Woodland Music Academy Instructor Lissa McCarty oversees Judah Short performing “Snake Dance” at the school Sept. 18.

Woodland has a new spot for those young and old looking to pick up and play an instrument.

Woodland Music Academy, located at 1900 Belmont Loop, Woodland, started up its lessons earlier this month. The music school is the first additional location opened by the owners of the Vancouver Music Academy and provides both traditional lessons and early childhood programs with a musical focus.

Woodland Music Academy Office Manager Lori Edenfield said the academy had its first day of business Sept. 10. By the second week the Woodland location was approaching 60 students enrolled in lessons.

“We were hoping that’s what would happen,” Edenfield said. The Vancouver operation itself moved to a bigger location in 2017 to accommodate the more than 600 students it serves. Edenfield said the spot in Woodland made sense given the growth in north Clark and southern Cowlitz counties. 

What is now the Vancouver academy began in 1997 as Musical Beginnings when owner Susan Ferrell decided to mix her musical background with her business degree. With the number of students they have in Clark County, making a move made sense.

“We thought, ‘well, maybe it’s time for a second location’ and we stumbled on the place in Woodland,” Ferrell said, noting the Belmont Loop location was a good fit for the northern expansion.

Ferrell said that both the Vancouver and Woodland academies offer a service more focused on the instruction than other businesses which are primarily music stores. She praised the instructor roster at both academies, noting that after two decades of history in Clark County they are able to put together an All-Star team.  

“We have a lot of people wanting to teach for us, so we are able to pick the best instructors,” Ferrell said. “We pick them not only because they know their instrument, but also they love to teach and they’re good at it.”

Right now the Woodland location has lessons from Monday through Thursday, though Edenfield said they hope to get to seven days a week like the Vancouver spot. The academy has teachers for piano, guitar, bass, drums, violin, cello, viola, mandolin, ukulele and voice. The lesson time slots are 30, 45 and 60 minutes, private and semi-private for those wanting to take a lesson with a family member or friend.

The majority of Woodland Music Academy’s students are school-aged, though Edenfield noted there were several adults signed up as well. To help spur practice and improvement, the school has a “musical ladder” system where students can earn recognition and prizes for reaching goals with their instructor.

Other than lessons, the Woodland Music Academy features two early childhood programs. “Music 4 Munchkins” has children up to four years old and their parents or caregivers engaging in music, movement and some performing arts, exploring instruments, singing songs and taking part in story time. 

For slightly older youngsters the academy’s “Kiddy Keys” program has 4- to 6-year-old students learning music basics through exploring the piano. 

“Kids that age will often have a love for music already,” Edenfield said, adding the programs provide a “social, emotional” experience for the youth alongside the introduction to music.

Ferrell said the early childhood offerings often serve as feeder programs to their traditional lessons, “getting them started young and then having a place where they can keep on going.”

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