Little Music School, Franklin School for the Performing Arts
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.