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The Play's the Thing

02/03/2011 10:33AM ● Published by Style

Photo by Dante Fontana

Music and More Arts Academy student Emily Howell sums up her experience in one short sentence: “I used to be shy, but not anymore.”

Ten-year-old Emily credits her transformation to attending various classes at the academy for the last five years. That is what the Music and More Arts Academy does best – help students of all ages find their own voice and skill to perform. Since 1983, they have been responsible for teaching kids and adults how fun acting, singing, playing musical instruments, and dancing can be.

Nineteenth century Scottish historian Thomas Carlyle said, “Nothing builds self-esteem and self-confidence like accomplishment.” And that is what Kay and Michael Coder build every day at the Auburn-based school. “Theater builds confidence,” Kay says, “and that also helps with scholastic development.” The act of accomplishing a performance onstage with a live audience is life changing. The Coders see that the arts can build and develop the skills people need in life. Team building is an important aspect to being part of the theater troupe. “Not everyone can be on a sports team,” Coder explains, “but everyone can get involved in some type of performing arts.”

The curriculum at Music and More Arts Academy offers classes for all ages, from “Mini Musicians,” for kids as young as three years old, to adult classes in acting and music. All the classes teach a love for all types of music. Students can progress through the stages of their lives with the help of constant artistic development. “There are so many lessons in music,” Coder says, “that touch so many avenues in our lives.”

When the academy first opened nearly four decades ago, Kay, the lone teacher, welcomed eight children to class. Now there are more than 250 students and over a dozen teachers, including the Coders’ adult children, Michelle and Jonathan. Kay was, and continues to be, passionate about sharing the joy and happiness that music has given her throughout her life with the community. She was raised in a home where music was appreciated and her love of it encouraged. “Music has been incredibly important to me my entire life,” Coder admits. “Some of my fondest memories are music classes at school.”

Emily’s mom, Lisa, was one of Kay’s first students. She credits her academy days with her ability to sing at her church. “I can’t say enough good things about them,” Lisa says, “I just love the Coder family and think they are amazing.” Lisa is also impressed by the family closeness the Coders share. “It is neat to see such a family bond and connection,” Lisa explains, “They have the same dedication and devotion for their work.”

These professionally-produced productions range from music and dance to plays, such as Les Miserables and The Wizard of Oz. All of this magic happens in the historic DeWitt Theater in Auburn. This season the troupe presents the classic West Side Story. Check out the fun at several performances being offered this month.

For more information, visit musicandmore.net.

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