Butler Community Arts School offers music lessons for all ages

The Butler Community Arts School allows some Butler JCA students to teach music lessons to community members. Photo courtesy of the Butler Connection. 

ALLIE MOFFETT | CULTURE REPORTER | amoffett@butler.edu

In addition to a rigorous class and rehearsal schedule, some students in Butler’s Jordan College of the Arts also teach music lessons at the Butler Community Arts School.

According to the BCAS web page, the program’s mission is “to provide affordable and quality arts instruction, while still developing community involvement and civic-mindedness in Butler students.”

JCA dean Lisa Brooks said her students gain experience the classroom cannot provide, emphasizing that the benefit of BCAS to JCA students extends beyond the experience, too.

“Our students are gaining real-world, professional teaching experience to put on their resume,” Brooks said. “It allows students to earn money doing something they love. We have lots going on and our students are right in the thick of it.”

BCAS was established to help Butler students strengthen their passion for teaching, as well as serve as an arts education and outreach program. The program links Butler students to the community by instructing 60 percent of the class offerings at off-campus sites.

Since its founding in 2002, BCAS has formed connections with 15 community partners, including public, private and charter schools. These partnerships include private and group after-school lessons at the community sites, summer camps and joint performances and programs.

“BCAS cements our place in the community,” Brooks said. “Whether it’s ‘I want to learn how to play’ or ‘I want to watch someone else play,’ they should immediately think of Butler and the BCAS programs available in the community.”

Regardless of students’ backgrounds, the goal of BCAS is to make arts education available to all.

BCAS program coordinator Jessica Meister works to continue these programs with the community partners and welcomes all interested students into the program.

“Half of our kids are on need-based scholarships, so we really want everyone to have access to the arts regardless of background,” Meister said. “Our goal is to make sure everyone, not just privileged upper class people, have access to the arts.”

BCAS also offers lessons on Butler’s campus in Lilly Hall, appealing to a wide age range. Lessons are taken by kindergarteners, college students and retired professionals, to name a few.

“We just had a 60-year-old woman start piano lessons who had never taken before but just really wanted to learn,” Meister said. “It’s fun to see such a wide range of people interested.”

Interested individuals are able to take lessons from teaching fellows, or student instructors. These lessons include piano, brass, woodwinds, guitar and more. BCAS also offers voice and music theory lessons.

Butler teaching fellows are able to develop both their musical and teaching skills by helping others learn. Their interactions with students of diverse backgrounds also allow teaching fellows to grow in their understanding of the Indianapolis community.

“BCAS has helped me grow as a teacher by having so much variety in students,” said Megan Bartsch, a former Butler piano performance master student and BCAS piano teaching fellow. “It has helped me learn to teach in different ways. It’s not only helped me grow as a teacher; I’ve matured as a person.”

Those involved in BCAS, including Brooks, hope to further the impact of performing arts on the Indianapolis community through continued community engagement and arts education.

“My goal is for Butler to be the performing arts hub,” said Brooks. “We have so much of it already, we just have to keep expanding and reaching the places we aren’t yet reaching. If we can achieve this, this entire campus and community benefits.”

To learn more about the Butler Community Arts School and available lessons, go to https://www.butler.edu/bcas.

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