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Community Music School branches out to Lockport

Maria T. Goodrich now has two good reasons to sing in church.

Goodrich is a soprano soloist at Lockport First Presbyterian Church. She also is co-chairwoman of the voice department at Community Music School of Buffalo.

She recently helped set up a branch of the music school at her church. It's the first branch in Niagara County.

Now there's a place locally where students of all ages can receive musical instruction outside the school setting -- taught by instructors from the Community Music School.

Goodrich, a Lockport resident, has both bachelor's and master's degrees in vocal performance from the University at Buffalo.

Students can receive instruction in voice and piano, said Linda L. Mabry, executive director of the Community Music School, and the school is considering teaching other instruments if there is a demand.

Goodrich is serving in her 12th year as a teacher for the music school.

"I'm just starting a new [class] here in Lockport called 'So Many Notes, So Little Time,' a course which teaches students how to keep musical time," Goodrich said.

Students who take classes in Lockport have the opportunity to perform at least once a month at the music school's main location, 415 Elmwood Ave., Buffalo.

At the end of the year, students have to perform in examinations, Goodrich said.

"We choose the best, and we have an honors recital," she said.

Soprano Cheryl Hudson, co-chairwoman of the music school voice department and another Lockport resident, will join her in teaching music classes. Hudson holds a bachelor's degree in voice from Daemen College, Snyder.

Both women appear frequently as soloists throughout Western New York.

Goodrich and Hudson are teaching several classes, including "Music and Me," for children ages six months to 3 years and their parents or another adult.

"Music in Action" is designed to help children ages 3 to 6 learn to develop more advanced skills and musical competence through movement, singing, chanting and playing percussion instruments.

The cost for instruction at First Presbyterian, 21 Church St., ranges from $18.25 for a 30-minute lesson to $36.50 for an hour lesson. Students must also pay an annual registration fee of $16 per student. The rates go down if there is more than one student in a family.

For the Community Music School's rates and offerings, go to the center's Web site at or call 884-4887.

Mabry said that many of the classes will be on Tuesdays at the church and that she plans to offer daytime classes for adults and flexible hours for children as well as adults.

Mark Taylor, director of the Lockport High School Concert Band, said he was in favor of the school opening, just as long as all of the instructors are competent.

"Any things that are going to benefit these students outside of the normal class day is going to help them a lot," Taylor said.

In exchange for the church allowing the Community Music School to teach classes rent-free, some of the teachers have agreed to give talks at a speakers luncheon series, Mabry said.

Jeffrey A. Seekins, music director at the church, said he is very excited about local people being able to take lessons from instructors at the Community Music School.

"They bring an established quality," Seekins said. "They've been in Buffalo for so long. They have a high-quality teaching staff."

Seekins said church members are happy to share their space, as well as their instruments.

Mabry said students and their parents who think they cannot afford paying for lessons can apply for financial assistance. The income restriction is for families earning less than $21,000, but she said she does make certain exceptions.

About 35 percent of students attending all of the Community Music School's classes receive financial assistance, Mabry said. The center serves more than 1,000 students a year.

Those contributing to financial aid for these students include the United Way, local foundations, corporations and individuals.


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