Virtual music lessons relying on internet for student access

Joy of Music School wants to connect more young musicians
Published: Oct. 2, 2020 at 5:48 PM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -Teaching young musicians to read notes on a staff, position their fingers properly and learn the difference between 2/4 and 3/8 time signatures now takes place virtually for volunteer teachers and students in the Joy of Music School.

Executive Director Francis Graffeo said the school’s enrollment has dropped during the coronavirus pandemic from more than 200 students to as low as 150. The reason for the decline is that some students do not have access to adequate internet connections to support virtual music lessons.

Joy of Music aims to teach students, based on financial need, at no cost to their families, by matching them with qualified volunteer music professionals.

Autumn Thames said her final lessons as a high school student with the Joy of Music School were still helpful, even though they could no longer be in person with teachers. “They did whatever they needed to do to make them as effective as in-person lessons, and I feel like I still got the same quality of lesson even though it was virtually," said Thames. Now she is beginning her freshman year as a music major at the University of Tennessee, also majoring in speech pathology.

Autumn’s mother, Joyce, said she is excited about her youngest daughter’s progress, and also is proud of her work ethic. “She’s just been very, very disciplined about what she did and I’m proud of that as well as what she has actually accomplished.”

Graffeo said funding for the school would now not only support the mission of teaching children and providing instruments, but would help fill the technical gap needed for those without adequate internet access. “The real sad part is that some of the families just don’t have the technology to connect and do the lessons online.”

Joyce Thames said she would encourage other parents to consider letting their child try music lessons through the community school. “It’s one of the best activities, I think, that you can get your children involved in. They can keep going with it at their own pace, even.”

Autumn said music is, “just something that I would love to continue with for the rest of my life, really.”

WVLT anchor Ted Hall will lead the ceremonies at the Swing For Joy golf tournament to benefit the Joy of Music School. That is coming up on October 12 at Gettysvue Polo, Golf and Country Club.

For more information visit the website here.

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