The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

Arpeggia equips CU students with accessible music education

Daniel Zhou
Arpeggia outreach member Philip Vu, sophomore in business on Oct. 5.

Arpeggia, a registered student organization at the University, aims to allocate music education resources to Urbana middle school students and create an efficient teaching experience for University students. 

Sam Calhoon, junior in FAA and outreach advisor for Arpeggia, said the mission of the organization is to provide accessible education for students in the community and to offer individualized musical lessons. Calhoon said many of the students would otherwise not have the opportunity to get private lessons.

There are many barriers to getting sufficient music education that may discourage students in the Champaign-Urbana community, according to Nicole Quek, sophomore in Business and Arpeggia outreach committee member.

“Music lessons are often expensive, ranging from $30-$60/hour,” Quek said in an email. “Finding a trustworthy instructor and transportation to and from lessons is difficult. Billing and scheduling are another inconvenience.”

Once a week, Arpeggia mentors provide a one-hour program to students. Within this time frame, 20 minutes are set aside for private lessons and the other 40 minutes are used for group lessons. Lessons can be geared toward choral or instrumental needs.

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The nonprofit RSO is made up of 25 active members, of which 15 fulfill the role of mentors. Mentors are University students who lead the music lessons each week. Many of the mentors are music education majors, but that is not a requirement for the position, Calhoon said.

In an email, Quek said Arpeggia’s mentors give students the ability to control their own learning experience. 

“For example, if a student learning guitar would rather spend a lesson learning how to start on trumpet, we’re willing to switch gears and get them started,” Quek said. 

Arpeggia functions in tandem with the already existing Urbana Middle School SPLASH program. According to the Urbana Middle School website, SPLASH provides additional academic support as well as STEM and enrichment classes both before and after school. 

By functioning with the SPLASH program, transportation is already provided and Quek believed the students feel more comfortable taking lessons in a familiar school environment.

“Arpeggia mentors are well-equipped to teach both instrumental students, as well as choral students,” Calhoon said in an email. “Our mentors come from a range of majors, but many are music majors.” 

In addition to mentors, an outreach committee and program development committee support the RSO. 

Philip Vu, sophomore in Business and an Arpeggia outreach advisor, said the outreach committee is responsible for internal and external communication, fundraising, social and advertising media, website content and social events.

The program development committee creates the curriculum for the lessons. According to Calhoon, the committee and the mentors work together to create individualized plans centered around each student’s interests. 

Arpeggia got its beginning after winning the 54 Startup Weekend hosted by Founders in 2021, Quek said. Looking to the future, Arpeggia hopes to expand its programs into more schools. 

Vu said he believed Arpeggia to be an important asset of the community due to its dual impact on middle school students, as well as University students.

“Not only do the younger students get free lessons, but mentors get experience in teaching, leadership and they have the opportunity to apply the teaching techniques that they learn in school as they’re learning them,” Vu said. 

Both Quek and Vu said they believed providing a creative outlet for young students is one of the main benefits of Arpeggia’s mission.  

“As a music education major, I believe in the power of music,” Calhoon said. “I believe music is such a constructive force. In my life that’s been true. I know for others, itʼs a part of our culture, itʼs part of our daily life. I think having young students and giving them the opportunity to receive that education and just have a tiny piece of music in their life is absolutely essential.” 


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