Playing a horn

Laura Joss tells WCLV listeners about a Conservatory outreach program that operates on the philosophy that it's never too late to learn to play an instrument.

Music Education Professor Shares the Joys of Learning an Instrument at Any Age

February 9, 2016

New Horizons ensemble rehearses at Baldwin Wallace UniversityConservatory of Music faculty member Laura Joss recently appeared on WCLV, Cleveland's local classical music radio station, to promote the adult music education outreach program, New Horizons, at Baldwin Wallace.

Introduced as the "sherpa of sharps and flats," Joss, the chair of the music education department, explained the progress students are able to make, the role of the program, and the challenges of learning music as adults compared to children. 

Never Too Old to Learn to Play an Instrument

Playing a hornJoss said the program began at Eastman School of Music because, "It was a shame that the only opportunity people had to start an instrument might have occurred in elementary school and if they didn't start then, there didn't seem to be another reentry point." The program has continued at Baldwin Wallace, providing an opportunity for adults to pursue music at any age. 

After 34 years in both the public school systems and higher education, Joss explained that, "I've never had the opportunity to teach in an environment where people so casually and sincerely tell you, after every rehearsal, how grateful they are for the time and the things that they've learned." 

Experience for Future Music Educators

As chair of the music education department, Joss incorporates the New Horizons program into the hands-on experiences provided to her pre-service teachers, using the program as a laboratory for BW college students who provide assistance and encouragement to the ensembles. 

"Students are out there in the ensemble, encouraging people, helping them, sometimes someone has difficulty hearing, reading the music, or finding their place. We just surround them for success."

You can listen to a replay of the entire WCLV interview on the ideastream website. Find out more about the New Horizons Program.