Mississippi College

Taylor School at Mississippi College Develops Talented Musicians and Artists

August 22, 2012

Nia Reeves enjoys playing the piano seven days a week after discovering her passion at the Taylor School.

Entering Mississippi College’s community arts program eighteen months ago, Reeves, was clueless about the keyboards. “She had no knowledge – she couldn’t play the piano at all,” says her mother, Carmen Littles. “Now the piano has become her love. This is giving her the ability to grow musically.”

A 12-year-old from Byram, Nia learned to play contemporary and classical music under the guidance of Taylor School Director Michael Rushing. The seventh grader was among 50 students attending the five-year-old school during the spring. Students continue to sign up for fall classes beginning in late August.

With access to facilities of the Departments of Art and Music at Mississippi College, the Taylor School seeks to promote artistic development and spark a lifetime of enjoyment for students of all ages. The Taylor School is named after MC professor Ralph Taylor, who retired from the Department of Music in 1999 after a distinguished 43-year career.

The Taylor School includes studio space, practice rooms, two 7’ Steinway grand pianos, music and art technology laboratories, and art studios on the Clinton campus. Lessons and classes are offered on the Clinton campus and at the Christian university’s Flowood Center.

A third grader from Clinton, Kinley Goodson, excels at the piano thanks to the instruction she receives at Mississippi College.

“Dr. Rushing challenges Kinley in every lesson. He immediately recognized her talent and found way for her to have fun while learning,” says her mother, Kristi Goodson. “We love that she not only plays from a book but is learning critical piano skills such as finger patterns and scales. He encourages her to play different keys as well.”

That’s pretty remarkable for the 8-year-old who will be a student this fall at Northside Elementary. “Dr. Rushing is an excellent teacher for children,” says Goodson, a lead nurse practitioner at the University of Mississippi Medical Center.

Other satisfied Taylor School customers travel from Vicksburg. Stephanie Maughon says her three sons, Landon, 9, Jake, 7, and Charlie, 5, are happy with the piano lessons they’re getting. “I think they love going to the college.” She’s hoping her children perform on stage at New York’s famed Carnegie Hall.

Music runs in the Maughon family. The boys’ father is the director of the music department at Triumph Church in Vicksburg.

At the start of the Taylor School’s sixth season, Michael Rushing is delighted with its progress and outreach to the community in Central Mississippi.

New courses this fall include a creative writing class and group piano instruction for four and five-year-olds. Digital photography, music composition are among other classes in the lineup. Taylor School faculty also hit the road. Music professor Angela Willoughby travels every week to teach at the Mississippi School for the Arts in Brookhaven at no cost to those students.

Taylor School events include a Fall Festival involving students dressed in costume for a piano recital. Students show off their talents in the Clinton Christmas Parade, and see performances of the Mississippi Symphony Orchestra in Jackson. A new project will enable Mississippi College music students to teach weekly classes at the Mississippi Children’s Home Center.

Students can register online at music.mc.edu/the-taylor-school. The new semester begins the week of August 27. Taylor School Director Michael Rushing can be reached at mrushing@mc.edu.

Photo: Taylor School student Kinley Goodson, 8, a third grader at Northside Elementary in Clinton.

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