music has become an integral part of corps youth programming. With funding from a Thomas Lyle Williams grant, the corps began providing music lessons three times a week as part of their afterschool program. Through the Academy of Performance Arts, more than 50 students from first grade through high school are learning to read and play music from qualified instructors at the corps and a middle school—all for free.
“Our goal is for the music program to be as barrier-free as possible,” said the major. “Many of the families who participate are low-income, so finances can be a barrier. With new donors coming forward, we hope to keep offering lessons free of charge.”
Participants in the music program are reaping the many benefits of learning to play an instrument. In addition to technique and theory, students are gaining confidence and developing leadership skills. Many also report improvement in their motivation, concentration and focus at school and home.
“Our students are really growing. Some are taking on leadership at the corps and playing on the praise team and in the brass band. One of our goals in starting the Academy was to bolster our live music on Sundays, and the Academy has certainly done that,” Major Heath said, referring to the territory’s goal of having Live Music in Worship in Every Corps by 2020 (LM2020).
At the end of the summer, the Academy of Performance Arts and the Heartland Division came together for a week of intense music instruction and leadership development in a joint music conservatory.
Under the direction of Peter Kim, divisional music and gospel arts director, divisional conservatory students from several corps spent mornings helping teach Peoria Citadel students and afternoons rehearsing with their own bands.
“Giving more advanced students the opportunity to teach is a natural progression in their development as musicians,” said Peter. “It challenges them to grow into leaders.”
The conservatory culminated in a concert for friends, family and the community to an overwhelmingly positive response.