Salvation Army, MTSU partner to teach kids music

Salvation Army, MTSU partner to teach kids music

The Salvation Army of Murfreesboro-Rutherford County is teaching local children the joy of music and hopes to expand that reach in the future.

The MTSU Faculty Brass Quintet, under the leadership of Dr. David Loucky, were the featured performance during The Salvation Army’s second annual Spring Festival held April 13 at Northside Baptist Church in Murfreesboro. From left are Sean Donovan, MTSU School of Music alumnus, on horn; Loucky, professor of trombone and euphonium, on trombone; Dr. Ben Miles, professor of tuba; David Amlung, visiting assistant professor of trumpet; and Dr. Michael Arndt, professor of trumpet. (MTSU photos by News and Media Relations)

Middle Tennessee State University is assisting in that effort. Music students Aaron Stickley and Josh Merbitz are teaching participating students, while MTSU’s Faculty Quintet recently shared its talents during the Salvation Army’s second annual Spring Festival held earlier this month at Northside Baptist Church.

Salvation Army Lt. Monica Seiler said this is the third year the nonprofit’s music program has been conducted during the school year, with about 20 students currently participating at the organization’s West Main Street location.

The Salvation Army has 25 instruments on which to train student. Practices are held on Sunday evenings in conjunction with their teenage leadership class, called corps cadets, and elementary leadership and discipleship class, called junior soldiers.

A different MTSU student has taught the children each year, although this is the first year that two students are teaching, Seiler said.

MTSU music major Aaron Stickley, left, directs Salvation Army music students Tamarah Taylor, center, and Zihir Terrence-Smith during The Salvation Army’s second annual Spring Festival held April 13 at Northside Baptist Church in Murfreesboro.

“We’d like to expand the program with more instruments and more students and make this something that lower income children can be involved in,” Seiler said. “We are grateful for the partnership with MTSU and are looking at developing a full music conservatory for the community.”

The instruments are all brass — cornet or small trumpet, horns, baritone, euphonium, trombone — and the students have a musical rotation between private instruction, band ensemble rehearsal and music theory.

“I lead the choir on Wednesdays during their regular character building/youth activity times,” Seiler said, adding that Christopher Purdy, piano technician for the MTSU School of Music, tuned the piano in their chapel.

The children and young people currently in the program participate at no cost, because the Salvation Army absorbs the expense.

“We want to grow the program to be sustainable on its own and so our growth has intentionally been conservative,” Seiler said. “This year has seen more students in the program than years prior. We’d like to add about 15 more students for next year and a piano lab component.”

For more information about the program or the Salvation Army in Murfreesboro-Rutherford County, call 615-895-7071 or go to

— Jimmy Hart (


Salvation Army Lt. Monica Seiler directs the local nonprofit’s Singing Company during The Salvation Army’s second annual Spring Festival. The group includes, from left to right on the front row, Brylee Ostrowski, J.D. Tortorello, David Newbern and Lyndsey Smith; and on the back row, from left are Zihir Terrence-Smith, Tamarah Taylor, Daniel Encinas, Elijah Terrence and Christian Encinas.