Barb Crowe, of York, has been teaching piano lessons since she was 16 years of age.
Crowe, a talented pianist, recalls, “My teacher liked teaching the older more accomplished students; so I taught the beginners.”
As it turns out, Crowe’s experience as a young woman led to a career as a piano teacher and accompanist.
“I gave lessons up until 6 years ago and played for the first service at First United Methodist Church for twenty-plus years and sang at late service,” Crowe tells.
Crowe learned of Epworth Village’s dream of creating a music program when CEO Harrietta Reynolds spoke in church one Sunday. Abby Carlson is also serving as a piano instructor after learning about the program.
“Today is the first day (of lessons),” Crowe says excitedly, and it wasn’t long before her first student walked through the door of Mills Dining Hall where the piano is located.
“Music is so important for the kids,” Crowe states, “My mother said when I was young if I learned how to play and instrument and continued my voice lessons I would never be alone … and she was right.”
At Epworth Village firsts are also happening over at the Learning Center. That’s where John Meister is meeting his first guitar student in the space recently dedicated as the music room. Meister, and Jim Sprague, have also agreed to share their talent and knowledge with youth by giving weekly guitar lessons.
Whether at the piano or with guitar in hand, learning begins as students navigate both keyboard and fret; learning notes, the proper way to hold their hands and read music.
Crowe smiles, and tells her student, “My teacher told me the correct way to hold my hand was to cup it so that a penny would stay on the top of your hand while you are playing.”
Epworth Village youth have embraced the music program, it’s evident by the number of guitar cases traveling to and from school each day … practice makes perfect.
Coordinating the music program is Epworth Village Learning Center teacher Britney Schweitzer.
Schweitzer is more than appreciative of the support the program has received, “We would not have been able to do this without the volunteers and the generous donations to the program. Ron’s Music in Grand Island was wonderful to work with. We were able to purchase eight Ibanez guitars with hard cases, drumsticks to use with drums, a guitar tuner and picks, and some cord posters for the walls of the music room. I thought we would have extra guitars but they have all been checked out,” and there is talk of a concert.
“Last night, John gave them all sheet music for ‘Lord I Lift Your Name on High.’ Their homework was to learn that as their first song. It’s a song for beginners and one that everybody knows and loves. That way they are starting to put all their chords together. In a few weeks, maybe we can have our first informal concert at lunch time to show off their progress. It is in the plans to have a fall or winter concert where we would invite family members, alumni and donors, and team members,” Schweitzer tells.
According to Schweitzer, it is clear the music program really struck a chord with teachers, students and Epworth Village supporters alike.