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The Halls are Alive with the Sound of Music

By Abigail Ancherico 

It is a rare moment to have walked through the halls of Snyder Memorial Baptist Church and not be accompanied by quality music in some shape or form from the Music Academy. Whether the notes are sung or played, children and adults of all ages eagerly learn and excel in a variety of musical forms. The program was established in January 2002 under the direction of Mrs. Joy Cogswell to provide quality music instruction in a Christian setting. Since the first semester, which consisted of 85 students, the Music Academy has consistently been expanding and currently averages 550 to 575 students each semester. This successful growth has not been overlooked as it is considered to be the second largest church related Music Academy in the nation. 

With their incredible talents, about 36 passionate music instructors bring each student’s skill to life. They generously and patiently work with students on all levels of experience in both private and group settings.

Each instructor must meet the minimum of a bachelor’s degree in their instrument of expertise but most have surpassed that with a Masters or Doctorate Degree. Coming from as far as Texas or right here in North Carolina, each instructor brings musical insight and a deep appreciation of music to the program.

The program offers a wide variety of private lessons from piano to instruments that are more rare such as the harp or Suzuki violin. Lessons are offered five days a week in fall, spring and summer semesters and can be taught weekly in 30, 45 or 60-minute increments. Registration is also ongoing throughout each semester. Group piano instruction is offered to beginning piano students and incorporates the latest technology, putting a fun and exciting spin on the class. The guitar ensemble, beginning handbells, dance, Snyder Youth Strings and Beginning Strings Orchestra are also group instructed classes for a variety of students.

Music Therapy has been a wonderful addition to the Academy and aids physical, emotional, cognitive and social needs with the use of music. Therapist, Georgene Fayssoux, is amazed by the role of music and its ability to improve quality of life in all ages.  

Not only does the Music Academy offer private and group lessons, it has developed a strong Kindermusik program for children birth to 5 years of age.

Cogswell holds the distinction of Kindermusik Maestro and is an instructor for the largest and oldest program in the area. ABC Music & Me is a new spin off of Kindermusik and is taught by Kerri Hurley and Laura Thompson for children ages two to five. The spirited program is offered at the following childcare centers: Snyder Memorial Baptist Church, FTCC Childcare, First Adventure (Cape Fear Valley Health Care Systems) and Highland Learning Center.

Because students show so much dedication throughout the semester, the academy finds it deserving to highlight each student’s hard work. Recitals are offered at the end of each semester, allowing parents to see their child’s growth. Advanced students also have the opportunity to perform in an additional recital at the end of the spring semester.

During a busy day of Kindermusik and group or private lessons, Cogswell “hears the music playing and is thankful for the building and the people who are able to teach in it.” It has been such a blessing to be able to use the church throughout the week and make the most of all of its resources. The academy offers around four full scholarships each semester for students who show an interest in music but don’t have the means to take lessons. The production of Tom Sawyer by the Cape Fear River, music festivals and faculty concerts have provided the community with a well rounded taste of music appreciation. 

The Music Academy is a unique threshold for musical opportunities in Fayetteville. Because Cumberland County and Fort Bragg are such transient communities, the program provides a one-stop shop for families with a variety of interests.

There is much more to music than the rewarding experience of a great recital. It is an expression of emotion and plays a huge role in all areas of development. Whether it’s to the beat of a drum or the stroke of a violin, music draws a connection and we are thankful for its harmonious presence in our community.