Love of music brings adults, children together

A Boyer College program provides music education for the Philadelphia community.

The Temple Music Preparatory Program, which began in 1968, offers various classes for the community. COURTESY TEMPLE MUSIC PREPARATORY PROGRAM
The Temple Music Preparatory Program, which began in 1968, offers various classes for the community. COURTESY TEMPLE MUSIC PREPARATORY PROGRAM

Mark Huxsoll said Temple has a best kept secret.

The secret, he said, is the The Music Preparatory program, a division of the Boyer College of Music and Dance.

The Temple Music Preparatory Division is an outreach program that offers non-credit courses in music and dance for children and adults. The program was started in 1968 for children from local public schools with an interest in music that were otherwise financially unable to take lessons.

Though the program was originally intended  for children, it has expanded to include adults with class options now ranging from newborns to the elderly.      

Huxsoll, director of the program, looks forward to the classes for adults, which include Beginning Piano for Busy Adults, Guitar for Busy Adults and Singing for Busy Adults. The classes are focused on working around adults with full schedules.

“Being located at Temple Center City is great,” Huxsoll said, “It’s a great location for people getting off work. These classes for busy adults allow a pathway to a non-pressure situation to learn a music subject in a social way.”

The division also offers small class sizes so there is an opportunity for individual attention. Classes usually have about six to eight people, but the maximum is 12. If a class is particularly popular, Huxsoll said they will allow 15 people maximum.

Two new classes are available in the program for adults: Reducing Stress Through Mindfulness and Song and Creativity and Collaboration, Instrumental and Vocal Ensemble.

“Reducing Stress Through Mindfulness and Song makes use of meditation techniques and singing to achieve stress release. It gives adults a pleasant way to relieve stress,” Huxsoll said. “Creativity and Collaboration, Instrumental and Vocal Ensemble is a class for people to learn how to do more improvisation and collaboration. It teaches a freer way to express yourself in a non-threatening way.”

Even though many classes are offered, not many people seem to know about the Temple Music Preparatory Division, Huxsoll said. Barbara Di Toro, associate director of the Temple Music Preparatory Division, said that turnout for classes changes.

“During bad economic times, people take more credit classes, and during good economic times, people are more willing to take non-credit classes,” Di Toro said.

The Temple Music Preparatory Division also offers a class for incoming freshman in music theory.

 “There is a theory intensive summer program for incoming freshmen, which happens two weeks before classes start,” Di Toro said. “Freshmen were coming in without much knowledge of music theory, and this class helps them.”

 Suzuki training courses, which teach young children music through imitation, are offered through the division. 

“Suzuki is teaching young children instruments the way they teach language,” Di Toro said. “They imitate how the teacher holds the instrument and learn to play mostly by listening,” Di Toro said.

Cathy Shankman started to play the cello in 2005. In 2007, her teacher, Tom Kraines, started giving lessons at the Temple Music Preparatory Division. She followed him to the program.

Shankman was a flute teacher and performer in Chicago and has a Masters of Music in music performance. Now she takes private lessons with the Temple Music Preparatory Division.

“I’ve always wanted to play cello, and I decided it was time to jump in and give it a try. I look forward to every lesson.”

“Each of my probably literally thousands of questions is met with equal enthusiasm from my teacher,” Shankman said. “Taking cello lessons through Temple Music Prep has been an amazing and enriching experience.”

Despite the many programs offered, Mark Huxsoll says his goal is not to make everyone into a professional musician.

“We want to make real music and dance lovers. They are the ones that buy tickets and CDs and support the arts. That’s our goal,” Huxsoll said.

Giving back to the community is also a large part of Temple Music Preparatory Division.

“We have the ability to harness the energy and learning that goes along with Boyer to teach people who just want to learn about music,” he said.

“Being connected to the university is a huge benefit, and as a result, kids go on to join Boyer or other Temple schools,” Huxsoll said. “We are one of Temple’s best kept secrets, but we want to be less of a secret.”

Glynnis Cowley can be reached at

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