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Release date: January 15

Academy of Fine Arts program benefits both ways

In teaching experiences, typically the student is the one who gains the most from lessons. But in the case of Wayland Baptist University's Academy of Fine Arts, often the benefit goes both ways.

A pre-collegiate and continuing education program of Wayland's Division of Fine Arts, the Academy offers classes to all ages and skill levels throughout the region. Courses are offered on a semester basis following the university calendar.

"The purpose for the academy is twofold: to provide a service for the community, for children and adults," said Pennye Golden, director of the academy. "The other side is that we are using juniors and seniors that are planning to teach in the areas we work with. We are helping them learn how to set up a private studio."

While Wayland's fine arts faculty supervise the academy offerings and even teach some of them, students are vital to the program and benefit often as much as their younger charges.

Sara Henry, a senior music major from Anahuac, can attest. She's been teaching in the Academy for three years, the first in piano and the last two in voice. Most of her students have been elementary-aged and beginners.

"One of the best learning experiences is to do it and teach it," she said. "I've just done a lot of what I've been taught over the years and if I have any questions or need help, the faculty is there to help."

Part of the challenge in teaching at the Academy, Henry said, is devising ways to teach musical fundamentals on a child's level, abandoning the formal terms she's learned as a college student.

"It's a learning experience just to have a child as a student, because you have to find ways to explain it to them more basically," she said. "I use a lot of my experiences from choir to come up with vocal exercises they can understand."

Henry said she's also become more motivated to keep to her own practice schedule since she's been on the other side of the vocal lesson.

Jeannine GreeneAs a longtime piano teacher, Jeannine Greene has seen the benefits of instruction through the academy as far back as its original inception in 1981 as the Community Music School. After being approached by the university to help start the program, she moved her private home studio to Wayland and began offering her private piano lessons through the school.

Over the years, she's seen hundreds of students pass through her doors, many coming as young children and continuing lessons for several years. A few, she said, have even learned from her from kindergarten through their senior year in high school.

Greene retired in May 2000 from full-time teaching and now carries a part-time load of about 20 students each semester. She's proud of what the Academy has become.