For many music education majors, finding a job after graduation can be difficult.
“One of the classic catch-22s is in order to teach anything is that you need teaching experience.” Davy Chinn, Indiana Wesleyan University music academy director, said.
However, Indiana Wesleyan University offers its music students a solution: a unique program that allows community members to benefit from affordable classes while providing students practical experience.
“The IWU Music Academy has existed in some form or another for a very long time. I know it has existed for at least 15 years.” Chinn said.
As an Indiana Wesleyan student, Chinn participated in this program. Now, as director of the program, he personally testifies to the meaningful experience that it can provide students.
“It challenged me in a lot of ways.” Chinn said. “I worked with a student who has had no musical experience and I had to very quickly learn how to show authority while also recognizing that wasn’t sure what I was doing. It was a good experience.”
Any music student can apply for the program. After submitting an application, students are processed based on their experience and teacher recommendations.
For IWU junior Elyse Wachsmuth, a music education student, the IWU Music Academy has provided experience in her field of study that she had not been able to experience in practicum.
“I think it’s a really good experience, having the direct access to the community and being able to share what I’m learning in my own lessons,” Wachsmuth said. “It’s something I’ve never experienced before.”
Community members of any age are encouraged to participate in the program. Lessons are provided for voice, guitar, piano and others. Each Academy student is paired with an IWU student and they arrange ten, half-hour meetings over the course of the semester.
“There is scholarship money available because something that we’re very passionate about is offering this as a service to the community.” Chinn said.
Openings are still available for this semester.
Mark Alexander is the father of three of the Academy’s students. His children are currently enrolled for lessons in drums, piano, and voice. The family has been a part of the program for the last two years.
“Our experience has been phenomenal! The student teachers have been kind, informative, flexible, and just fantastic overall.” Alexander said.
Alexander attributes his son’s newly discovered passion for drums to the student educator that the Academy provided.
“His teacher has done a wonderful job in challenging him and encouraging him at the same time. He has nudged him forward while supporting him along the way,” Alexander said. “We couldn’t have asked for a better experience. We will be sad to see our student instructor graduate!”
Enrollment at the Academy is at an all time high this year. However, Chinn is looking forward to seeing continued growth and connections in the community.