Finding the right music teacher can make or break your chance of really learning how to play a musical instrument well. Thankfully, the caliber of teachers offered as instructors at Wilton’s Conservatory of Music makes the school a popular destination for private instrumental music instruction.
“We teach all the instruments—strings; band instruments like woodwind, brass, percussion; and of course piano and guitar. We even teach bagpipes—which we don’t currently have students for but with our teachers, we’ve got it all covered,” said Barbara Wyton, the director of the conservatory.
Wyton, a music teacher at Cider Mill, started the Conservatory of Music about 15 years ago. While the Conservatory's private music lessons are all taught at Cider Mill, the program is separate from Cider Mill’s music department, and actually operates under the Wilton Continuing Education umbrella.
That means that lessons at the Conservatory are open to everyone, not just Cider Mill students. “If you’re age 5 to 105, anyone is able to study instrumental music at the Conservatory, as long as they have the desire and access to their instrument of choice,” Wyton said, adding “I mostly attract Cider Mill students, but I’m trying to spread the word, not only to Middlebrook and high school students but also to adults—our teachers do very well with more advanced players.”
The roster of instructors that Wyton has assembled really reads like a “who’s who” of Connecticut music.
“We do have some of the best jazz musicians in the area. Jamie Finegan—the best jazz trumpeter I know. Jamie is phenomenal, just the best! Other teachers are Joe Meo, he’s a saxophone player, that’s the best in the area; Dan Asher, he’s a jazz and rock bass player, I tend to give him to middle school kids; Tom Elliot, a classical guitarist and veteran teacher who teaches at Wooster School—he’s been teaching for over 25 years; Olga Kalinina and Kamilla Sonkin—they’re both classical pianists; George Whetstone, is a “gigging orchestral violist;” Dr. Darilyn Manring, who is the first cellist in the Bridgeport Symphony and is also the string teacher at Middlebrook and the high school,” Wyton said.
Private lessons are offered from 2:30-6:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. Rates are $38 for a half hour lesson, $55 for 45 minutes. Individuals interested in group lesson options should inquire directly with Wyton.
The Conservatory also offers lessons during the summer, through six weeks in July and August. Wyton added that because school is no longer in session then, lesson times can be more flexible in the morning and the afternoon.
In general, the program can be pretty flexible, something important for beginners at any age. “One can sign up for a 5- or 10-lesson term, so it can be on a short-term basis. Some of the younger kids in first or second grade do that, and try it out for five weeks,” Wyton explained, adding that starting lessons can happen at any time, not just the beginning of the school. “I can make scheduling work for you.”
Individuals can contact Wyton directly to register or find out more information, by calling (203) 834-4925 or by emailing her at firstname.lastname@example.org.