Nonprofit launches to provide donation-based music education

Music has been a life-long calling for Chatham native Corey Cochran, director of Sangamon Conservatory and Academy of the Recording Arts, located at 960 Clocktower Drive, Ste. E. Corey and his wife, Kali, who teaches the preschool-age kids, are both fulfilling this calling by bringing the gift of free music education to the Springfield area. The Cochrans are in the midst of SCARA's inaugural semester that began in September, and they look forward to adding more students to SCARA's roster.

The vision behind the nonprofit, Christian organization is to bring affordable, donation-based music education to all who want to learn to be classically trained musicians. Cochran said that he and his wife "had this concept in the works for some time," and that the pandemic helped to accelerate making SCARA a reality. Cochran said they want "music education to be available and accessible," and SCARA fulfills that mission. Ultimately, SCARA is their way of "giving and serving."

Initially, the Cochrans thought SCARA would be well-suited to families who homeschool their kids; SCARA could fulfill the music aspect of the overall homeschool curriculum. As well, they hoped school districts that do not have a robust music program could augment the curriculum with classes offered at SCARA.

Corey Cochran has 12 years' experience teaching at the college level and is currently a music education doctoral candidate at Liberty University. He is a classical guitarist and offers college-preparatory courses for high school students who plan to study classical guitar at the college level.

"We're growing," stated Cochran, who said there's still plenty of room to accept more students. If learning to play guitar and sing is something your child has always wanted to do, this is the time to seize the opportunity. Courses are designed to start students at the beginner level and when a student show proficiency at their current level, they will progress to more focused instruction.

Group classes are completely donation-based. The suggested donation is $10 per person per class, but families are simply asked to give what they can. Cochran said group lessons get students used to performing in front of others, "since this is a performing arts program."

SCARA also provides private lessons to students who qualify through an audition process, and scholarships are available.

Musical subjects currently offered at SCARA are:

• Music fundamentals for early childhood, elementary, youth, and adult learners

• Electric, acoustic and classical guitar

• Bass guitar

• Music production, which consists of studio practicum, beat-writing, song-writing, sampling and midi-programming, orchestration and arrangement in popular styles, vocal technique, vocal production and arrangement, keyboard and synthesizer technique and arrangement, audio science and technology and music industry studies

• Composition and theory, ear training

Everyone is welcome at SCARA. Cochran said, "Students will be challenged and allowed to grow at their own pace. Furthermore, to those parents who are struggling to find a musical outlet for their kids – here it is."

General information about SCARA, class schedules and how to become a student can be found at

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