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MECCA Explorers will begin meeting this fall with director Emily McCraw

Emily McCraw

From Staff Reports

The Mountain Empire Children’s Choral Academy, serving children and youth in East Tennessee and Southwest Virginia, is excited to offer a new program this fall for children in grades 1-3.

The MECCA Explorers will meet for one hour each week to develop music literacy and listening skills, and to learn music fundamentals through singing, movement, games, improvisation, instruments, and other activities.

MECCA has selected Emily McCraw to be the Director/Instructor of the Explorers. She received a Bachelor of Arts in Music Performance from Emory & Henry College with concentrations in voice and piano. As an alumna of MECCA Choirs, McCraw is passionate about the mission and vision of MECCA and is thrilled to return as the Director of the Explorers program.

McCraw previously directed the Emory Choristers during 2018-2020. She also served as a Music Director with the Barter Youth Academy for several summer terms, and as a substitute choir director in Washington County Public Schools (VA). In addition to directing the MECCA Explorers, she provides private piano and vocal instruction. She has served extensively as a church musician and enjoys accompanying and playing collaboratively in a variety of settings including choral events, recitals, musical theatre auditions and performances, as well as weddings and special events.

Ms. McCraw lives in Bristol, Virginia. In her spare time she enjoys reading, hiking, conversation over coffee, making music with others, and being a supportive basketball and volleyball sister.

“I’m very excited about teaching our community’s younger students during the upcoming season,” McCraw said. “The new Explorers program will be oriented around song, movement, and play with the goals of introducing students to quality music and of laying a strong musical foundation.”

She noted that in society, many often talk as if musical skill is primarily a “talent” or “gift” that a few inherently possess, but she said that she believes strongly that the vast majority of the population is far more able to learn and to develop the ability to sing and make music than is typically thought.

“This age range is a prime time to foster a love of and interest in music, to train children’s ability to hear and innately understand it, and to encourage them to be active participants and not passive bystanders in their enjoyment of it,” McCraw said. “Music is such a rich means of communication and connection that we as humans are privileged to experience. My hope is that this class will be a fun and rewarding exploration of all that music might offer our children throughout their lives.”

Johnson City Explorers will meet at Munsey Church, Monday afternoons, 4:15-5:15 starting Aug. 29. Emory Explorers will meet at Emory & Henry College on Thursday afternoons, 4:30-5:30 starting September 1. Rehearsals are scheduled concurrently with East Tennessee Children’s Choir and Emory Virginia Children’s Choir so that siblings can participate in the choir that fits their age at the same time.

Interested children and their parents are invited to attend registration the week prior to the beginning of classes: Aug. 22 in Johnson City, and Aug. 25 in Emory. Explorers will perform on the MECCA Christmas and Spring concerts, as well as other age-appropriate events.

For more information about Explorers and other MECCA choirs, please visit our website: www.meccacademy.org