By Izzy Fincher

October 2022

Student-centered music education empowers students to be leaders and decision-makers for their own musical journey. At the Boulder Symphony Music Academy, this collaborative approach is at the heart of what we do.

“Here at BSMA, we strive to empower students to realize their individual potential,” said Bridget Ryan, the Director of Education and Community Outreach at BSMA. “We work to develop passion and discipline in each student’s practice, alongside encouraging their creativity. BSMA values excellence in music education, while simultaneously prioritizing accessibility. We recognize each student as an individual, and our instructors adapt their teaching approach to best support the student’s goals and needs.”

Founded in 2021, BSMA offers private music lessons to children and adults of all ages and ability levels in the Boulder community. The instruments offered include piano, voice, violin, viola, cello, guitar, ukulele, flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, trumpet, trombone, and drums. Students can also take lessons for conducting, composition, and Alexander Technique.

Student-Centered Learning Environment

BSMA fosters a positive, supportive learning environment to encourage students’ personal involvement in the learning process. By creating a safe place for music-making, teachers help their students to feel more comfortable exploring new ideas and making mistakes as they learn.

“The teacher must establish an atmosphere of non-judgement, because then the student can dare to take risks and to fail, both essential to skill acquisition,” said Alexi Whitsel, a violin instructor at BSMA and a member of the Boulder Symphony. “When a student takes the leap and makes it to the other side intact, they succeed in adding a new tool to their toolkit. They experience a broadening of their horizons because they now have a new ability they can use as freely as they wish.”

For students to develop musical fluency, teachers need to incorporate exploration and creativity into the music-making process. Students should experiment with different rhythms, scales, and melodies to gain a deeper understanding of their instrument, as well as to improve their ear-training, music theory, and sight-reading skills. Thus, they will become more well-balanced, flexible musicians.

Personalized, High-quality Instruction for All Levels

At BSMA, teachers will tailor their instruction to meet each student’s needs and goals.

“BSMA’s education philosophy is simple: to accommodate our students,” said Andrew Krimm, the executive director of the Boulder Symphony. “We will adapt the learning process depending on the student’s goals.”

“If a student wants to prepare to be a concert pianist, our teachers will push that student really hard to achieve that goal and hopefully make their Carnegie debut,” Krimm continued. “If the student is taking lessons to have fun and learn about music, that is fine too!”

However, regardless of what each student’s musical journey looks like, BSMA will ensure they receive a very high-quality music education from some of Boulder’s finest musicians.

All BSMA teachers are active professional musicians in the Boulder, Denver, and Front Range areas. They hold degrees from a range of top-tier universities, including the University of Colorado Boulder, the University of Denver, Juilliard, Indiana University, and the Cleveland Institute of Music.

With their diverse musical backgrounds and experiences, each teacher takes a unique approach to music education for their students — though always prioritizing the student’s individual needs and desires for their musical pursuits.

Community Activities

BSMA aims to build a sense of community through academy-wide events. Recently, they held Spirit Week, where students wore their BSMA t-shirts to lessons and then took photos with the BSMA frame.

Throughout the month of October, the academy will host a contest for students to design their own poster for the Boulder Symphony upcoming pirate-themed family concert, “Treasure of Sound,” on Saturday, Oct. 29. The winner will have the opportunity to actively participate in the concert.

For November, to keep students motivated outside of lessons, BSMA will organize a month-long practice challenge for a chance to win prizes. This will help to prepare students for BSMA’s fall semester student recital, which will take place on Dec. 11.

Through these activities, BSMA hopes to keep students engaged throughout the semester and to connect them with other students outside of lesson times.

Making Music Fun!

Above all else, BSMA believes learning music should be fun for students. Music should offer a creative outlet for students to express themselves freely and to pursue their passion.

“I love the fun and welcoming environment at BSMA,” said Ryan Hale, a piano instructor at BSMA, who is currently pursuing his master’s degree at CU Boulder. “Everyone on the team at BSMA is so kind and dedicated to welcoming new students. I feel we have created a really fun learning environment.”

Overall, BSMA hopes to foster a deep love of music for their students and to support them as best as possible along their diverse journeys — wherever music might take them.

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Schedule Your First Free Lesson Today!

Experience the power of a student-centered music education at BSMA, Boulder’s premier music academy. BSMA offers private lessons for children and adults for all orchestral instruments, guitar, voice, piano, composition, and more. Contact us at (720) 328-8286 or fill out this form to connect with the BSMA team and schedule your first free lesson today!