Kids in Koncert celebrates 40 years of instruction and enrichment

Unforgettable experiences have inspired a lifelong love of music at Lenoir-Rhyne.

When Jane Perry and Paula Zimmerman came up with the idea for a music program connecting Lenoir-Rhyne with the community’s youth in 1982, it was immediately accepted. Forty years later, the Kids in Koncert program continues to train the next generation of musicians through the power of music.

“University President at the time, John Trainer, was enthusiastic about the idea and approved it on the spot,” shared Perry, who leads the program as director and teaches piano.

The Kids in Koncert program follows the Suzuki method – which breaks down learning music into small steps and requires mastery of each step before moving on to the next. Instruction is offered in violin, viola, bass, flute, harp and piano for students of all ages.

A young girl plays the piano

When the program advertises they are open to all ages, they mean it.

“The youngest student we’ve had was 3 years old and showed a lot of promise,” Perry said. “But typically, our youngest students are 4-year-olds.”

And the oldest?

“I had a student in his 70s who met me for lessons for 10 years,” she said. “We are here for anyone who has an interest in music and wants to learn.”

Looking ahead to celebrating this 40-year partnership, Perry has hopes for a community picnic or commemorative concert featuring program alumni, but that will depend on the pandemic’s status.

“During spring 2020, the switch to online lessons was not ideal,” shared Perry. “We managed, but we’re thankful for the return to teaching in person and the prospect of performing for a live audience.”

Those assisting Perry include musicians: Irene Craig, piano and co-director; Cheryl Weldon, piano and flute; Molly Barrett, violin; and Sally Ross, cello.

With many program alumni continuing their education at LR, the relationship between Kids in Koncert and LR is even stronger and continuing to grow.

“We’ve had such a far reach with hundreds of students going through the program; it’s been a truly special relationship bringing students to campus,” said Perry. “We’re so grateful to LR for being supportive of us and willing to give us a chance.”

The Lenoir-Rhyne University Board of Trustees has renewed the contract of Dr. Fred Whitt, LR president, for a six-year term. The board unanimously approved the new contract at its meeting in November; the contract became effective Jan. 1 and will continue through Jan. 1, 2028.

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Thanks to a grant from the Kenneth K. and Suzanne G. Millholland Endowment Fund, the Rev. Todd Cutter has been developing new resources for spiritual development for students.

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