South Charlotte

Ballantyne chamber starts music academy

The Ballantyne Chamber Orchestra will start a music academy this fall that it hopes will foster a love for music in youth while supporting the local arts scene.

The nonprofit organization will perform classical music concerts in the Ballantyne area every season.

Chamber members will give lessons for every instrument except piano and percussion, said Josh Diaz, managing director for the chamber.

Proceeds from those lessons will go back to the Chamber to help maintain - and possibly grow - its four annual concerts.

"We had always planned this as a natural progression for the orchestra," Diaz said. "We've grown so much as a community and there's a need for the arts. The orchestra helps fill that void."

Diaz said the chamber expedited those plans in the face of budget cuts at Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools and other schools.

"In school districts across the country, there's unease about whether the music will remain in the schools," said Diaz. "If we leave it up to the district and the powers that be, music eventually is going to be targeted. It always is."

Students can take private lessons at the chamber's new headquarters in Ballantyne or sign up to perform in various ensembles at the academy.

Diaz said while there are plenty of places to take music lessons in Charlotte, he is not aware of many that teach entire ensembles - like one would experience in a band class at school.

Prices will range from $30 to $60 for half hour to hour long, individual lessons. Ensemble players will pay a quarterly fee of $240 to $280, said Diaz.

"You'll get quality instruction from players who are currently performing professionally," Diaz said. "If you're interested in learning how to play, but play in an ensemble, and learning the techniques that are necessary - you're a good fit for us."

Chamber member Don Stanciauskas said he's looking forward to teaching academy students about the violin - an instrument he picked up when he was a 4-year-old boy in Lithuania and hasn't put down since.

"It's a way to make the arts world sustainable, to have them grow from little kids to adults and have them follow us," he said.

The Chamber's season kicks off with a Sept. 9 big band dinner dance at Community House Middle School. A portion of the proceeds will go to financing the academy, said Diaz.