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Catawba College's Community Music Program Welcomes New Director

July 16, 2010

Category: Academics, Music

HarperAs Catawba College's Community Music Program marks its 26th year, it welcomes a new director – only its fourth since the program began in 1984. Erin Harper, who has worked with the program as its lead keyboard instructor, will fill the director's role held for the past 12 years by Dr. Julie Chamberlain. Chamberlain had accepted the program baton in 1997 when Elizabeth "Libby" Carlton, founder of the program, retired.

Harper, who lives in Mocksville, earned her bachelor of arts degree in music with an emphasis in piano performance from Wingate University and her master's of music in piano performance with a concentration in piano pedagogy from UNC Greensboro. Prior to joining the Community Music program in 2008 as staff accompanist and lead keyboard teacher, she served as music or piano instructor at Wilkes Community College, Mitchell Community College and Davidson County Community College. She served as minister of music at First Baptist Church in Mocksville between 2005 and 2009. She also continues to serve as music instructor for the elementary school of North Hills Christian Academy.

Like her two predecessors, Harper sees the Community Music program not as just a business venture, but as an outreach to the community. "Whatever age you are, whatever musical ability you have, we have a fun and exciting class for you."

Music for Fun. Skills for Life.Harper is particularly excited about several new offerings in the program this fall – group piano lessons for adults who have always wanted to learn how to play, but never have; music therapy classes for special needs children and adults; Suzuki lessons for children; and an introductory music recording class. She also noted that the Amadeus Youth Chorale, once sponsored locally by St. Luke's Episcopal Church of Salisbury and recently disbanded, will "reform in the Community Music program at Catawba."

The Community Music program will host a drop-in Open House between 3 and 5 p.m. Sunday, August 29 in Hoke Hall on the Catawba College campus. This will be an opportunity for those interested in classes to meet faculty members and mingle with Community Music students, past and present. Demonstrations of available instruction and performance opportunities will also be presented. As a special benefit to attendees, the annual registration fee will be waived for those who enroll in Community Music classes during the Open House event.

While registration for fall classes that begin Sept. 7 is now underway with a complete listing of classes and instructors available online at, Harper said there are still spaces available in several summer camps offered through the Community Music program. These camps include Musical Theatre Camp, offered August 2-5 from 9-11:30 am for students, ages 9-12; Piano Summer Camp, offered August 9-12 for grades 2-8; and Musickgarten Summer Camp, offered August 2-5 for ages 4-7. 

Catawba's Community Music program began in 1984 with only 12 students enrolled in a Music and Movement class using Orff-based music concepts. Now, as it enters its second quarter century, it has grown to serve more than 100 students each semester and to offer a Musikgarten program, vocal ensembles for children and youth, instrumental ensembles for youth, songwriting classes, piano classes, drama classes, and private instruction on almost any instrument.

For more information on the program, contact Erin Harper at or by phone at (704) 881-1565.


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