RMC strikes a chord with aspiring musicians
by BART MENDOZA
May 08, 2014 | 1463 views | 0 0 comments | 13 13 recommendations | email to a friend | print
It’s long been known that the arts and music specifically can have a major impact on a student’s education. From logic to math, there are many skills that can be enhanced by studying music. Unfortunately, school budget cuts have taken a toll on these programs in public schools.

This brings us to the Recreational Music Center, located at Liberty Station.

Now celebrating its fifth year, the center offers music lessons, as well as a weeklong summer camp-styled music-immersion program for students. The center has even partnered with acclaimed production house Studio West for some projects.

“We’re a nonprofit community music school,” said director of curriculum development Joanna Moody. She wears many hats on the job, serving as the summer camp coordinator and director of the wind ensemble.

Moody said she feels music is a great way for people of all ages to have fun and hone various skills but considers it particularly important for the young.

“There are all those studies out there about music for kids that show that music leads to higher test scores, leads to better abilities to pay attention in class and so on,” Moody said. “I believe in all those things. But I really think that the most important things the kids gain from music lessons are the non-cognitive things, things where you gain experience working together as a group, learning to be responsible for things as simple as remember your binder, remember your book. It’s a real safe environment for kids to practice and check out a lot of self management skills and responsibilities.”

Though there are other music programs in San Diego, Moody said the center’s approach is different.

“A lot of schools will pigeonhole themselves as one genre or another,” she said. “The truth of the matter is we’re more of a ‘calico’ program. That is to say, we have a lot of different things, a little bit of everything.”

The school offers everything from guitar to piano lessons to a wind ensemble and lesson plans for budding rockers. According to Moody, the studio doesn’t make judgments when it comes to musical taste.

“We really believe in meeting the students where they are,” Moody said. “So that means if they want to do a Justin Beiber song, then that’s where we start. That’s the gateway for us to work with them.”

The school will offer three onsite summer camps this year: Little Rockers for ages 4-6; Junior Rock Band for ages 6–9; and Rock Band for ages 9-12. Teenagers can head to a camp at Studio West.

Moody said she is particularly happy with the latter program.

“We noticed that unless you wanted to do the usual summer camp with counselor sorts of activities, there wasn’t a lot for teenagers to do,” she said.

She said the school is happy to teach all ages.

“We have a preschool program that starts as early as nine months old with ‘Mommy and Me,’ and then we go all the way up,” she said. “It’s never too late to start. We have a 75-year-old woman who had never played piano before. She decided she was going to come in and take lessons for the first time. So, we serve all ages, but the biggest population is in the elementary-school age.”

Students at the school learn more than just how to play an instrument. They also get to play choice gigs.

“All of our summer camps do a performance at the end of each week,” she said. “But our students have also performed at the House of Blues and at the Point Loma Summer Concert Series, as well as being a regular part of the monthly Friday Night Liberty arts event held at NTC Liberty Station. We like to keep the kids busy.”

Moody said she is thrilled with what the school has been able to accomplish in its first five years.

“I teach for the light-bulb moments,” she said. “And by that, I mean I had students in the past who just sit there in class the entire school year. I mean, it takes months to teach them which end of the clarinet to blow in. But I love it when they persevere and keep at it. You can just see the light bulb click above their head. And all the hard work comes together.”

• RECREATIONAL MUSIC CENTER: 590 Truxtun Road, Studio Room 200 (NTC Liberty Station). www.rmcsandiego.org.
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