Executive Blog
The Music Academy


Testimonial from Pat Michelsen, former parent and long time donor

I have 3 children who studied violin and piano at The Music Academy for varying amounts of time over 12 years, from about 1988 to 2000.

We moved to Rockford in the early 80s when it was hit pretty hard by unemployment. I left 8 siblings in the Chicago suburbs where most were raising families at the same time that I was raising mine. We kept in touch visiting back and forth and had lots of opportunity to share experiences. I thought then and I still think now that Rockford was a great place to raise a family because it offered so many high quality resources to children and parents.

Rockford had beautiful parks and forest preserves, fine museums, a fabulous public library, a state of the art YMCA, the Coronado and Midway Theatres, and I could go on and on. Pretty much anything you wanted to do was available and affordable for a young family.  In terms of formal education, our kids were lucky to be able attend a public Montessori program, a public gifted program and a private high school.  All were good, solid educational experiences, but I think the highest quality of adult attention and instruction that they received was through the Suzuki music program, now The Music Academy in Rockford.

Having students in the Rockford public schools in the 90s meant having a ring side seat to one of the nation’s most dramatic and divisive school desegregation law suits. And having 3 kids in Suzuki meant 3 private and 3 group lessons a week. So I attended lots and lots of lessons, concerts, lectures and meetings with lots of children and adults.

Through it all, I could not help but notice how, on the one hand, parents were fighting bitterly for equality and integration in the schools, and on the other, the music students came from every economic class and were already racially and ethnically diverse. The most accomplished student by far at that time was an African American girl. My experience of that disparity between music school and public school was so profound that it’s something I still think about today.

So why do I support the Music Academy of Rockford?  There are so many reasons that it’s hard to mention just a few.

The focus of the school has endured and continues to be one of the region’s highest quality educational institutions.  It’s extremely well run and attended.  It’s an incredibly valuable resource to parents raising children whose development benefits all of the other institutions in the community.  I could talk about how music helps with memory, concentration, discipline, self-esteem and poise; how it increases our experience of joy in life, so many things…but in the end I think that it is the ability to learn, play and teach music that is closest to defining the very essence of our humanity, transcending the limitations of age, gender, race and class.  Music school is where children learn so much more than to just play notes, they learn how to be human together.

Piano Teachers: A Beleaguered Species

Today a tip of the hat to a much-beleaguered and frequently unacknowledged species: the piano teacher. All the great pianists had one-as did the not so great… Do you, for example, remember the name of YOUR first piano teacher?
In the case of Duke Ellington, it was not a name one could easily forget. She was a certain Mrs. Clinkscales, and Ellington always gave her credit for her persistence.
“Because of my enthusiasm for playing ball and running and racing through the street, I missed more lessons than I took,” wrote Ellington. “When she had her piano recital with all her pupils, I was the only one who could not play his part. So Mrs. Clinkscales had to play the treble, and I just played the umpy-dump bottom! The umpy-dump bottom, was, of course, the foundation and understanding of that part of piano-playing I later learned to like.”
The avant-garde American composer Morton Feldman immortalized the name of HIS piano teacher in an elegiac chamber piece titled “Madame Press Died Last Week at Ninety.”
This music was premiered in France on today’s date in 1970. Steeped in the great Russian tradition, Madame Maurina Press said she had taught the children of the Czar and knew the Russian composer Alexander Scriabin. She started teaching Morton Feldman when he was twelve, and his tribute to her is scored for 12 instruments-with the piano conspicuous by its absence!

Marti Frantz

Martha (Marti) Frantz
Executive Director
The Music Academy
226 S. Second Street
Rockford, Illinois 61104

www.facebook.com/The Music AcademyinRockford (please like us!)

Video Inspiration for Parents

Further your Suzuki education….go to suzukiassociaton.org/parents-as-partners to view current parent education materials published by the SAA – Suzuki Association of the Americas.

What Has Art Got To Do With It?

R&B legend Tina Turner (an artist who turned 76 last fall), asks in song, “What’s art go to do with it?” (In this case, “It” refers to aging.) The answer? Everything!

Artists, who work in community settings, including those who work with older adults, inevitably find that art-making offers therapeutic benefits to those who engage in it. In describing this, choreographer and MacArthur Fellow Liz Lerman said:
Sometimes art achieves what therapy, medicine, or the best care of health professionals cannot. Sometimes art even achieves something that’s beyond the best intentions of the artist. These moments can feel like little miracles when they happen, but they are usually instances of art functioning as it normally does: inspiring motivation, engaging parts of people’s bodies or brains that they haven’t been using, or allowing them to transcend their environments for a little while.

Artists like Liz Lerman believe that art can have its most beneficial effect when its intention is good art-making. They employ a rigorous artistic process, trust that individuals can produce meaningful work, and use that confidence as a lever to lift people above their circumstances or self-imposed limitations.

A study co-funded by the NEA, the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), and other sponsors measured the impact of a professionally conducted choral program on the physical health, mental health, and social functioning of older adults. The intervention group reported better overall physical health, fewer doctor visits, less medication use, fewer instances of falls, and fewer health problems in relation to the comparison group. Similarly, the comparison group had a significant decline in total number of activities, whereas the intervention group reported a trend toward increased activity. Cohen et al. (2006)
The intent of arts and aging programs is to accomplish one or more of the following outcome goals—all aimed at enhancing quality of life—while engaging older adults in arts-based programming:
• Older adults have a sense of control and feel empowered (i.e., mastery).
• Older adults are socially engaged.
• Older adults exercise their bodies and brains to ensure high physical and mental function.
• Older adults are healthy, with reduced risk factors for disease and disability.
• Older adults have a positive attitude and zest for life.
• Older adults express themselves creatively.
Research shows that these outcome goals are interrelated. Combined, they contribute to a positive quality of life for older adults.

Here is the big picture: People are living longer and healthier lives. Demographics are changing and by 2030 will shift to over 70 million people over the age of 65 and the number of people over 85 doubling.

The good news is that organizations like The Music Academy in Rockford are a part of a movement creating aging friendly cities that are “great places to grow and to grow old.” We recognize and celebrate that older people bring a lifetime of interest and experience. We recognize they have great interest in returning to or starting new arts involvement. The arts are not “crafts for seniors”. How do we make our community better at providing for mental, emotional and physical health by extending or participating in arts education? Creativity allows us to re-imagine the second half of life in ways that are richer and more purposeful. Creativity allows for personal and social renewal. As our culture witnesses dramatic changes in attitudes related to aging, community capabilities and sustainability, we are poised with expertise and leadership in this field. Encore, our creative aging curriculum, was developed collaboratively with the National Council for Creative Aging (NCCA). Our teaching artists have undergone training and are certified by NCCA. As an established provider of community-based arts and learning programs, now celebrating our first 30 years, The Music Academy will continue to unlock the creative potential of participants and increase the health and vitality of individuals and community.

John Feather, CEO of Grantmakers in Aging says: ”Now is the time to be part of the process, part of the solution: the beyond bingo generation is here.” We at The Music Academy have developed music, movement and integrated arts curriculum that is of high-quality, comprehensive and affordable. We begin September 14 to deliver that curriculum at Lincolnshire Place in Loves Park. We look forward to expanding this program and offering best practice arts education for aging populations throughout our community.

As Gene Cohen says, “Creativity is chocolate for the brain.” Let’s get creative and make our community better at caring for our ever increasing aging population! It could be as addictive as chocolate!

The Music Academy is a not-for-profit community school of music dedicated to providing high quality, affordable instruction and performance opportunities to Academy students, regardless of age or ability. Its mission is to inspire a life-long love of music and the arts in its students. The Music Academy is celebrating 30 years. For more information about Encore, The Music Academy’s creative aging curriculum, or the Academy, call 815.986.0037 or go to www.MusicAcademyInRockford.com.

What to do with fingers

“There are spaces between our fingers so that another person’s fingers can fill them in.”  Unknown

“In my world, there are also spaces between fingers so we can make another kind of love – music.”  Marti

About Parenting

Nurturing  Parents: Thoughts from Dr. Suzuki

“The fate of the child is in the  hands of his parents.”

“It is necessary to be concerned about the importance of educating really beautiful human spirit.”

“Children learn to smile from their parents.”

“Everything depends upon you.”

“What does not exist in the environment will not develop in the child.  By no means only words or music, but everything, good or bad is absorbed by the child.”

“Creating desire in your child’s heart is the parent’s duty.”

“Don’t hurry, don’t rest. Without stopping, without haste, carefully taking one step at a time will surely get you there.”

“Parents who recognize their child’s potential  ability are good parents.”

“It is your duty to raise your child to become a noble human being.”

“Wrong education and upbringing produces ugly personalities, where as a fine upbringing and good education will bring forth superior sense and feeling, as well as nobility and purity of mind.”

Compiled by Marylou Roberts,

Suzuki Guitar Teacher, Ann Arbor, Michigan


Music Academy Wish List for 2014-15



The Music Academy Wish List

2014-15 Wish List




Duplicating paper – $35 per ream/box

Laminating pouches – $28 per package

Music folders (25 per ensemble at ~$2.00 each = $50/ensemble)

Erasable marking pens (6 reading/ theory classes, average class size of 25) $35

A desktop computer – new ~$700. Used (but newer than oursJ) could work.

A larger monitor for Marti’s office – DONE!!


New Musical Scores

String Orchestra Scores ~$50 to $60 each.


Student scholarships/financial aid and Professional Development Fund   

Awards range from $300 per student to $1300 depending upon family income, number of siblings enrolled in program, commitment to the work and the school.

Total awards given annually = $15,000.


Physical Plant

Paint for exterior trim on building, especially south side. Rough estimate is $1,000.

Dollies for grand pianos at ~ $300 each. We could use three.

Cover for the Weber grand piano

Moving of Yamaha “Eric Dean” grand piano to the auditorium for dedication celebration – $300   DONE!!

Air conditioning for auditorium – $10,000 for materials. (Labor for installation has been donated.)  Project to take place in summer 2015.

A gently used refrigerator for Loreen’s kitchen, smallish in size.  We are on last legs with a screeching fan in the freezer in the existing 1970’s model.


Endowment Fund

The Music Academy aspires to ensure our future! An endowment would help!