Fun that brings life-long advantages

by Rob Lauer

The sound of music greets visitors to Quality Music and Dance no matter the time of day. On this particular morning, the melodies drift into the front lobby from the large dance studio where a children's dance class is underway. Walking down the hall, co-owner Muffy Hoover stops at the studio door, peeks in at the smiling youngsters and smiles herself. "A few days ago, I asked some of the kids how they enjoyed their dance class," she says. "They told me the routine was really hard, but they kept working, didn't get frustrated and finally got it. I said, "That's great! Remember: the most important thing is to have fun.' That's what we tell all of our students."

As Muffy continues down the hall, a young boy carrying an electric guitar emerges from one of the  lesson rooms, accompanied by his teacher. "How was your lesson?" Muffy asks. "Fun," the boy replies with a smile.

"Socially, performing music-
whether it's rock, country, pop
or some other genre-
gives a kid a strong sense of identity.
Having that when you're young
prepares you to face
many of the changes and challenges
that life throws at you."

- Wayne Hoover

Muffy enters a classroom where she joins her husband, Wayne Hoover- musician and co-owner of Quality Music and Dance. The room, furnished with kid-sized tables and chairs, is bright and cheerful; its walls are decorated with fun, kid-friendly posters of notes, musical staffs and key signatures. Wayne's love of music began as a child, as did Muffy's love of dance. Both admit that while pursuing other career paths may have proven more lucrative, their commitment to instilling in young people a love for music and dance, as well as passing on the knowledge and skills required to perform, have made their lives incredibly fulfilling.

The couple is also convinced that learning to dance or play an instrument, and having the experience of performing while young, gives one advantages in life as an adult.

Students of Quality Music and Dance performing at Disney

"They say that people would rather die than have to speak in public," Wayne explains. "That's probably true, but with children, a lot of them are just scared of looking silly to their friends, so most will not speak up in a crowd or when teachers ask for answers to questions. But those who have grown up performing tend to not have that fear. When I first started playing guitar as a kid, I felt insecure, but performing in front of people gave me confidence. When I was a teen and playing gigs with my band, other kids in the audience would come up afterward and ask us for autographs. Those experiences helped build my self-esteem. Teens divide themselves into different cliques: jocks, the cheerleaders, the honor students and so on. Socially, performing music- whether it's rock, country, pop or some other genre- gives a child a strong sense of identity. Having that when you're young prepares you to face many of the changes and challenges that life throws at you."

"When you're 50, you probably won't be able to play sports at the level you could when you were younger," Muffy adds, "but regardless of your age, you can always pull out a guitar or sit at a piano and play. When friends or co-workers discover you can do that, they're impressed; they see you in a completely different light."

Chuckling at this, Wayne shares a memory: "Once, I went to hear a friend's band play. Before the show, I tried starting up a conversation with some of the people sitting around me. During the performance, my friend recognized me and invited me to come up on stage and play with the band on their next song. Afterward, when I went back to my seat, everyone I had tried to talk to before now suddenly wanted to talk to me. Being able to play an instrument and perform really does open doors for connecting with others. Socially, it gives you an advantage for life."

The advantages are not merely social: studies have shown that playing a musical instrument can slow the onset of Alzheimer's and dementia later in life. "There is so much abstract thinking involved in musical performance- including math," Wayne explains. "By establishing a rhythm and keeping a beat, you're doing math in your head at lightning speed- counting, dividing beats into measures and doing fractions."

Wayne Hoover, owner of Quality Music and Dance, accompanying a student, Gabriel.

"Performing music engages the right and left brain," Muffy notes. "It literally gives your brain a workout that it can't get any other way."

Among the variety of music lessons offered at Quality Music and Dance, piano, guitar and voice lessons are most in demand. "They're our "Big Three," Wayne declares. "We also teach a lot of drums, violin, viola and cello. There's been a growing demand for lessons in brass and wind instruments- including trumpet, trombone, clarinet, flute and sax. Recently, even banjo and ukulele lessons have become popular."

"In dance, we offer jazz, ballet, tap, hip hop, lyrical, contemporary, musical theatre and acro/tumbling," Muffy adds. "We even have classes for children as young as two years old. Ballet helps develop incredible lower body strength- as much as any athlete develops from playing a sport. Studying dance can help kids with an interest in gymnastics develop the grace, flexibility and strength needed for that sport. If students are only interested in gymnastics, our acro/tumbling classes help them build the strength to execute cartwheels, tumbles and other "big moves.'"

Wayne and Muffy make sure that all students are given plenty of opportunities to perform. Quality Music and Dance's annual Community Appreciation Day- held on Sunday afternoon, September 30, at its studio on South Battlefield Boulevard- is one such opportunity. Those attending will not only enjoy student performances, but also free food, snow cones, clowns and face painting.

"We've taken our students to perform at Disney World," Wayne says. "They made memories that will last a lifetime. In the future, we'd like to take them to Carnegie Hall."

"Performing music
combines the right and left brain.
It literally gives your brain a workout
that it can't get any other way."

- Muffy Hoover

"Wherever they perform, they put smiles on people's faces," Muffy remarks. "Recently, after our students performed at a local retirement center, one of the residents stood up, told the kids what a blessing they were, and reminded them how fortunate they were to be young and still able to move their bodies. How often do kids get to experience that sort of gratitude and self-awareness? For a young person, that kind of experience is priceless."

As noon approaches, Muffy and Wayne head out of the classroom to begin afternoon lessons. Another class is now underway in the dance studio. As she passes by, Muffy stops at the studio door and greets the students. "What's the most important thing?" she asks them with a friendly smile.

"Have fun!" the smiling youngsters shout back in unison.

Students of Quality Music and Dance performing on stage. From left: Nick, Olivia, Ava and Faith.

Quality Music and Dance Center

717 S. Battlefield Boulevard
Chesapeake, VA 23322


3809 Princess Anne Road
 Suite 107
Princess One Shopping Center
Virginia Beach, VA