She danced with enthusiasm, adorned in a Hypercolor shirt and acid washed Guess jeans with perfectly pegged cuffs. One hand, covered with a lace glove, clutched her cherished Sony walkman. Headphones were perched atop her Aqua-Net infused hair, partially obscured by towering bangs. Her dancing was confident, perhaps even graceful at times, and she knew that she was destined for greatness. She hummed the tune, and as the chorus approached, she cleared her throat in preparation. She closed her eyes, focused every bit of her undiscovered talent into the lyrics, the tone, the pitch. The words poured from her mouth, and her feet kept moving. She imagined the roar of future fans, the applause, the cheers, the lights, the fame. As the song ended, she took a deep breath and opened her eyes, looking to her audience with anticipation. Her face fell as she observed her little sister, sitting on the living room couch, fingers snugly inserted into her ears. Her mother gave a half-hearted applause and resumed rubbing her temples. Someone grumbled about needing an aspirin. The hormonal, adolescent emotions surged and a scowl emerged. As the tears began, she stomped to her room and slammed the door behind her, the walkman left abandoned on the floor of the living room, her would-be stage.
This is how I imagine my adolescent attempts at singing. Clearly, I am not musically inclined. I was bored by childhood piano lessons, and my junior high band experience consisted mostly of making frustrated spitting sounds into a flute. My “singing” voice was so bad that it became a joke among family members. Eventually, I just played along and purposely sang as poorly as possible, a practice I still adhere to today.
Here I am, decades later, with a pre-teen daughter who is interested in singing, acting, and performing of any kind. She eagerly signs up for acting classes and camps, performs in the school plays, and gives school presentations with ease and confidence. She sings in the shower, in the car, in the living room, and anywhere else. She sings to her little sister. However, her little sister does not press her hands over her ears. Instead, she asks for more, and more, and more.
Her path as a performer is turning out to be quite different from mine. Much of that is due to her own personality. She is more confident than I ever was at her age, and she is dedicated to improving her skills. Whereas I gave up on the piano, the flute, and the singing, she perseveres. She is also fortunate to be surrounded by adults who support her and encourage her. That includes parents, teachers, friends, and relatives. And, for the past couple of years, that has included Magnolia Music Studio.
As my daughter’s joy of performing progressed over many years, she began to express an interest in singing lessons. She reasoned that, since many plays are musicals, she should improve upon her singing voice. We asked around a bit, received a recommendation for Magnolia, and signed her up for voice lessons. Nearly two years later, she is still regularly attending her voice lessons. She has now had two different instructors, both of whom have been talented, encouraging, and knowledgeable. She is thriving in the supportive environment. Her voice is maturing and her joy and passion remain.
Just last week, I sat in Magnolia Music Studio, an audience member with my camera ready. The week-long Songs & Skits summer camp was coming to an end, and a crowd of proud parents had gathered for a performance of Rumpus in the Rainforest.
I watched as my daughter sang her solo, projecting her voice beautifully and moving about the stage with assurance. That moment of overwhelming parental pride was followed by a reflective moment of my own self at her age. How different she is from me in this realm of music and theater. More importantly, how fortunate she is to have discovered a childhood passion and joy. With continued encouragement from her parents, her voice teachers, and others, perhaps it will be a passion that stays with her throughout her life. I know I’ll continue to offer my support as a mom, and even if I have nothing to offer musically, she’ll always have someone to go to should she ever need a perfectly pegged cuff or expertly coiffed mall hair.
The Bottom Line
Magnolia Music Studio is a “one-room schoolhouse” of musical instruction, offering a quiet, private place for individual and group lessons. The instructors all have music degrees and professional performing experience, and they treat all of their students with kindness and respect. A strong sense of community is fostered at Magnolia, and students are given opportunities to interact with and support one another. There is not a competitive focus at Magnolia, but instead, all students and all levels of ability are embraced and appreciated. In fact, Director Cynthia Vaughn stresses that music benefits everyone, and is “like oxygen”.
Lessons, Camps, & Upcoming Events
Magnolia offers flute, harp, ukulele, fiddle, and voice instruction to a wide variety of age groups. Six-year-olds are learning to play the harp and the fiddle, while older, retired individuals may be exploring music for the first time. A Saturday morning group vocal performance class is offered regularly, to students and non-students alike. This is a drop-in event, welcoming both singers and listeners, and offers feedback from experienced performers. Concerts, recitals, and events are held regularly, including Songwriters in the Round, described by Vaughn as a “best kept secret.”
Summer camps are available as well, including two coming up soon. As of today, each camp still has a few openings:
Teen Vocal Performance Camp: July 30th through August 3rd, ages 12 to 18
Harp Camp: August 6th through 10th, ages 6 to 16
The cost varies depending on instrument, lessons, and type of class. Please see their website or contact them directly for current prices. The Saturday Vocal Performance class is free to current students, or $5.00 for non-students. There is a $20.00 annual registration fee.
Magnolia Music Studio
210 W. Magnolia Street, Suite 10
“Take a music bath once or twice a week for a few seasons. You will find it is to the soul what a water bath is to the body.”
~Oliver Wendell Holmes
Does your family regularly bathe in music? In what ways do you instill in your children a love and appreciation of music?