Do you know the 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 kids can take private and group lessons on a variety of instruments, but what makes this music teacher and homeschooling mom’s heart skip a beat are the opportunities they offer for musical ensembles.
Our family has been with the Lawson Band for several years and I want to make sure every family upstate learns about the amazing opportunities at Lawson.
This review is 100% a review from a grateful mom. Lawson Academy is not a sponsor of Kidding Around and nothing was given in exchange for this review.
What does Lawson Academy offer?
Lawson Academy at Converse University offers state students opportunities in music and performing arts, including:
- Private lessons on wind, brass and string instruments
- Group guitar lessons
- Singing lessons – private lessons and group lessons
- string ensemble
- 3 band levels
- 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, both privately and in ensembles, I wanted to ensure that my children, despite being home-schooled, have the opportunity to play their instruments with other musicians in an ensemble.
Ensemble playing is part of a complete musical education. Why isn’t one-on-one tuition enough? Because music is social and more fun with others! Playing in an ensemble requires very different skills than playing alone. Students must learn to follow a conductor and listen to each other in order to play together. They develop an ear for intonation and pitch adjustment that cannot be mastered alone. They develop humility, learn to encourage, and expand their ability to work with others. Very, very little music literature has been written for a solo instrument without accompaniment. All parts are needed to hear and play the music as it was written.
And I have to say, there’s something completely otherworldly about playing in an ensemble surrounded by layers of sound all blending into something beautiful, knowing your sound is interfering and part of that creation. All musicians, no matter what level, can experience this. And I really think they should. Students can begin developing ensemble skills from day one of playing an instrument.
Please don’t overlook this part of a well-rounded music education.
I’m a band mom. I’m a private violin teacher and a former school orchestra teacher, but the hat I’m wearing for this article is Bandmama. This is the bulk of our experience at Lawson and as such I will focus on the band in my review. I will say upfront, however, that based on what I have seen of Lawson, I would not hesitate to attend any of their programs.
My son has been playing trumpet in the Lawson Band for 4 years. He has played in all 3 band levels offered by Lawson: Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced. From the start I have been very impressed with their range of teaching, their flexibility and the creativity of instrumentation in ensembles year after year, all pointing towards always providing the best possible experience for each and every student.
In addition to the Lawson Band ensemble, my son’s involvement with Lawson has allowed him to participate in other opportunities, including auditioning for regional bands and attending the Honor Band Clinic at Limestone University. These experiences are made possible by the fabulous dedication of Lawson’s teachers. Opportunities like these are only available to students of South Carolina Band Directors Association members. And so Lawson also opens doors for homeschool students who might not otherwise be able to participate in these other experiences.
I cannot say enough how grateful I am for these opportunities for my son. Lawson Band is undoubtedly, without reservation, a true gem of music education in our community.
Who can join the Lawson Band?
The Lawson Band is open to all students in grades 3 through 12. The opening band, as the name suggests, starts at the very beginning; how to open the case, assemble the instrument and get the sound out. Your child does not need any prior knowledge. After one year, the students advance to the intermediate level and from there, depending on their ability, to the advanced group.
If your child already plays an instrument, Lawson will place them in the ensemble where they can be most successful. My son joined the band mid-year and jumped into the rookie ensemble for the spring semester. The following year he moved up to the intermediate group with his bandmates.
If you have younger children or are interested in strings or vocal ensembles, visit the Lawson website for age requirements and information for these programs.
Interested in the opportunities at Lawson?
The starting point is the Lawson Academy website. Parents can see the wide variety of offerings available for their students at Lawson and enroll in spring semester courses.
Lawson Academy of the Arts
580 East Main Street, Spartanburg