By Nicole Lemal
Times West Virginian
After Anne Schooley retired from the Marion County school system, where she worked as a full-time vocal teacher, she felt as if she still had more to offer.
By the age of 4, Schooley was singing professionally and held onto that talent all her life. Following retirement, she continues to serve on the St. Paul United Methodist Church staff as an organist and pianist for regular church services.
With a desire to continue influencing and inspiring children and adults, Schooley was determined to open her own music studies program for the community.
St. Paul United Methodist Church, now known as LIFE United Methodist Church, offered space for the St. Paul School of Music program.
Officially started last August, Schooley is excited to see her program come full circle as she prepares for the program’s first recital to be held Sunday starting at 2 p.m. at the LIFE UMC located on Mary Lou Retton Drive. A reception will follow the performances.
“Students get so involved in their music they need places to perform,” Schooley said. “The recital is like the musicians’ playing field. It’s a place where you can go and demonstrate your skills or enjoy what you have accomplished for the semester. There was never any doubt there would be a recital.”
Up to 40 students from ages 5 through high school are expected to perform Sunday as individual performers or small ensembles. Together, teachers and students select the music that will be played. A variety of music from several instruments will be in store for the audience, including violins, pianos and guitars, as well as singers.
Several teachers in the program have master’s degrees in their specialty and have extensive experience in teaching as well as performance. These are qualities Schooley strived to find, wanting the best instruction possible for students who may not otherwise have the opportunity.
“We have teachers in all categories who are really quite gifted and readily available to help young musicians or adults learn what it is they want in their musical life or ideas they want to pursue,” Schooley said. “All of the teachers are highly accomplished.”
In addition to having an experienced staff of instructors for private and class lessons, Schooley feels there are special aspects to the program that make it stand out from similar programs.
Serving on the staff is Beverly Slagle, an improvisator for the keyboard. Without music, Slagle can teach students how to make up notes at the keyboard. This is rare for a program, Schooley said, and requires a lot of innate talent.
“It has to be an exceptional student that can do that,” Schooley said. “We do have a teacher that can help with that. A lot of faculties just don’t have people that can teach improvisation because it is an art that is only available to some gifted musicians that are born with that ability to hear and be able to do that. She is just incredible with that.”
Coming from a family of music, Schooley is proud to have her husband John, retired Fairmont State University professor emeritus in the music department, and her son Jonathan serving on her staff. A recent graduate of the New School University, her son has his master’s degree in music performance and teaches a variety of styles such as rock, blues, jazz and classic music.
“Our lives have been continuously music, music, music,” Schooley said. “West Virginia has got talent, and I definitely enjoy discovering and helping to develop musicians of all ages.”
And to see it come full circle, to see how much the program has grown since August is a joy for Schooley. Still being such a huge part of music education in the local area is a thrill for her as she continues to teach voice as an artist teacher there.
“It makes me feel that I can help others learn the art of music because I myself have had a vast career in music, and so I enjoy being able to augment the music lives of children and adults,” she said. “I have a sense of fulfillment for the community and for the students.”
A talent fest and faculty recital is expected to be held in the near future. To learn more about the St. Paul School of Music, contact Anne Schooley at 304-366-3758 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. All ages are welcome.
Email Nicole Lemal at email@example.com.