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Education for a lifetime: Instructors want to share the language of music

By Susan Shinn

Salisbury Post

Dr. Robert and Martha Hallquist believe that music education should start at a young age.

“If you can get children young and teach them the language of music,” Martha says, “They’ll speak it when they’re older. It’s just like the language of words.”

Martha is entering her second semester as an instructor in the Catawba Community Music Program. Rob begins this semester offering private piano lessons.

Martha, a fourth-grade teacher at Morgan Elementary School, will be teaching early childhood music classes. Sessions offer music and movement for children ages birth-4 and 4-6.

“Catawba has a very fine music department for children,” Martha says. “I think all children are talented in music to varying degrees.

“Music makes a big difference in overall development.”

In learning music, children are developing their attention span and memory, and learning to control their body.

Movement is a part of music for young children, Martha says. “When children are little, you can’t take that apart.”

The Hallquists moved to North Carolina from Colorado, where Martha had developed a children’s music academy.

Dr. Julie Chamberlain, Catawba’s Community Music Program director, is glad to have her expertise in the area of early childhood music education.

“We’re trying to form a base for these children,” Julie says.

Rob is certainly a proponent of early childhood music education.

“When you teach piano, you’re not only teaching piano, you’re teaching reading of music and singing,” he says. “When you put it all together, it’s a lot for a child to digest.

“All of this stays with the person for a lifetime.”

Rob will offer private piano instruction as a performing artist-teacher in the program. He will also be serving as an accompanist for the music department.

He has a doctorate in music from the University of North Texas. Rob was a graduate school classmate of Dr. Renee McCachren, music department chairman, at the University of North Texas. The Hallquists met Steve Etters, Catawba’s associate professor of music, at a conference.

They wanted to move to North Carolina to be near family. Their son, Richard, 27, lives in Chapel Hill and works for SAS. Son Michael, 25, is finishing a Ph. D. in New York.

“We’re hoping he’ll settle here, too,” Martha says.

To introduce himself to the community, Rob is giving a piano concert at 7 p.m. Saturday in Omwake-Dearborn Chapel.

“I like to give theme recitals,” Rob says. “This recital is ‘Three Centuries in Two Countries.’ ”

The hour-long concert will feature a program of German and French composers.

Selections include “Prelude and Fugue in C” by Bach, “Piano Piece Opus 33 A” by Arnold Schoenberg, pieces by Clara and Robert Schumann, “Theme and Variations” by Fauré, a Baroque piece by Rameau and “Toccata” by Poulanc.

Rob says he hopes the concert will appeal to children as well as adults, and that families are invited. A reception will follow in the chapel’s Lilly Center.

When Rob was in 10th grade, he saw Claudio Arrau play.

“That was a major turning event for me,” he says.

“Music is a live event,” Martha says. “You can be inspired.”

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Contact Susan Shinn at 704-797-4289 or sshinn@salisburypost.com.

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