Strike the drum and get your dancing shoes on —
the Peabody Preparatory will introduce this spring a new
version of its adult-learning program that aims to build a
community of lifelong learners who both appreciate and
practice the creative arts.
The Adult and
Continuing Education program, which was piloted this
fall, will feature individual instruction, music and
movement classes, choral and instrumental ensembles,
workshops, lectures and special events.
The ACE program will replace the existing, century-old
Adult Studies Division, which offered private lessons and
intermittently hosted classes such as chamber music and
Carolee Stewart, dean of the Preparatory since 2001,
said that ACE constitutes a "rethinking" of adult learning
at the Preparatory and offers to the community a more
formalized series of classes.
Stewart said that there has been tremendous growth
nationwide in the demand for such noncredit education. In
particular, older adults have been enrolling in enrichment
courses in large numbers — so large, in fact, that
The New York Times reported in a Nov. 11 story that
continuing education has become a $6 billion business in
the United States.
"There is an entire community of people, from young
professionals to retirees, looking for things to enrich
their lives," Stewart said. "Peabody is a place they should
find such activities."
This fall, the ACE program premiered its Ballroom
Dancing course. For the spring 2007 semester, it will roll
out Afro-Caribbean Drumming, Tai Chi Chuan and Community
Choir, in addition to Ballroom Dancing.
The noncredit one-hour courses will meet once a week
for a 16-week period. Classes, which cost $271 per
semester, will be held on weekday evenings at the Peabody
campus in Mount Vernon.
In addition to these new classes, the ACE program
will, like its predecessor, offer private and group
instruction in all orchestral instruments, piano, guitar,
voice, theory, computer music, jazz and composition.
Stewart said that the Preparatory's mission is to
provide courses designed to support, challenge, educate,
inspire and enrich the community, and the new offerings
came out of conversations with local residents to see what
would appeal to them.
Founded in 1894, the Preparatory offers music and
dance classes to people of all ages and ability, from
infants to seniors. Every week, approximately 2,000
students attend classes offered by the Preparatory, which
is considered the area's premier community school for the
Larry Williams, director of the ACE program and chair
of the Preparatory's Brass and Winds Department, said the
intention is for the Preparatory to attract a more diverse
group of adults. Williams said that he hopes the new
classes will have a broader appeal and bring different
types of people to Peabody, not only seniors who never had
the opportunity to pick up an instrument but 30-somethings
who want to improve their skill set in a particular art
"We think that the arts are a tremendously important
part of the community's health — for everyone from
birth to seniors," Williams said. "The arts can play a very
positive role, and it's important that [Peabody] offers
this type of education to adults. I believe the community
already understands that we offer music and dance
instruction for kids, but not as many people realize that
the Preparatory has this adult division. We hope this new
program will bring us increased visibility in this
The Afro-Caribbean Drumming course will be led by
Orlando Cotto and held at the nearby Ted's Music Shop. The
goal of the class is for participants to learn to play any
hand drum with confidence and flair.
Ballroom Dancing, Peabody's own version of Dancing
with the Stars, is a group class for beginners led by
Peabody Dance's artistic director, Carol Bartlett. The
class will include instruction in waltz, fox trot,
quickstep, samba, rumba, cha-cha-cha and jive.
Grandmaster Chieng-Liang Huang will lead the Tai Chi
Chuan class, where students will use meditation and deep
breathing as they move through a series of continuous
exercises that resemble a slow-moving ballet. Originally a
martial art, tai chi is today practiced more for its
therapeutic benefits, including stress reduction, blood
pressure control, body strengthening and improved balance
In the Community Chorus course, participants will
perform works of the great choral repertoire. The mission
of this choir, under the direction of Ernest Liotti, is to
provide enrichment to the community through performances of
music from diverse historical periods.
Williams said that the Preparatory plans to add to the
list of ACE offerings next year based on interest and
response to the spring curriculum. In the future, the ACE
program will likely expand to Peabody campuses in Towson,
Howard County and Annapolis, Williams said.
Next year, the program will also present a new series
of master classes and one-day workshops on arts-related
topics. Details will be announced at a later date.
Registration for spring semester opens on Friday, Dec.
1. For more information, go to
www.peabody.jhu.edu/ace or call 410-659-8100, ext.