NACOGDOCHES, Texas – A new director of the Music Preparatory Division of the Stephen F. Austin State University School of Music is taking the music outreach program in a new and exciting direction.
Alba Madrid, an adjunct faculty member in the SFA School of Music, began training recently as the new director and took over as head of the program on June 1.
“I am excited to embark on a new journey in my professional career as the director of an institution that has the potential to grow and become an integral part of the community,” Madrid said.
A new strategy is in place to “heavily recruit” for the many programs offered in Music Prep, such as the Suzuki violin program, guitar lessons, youth orchestra and others, including the well-established piano program for youth and adults, Madrid said.
“We would like to see more collaboration between the university and Music Preparatory Division by giving SFA students an opportunity to receive valuable field experience in music education,” she said. “We are also working very hard to expand our scholarship funds to help families that have been negatively impacted by the pandemic. The scholarship funds will be expanded through grants, donations and sponsorships.”
Despite the one-on-one teaching restrictions brought on by COVID-19, Music Prep faculty members are teaching summer lessons remotely, meeting with students weekly via Zoom, Facetime and Skype, as well as through recorded instructional videos for students to use during their daily practice at home, Madrid explained. Students also have the option to receive an in-person lesson if both the teacher and the student agree to it, and if they all follow social-distancing guidelines, wear masks and keep their hands sanitized.
“We recently had our first live virtual recitals where we featured our Music Preparatory students and the Piney Woods Youth Orchestra,” she said. “It was a huge success, and we hope to do another virtual recital in August.”
Madrid brings a wealth of music education experience to the community outreach program, according to Dr. Gary Wurtz, director of the School of Music.
“Upon learning that we would need to find a new director of the Music Preparatory Division, I hoped that we could find someone here in our community with the right expertise, experience and vision to take the program to greater levels of success,” Wurtz said. “We were blessed to have Ms. Madrid, with her years of public school teaching and professional performing experience, available and willing to take on the role. This is a good time for Music Prep.”
At SFA, Madrid teaches violin and viola applied lessons, a course of string methods and secondary music education and has coached chamber music ensembles. For the past year, she has been the Piney Woods Youth Orchestra director and was a Music Prep faculty member.
Before moving to Nacogdoches, she held the position of head orchestra director at Nikki Rowe High School in McAllen and assistant orchestra director at Economedes High School in Edinburg. She also taught in the Gulfport School District and Houston Independent School District both as a music teacher and orchestra director.
An active performer, Madrid is a member of the Shreveport Symphony Orchestra and Texarkana Symphony Orchestra, and she is principal second violin with the Longview Symphony Orchestra. Prior to moving to Nacogdoches, she performed with Sinfonia da Camera, Peoria Symphony Orchestra, Heartland Festival Orchestra, Mobile Symphony Orchestra, Pensacola Symphony Orchestra and the Valley Symphony Orchestra, where she held the position of principal second violin and performed in the orchestra’s chamber music series.
Summer registration for Music Prep flex lessons is still underway, and online registration can be accessed at music.sfasu.edu/outreach.
A new fall initiative includes establishing a pilot strings project in which students from all Nacogdoches County public school districts and some from surrounding areas will participate.
“A grant is being written now to help support this effort,” Madrid said. “Students will have the opportunity to learn to play a string instrument in a group setting guided by a master teacher along with three SFA music students. Currently, students in the public school system only have the option to participate in choir or band. We hope this new strings project will help increase the interest and participation of string education in the local schools.
“I am hopeful about the future of Music Prep, and I will work very hard to create opportunities to reach as many students as possible and to have more community exposure,” Madrid said.
Music Prep summer office hours are from 1 to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Madrid can also be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com or by phone at (936) 468-1291. Parents can also find program information on Facebook and Instagram.