Because music intelligence is independent of IQ, BHMA uses music to accomplish individualized goals toward independence that may or may not be related to music itself. Our students find great pleasure and/or success in music, which then gives them the self-confidence and courage to work on all aspects of their lives and take steps to further independence. For example: participating in a choir teaches the student the value of working with others. Often the student’s interest in music is a catalyst to learning life and social skills. Additionally, halls filled with music make BHMA a very joyful place to be.
How musically talented does an applicant have to be?
Students do not have to be musically talented but they should demonstrate an aptitude for or interest in music. The current student population ranges from relative beginners who have had limited or no music lessons to accomplished performers with many years of experience. BHMA strives to help each student achieve a higher level of accomplishment musically; it also uses music as a tool to help students transition toward a higher level of independence.
What types of music and which instruments do students play?
Students at BHMA study and perform all genres of music according to their individual taste and background. Some of these include, but are not limited to, classical, pop, rock, and folk music. Lessons have been offered in voice, piano, keyboard, drums, guitar, bass, organ, clarinet, flute, saxophone, violin, and dance, as well as composition, song writing, and improvisation.
What are some of the outcomes of your graduates?
Graduates of BHMA are ready to continue on the path to increased independence in the areas of living and working. Many graduates continue on to our Long Term Independent Vocational Experience (LIVE) Program, and therefore remain near the Academy as they pursue a life filled with music, social opportunities, and vocation. Some graduates return to their home communities to pursue further opportunities there. Regardless, graduates are often found living in a supported apartment or home, often with a roommate or friends. Employment options are wide and varied, depending on the individual’s area of interest. Many of our graduates are working in the music field, performing in a band, providing music programs to local elders, or pursuing solo musicianship. Many other graduates are working in jobs not related to music, such as in retail or service fields, but nevertheless use skills learned at BHMA to be more capable employees. Most graduates continue to use skills developed at BHMA to enrich their family life, social life, and life within their chosen community.
What is the average length of time a student stays at the Academy?
Do you have to attend the Summer Program to be accepted?
No, but attending the Summer Program can be a good way to become acquainted with the Academy.
Is Berkshire Hills Music Academy a school only for individuals with Williams syndrome?
No, although the idea for the Academy originated at a music camp for Williams syndrome, BHMA is and always intended to be a school for students with various cognitive disabilities (whatever the cause or diagnosis) who have a passion and aptitude for music and performing.
What is Williams syndrome?
Williams syndrome is a genetic condition that is present at birth and can affect anyone. It is characterized by medical problems, including cardiovascular disease, developmental delays, and learning disabilities. These occur side by side with striking verbal abilities, highly social personalities, and an affinity for music.
What is the cost of tuition and how do I pay for the Academy?
The approximate cost of tuition for the 2018-2019 residential academic year program is $69,500. Many families obtain funding from their school district or their state Department of Developmental Disabilities to pay their tuition at BHMA. Some families pay privately.