At Lewiston Adult Education, music is an exciting new aspect of learning. The sounds of bows on strings fill the halls as Mary Hunter, a retired Bowdoin College music professor teaches beginners how to play violin. The program began in March and, after a ten-week course, most of the students can play “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” an impressive accomplishment after such a short amount of time.
This course may have been the first like it, however, Hunter plans to continue the program through next year. Her course is the first regularly scheduled musical program at Lewiston Adult Education, and she hopes students continue to enroll as she continues to advertise. Hunter believes that music is an important element of education, especially for adults. “For people who have never had the opportunity to take music lessons,” she says, “just giving it a try for a few weeks might offer a somewhat new angle on their identity.” She also shared that the concentration that comes with practicing provides a cathartic release and a bit of mindfulness. The sense of achievement that comes with learning a repertoire is important, too, she says, as it opens to the door to collaboration with others.
A big difference between adults and children, Hunter says, is that adults choose to learn. Oftentimes, adults are persistent and determined to succeed because of this choice. A few undaunted students who took her class this spring look to continue learning and will be joining a new group of students who will take Hunter’s course this summer, which will run from mid-June to mid-August. Another diligent student of Hunter’s, who took prior lessons in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, is working up to a big performance. They have been working one-on-one together to create a program to perform at the school’s graduation on June 14th. There, they will be playing three songs together to show off their hard work and honor this year’s graduates.
Further, while adults grasp concepts quicker than children, Hunter says they are also physically less adaptable. This presents a bit of a struggle, especially because they need to be treated like grownups, and the material they are presented with needs to be geared towards adults. However, even with these challenges, Hunter looks forward to her students, and the program, progressing past these beginning stages to grow and overcome these obstacles in the future.