School of Music Launches University Community Music School

Consider that you are a working professional in a nonmusical field. You’re perfectly content with your professional career, but you really appreciate the arts, and you want to appreciate them more. You’d like to get access to the high-quality education of a professional music school to learn piano, but you aren’t pursuing a degree.

Or perhaps you’re the parent of a child who is progressing rapidly, and you’re looking for opportunities to help them reach their full potential. Your child is too young to be a college student, but you want them to have access to the high-quality education of the university.

Enter the University Community Music School (UCMS).

“The UCMS allows any person, regardless of age or prior musical background, to experience music education from the University of Tennessee,” said Megan Foster, director of the University Community Music School and first-year coordinator in the School of Music. “It allows us to open our doors as a school of music, bringing world-class instruction to a much larger portion of our community.”

A new initiative that launched in fall 2021, the UCMS provides the opportunity for students of all ages and abilities outside of the university to take private lessons at the School of Music, fostering lifelong music appreciation. Students enroll in noncredit courses, taught by School of Music faculty and graduate students, providing those in the community with access to high-quality musical instruction. At launch, the UCMS offers lessons in piano and guitar but anticipates adding more areas in the coming semesters, including flute, violin, and percussion.  

“We take very seriously the role of the university as a land-grant institution, and our responsibility to Tennessee that naturally flows from that,” said Jeffrey Pappas, director of the School of Music. “This is not just another course offering, but a way for us to develop relationships with the Knoxville community. Through the Community Music School, we will foster music appreciation and expand access to music education for the entire community.”

Development of the UCMS began in January 2020, born out of a desire to broaden the teaching reach of the School of Music’s high-quality music instruction. While the school welcomes young students, lessons are not restricted to those who fit that description–those of any age with an interest in music are welcome as well, and current enrollees already reflect that breadth of opportunity. 

UCMS instructors for fall 2021 were all faculty members, but graduate students will soon be added. This will widen the array of offerings for enrollees, as well as enhancing the education of and practical experience of current School of Music students.  

Foster said, “This will provide our current students with teaching opportunities–valuable experience that helps them grow both musically and personally. We’re excited to see the UCMS grow, hopefully past just private music instruction, to provide group lessons and academic course offerings in the future.”

More information can be found on the School of Music website at