John Willoughby: Greene Publishing, Inc.
Madison native, Jay Hicks has been the Director of Music at the Madison Creative Arts Academy (MCAA) since its opening two years ago. Four years before the opening of MCAA, Hicks was a part of Madison Academy until it closed. Now Hicks is making a social and economical difference by teaching the students about subjects that are normally taught in secondary-education schools.
The MCAA Music Department holds classes for all grades, kindergarten to eighth grade but Hicks only teaches the classes for third graders through eighth graders. Third, fourth and fifth graders come to class once a week to learn about general music and its importance. There, students will learn to sing, play, dance, etc. However, the sixth, seventh, and eighth graders have a more complex and challenging class with Hicks.
The technology used within the Music Business in Nashville, Tn., Atlanta, Ga., and Los Angeles, Ca. consists of studio sound equipment such as sound board, mixing boards, microphones, etc. Normally, the knowledge of how to run these valuable and high-priced pieces of equipment is taught in specialized-trade colleges like Berklee College of Music in Boston, Ma., but Hicks believes it's a valuable skill to know and that it should be learned in an arts academy like MCAA.
Music Technology is the name of the 30-minute class, and it is taught once a week by Hicks. Hicks teaches the middle schoolers how to create music with music technology such as MIDI boards, which are electronic keyboards that can produce any sound when prompted and programmed to do so. Sound and mixing boards are also used in class to purify the sound of an instrument that is recorded.
To understand the importance of music and its effect on society, Hicks holds classes for only seventh and eighth graders called Modern Music. Modern Music is a two-year course that focuses on the music from the 20th and 21st century. Hicks talks about the effects that society had on these artists from the 20th century and how things have changed culturally in the 21st century.
Hicks holds multiple creative arts electives that are very broad. These electives are band, drama, art and graphic design. Band has multiple levels. Concert Band is for beginners. There are also Jazz, Chamber and Percussion Ensembles; all taught by different instructors, not just Hicks. The pop ensemble is also a group of student who sing famous modern and upbeat songs. Elementary students are also eligible to participates in a choral class.
After school, Hicks holds piano, guitar and violin classes for students who have paid for such a program. “We are a creative arts academy,” said Hicks, “and we're going to live up to that.”
The MCAA Music Department will hold its annual Christmas Concert on Thursday, Dec. 14, at 6:30 p.m. in the MCAA gymnasium. The concert and symphonic bands will be performing, along with the jazz ensemble, chamber ensemble, pops ensemble and drama class. Admission is free.
MCAA is located at 2812 West US Hwy. 90, in Madison. For more information about Hicks or about MCAA enrollment, call (850) 973-2529 or visit them online at www.mcaa.academy.