The new Musical Arts Academy at Hope College offers music classes and ensembles for community members ages 0 to 99, all intended to help foster a lasting love of music.

Whether a student in grades kindergarten-eight who loves to sing, a toddler who enjoys dancing to music, or an adult who would like to learn to play the banjo or understand the development of Western classical music, each can find the chance to explore the interest through the academy, according to Hope music faculty members Adam Briggs and Sarah Southard, who are co-coordinating the new initiative.

As they outline on the program’s website, “The MAA provides students of all ages and abilities the opportunity to experience and develop a lifelong love of music. By connecting the talented teachers and students of Hope College with members of the community, MAA offers multiple avenues to explore, expand and inspire each individual’s musical development.”

The activities run on a variety of dates and times beginning the week of Monday, Sept. 12, with registration continuing to be open past the program’s start.  Classes and ensembles will meet at the Jack H. Miller Center for Musical Arts on Hope’s campus and will be taught or led by highly trained musicians including members of the college’s music faculty.  Fall 2016 programming includes: The West Michigan Children’s Choir, the Michigan Academy of Folk Music, an early childhood music education class, an adult music history survey and chamber music for woodwinds.

Southard noted that the academy’s launch realizes the Department of Music’s long-standing dream to serve as an educational resource for the West Michigan community—something made possible not least of all because the college now has outstanding space in which to host such learning.  “The recent move of the Hope College Music Department to the world-class facilities of the Jack H. Miller Center for Musical Arts made this vision a reality along with the support of administration and ExploreHope, the college’s Center for Exploratory Learning,” she said.

The West Michigan Children’s Choir was founded in 2012 by Sarah Cox and Jennifer Wolfe.  It consists of two performance-division ensembles for singers in grades three-eight with unchanged voices, and a non-performing, preparatory-division choir for students in kindergarten through second grade.  The choirs meet Monday evenings.  Families with children who are interested are invited to contact the program to arrange an informal, no-stress audition.

The Michigan Academy of Folk Music provides learning opportunities for musicians age 12 through adult of any experience level.  There are group classes on various instruments such as banjo, fiddle, guitar, mandolin and ukulele, as well as lecture classes on songwriting and improvisation.  Course times vary.

The Early Childhood Music Education class is for children age birth-five, and features 45 minutes of informal, structured guidance in music geared toward providing exposure to an extensive music vocabulary and to play and experiment with music.  The class meets on Tuesdays at 11 a.m.

The Music History for Adults class offers an overview of music history for the Western classical music-loving non-musician who is interested to know more about composers or place works in a historical context.  The class meets on Mondays at 4:30 p.m.

The woodwind quintet is comprised of high school students on flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon and French horn.  As with the performance-driven children’s choir ensembles, participation involves an audition.

Southard noted that the current mix is just a starting point.  The academy, for example, intends to add adult courses on other topics in the future, and other forthcoming activities include a Double Reed seminar for sixth-12th grade students in January.

Additional information about the programs offered, including about auditions where applicable and about tuition rates for the classes and ensembles, is available online or on facebook.  More information may also be obtained by emailing the program at