Do you know about Lawson Academy of the Arts at Converse University? The academy is an amazing resource for music education and the performing arts in the Upstate, South Carolina community. At Lawson your children can take private lessons and group lessons on a variety of instruments, but the thing that makes this music teacher and homeschooling mama’s heart sing is the music ensemble opportunities they offer.
Our family has been a part of Lawson Band for several years and I want to make sure every upstate family knows about the amazing opportunities at Lawson.
This review is 100% a review from a thankful mom. Lawson Academy is not a Kidding Around sponsor and nothing was given in exchange for this review.
What Does Lawson Academy Offer?
Lawson Academy at Converse University offers music and performing arts opportunities for the Upstate’s students, including:
- Private lessons on wind, brass and string instruments
- Group guitar lessons
- Vocal study- private lessons and group study
- Strings ensemble
- 3 levels of Band
- Fine Arts Day Camp
- Private ballet lessons
The Importance of Music Ensembles for Young Musicians
As a music teacher with 15 years of teaching experience including both private instruction and ensemble teaching, I wanted to make sure that even though my kids are homeschooled they have the opportunity to play their instruments with other musicians in an ensemble.
A complete music education includes ensemble playing. Why are private lessons not enough? Because music is social and it’s more fun with others! Playing in an ensemble requires a completely different skill set than playing alone. Students have to learn to follow a conductor and listen to each other in order to play together. They develop an ear for intonation and pitch matching that cannot be done alone. They develop humility, learn to encourage, and grow their ability to work with others. Very, very little musical literature was written for a solo instrument with no accompaniment. All the parts are needed to hear and play the music the way it was written.
And, I have to say, there is something completely out of this world about playing in an ensemble enveloped in layers of sound all blending together to create something beautiful, knowing that your sound is mixing in and part of that creation. All musicians, of all levels, can experience that. And, in my opinion, they really should. Students can start developing ensemble skills from day 1 of playing an instrument.
Please, don’t overlook this part of a well-rounded music education.
I’m a band mom. I am a private violin teacher and a former school orchestra teacher, but, the hat I wear for this article is band mom. This is the bulk of our experience at Lawson and so I’ll focus my review on band. However, I’ll say upfront that based on what I have seen of Lawson, I would not hesitate to participate in any of their programs.
My son has been playing trumpet in Lawson Band for the last 4 years. He’s played in all 3 levels of band offered at Lawson: beginner, intermediate and advanced. From the very beginning, I have been hugely impressed with the instruction they offer, their flexibility and the creativity of instrumentation in ensembles year after year, all point to flat out giving each and every student the best possible experience they can, always.
In addition to the Lawson Band ensemble, my son has been able to participate in other opportunities because of his involvement with Lawson including auditioning for region bands and participating in the honor band clinic at Limestone University. These experiences are made possible because of the fabulous dedication of the teachers at Lawson. Opportunities like these are only available to students of members of the South Carolina Band Directors Association. And so, Lawson is opening doors for homeschool students who would not otherwise be able to participate in these other experiences, too.
I cannot say enough how thankful I am for these opportunities for my son. Lawson Band is hands down, no reservation, a true gem of music education in our community.
Who Can Join Lawson Band?
Lawson Band is open to any student in grades 3 through 12. The beginning band, as the name implies, starts at the very beginning; how to open the case, put the instrument together and get sound out. Your child doesn’t need any prior experience. After a year, students move up to the intermediate group and from there move to the advanced group based on skill.
If your child already plays an instrument, Lawson will place them in the ensemble where they can be most successful. My son entered band halfway through the year and jumped in with the beginner ensemble for the spring semester. The following year he moved up with his bandmates to the intermediate group.
If you have younger children or are interested in strings or vocal ensembles, check out the Lawson website for age requirements and information for those programs.
Interested in the Opportunities at Lawson?
The place to start is the Lawson Academy website. Parents can see the wide variety of offerings available for their students at Lawson and register for fall semester classes. You can also register by calling 864.596.9022.
Lawson Academy of the Arts
580 East Main Street, Spartanburg