The Hill is alive with the sound of music -- and not just the "do-re-me-fa-so-la-ti-do" kind.
Carroll students surpass the boundaries of classroom vocal and instrumental education as participants in the Community Music Program at Western Maryland College.
"Before we started the program, very few local students were receiving private music instruction," said Linda Kirkpatrick, a music lecturer at the college and director of the nine-year-old program. "Community Music filled a real need . . ."
As it is goes into its 10th year, the music program provides about 150 area students with instruction in voice, flute, clarinet, piano and string and percussion instruments.
Each child is referred to private instructors, all of whom have degrees in music. The teacher decides on a fee and schedules a weekly practice time at WMC's Levine Hall.
"This is a good way for the children to be taught outside of class," said Wendy Anderson, a Greenbelt resident and one of the newest instructors in the program. "It helped to foster their interest in learning as well."
Judy Ferencz, a piano teacher who has been with the program since its inception, said the initial purpose of the program has been served many times over.
"The original intent still holds: to provide quality musical education at affordable, reasonable rates," said Ms. Ferencz, a former organist for St. John's Catholic Church in Westminster.
Courtney Holland, a seventh-year flutist with the program, said she was not taught music theory in school lessons.
"With a private teacher, you get to understand the music a little more," Courtney said. "You get an edge on the other students at school."
Learning about music opens the door to many other possibilities for the students, Ms. Kirkpatrick said.
Some of the participants, like Courtney, become school band members and compete in state competitions.
The students also have an opportunity to share their talents during private performances for their families and friends.
"I believe it helps the kids to get up in front of an audience when they perform," said Theresa Wire, a flute and clarinet teacher whose students performed Saturday. "It gives them confidence."
Program participants say the program succeeds for various reasons.
"I began playing in elementary school, but there were so many kids learning to play that there wasn't really a lot of individual instruction," said Alice Carr, a Westminster high school junior who has been studying flute with Ms. Wire for six years.
"You can move a lot faster with a private tutor, and if you have problems, you have someone available to back you up," Courtney said.
Jennifer Coshun, another flutist, agreed.
"It's just me, not a whole classroom full of people," said Jennifer, who plays in the concert and marching bands at WHS. "Things that I have problems with in the school band, my teacher helps me with."
While Courtney, Jennifer and Alice said the program enriches their interest of music as a hobby, 8-year-old Cassandra Dalida said it helps her get closer to playing like her idol, Irish flutist James Galway.
"I like all his songs. My favorite is the 'Flight of the Bumblebees,' " said Cassandra, who has just completed her first year in the program.
And it's when students enjoy learning about an instrument that the program works at its highest level, Ms. Wire said.
"It's amazing to me, in this day of television and video games, that students would show real enthusiasm for taking music instruction," Ms. Kirkpatrick said. "We're lucky to have so many bright students in Carroll County and the surrounding area."