Capital Universitys plans for music school end on positive note

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Capital University is looking for a harmonious transition as it hands over its beginning and intermediate Community Music School programs to the newly formed Columbus Children’s Community Music School.

The decision was made after weeks of speculation that the programs could be cut as part of the university’s campus-wide program review.

The new music school will be merged with the Columbus Children’s Choir, which is housed at 787 E. Broad St. Capital’s Suzuki program and its Suzuki Institute will also be transferred.

The change will allow Capital to focus on students seeking degrees, according to university spokeswoman Nichole Johnson, and was made entirely for budgetary reasons.

Space limitations for the 40 Community Music School faculty and 1,000 students (who come from as far away as southeastern Ohio) have kept the program from growing, Johnson added.

The Columbus Youth Chorale, Capital Junior Winds, the Columbus Youth Symphonic Band, and adult education programs will remain on the main Bexley campus as the Conservatory College Preparatory Division.

The Children’s Community Music School on Broad Street will offer classes in voice and instruments in private and group instruction sessions.

Students will not be divided by age, but by skill level in four tiers – Foundations,  Transitions, College-Preparatory and Adult Education.

Music school faculty will begin evaluating their students this month to determine their placement, and Capital hopes to have the transition largely completed by January.

Jayme Staley, executive director of the Columbus Children’s Choir, which encompasses nine choral groups, commented that change is nothing new for the organization well-versed in training young people.

The Columbus Children’s Choir started as an offshoot of the Columbus Symphony Orchestra before branching out on its own 12 seasons ago.

"Working with young musicians is nothing new to us," Staley said. Working with beginning and intermediate students "is what we do best."

She did not know how many students would be arriving from Capital, but promised that the organization would hire additional staff and find rehearsal space to accommodate anyone who wants to transfer.

The building they use has five classrooms dedicated to students, and the organization has connections with other facilities to provide more space, she explained.

Staley said the administrators would also make sure that the transition has a minimal impact on fees. The usual $15 registration fee will be waived for transferring students.

Bexley resident and Capital graduate Merry Pruitt, who has taught both at the Community Music School and the Suzuki Institute, said she was sad that the programs were moving but relieved that they would continue.

She called Sandra Mathias, a professor at Capital’s Conservatory of Music who will be the director of the new Community Music School "a great administrator. All of our interactions with her have been positive."

Mathias is the artistic director for the Columbus Children’s Choir.

"To find a child-friendly venue with a child-friendly director" is a nice outcome, said Pruitt, who has had a 40-year association with Capital, beginning in eighth grade.

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