Private sector music curriculum a hit with public school students

Student Sarah Mahoney, left, takes a piano lesson from instructor Brita Ford-Fay. Ford-Fay and her husband, John, founded Sera Schools, a music-tutoring program that employs 17 teachers and has expanded beyond Grand Junction to the Front Range.

Grand Junction-based music- tutoring program Sera Schools has expanded to the Front Range and will enter the Montrose market later this month.

Sera Schools co-founder Brita Ford-Fay, who runs the business with her husband, John, employs music teachers who use her curriculum in Grand Junction, Summit County and the Vail Valley. This summer, she added teachers in Boulder, Fort Collins and Denver.

Ford-Fay decided to write her own music curriculum after earning a master’s degree from the Manhattan School of Music in New York, one of the top five conservatories in the United States. The curriculum took years to make and is used by all 17 of the teachers the school employs.

Students can take lessons on how to sing or play guitar, violin or piano, and there is a drum-circle class for children. Students can take one-on-one lessons or learn in a small group of no more than four students.

Ford-Fay said she teaches students of all ages, but the bulk of her clientele are in elementary school, often before students are introduced to instruments in school.

“In grade school, parents want to get a start on music as a complement to academics,” Fay said. “It’s a nice introduction to music because you can take a group class and give something a try before a parent has to make a financial investment in an instrument.”

The school offers lessons after school at Holy Family Catholic School and at KidzPlex in Grand Junction. Sera Schools also teaches music curriculum during school hours in some smaller schools outside Grand Junction, where music has been cut for budgetary reasons.

“It’s something we don’t wish on anyone,” Ford-Fay said of the cuts to music. “But if that situation arises, we’re ready. All our curriculum meets or exceeds state requirements.”

Sera Schools, which takes its name from Ford-Fay’s middle name, Seraphim, offers music lessons combined with character development and a rewards system of ribbons and medals. Because of its structure and curriculum, Ford-Fay said she’s careful about adding new instruments. But adding more cities to the coverage area is a distinct possibility.

“For the moment, we’re experimenting to make sure our infrastructure is exactly what we need to do that,” Fay said.

The next 16-week round of classes at Sera Schools begins Tuesday. Students can sign up for half or all of the semester, and scholarships are available. Visit for more information.


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