I recently spoke to a Brandywine Hundred mother who spoke glowingly of her children's experience in the Kindermusik program at the (newly renamed) Music School of Delaware
“Like any language, the earlier the better,” she said. "Kindermusik was rhythm, keeping time, beauty, discipline, respect, appreciation and care for the instruments. The music, the teachers, other students, performing, actually learning to read and write music and then the big added bonus of developing math skills.
“It was one of the very best things I ever did for the kids,” she said of the school, formerly named the Wilmington Music School/Delaware Music School, with branches in Wilmington and Milford. "Really, on so many levels a great thing.”
My son Grant, now 20, took lessons from flautist instructor Lynne Cooksey at the Wilmington Music School for seven years when he was in elementary and middle school. Cooksey continues at the school and is a long term member of the Delaware Symphony. The discipline and problem solving skills learned serves him well today. Our family was on financial aid with the school, a factor that the school understands is necessary to encourage children to reach their full potential.
Kate Ransom, president and CEO for ten of the school's 84 years, has led its expansion on many fronts. Of the more than 800 community music schools in the nation, it is one of only 30 that is fully accredited.
A recent merger with Delaware Music School of Milford has created a statewide presence.
“Two years ago the Milford group reached out to us,” said Ransom. “We incorporated them into our administrative and educational structure. Our name change simply reduces ambiguity. Nothing structural has changed, in fact we are all enhanced.”
Many of the faculty members I remember from almost two decades ago remain, a sure sign of stability. More than half have earned either master's or doctoral degrees. This is the asset that Ransom calls “our true substance.” The school offers the only Suzuki Academy in both violin and flute in the region.
“One of the virtues of Suzuki is that young children hear their peers' mistakes and achievements. They don't play in a vacuum, speeding the learning process,” she explained.
Wilmington's location recently added a new wing offering more ensemble and instruction rooms.
The Music School exemplifies the word "community" in their outreach. From early childhood development programs, to individual and group lessons offering both choral and orchestral ensembles, they serve 2,300 children and adults weekly. There are satellite locations throughout the state, and a new innovation offers music school teachers as music components to day care center programming.
More than 75 public performances are staged annually in their 300-seat theater. One is struck by their diversity: Christiana Cultural Arts Center students celebrating West African dance, Indian sitars, Greek songs, Chinese American Community with Dragon and Lion dance, Israeli dance from the Adas Kodesch synagogue.
Truly a polyglot of global music, reflecting the music of the community it serves.
Ransom is not only a teacher at the school but also plays violin in The Serafin Quartet. The quartet will play a concert at First & Central Presbyterian Church on Feb. 22. For more information about the concert, visit www.SerafinQuartet.org. For more information about the Music School of Delaware, visit www.WilmingtonMusic.org or call 762-1131.