Keys to Success: Teaching music at Allegro Academy
Amy Morgan of Allegro Academy gives Mid-Shore youth an outlet through music
Giving students on the Mid-Shore access to music, particularly performing opportunities and experiences, is the goal of Allegro Academy, a new non-profit music conservancy located in Easton.
Amy Morgan, artistic director, founded Allegro Academy in 2017, to connect musicians of all ages, incomes, and skill levels to the best local and international artists through workshops, lessons, ensembles and public instrumental and choral performances.
“I have been a musician as long as I can remember,” Morgan said. “As a youth, I would do almost anything that was available to me with music. We had music in our house and in the church I attended. I realized as an adult how fortunate I was to have those opportunities as a youth. I had a wonderful high school band teacher who modeled inclusion. I wanted to seek out the kids who don’t have those opportunities today and make them happen.”
Morgan, who is an active musician in the community and a member of the American Choral Directors Association, previously served as musical director of Wye Operetta and was the assistant musical director and organist at Wye Parish. In 2014, she became the music director at Trinity Cathedral in Easton. Although the Academy’s home is at Trinity Cathedral, it is funded independently of the church’s music program. Trinity Cathedral provides support by offering space for classes, rehearsals, and performances. Programs of the Allegro Academy are supported in part by the Talbot County and Maryland State arts councils and by contributions by individuals. The organization operates as a fund under the Mid-Shore Community Foundation.
Allegro Academy teaches voice, piano, and strings lessons to children and adults. Private piano and voice lessons are offered by Morgan, who completed her bachelor’s degree in piano performance from Salisbury University and master’s degree in choral conducting from Messiah College. String instrument lessons are offered by Merideth Buxton, who is director of Chesapeake Music’s First Strings program and holds degrees from the State University of New York at Potsdam and Ithaca College.
“We are just getting started, so we may add instruction in other instruments in the future,” Morgan said.
In addition to lessons, two other components of the Allegro Academy are its Children’s Chorus and Summer Sing Choir Festival. Allegro Academy’s Children’s Chorus grew from students who were receiving lessons through the organization. The chorus, made up of kids ages six to 18, has performed at the State House in Annapolis, at the Festival of Trees, at St. Paul’s Church in Oxford, and at Easton Club East. Singers learn healthy vocal technique, study music theory, and develop their skills as performers and artists.
“It’s important to make what is old music relevant by providing the background to the pieces we are singing and to learn about the composers of the music. An example of this is that the Children’s Chorus is singing a song from a Disney movie that has ‘Ode to Joy,’ a classical piece, in it,” Morgan said.
Allegro Summer Sing Choir Festival started in the summer of 2018. Sixty singers from the Mid-Shore, Annapolis, and Lewes, Del., play traditional music with professional soloists and instrumentalists. The festival offers an opportunity for choir people and people from other area voice groups to have a place to sing in the summer. Last year’s concert was sold out. This year’s concert is scheduled for 7 p.m. Friday, July 26, at Trinity Cathedral and will feature Franz Schubert’s “Mass No. 2 and Magnificat.” Allegro Women’s Chorus, which grew out of the Summer Sing Choir Festival, includes 16 women who sing a cappella.
Morgan appreciates the rich culture in Talbot County and the community’s support for the arts.
“The community recognizes the value of what we do. We are trying to do things a little broader to include everyone by offering free concerts and in most cases, allowing people to participate for free. There is a small fee to participate in the Children’s Chorus, but we also offer scholarships for students who can’t afford it,” Morgan said.
She said she believes classical music can be appealing to children and that introducing good quality music of any kind to children of a young age is important.
“There is the music making, but what it does for us as people is just as important. Music makes us whole and happy people,” she said.
“The most rewarding words I have heard were from a shy student who said, ‘thank you for bringing me out of my shell,’” she added.