Decades of Service

Founded in 1989 in Grafton, Massachusetts, Apple Tree Arts is a non-profit community school for the arts serving people of all ages throughout south central Worcester County. The organization began as The Apple Tree, with two early-childhood music classes for parents and toddlers taught by Donna Blanchard at a historic church facing Grafton Common. The program grew out of the belief that music and the arts enhance and expand the human experience.

Over the years, the program has expanded tremendously to include private instrumental and voice instruction, theatre productions and classes, student instrumental concerts, summer programs, faculty concerts and a community concert series.

Our Mission

Our Mission – UPDATED as of June 2020!

The mission of Apple Tree Arts is to enrich our communities through the arts by providing high-quality performing arts education and experiences for all ages, identities, and abilities.

Our Philosophy

We believe music and theatre arts experiences can transform lives in profound and meaningful ways. Throughout history, humans have benefited from making music and participating in theatre as both a means of self-expression and self-discipline. Music and theatre education enriches lives and brings people together. We believe it should start as early as possible and continue throughout one’s life.

Our Vision

The vision of Apple Tree Arts is:

  • To offer high-quality, impassioned music & theatre arts education that supports lifelong learning.
  • To be a tireless advocate for early childhood music education in Central Massachusetts.
  • To offer educational programs that extend music and theatre into a broader artistic experience.
  • To offer outreach programs to under-served populations throughout Central Massachusetts.
  • To bring talented musicians and other performers to the community to educate and entertain.
  • To create partnerships with area organizations to broaden awareness of the importance of music in the human artistic experience.
  • To build a strong music community in Central Massachusetts through the continuous personal and artistic development of students, faculty, staff and volunteers.

Our History

Under the direction of staff member Jan Barlow, we began offering music as an enrichment component of area preschools and daycare centers. In 1995, through the efforts of an expanding board of directors, The Apple Tree was legally incorporated as Apple Tree Arts and included articles of organization and by-laws, formal policies and procedures, and established bookkeeping practices under the direction of Kathy Vandenengel. At that time, we also became an official non-profit organization.

Currently, Apple Tree Arts is a vibrant non-profit community arts organization serving over 3,000 people each year. Our ten-member board of directors, chaired by Aaron Chaisson of Grafton, is comprised of highly-educated, community-minded professionals who have brought us to new levels in advertising, grant-writing, budgeting, and strategic planning. The board’s initiatives include the formation of an Advisory Council, whose focus is intended to leverage the talents and resources of successful individuals within the community who have demonstrated an interest in and support of the mission of Apple Tree Arts.

With Donna Blanchard serving as the organization’s executive director, and with Kathy also working full-time, staff members of Apple Tree Arts now include several part-time people, including theatre arts director Lisa Scarlett, music education director Alaina Calloway Bolton, finance director Julie Davis, communications coordinator Liz Colognesi, and early childhood outreach coordinator Kayla Cardin. We are also served by an ever-growing corps of willing volunteers.

Committed to cultural enrichment that meets the needs and interests of many different audiences, Apple Tree Arts provides a wide range of performances and special community musical and theatre arts events throughout the year, as well as education programs in music and movement for children from birth on up, private instrumental and voice instruction, ensembles, theatre arts classes and performances, and student and faculty recitals.

In 2016, we moved our offices and teaching studios to the second and third floor of the Grafton Townhouse at One Grafton Common. After working with the Town of Grafton to secure the necessary funding, this historic space has been beautifully restored and the Great Hall can again serve the purpose for which it was originally intended: a central gathering place for the community. We are most grateful to our many friends in the community who supported us to make this historic opportunity become a reality.

Apple Tree Arts is supported solely through tuition, grants, private support, and corporate sponsorships.

Our Policies


All registrations and payments must be made prior to the first lesson or class in each semester. You may not begin a new semester without full payment of the prior semester. Cash, checks, MasterCard, Visa, and American Express are accepted.

Registration is best done online, through our Jackrabbit system. To register, please click here if you are a new ATA student, and here if you are a current student with an existing parent portal You may enter in a credit card number and process a payment or send in a check.

It is understood that families who register by phone have read and agree to abide by our policies.

If you choose to pay by check, please make checks payable to Apple Tree Arts, and mail to:

Apple Tree Arts
1 Grafton Common
Grafton, MA 01519

  1. Early Childhood Music Classes: Students enroll for each ten-week semester (fall, winter, spring). New students may register during the semester on a space-available basis.
  2. Keyboard Classes: Students enroll for the fall and/or spring semester (each 16 weeks).
  3. Theatre Classes and Productions: Students enroll for the specific program as listed.
  4. Private Instrumental or Voice lessons: Students taking private instrumental or voice lessons register for the full semester. New students may enroll at any time during the year on a space-available basis. Tuition will be prorated. Paying lesson by lesson is not an option.

Payment Options

Option #1 (Preferred): Payment in Full by Cash or Check. 

Option #2: Payment by Credit Card through your parent portal at our Jackrabbit system. Payment plans are available – please call the office for details. Tuition will be divided into multiple payments and automatically charged to your card monthly.  ATA keeps all credit card information in a secure location.

Registration Fee

The annual registration fee is now included in your tuition fee.

Financial Aid

Applications are available through Kathy in the business office, or through our website. Applications for each semester must be no later than Sept 1, 2019 (Fall), January 1, 2020 (Spring), and May 15, 2020 (Summer). The Board will review and vote on applications and will notify each applicant of their decision prior to the start of the semester. All applications must be complete, and may include any additional information that you see fit to assist the Board in evaluating their application. Incomplete applications will not be given consideration by the Board. The application can be downloaded here (PDF).

Refund Policy

Classes: Families withdrawing prior to the first class of the semester will receive a full refund. Families withdrawing before the fourth week are entitled to a 50% refund of tuition only. (This refund does not include cost of materials.)

Private Lessons: Students who withdraw before the third lesson will receive a refund of 80% of the unused tuition. We regret that no other refund will be given. Please plan accordingly when registering. Formal notification of withdrawal must be made in person or by phone only to the Apple Tree Arts Business Director or Executive Director. Refund or credit may be granted due to special circumstances. Teacher notification is not considered formal notice of withdrawal. Non-attendance is not considered notice of withdrawal. The effective date of withdrawal is the date the written notice is received, not the last date of class/lesson attended.

Theatre Arts: Any student who withdraws before a cast list is posted, may be entitled to a full or partial refund. If a student withdraws from a production for any reason after the cast list is posted, no refund is given.

Extenuating circumstances will be evaluated on a per case basis.

Makeup Policies

Regular attendance is very important for skill-building and continuity of learning. Please make every effort to attend all classes.

Classes: A makeup class is reserved by the teacher at the end of each session, to be used in case of his/her illness or weather emergency. Two makeup classes will be allowed per student per semester, with prior permission from the teacher to assure room in an alternate class. If there are no other similar classes available, we regret we cannot provide an alternate solution.

Private Lessons: Students must pay for all lessons in the semester whether taken or missed. Students are allowed two cancellations per year that teachers are obliged to reschedule. Teachers may possibly reschedule subsequent cancellations, but they are not required to do so, due to time constraints. Teacher cancellations and inclement weather cancellations will be made up.


Apple Tree Arts follows the snow emergency cancellation procedures for the Grafton School District.

Early Childhood Music Classes and Keyboard Classes: If the town of Grafton has canceled school for the day, all of our classes are also canceled. If Grafton has a delayed opening, then our morning classes are canceled. If the weather has cleared by the afternoon and your teacher feels comfortable teaching, she will let you know by email. Please be sure to check your email frequently on those days.

Private Lessons: If school is canceled for the day, private lessons are generally also cancelled. Please speak directly to your teacher and check your email when the weather is borderline, as s/he may decide to teach if the weather conditions improve during the day.

Evening Theatre Rehearsals and Classes are canceled by the directors via email by 4 pm. They are not based on school cancellations. Please check your email.

Class Locations and Supervision of Children

Most classes and private lessons are now held at our building at One Grafton Common. We remind our students that we rent our space and always strive to maintain our friendly, respectful relationship with those people who share our space. All children should be supervised.

Please be aware that our building is open to the public and the home to various businesses.  We cannot monitor entrances or exits to the building or monitor access to the public to those areas. Please be conscious of this when dropping off your children for Apple Tree Arts classes or lessons.  Parents and guardians are encouraged to escort their children to their class or lesson.

Accessibility, Diversity & Nondiscrimination

Accessibility is an organizational asset and a civil right. Apple Tree Arts (ATA) complies with all local, state, and federal laws and regulations concerning civil and human rights. Our programs and employment practices are free of discrimination based on race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, age, gender, or disability. In addition, ATA is specifically committed to complying with the provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The ADA requires that all programs, services and activities, when viewed in their entirety, are readily accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities. For more information, please contact the Apple Tree Arts office at 508-839-4286.

Appropriate Accommodations Policy 

Apple Tree Arts is happy to say that the Town House is fully accessible. The school acknowledges its obligation to make its offices, classes and programs accessible and will make reasonable accommodations to ensure that they are. Students, faculty and staff have the obligation to promptly notify Apple Tree Arts management of any physical barrier to their participation in a class, program, or function in order to arrange for modifications. If classrooms, facilities, or faculty offices are found to be inaccessible, an accessible alternate location will be utilized. For more information, please contact the Apple Tree Arts office at 508-839-4286.

Photo & Video Release

Unless otherwise noted at the time of registration, permission is granted for photographs or videos to be taken of your child/yourself to be used in promotional or descriptive material produced by or for Apple Tree Arts. These photos/videos will be used by Apple Tree Arts only.

Our Calendars

Semester Calendars for 2019-2020

  1. Private lessons (33 or 36 week semesters)
  2. Keyboard, Kiddy Keys, Treble Choir, A Cappella Choir (16 week semester)
  3. Mixed Age Move & Groove classes (10 week semester)

ATA 2019-2020 calendars

Our Board of Directors

Apple Tree Arts Board of Directors 2019-2020

Aaron Chaisson, President
Cam Sowa, Vice President
Anjali Paranjape, Treasurer
Maria Murdock, Clerk
Alan Baker
Steve Lotterman
Theresa Mazzio
Paul Scarlett
Elizabeth Spinney

Our Faculty

Our Staff

Apple Tree Arts Staff Members

Incoming Executive Director & Music Education Director – Alaina Calloway Bolton

Theater Arts Director – Lisa Scarlett

Business Director – Kathy Vandenengel

Finance Director – Julie Davis

Communications Coordinator – Liz Colognesi

Early Childhood Outreach Coordinator – Kayla Cardin