Trenton Community Music School shifts mission as executive director retires

By Jenna Pizzi | For NJ.com

Follow on Twitter
on May 01, 2015 at 2:50 PM, updated May 01, 2015 at 2:51 PM

Reddit

TRENTON – For the past 17 years the Trenton Community Music School has been offering individual music classes to students and offering scholarships to those who couldn't afford to pay. But at the end of next month the school's long-time executive director will retire and with her departure the school will shift its mission away from individual instruction.

Starting at the beginning of July, the school will focus primarily on its programs working within school districts, said Executive Director Marcia Wood.

"We are just changing our way of performing our mission," said Wood.

The change for the school is reflective of the change in demand from students, Wood said.

"We had many more students 10 years ago than we have now, so it is time to say 'Look, how can we best meet the needs of the Trenton community?'" Wood said.

The school currently has 35 students who meet individually with their instructors each week, down from 200 a decade ago, Wood said. Those students will work with their teachers to find another venue for their lessons if they wish to continue after next month, when the school stops offering individual lessons, Wood said.

77-year-old student Esther Snead, who has been taking flute lessons at the school for the last four years, she thinks the shift is unfortunate.

"I just hope that maybe that setup can be revived again," said Snead.

Christopher Fisher, whose two sons currently take classes at the school, the loss of lessons is a blow.

"I cant understand why parents, politicians and community leaders don't make sure that music is available for all kids," Fisher said.

Fisher said in school it can be hit or miss if students will have the exposure to music, but in individualized classes they can build the love for music, which can communicate to other things.

By focusing on in-school programs, Trenton Community Music School hopes to expand on the success of the Music for the Very Young, a music program for pre-school students, and the new El Sistema youth orchestra in Trenton schools to reach more students directly, Wood said, adding this reach is important for the school to obtain more funding, too.

"For our funders it is a matter of where are they going to get the most bang for their buck and if we can reach fifteen with one teacher, rather than one student with one teacher, than obviously it makes more sense for us to do that," Wood said.

Wood said the board of directors has not yet named a new executive director to replace her. She added that she would stay involved in the school, which she helped to found in 1998, assisting with fundraising efforts.

"I think for the future of the school it should change," she said. "It is time for somebody else's ideas and somebody else's energy."

Jenna Pizzi may be reached at jpizzi@njtimes.com. Follow her on Twitter @JennaPizzi. Find The Times of Trenton on Facebook.