Music Preparatory Department Sets Enrollment

If you have never played an instrument before but always wanted to, if you would like to improve your singing or playing, or if you want your children to learn about and enjoy music, then Oklahoma Baptist University's Music Preparatory Department is the place for you!

This community music school at OBU offers high-quality instruction and performances for people of every age - from birth to 93 years - and of every ability and background, while encouraging the love of music, fostering creative expression and promoting personal enrichment. The Preparatory Department has open enrollment for its 2009-2010 class schedule, which begins Aug. 27. Students from birth through adult in Shawnee and surrounding areas are invited to enroll in the department's classes.

The Music Preparatory Department began in 1985 and offers many musical opportunities to students from Shawnee and surrounding areas. Under the umbrella of the Warren M. Angell College of Fine Arts, the Preparatory Department offers private piano, voice, guitar, string, wind and percussion instrument instruction, as well as Keyboard Readiness, Keyboard Concepts and Kindermusik classes for babies and preschoolers. A choral experience is available through the Young Singers of Central Oklahoma. The choirs included are Shawnee Honor Choir, Concert Choir, Youth Chorale, Girls Chorus and Discovery Singers.

The OBU Preparatory Department, the largest of its kind in the state with more than 400 students presently enrolled, has served as a model for several other universities in developing similar programs. Conchita Hansford, OBU music faculty member since 1990, has served as director of the Preparatory Department since 1998.

Researchers and scholars have proven that music is indeed a separate intelligence, and it is crucial that students be exposed to music early in life to develop that important part of the brain. Furthermore, students who study music tend to perform better at spatial-temporal tasks and score higher in academics. Adults are also encouraged to participate in Preparatory Department offerings.

Kindermusik Village

Kindermusik Village, which meets Monday at 10 a.m., is designed for newborns to children 18 months old, and focuses on the developmental benefits of music and movement for the child. The most exciting hallmark is its focus on the very special infant-parent relationship. The classes are for lap babies, crawlers and walkers and a parent or caregiver. By including different ages of babies in one class, parents learn from each other about the many stages of their child's development. They learn how to foster their baby's learning through activities such as singing and reading aloud, movement activities such as touching, rocking and bouncing, and object and instrument play. Music is an integral part of all activities.

Kindermusik Classes

Other Kindermusik classes are offered for 2-, 3-, 4- and 5-year-olds. These classes provide a wide range of fun musical experiences and activities through singing, moving, listening, playing simple rhythm instruments, chanting and expressing feelings through imaginative play. Children perform age-appropriate musical activities such as finger plays, musical game songs and musical dramatizations of stories. Children work on steady beat, the singing voice and basic musical concepts such as up/down, high/low, loud/soft and fast/slow. The program helps develop coordination, crossing the mid-line and even pre-reading and math skills. The curriculum encourages individual musical development and fosters group interaction, and it is often the child's first opportunity to experience and appreciate music. Preschoolers develop their verbal, motor and social skills through participation in many musical activities and exploration of music through play.

The classes, taught by Hansford, meet in the Early Childhood Music Suite in Ford Music Hall at 11 a.m. Monday or 10 a.m. Thursday for the 2-year-old class; 10 a.m. Wednesday for the 3-year-old group; and 11 a.m. Wednesday for the 4- to 5-year-old group. A 5:15 p.m. Thursday evening class and a 10 a.m. Saturday class for ages 3, 4 and 5 is taught by Debbie Beeson, an early childhood teacher who is also a licensed Kindermusik educator.

Keyboard Readiness

Keyboard Readiness is a class for children ages 5 and 6 who are interested in studying music and the piano. The class provides a wonderful, motivational atmosphere for learning music as well as a fun, active and non-threatening setting to learn the piano. Students explore musical concepts including up/down, high/low, loud/soft and fast/slow. Emphasis is placed on singing, listening to music, moving to music, keeping a steady beat and learning to play pieces on the keyboard. Aspects related to the keyboard are introduced, including the music alphabet and key names. A significant part of the class is devoted to learning to read music and play simple pieces on the piano. Classes meet on Tuesday at 5 p.m. or 6 p.m. in Ford Music Hall and are taught by Rachel Schmoyer.

Class time is divided between large group activities, small group activities and short private piano lessons. Students who have first participated in Kindermusik often continue their music experience by enrolling in Keyboard Readiness. While Kindermusik is not a prerequisite, any early music experiences will enhance a student's enjoyment and progress in the Keyboard Readiness class. Interested parents and students are contacted by the teacher for a preliminary conference prior to the beginning of classes.

Keyboard Concepts

Keyboard Concepts is a class for second- and third-grade students interested in beginning piano study, and meets on Tuesdays at 5 p.m. in the electronic piano lab in Raley Chapel. The class is limited to eight students. The children receive 30-minute group instruction and a 30-minute private lesson taught by OBU piano students every other week, with alternating weeks spent in one-hour group instruction. The course is designed to teach beginning piano and basic music theory. The class fosters a healthy desire to come prepared and able to play the assigned pieces in a class ensemble setting. Michael Dean, piano pedagogy director and supervisor of piano student teachers, teaches this class with the assistance of the college piano pedagogy students.

String Instruction

Violin and cello students receive a 30-minute private lesson utilizing a traditional approach combined with Suzuki materials. Students are also taught basic theory. Violin teachers are Royce McLarry and Nicole Melki. Cello instruction with Philipp Gulidov is also available.

Private Lessons

Traditional private piano, voice, guitar, string, wind and percussion instrument lessons are provided to students on an ongoing basis to foster the student's continued musical development. Lessons in a 30- or 45-minute format are available. Students of piano and strings range in age from kindergarten through adults. Some piano teachers incorporate group lessons into their teaching calendar. These lessons gather four to six students according to age and skill and give them the opportunity to play their favorite pieces for each other and bolster their theory skills, and play games which reinforce what the students are learning in the private lesson. They experience ensemble playing and learn about different composers and styles of music. Some teachers use computer software programs in their teaching. Some of the programs are theory-related games that help students understand and learn to read music, and other programs are designed to make music along with the students.

Adult Class Piano

This class is designed for beginners and for students who had lessons as a child. The course offers instruction in music notation, chord playing, technique and theory. Morning and evening classes are offered.

Shawnee Honor Choir

Beginning its 27th year, Shawnee Honor Choir, also directed by Hansford, is an auditioned group of fourth- through sixth-graders from Shawnee and the surrounding area. Students represent 17 different schools from Oklahoma City to Seminole. The children study and perform a wide variety of music ranging from simple unison songs to the more challenging two- and three-part choral treble literature. The playing of Orff instruments, hand chimes and rhythm instruments is also an enjoyable aspect of the choir experience. The choir performs annually in 12 area schools, presents two formal public concerts, and frequently presents programs at community events. The choir, which meets on Tuesday afternoons from 3:30-5:15 p.m., has performed four times as the selected honor group for the Oklahoma Music Educators Association State Convention in Tulsa.

Concert Choir

Concert Choir is designed to provide junior high treble voices with singing experiences that increase individual musicianship and enhance personal growth and development. Under the direction of Dr. Casey Gerber, coordinator of music education, the choir is dedicated to the philosophy that performance of quality choral literature can provide a source of great joy and enrichment for the individual and for the community. Recent performance highlights have included the Organization of American Kodaly Educators National Conference in Virginia; the Oklahoma Music Educators Association State Convention in Tulsa; a tour to Arizona; Branson, Mo.; and performances at the American Choral Directors National Convention in Los Angeles. Along with two on-campus concerts each year, the choir performs for area malls, schools and businesses. The choir rehearses on Tuesday afternoons from 5-6:30 p.m.

Select Girls Chorus

This choir, composed of auditioned advanced high school girls' voices, will meet on Tuesday afternoons.

Youth Chorale

This group of select students is designed to continue providing opportunity for singing experiences that enhance musical growth. Students are motivated through diverse, challenging and quality literature as well as unique performance opportunities. The Youth Chorale performs two on-campus concerts jointly with the other YSCO choirs each fall and spring, and performs for area malls and businesses as well. The choir has performed in Branson and in Tulsa for the Oklahoma Music Educators Association State Convention. The choir meets on Tuesday evenings from 5-6:30 p.m., or at a later time to be arranged.

Discovery Singers

Discovery Singers, for non-auditioned singers ages 7 and up, is offered to help children develop their voices and prepare them for future choir success. The choir meets on Tuesdays from 3:30-4:30 p.m.

For more information and registration, contact Hansford by phone at (405) 878-2319 (office) or (405) 273-2273 (home) or by e-mail at

To register online, visit the Web at