The University of Lynchburg Department of Music is dedicated to providing music outreach programs to benefit the Greater Lynchburg community:
Community and University Partnership
Music Bridge Group Piano Program
The Music Bridge Program is a partnership among The Ellington Fellowship Playhouse and the University of Lynchburg Music Department. This collaboration began thanks to the efforts of Dave Abrams, jazz musician and community member, who wanted to enrich the lives of community students through music lessons and performances. Music Bridge includes piano performance opportunities, music theory lessons, and voice and movement classes for interested students ages seven to seventeen in the Lynchburg area. For many children, obstacles including transportation and expenses related to lessons (music books and instrument purchase/rental) prevent them from enjoying the benefits of a dynamic music education. The Music Bridge program provides materials to support students' at-home practice and development. Generous donations from benefactors in memoriam of Dave Abrams, assistance from The Ellington, and community liaison Mr. James Arnold, all support Music Bridge and ensure its continued success.
The Music Bridge Program benefits students after school by encouraging interaction between participants and accomplished musicians. Budget cutbacks, working parents, and the rise of single-parent households have combined to create a significant drop in opportunities for many children to become familiar with live musical performances or music lessons. These issues make it extremely difficult for children to experience the mentorship that accompanies small group study. Music Bridge extends the school music experience and enables these children an exposure to music under the watchful eye of University of Lynchburg students and music faculty. Prof. Jeremy Craft and Dr. Kara Eaton Dean are co-directors of the program. They supervise Lynchburg students at all grade levels - some University students participate in the program for internship credit, repeatable each semester of study, while others volunteer their time and talents.
This partnership began in September 2009 and has grown to support dozens of children each year. Lynchburg undergraduate students plan and implement weekly lessons, plan concerts for family and friends at the end of each semester, and communicate with students, parents, and guardians in a positive and encouraging fashion. This unique program is one of a kind in the state of Virginia as a music service-learning opportunity for university students. Pre-service music educators and interested music students can learn how to foster positive self-efficacy in a music rich environment that benefits all involved. For the past seven years, Lynchburg has been awarded a Chapter Recognition Award at the annual Virginia Music Educators Association In-Service Conference for the collaborative work done through Music Bridge to bring music into the lives of community children in Lynchburg and the surrounding areas.