Little Music School Director Celebrates 15th Anniversary at FSPA

Little Music School Director Celebrates 15th Anniversary at FSPA

Franklin's Kim Rezendes, Director of the Little Music School (LMS) at the Franklin School for the Performing Arts (FSPA), celebrates her 15th anniversary teaching piano, developing curricula and leading the LMS program at FSPA. Rezendes' history with FSPA extends far deeper, however, to 1980 when she was eight-year-old piano student of Raye Lynn Mercer, FSPA Founder and Director.

When FSPA opened its doors in 1985, Rezendes was among the first students, taking musical theater along with her piano lessons. She was also among the original seven members of FSPA's first performing troupe, Broadway Light – along with four of her closest friends who are still a big part of her life today. In high school, Rezendes also participated in FSPA's SummerStage program, performing alongside Judy Bergesen, then a teacher at FSPA. As Bergeson rejoins the FSPA faculty, teaching in the LMS program this fall, yet another aspect of Rezendes' FSPA experience comes full circle.

After earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in Music from Providence College and a Master's Degree in Teaching Music from Rhode Island College, Rezendes began working full time at FSPA in 1997. Initially teaching musical theater, private piano, and Kindermusik, she helped develop a new sequence of children's music classes for kids ages 1-5, accompanied by a parent or caregiver. Rattles and Rhythms, Wee Play and Do-Re-ME! are still part of the curriculum today. The classes comprise a broad general music curriculum, establishing a foundation in basic music concepts in a fun, energetic way.

In 2005, Rezendes and Mercer sought to offer a new music program geared to children as young as 18 months that would be more structured, focused on piano and provided without a parent in the classroom. Seeing the possibility in an 18-month-old learning to play the piano and read musical notation, Rezendes and Mercer introduced the Little Music School at FSPA. The innovative program invites children up to the piano during their very first lessons and begins to teach them how to read, understand, notate, enjoy and play music.

The strength of the Little Music School program is measured, Rezendes notes, in the commitment students feel and make toward their involvement. Nearly 100% of students who enroll in the program graduate and continue on in their musical studies at FSPA. Rezendes attributes that success to the small class size, with no more than seven students, that facilitates individualized instruction and attention to the needs of each child. Both parents and students appreciate the sense of independence and accomplishment that comes from learning in a safe and nurturing environment where students succeed without a parent in the classroom. Students gain confidence and social independence at an early age.

As an educator, Rezendes enjoys "seeing music through such young eyes and minds and seeing students' excitement and wonder." Over the years, she has taught many siblings and appreciates how differently children react to the various facets of the program. Students find success in different aspects of the curriculum and find comfort either with more structured components or with more creative outlets for expression. And because core aspects of the program extend from year to year, children expand upon their knowledge and build upon what they've learned. In this way, families with students at different ages and levels can still engage with one another about their musical experiences and learn from one another.

Rezendes drew upon her own experience as a mother in creating the LMS program and enjoys seeing her own children, twins Hannah and Madison, age 9, develop their own musical interests. Both went through the LMS program and continue to take piano, ballet, tap and voice at FSPA. In fact, the FSPA experience has become a family affair for the Rezendes clan. Her husband, Guy, performs in many of the Franklin Performing Arts Company (FPAC) productions and serves as a tech coordinator for the shows. Guy enjoys the camaraderie with other dads who are involved with the productions and the girls love having their dad onstage and backstage with them. Rezendes' father, Steve Crowley, is also part of the FPAC community, appearing in many performances. Her mom prefers to support from the audience – and thrills to see three generations of her family sharing the stage.

Rezendes reflects on her decades-long involvement at FSPA and how those experiences inform her teaching and work with kids. "So much of who I was and who I am was built at FSPA," she says. "I know how important a job it is to be a mentor in these kids' lives – emotionally, socially and musically. That knowledge guides and motivates me."

Rezendes will hold several upcoming LMS open houses at FSPA for prospective students and families who would like to learn more about the program. The open houses will feature hands-on demonstrations geared to children of specific ages. On Wednesday, July 11 and Tuesday, July 24, children ages 18-24 months are encouraged to visit at 10:30, children ages 2 and 3 years at 11:00, and children ages 4 and 5 years at 11:30. On Thursday, July 12, there are additional sessions scheduled for 2- and 3-year-olds at 1:30 and for 4- and 5-year-olds at 2:00. On Monday, July 23, an open house for children ages 18-24 months will be held at 3:30 p.m., for 2- and 3-year-olds at 4:00, and for 4- and 5-year-olds at 4:30. For more information, call FSPA at (508) 528-8668 or email krezendes@fspaonline.com. Visit online at www.fspaonline.com.