At the Frost School of Music, education starts at infancy

At the Frost School of Music, education starts at infancy

By Lorena Lopez

At the Frost School of Music, education starts at infancy

By Lorena Lopez
The Phillip and Patricia Frost School of Music’s Preparatory Program offers instruction and development for children, and it provides parents with more opportunities to bond.

At the University of Miami’s Phillip and Patricia Frost School of Music, students in pursuit of knowledge in the performing arts can receive an education from renowned instructors in stunning concert and recital halls and world-class recording studios. But the learning doesn’t begin when undergraduate students enter as freshmen. The school offers music education for students as young as eight weeks old through the Preparatory Program. Intended to develop a child’s individual interests and abilities in music, the offerings range from music appreciation to preparation for conservatories.

The program was launched in 2003 by Megan Walsh, director, as Keyboard for Kids and involved only about 35 families. Renamed and now in its 18th year serving the South Florida community, there are almost 500 families enrolled across the 15 classes offered. Many of the families already are part of the ’Canes community. 

“I have watched fellow faculty and staff member’s children grow up in the program—from 5 years old until a senior in high school—and many have gone on to be UM students,” said Walsh. “It really is a family-oriented program, and I would love for more of the UM community to be involved.”

Fostering a love of music

One of the most popular classes offered, Little Canes, was developed as a way to introduce infants, toddlers, and preschoolers to music. It offers a unique curriculum of developmentally appropriate musical activities for children from birth to age 5 to stimulate both their musical skills and understanding. It offers not only a great space for children to socialize, but it is also a great place for parents to bond with their child. 

Lindsey Daily, a senior music therapy student and Little Canes teacher, has been a part of the program since her first day on campus. According to Daily, the communities that grow out of the group classes have been some of the most rewarding things she has seen. “Seeing parents continuing to bring their kids to the program—not just for the socialization— because of the family they’ve fostered is amazing,” said Daily. “Besides the effect that music has on child development, the parent-child bonding is just as enriching.”

Earlier this year as safety measures were taken by the University to ensure the well-being of the ’Canes community, the group classes and private lessons shifted to Zoom, where young musicians could still practice with their instructors from their homes. Faculty and staff members whose children had participated in the program on campus during work hours also had the option to participate virtually. Gabriel Beavers, associate professor of bassoon at the Frost School of Music, has his hands full with his six-year-old daughter Wren, who is now taking private violin lessons from home. The Beavers family has been part of the program since Wren was only 9 months old and could barely walk, and now she is asking for these lessons. 

“Although I am a professional musician, I don't know anything about early childhood education,” expressed Beavers. “It really was a great way to introduce my daughter to music without it being from me. I learned how to not only talk to my child about music but engage her musically as well.”

Growth beyond music

The strength of the Prep Program comes from not only the musical development of the students, but the personal skills they gain along the way. Derin Ural—professor in practice at the College of Engineering and associate dean of student affairs—and her daughter, Kayra, have been a part of the program for almost six years. From music theory to group piano lessons to musical theater, Ural’s daughter has truly taken advantage of the education over the years. When Kayra entered a poem she wrote to the PianoSlam11 Competition and won first place from among tens of thousands of entries, Ural knew it was a testament to the power of learning musical theory when she was young. 

“It's become part of her daily life, she comes home and immediately wants to play her piano,” said Ural. “We are so blessed to be part of the Frost Prep extended family and look forward to many more years to come.”

For Beavers, the Frost School of Music is a cultural center for the Coral Gables community, offering a number of opportunities to get children involved early in a program with a myriad of resources. University faculty and staff members—like Beavers and Ural—who have enrolled their children in the program encourage others to consider doing the same. “If you have children, you need to look into the program,” said Ural. “There is something for every child. It's such a wealth of offerings, and they are all excellent quality. Each child has the opportunity to learn music by creating a strong bond with world renowned faculty, in a fun and safe environment.”

Ready to get your child involved? Explore the program’s offerings and learn how to apply.