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Columbia school takes fine arts lessons


Music and dance will become just as important as math and science at a private Columbia school, thanks to the Peabody Preparatory of Johns Hopkins University.

The preparatory, an out-reach program of the Peabody Conservatory of Music, will offer music and dance lessons this fall at Columbia Academy, a private school for 2- through 9-year-olds in Columbia on Route 108 east of Route 29.

"It's just an outstanding complement to our program," said Raymond Chapman, who founded the academy last September with his wife, Gayle. "The Peabody can provide the full curriculum of music and dance."

Two preparatory instructors with degrees in early childhood education will teach music and dance seven days a week at the academy, said preparatory spokeswoman Anne Garside. Children will learn simple dance routines to develop their coordination and proper behavior during recitals.

Officials of the academy and preparatory say the fine arts have been neglected by educators, despite their benefits to children's intellectual and physical skills.

"For young children, it has a lot of developmental advantages," Ms. Garside said, "such as improving their motor skills and helping their social behavior."

Ms. Garside said the preparatory has long been interested in establishing a school in Columbia because of its proximity to Washington and Baltimore.

"Columbia is a self-contained town," Ms. Garside said. "People look to do things at night. You really don't want to drive to $H Washington or Baltimore at night."

The preparatory enrolls over 2,400 students of all ages a year in its Baltimore school and branches in Towson, Pikesville, Randallstown and Annapolis.

The Columbia Academy expects to enroll more than 200 children this fall, the Chapmans said.

Music and dance classes will be open to the public in January or February, said Mr. Chapman, who is expanding the school to include music rooms and a dance floor.

Prices vary depending on the type of class. For example, a private hour lesson costs $1,440 a year. A music class for 2- to 4-year-olds cost $230 a year, and a basic dance class is $325 a year.

The Columbia facility, which will be able to accommodate about 700 to 800 students a week, will probably draw most of its students from Howard County, southwest Baltimore and Montgomery County, said Robert Pierce, director of the Peabody Institute.

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