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

Registration

Registration is done online, through our Jackrabbit Registration and Acuity Scheduling systems. 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

These policies are split into three sections. Please scroll down to the appropriate section:
Private Music Lessons
Group Classes, Early Childhood and Ensemble Programs
Theatre Programs

Private Music Lessons

Tuition and Payment

The 2020-2021 academic year will run from September 9 through June 23. Tuition is charged on a monthly membership model based on your lesson length. All payments are made by automatic credit/debit card or ACH transfer from your bank account on the first of the month or the closest weekday. If you would like to pre-pay for the year, please let Kathy know by emailing info@appletreearts.org.

If you’re having difficulty, feel free to call or email us for help or to add your card/bank information for you. 

Should something come up where you can’t fulfill your financial commitment, advanced notice and open, ongoing communication is encouraged and appreciated. We will do our best to work with you.

New students may enroll at any time of year and tuition will be prorated to reflect the portion of the year remaining. 

Music Membership Plan

To better serve all of our students, we offer an all-inclusive membership plan that allows us to focus on the development of our students as a whole rather than just during the 30/45/60 minutes we see them each week. All the goodies below are included and you never have to worry about one month costing you more than another due to a recital, an extra week, etc. Here’s what’s included: 

Customized lessons (see calendar for vacation dates) that cover technique, repertoire or scene study, music theory, music history, diction, and more, depending on your instrument or focus area

✓ Monthly music technology classes

✓ Five performances, workshops, or other events led by our fabulous faculty

✓ Access to our music learning platform & communication app, which helps motivate students to practice while staying in touch with their teacher(s) and peers

Monthly Payments 30-minute lessons 45-minute lessons 60-minute lessons
Regular private lessons $154 $226 $280
Piano & Voice Immersion Programs (PIP & VIP) $179 $251 $305

In-Person Lessons by Appointment Only

If you, your teacher, and the Apple Tree Arts staff feel that it is safe to do so, we will allow occasional in-person lessons by appointment only to be held in the Great Hall or in our larger teaching studios. This option will be available to all teachers at their discretion, no more than once per month. Singing and playing wind instruments will not be permitted, and all students and teachers must wear masks at all times. Voice and wind faculty and students are welcome to meet in-person to work on theory, body alignment, or other non-performance-based skills. We will release more details on precautions to be taken once fall lessons have begun. We reserve the right to stop offering in-person appointments at any time for the safety of our students, families, faculty, staff, and community.

Missed Lessons & Cancellations

There are no credits, make ups, or refunds for canceled or missed lessons. This includes cancellations for family vacations, illness, school-related absences, etc. and will be strictly adhered to. We know that you will likely miss a couple of lessons over the course of the year and we’ve taken that into account when setting tuition rates. Please note that this cancellation policy is consistent with those of sports teams, schools, camps, etc., all of which place a high priority on regular attendance and diligent commitment. 

However, this doesn’t mean you have to miss out on the benefit of that week’s lesson! Any time you miss a lesson, you can send your teacher a video/audio recording of what you’ve been working on and a scan/photo of your written work and they’ll respond with detailed feedback and an assignment for the week. 

Still concerned about missing your lesson? Please be assured that your tuition is always working for you. Our faculty spend an incredible amount of time and money outside of lessons researching new methods and materials, attending workshops, purchasing and selecting repertoire for students, organizing and planning events, creating worksheets and games, and so much more. We guarantee that each student receives much more of our faculty’s time than the 30/45/60 minutes they see them each week! 

If you’d like to read more about our reasoning behind this policy, we recommend Make-Up Lessons from an Economist’s Point of View.

Lesson Swaps

Students who opt-in will receive a schedule and a contact list for their teacher’s other students. If you have a one-time conflict, you are welcome to switch lessons with someone else that week. Please let your teacher know of any swaps.

Teacher Cancellations

If your teacher needs to miss a lesson, they will offer you at least 3 options for rescheduling. Please schedule these within 30 days. Make ups not scheduled by the end of the session will be forfeited. 

Discontinuing Lessons

Enrolling in lessons reserves your lesson time for the full year from September through June. However, we understand that some students may need to stop taking lessons during that time. The decision to end lessons should be made with careful consideration, with discussion between parent, student, and teacher so that lessons can end positively. 30 days written notice to the ATA business director, Kathy Vandenengel, is required in order to stop tuition payments. If payment has already been received in full, a refund or credit will be issued for the portion of the session remaining after the 30 days notice period.

Media Policy

During lessons, classes, recitals, and other events and performances, Apple Tree Arts reserves the right to use video recording and/or to take photographs of students for use in newsletters, advertising materials, social media, lesson demonstration, YouTube and/or Vimeo, ATA-owned websites, and press releases. If you’d prefer we not share photos or recordings of your child, please notify us in writing. At recitals and events, you are welcome to take photos and videos (and share them with us!), but please refrain from using flash photography during performances and only record your own child. Thank you! 

Practice & Parental Support

Young students need a parent/guardian’s support and guidance at home to be successful in lessons. At ATA, quality and consistency in practice are emphasized over quantity. Practicing in multiple 15-20 minute chunks of time is often the most effective approach. Speak with your child’s teacher for more specific guidance on how much they should be practicing and how to make it an enjoyable experience.

At some point during the course of taking lessons, it’s fairly likely that your child will start saying something to the effect of “I don’t want to practice” or “I’m too tired to have my lesson.” That’s normal and even professional musicians and actors have days (or weeks) like that! 😉 Please be aware that your child’s interest in lessons will naturally ebb and flow, but to be successful, you will need to be consistent in your encouragement and commitment to their artistic education. In most cases, it’s a temporary roadblock and will pass or be resolved with open communication. Please keep their teacher in the loop so that they can try to re-inspire them and provide them with some extra encouragement. 

Setting up regular and effective practice routines at home is paramount – please let your teacher know if you need some helpful suggestions! 

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, sex, gender identity, gender expression, and 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 us at info@appletreearts.org .

Appropriate Accommodations Policy 

Apple Tree Arts is happy to say that the Town House at 1 Grafton Common 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.

Financial Aid

Applications are available here and on our website. Applications will be reviewed and voted on by our scholarship committee quarterly. Incomplete applications will not be given consideration. Applicants will be notified of the committee’s decision via email.

Miscellany

Participation in Apple Tree Arts programs indicates your acceptance of and agreement to abide by the above policies. Without these business policies, we would be unable to retain high-quality faculty and financially sustain our organization. Having clear policies enables us to focus on the part of all this that really matters: our mission! 🙂 Apple Tree Arts’ mission is to enrich our communities through the arts by providing high-quality performing arts education and experiences to people of all ages, identities, and abilities. 

Please make sure all materials (books, flashcards, binder, etc.) are ready for your child’s lesson. Students will get more from their lesson time if they have all of their materials handy.

Email is generally the best way to reach us, as the office staff is now working remotely part of the week. If you have questions about payments, policies, etc. please email Kathy, our business director, at info@appletreearts.org.

Group Classes, Early Childhood and Ensemble Programs

Tuition and Payment

Tuition for early childhood programs, group classes, & ensembles is charged per program session, as listed on the website. When registering online, payments can be made by automatic credit/debit card or ACH transfer from your bank account. If you would like to pay by check, please let Kathy know by emailing info@appletreearts.org

If you’re having difficulty, feel free to call or email us for help or to add your card/bank information for you. 

Should something come up where you can’t fulfill your financial commitment, advanced notice and open, ongoing communication is encouraged and appreciated. We will do our best to work with you.

Absences

There are no credits, make ups, or refunds for missed classes or rehearsals. This includes cancellations for family vacations, illness, school-related absences, etc. and will be strictly adhered to. Please note that this cancellation policy is consistent with those of sports teams, schools, camps, etc., all of which place a high priority on regular attendance and diligent commitment. 

However, this doesn’t mean you have to miss out on the benefit of that week’s class! Families in early childhood classes may attend an alternate class time, if available. Students in group classes (such as Piano Partners) may send their teacher a video or audio recording of what they’ve been working on and will receive detailed feedback and practice suggestions for the week.

Withdrawing from a Program

Enrolling in a group class, ensemble, or early childhood program reserves your spot for the full class session as listed on the website. 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 the cost of materials.) After the fourth week, no refunds can be given. Written notice to the ATA business director, Kathy Vandenengel, is required in order to withdraw from a program. If payments are being made in monthly installments, payments will continue automatically until the financial obligation as described above has been fulfilled.

Theatre Programs

Tuition and Payment

Tuition for theatre programs is charged per program or production. When registering online, payments can be made by automatic credit/debit card or ACH transfer from your bank account. If you would like to pay by check, please let Kathy know by emailing info@appletreearts.org.

Should something come up where you can’t fulfill your financial commitment, advanced notice and open, ongoing communication is encouraged and appreciated. We will do our best to work with you.

Absences

There are no credits, make ups, or refunds for missed rehearsals or classes. This includes cancellations for family vacations, illness, school-related absences, etc. and will be strictly adhered to. Please note that this cancellation policy is consistent with those of sports teams, schools, camps, etc., all of which place a high priority on regular attendance and diligent commitment. 

Withdrawal from a Program 

Any student who withdraws before a cast list is posted may receive a full refund. If a student withdraws from a production for any reason after the cast list is posted, no refund is given. Written notice to the ATA business director, Kathy Vandenengel, is required in order to withdraw from a program. If payments are being made in monthly installments, payments will continue automatically until the financial obligation as described above has been fulfilled.

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