This year marks the fifty-fifth anniversary of the opening of Settlement Music School‘s (SMS) Germantown branch. The Settlement community as a whole has been operating for more than 100 years. The school serves as an educational institution dedicated to bettering musicians of all ages, talent levels and instrument interests. Students can begin classes after completing pre-registration forms, specifying their desired location and paying their tuition fees.
Students who don’t have the means to attend the prestigious music school need not worry. There are financial aid plans for those who qualify. Each year the school distributes nearly $2 million in financial assistance.
“We offer an extensive program of financial aid that’s based solely on financial need,” said Germantown branch director Eric Anderson. “Settlement has a modest endowment program. The majority of it comes from donations from individuals and other organizations.”
While students learn from the best faculty the country has to offer they enhance social skills, cognitive ability and confidence.
“They learn the discipline of working with a teacher one-on-one or even if it is in a class,” said Annalisa Mariani, a violin instructor at the school. “If it’s in a class setting, it’s socialization, learning how to play together, something as simple as keeping the beat, stopping and starting together, listening to each other, all kinds of things.”
In a study conducted by Nina Kraus, a neuroscientist at Northwestern University, it was found that people who take music lessons in their youth can process speech faster later in life than those who don’t.
For older students who want to begin playing an instrument for the first time, Settlement offers a comfortable, welcoming environment where they can convene with others their age.
“I think it’s been very successful,” said forty-year faculty member David Shunskis. “First of all, it’s very integrated into the community. It makes music lessons available to all ages and all economic levels and all social groups and it brings people together that way.”
As for what students take away from the Settlement experience, Anderson says, “The vast majority of our students are avocational, so they’re not going to go off and become professional musicians, for example. They do it because they enjoy doing it, because they know being involved in activities like music when they’re in high school gives them a leg up for college auditions or college applications.”
“It’s very gratifying to be able to make music yourself,” Shunskis added. “You can listen to music and that’s great but if you can make music yourself, that’s even more pleasurable.”