United Music Academy students practice for their holiday concert.
United Music Academy students practice for their holiday concert.

January 8, 2016 — University of Oregon graduate student Corie Brown is teaching Spanish to children through music at Eugene’s United Music Academy, which she directs. United Music Academy offers weekly music classes to students ages 4 – 14, featuring songs in multiple languages, especially Spanish. The Academy aims to make access to high-quality music classes possible for all local kids in this age range, regardless of income or aptitude. “Music is not as available in the public schools as it used to be,” says Brown. “All children deserve the opportunity to participate in music.”

Brown brings enthusiasm and experience to the program. She recently moved to Eugene from Colombia, South America where she was working on the cultivation of choirs in the renowned national music program of 4,500 children, “Fundación Batuta.”  She is currently finishing her master’s degree in choral conducting at UO, where she works with Dr. Sharon Paul. Brown brings a diverse set of experiences and passion from not only South America, but also her experience in the Midwest where she grew up and began her teaching career.

The Academy offers Children’s Choir (ages 7-9) and Youth Choir (ages 10-14), which are both conducted by Corie Brown and focus on developing the young singer musically and socially through fun world and classical choral music. The Academy also includes Music for Preschool (ages 4-6), taught by Santiago Valderrama. Valderrama holds a bachelor’s in early childhood music education and has eight years of experience teaching preschool and elementary music in his native Colombia.

UMA’s open door policy welcomes any parent and student who would like to stop by for one rehearsal so see what is happening inside the Academy. But in case you’d like a sneak peak, an observation would show the lessons filled with intentional play and movement, Kodaly hand-ear training, singing, and playing a wide variety of joy-filled music. You would also see students learning to read music and become better young musicians, and most importantly a community of diverse young people brought together through music.

“Singing together is the most basic form of human expression. I know everyone can sing. However, it’s not enough for children to sing once in a while,” says Brown. “The Academy is seeking to give an extra opportunity for regular involvement in music throughout their year, and I can almost guarantee they’ll come home singing.”

United Music Academy meets at United Lutheran Church in Eugene’s Friendly area neighborhood. However UMA is not a church choir, nor is it evangelical in any way. All children between the ages of 4 and 14 are welcome regardless of past musical experience, religious beliefs, or financial or cultural background. Children and parents are invited to attend one rehearsal free to try it out.

Rehearsals are Tuesday evenings at 5 pm. United Music Academy rehearses at United Lutheran Church, 2230 Washington St. in Eugene. Tuition costs $145 for the January – June season, which can be broken down into payments of $29 a month for 5 months. UMA believes that all students should have access to quality music involvement, therefore it offers scholarships and transportation from select local elementary schools. 

—from a United Music Academy news release