August 17, 2005 - Ten years ago, Nina Tishkevich decided to mix the traditions of European music teaching with the methods of a renowned Japanese music instructor to create the Music Academy of Tucson.

In it, students learn about music from infancy through adulthood, beginning with fun parent-and child-activities that include music, progressing into exploration of various instruments, and eventually fine-tuning their skills and being encouraged to perform in voluntary recitals.

Just before its 10th year anniversary, the academy teamed with the Greater Oro Valley Arts Council and the Oro Valley Parks and Recreation Department to bring new lessons and interactive performances to the Northwest and the Foothills.

An incentive for the move came last year when the arts council invited Tishkevich's students to open for a November arts council performance. Carmen Feriend, the arts council's executive director, met with Tishkevich two months after the performance and invited the academy to participate in the arts council's Magic Rug event, in which professional music instructors perform for and interact with preschool-age children. The Magic Rug performance with the music academy instructors will take place at 10:30 a.m. March 11, next year, at the Oro Valley Town Hall Council Chambers, 11000 N. La Cañada Drive.

The arts council will have two other Magic Rug events featuring musicians from the Tucson Symphony Orchestra Nov. 5 and Jan. 14.

Feriend helped connect the academy to the parks and recreation department so it could set up new classes in Oro Valley.

The academy created Music at the Y, a music program at the Northwest YMCA Pima County Community Center, 7770 N. Shannon Road; Music at the J, a program at the Tucson Jewish Community Center, 3800 E. River Road; and a music program run by the parks and recreation department, at a leased recreation room at 11143 N. La Cañada Drive.

The academy will hold a variety of group and one-on-one classes for all ages in strings, guitar, woodwinds, piano, Kindermusik, music theory and voice in the three new locations.

The music academy moved into the Northwest because so many of its students, who were being driven to the Tucson location at 1735 E. Ft. Lowell Drive, lived in Oro Valley.

The academy is modeled after Suzuki Talent Education, a 50-year-old music teaching style created by Shinichi Suzuki, a classical violinist, that emphasizes the parent-child relationship as a crucial part of education and stresses daily practice loaded with praise and encouragement.

According to the Suzuki theory, it is never too late to begin music education. However, the earlier a child starts studying music, the more skilled and well rounded the child will become.

The program is also modeled after a traditional European music school, which is more structured than music programs American schools typically provide, Tishkevich said.

Students at the academy decide when they are ready to perform in the recitals, which occur several times throughout the year, Tishkevich said. The next recital will be Fables, Tall Tales, & Music for Me, at 3 p.m. September 17 at Barnes & Noble in the Foothills Mall, 7325 N. La Cholla Blvd.

The academy will hold an open house at 11 a.m. Aug. 27 at the Tucson center, during which time visitors can get hands-on experience trying out a variety of instruments and meet the academy's teachers.

Oro Valley classes will begin Aug. 13 at the recreation center.

For more information, call 327-2303.

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