Office of External Communications

Houston, TX 77204-5017 Fax: 713.743.8199

September 8, 2005

Contact: Contact: Mike Emery
713.743.8186 (office)
713.415.6551 (pager)

Moores School of Music’s Preparatory and Continuing Studies
Teaches Musicians Young and Old

HOUSTON, September 8, 2005 – It used to be that aspiring musicians got their starts through lessons from a distant aunt who once sang in a church choir or a retired organist teaching piano in his den. These days, both novice and experienced musicians are able to hone their skills in actual recital halls under the tutelage of professional musicians through the Preparatory and Continuing Studies (PCS) program at the University of Houston’s Moores School of Music (MSM).

Now in its eighth year, PCS offers vocal and instrumental classes to the public at MSM each spring and fall. The classes are not part of MSM’s or UH’s curriculum. Among the offerings taught by MSM faculty and student instructors are piano, guitar, voice and string instruction.

A unique aspect of PCS classes is that they don’t simply focus on learning vocal techniques or the rudiments of various instruments. Instead, they incorporate a thorough lesson plan that intermingles music history, theory, and most importantly, performance.

“Students receive well-rounded music lessons that are taught in state-of-the-art facilities,” said Jessica Smith, director of PCS. “It’s rare that students learning music have an opportunity to rehearse in a recital hall. This provides them with an excellent environment to sharpen their concert skills.”

Smith has taught voice lessons at PCS for five years and received her doctorate in vocal performance from UH. As a child, she was initiated into music through teachers in her neighborhood, but she feels that PCS provides students a distinct advantage over traditional non-academic music training.

“Students here receive much more than quality instruction,” she said. “Our teachers often help open doors for them even after classes are over by making them aware of opportunities in different youth orchestras, civic ensembles and music competitions. There’s a lot of connectivity between PCS and Houston’s various music organizations. This is a great benefit to our students.”

Students can enroll in private lessons or small group classes based on age and musical ability. Pupils often include former musicians who stopped performing and wish to pick up where they left off. Others are curious beginners or aspiring concert performers. Whatever the age or level of expertise, PCS tries to accommodate everyone.

One of the program’s most popular offerings is the parent-child piano class, Mommy (or Daddy) and Me. This weekly class is aimed at teaching parents and children basic keyboard skills.

Starting this fall, PCS will offer a new 12-week course, American Musical Theatre Workshop, taught by stage veteran Ann Ostrow – wife of Tony Award-winning producer and UH School of Theatre faculty member Stuart Ostrow. This course will provide expert instruction on theatrical Broadway-style singing and auditioning tips for aspiring performers.

“Some people have always wanted to sing, but have never had the chance to do it,” Ostrow said. “These are the people who are amazed by the sounds they can create. This class is all about the joy of singing, and I can’t wait to see what happens.”

PCS courses conclude with recitals and concerts by the students, which offer the ultimate reward for musicians. While the lessons are memorable, nothing can compare with the experience of presenting one’s talents in front of a live audience.

“Music is a performance-based art,” Smith said. “If you take lessons and don’t have a chance to actually play or sing in front of people, you’re missing out. It’s an unforgettable feeling to walk out on stage and share this beautiful art form with an audience who will appreciate it. That, I think, is what sets us apart from many other community music programs.”

Class fees vary and a schedule of fall and spring offerings can be accessed at or by calling 713-743-3398.

For more information on the Moores School of Music, visit or call 713-743-3009.

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