‘Everyone can learn to play:’ Watertown’s Music Education Center breaking limits in teaching music

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WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWTI) — Everyone can learn how to play” is the everyday motto of the Music Education Center in downtown Watertown. 

The Center is owned and operated by Watertown local Christian Schenk who helps to provides music lessons to all ages, but distinguishes his center based on many unique factors.

Schenk shared that the Center provides lessons to many children and young adults with learning and developmental disabilities.

“We’re a little bit more in line with speech therapists and their modality of using the music, but coming back around to putting all these pieces together,” stated Schenk.

He used the example of teaching a student who has autism, and breaking down sounds to initially simplify instruction.

The idea started back in 2004 when Schenks wife inspired him to open the center. Schenk was working at two different studios, and as a teacher aide in a special education classroom. 

Since then, the studio has gone completely remote, put on pause and now after retiring from 10 years in the U.S. army he two studios in New York State; one in Watertown and a second in Rochester, New York.

Schenk stated, “everybody had the ability inside somewhere. It’s just how we get from point A, to point B, varies from each student.”

He shared that the Center, really has no limits.

“Music is one of those things that builds on top of itself,” he stated. “So we get students all the time who start on drums and now are playing guitar. But on the same token, young and old alike. Even today I had a lesson with a retired school teacher.”

However, the COVID-19 pandemic presented a new challenge. Essentially forcing the Center to go remote overnight. Schenk eventually prepared all his lesson ahead of time on Youtube, wrote out documents for students and scheduled weekly zoom meetings.

“It would be easy to say, ‘oh just turn on the computer.” But it’s a lot more than that when what you do as a music teacher revolves around interacting at a personal level with somebody whose there with you,” shared Schenk. “But overall, I would say the experience, thus far, has made me a better teacher; has made the Center stronger. We’re more prepared, just in general, to teach.”

All in all, Schenk shared his inspiration to continue in the future.

He concluded, “when it comes to teaching, it’s seeing somebody do something that they didn’t think they could do. Or gain an understanding; those ‘A-Ha’ moments. That’s what I take home with me.”

For more information on the Music Educations Centers visit their website.

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