Thanks to the universal language of music, Virgil Lupu, an accomplished violinist, and world-traveled musician, calls northwest Ohio home. Born in Romania in a family of musicians where music was part of everyday life, Lupu started learning music at the age of 5 in a music-focused kindergarten. He began playing the violin at the age of 7. Many dedicated hours of practicing the violin followed and, at the age of 15, he started traveling the world playing music on major stages and sharing his love for music.
He has recently returned from a concert tour in Japan where he was the concertmaster and violin soloist of the Hollywood Festival Orchestra. The ever-popular film music was shared on major stages in places such as Tokyo, Osaka, Sapporo, Yokohama, and many more.
Lupu received a bachelor’s degree in violin performance from Bowling Green State University and a master’s degree in violin performance from the Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music, earning both degrees while on a full talent-based scholarship. He joined the Forté teaching staff in 2008, two years after its founding by Jim Stanton, and assumed ownership in 2014. While his new role no longer permits time for teaching, Lupu’s extensive performance experience allows him other paths to share his love of music with students.
The school has grown to include a teaching staff of 50 which Lupu boasts are “the largest and most qualified instructors in the area.” There are a total of 24 larger-than-average studios for private classes. “We offer lessons in a variety of styles including rock, pop, jazz, country, blues, classical, and more. We provide instruction for a wide variety of instruments for students of all ages seven days a week to accommodate individual schedules,” Lupu explained. “We have a retail area featuring music books and instrument accessories. We offer comfortable and spacious waiting rooms along with observation windows on all studio doors for parent’s convenience and comfort. And, regarding parental comfort and convenience, our amazing office staff team members, Candice, Felicity, and Shelby have been with us for a long time. They know our students and their parents and always go out of their way to accommodate everyone,” Lupu said.
Two student showcases are held each year in the school’s large recital hall allowing the students the opportunity to perform. This past winter, there were 19 recitals in all with over 200 students participating. “Performing in front of an audience is a crucial part of the musical journey, and it also has so many other benefits such as growing the confidence of students in front of a crowd,” Lupu stated.
Unique to Forté Music School is the Music FunTime program under the direction of Kay Stoian. “I myself went through a similar program growing up in Romania, and when I finally found the Music FunTime system, I immediately recognized the value and decided right away to implement it here in the Toledo area,” Lupu reported. “I understand the importance of starting music lessons as early as possible so I researched many early programs. Music FunTime includes an actual curriculum, is very hands-on, and students learn a lot about music while they are having a lot of fun.”
Music FunTime classes are 30 minutes once a week for students 18 months to 3 years; 3 to 5 years; and 5 to 7 years. Students receive different rhythm instruments to use in class and at home. During the two-year program students are introduced to the piano, guitar, percussion, bells, kazoos, flutophones, recorders, and harmonicas. “At the end of this program, children have learned how to read music and have figured out what instrument is suitable for them,” Lupu noted.
“Through our fun activities, our Music FunTime students learn about whole, half, and quarter notes, which in turn becomes a lesson in math. Our little students also learn and understand rhythm and learn about colors. These activities have been scientifically proven to help with the development of both sides of the brain,” Stoian said. “This program lays a strong foundation for each child’s education.” Both Lupu and Stoian agree, “We feel that we are making a positive difference for the community.”
Parents whose children are in the Music FunTime program have willingly offered testimonials regarding the value they feel their children have received. One parent, Adelyn Weiler, notes her four-year-old daughter Ava not only has learned a lot about music and knows musical notes, but she is also much better at sharing and playing with friends and listening to her teacher. Another mother reported that her two sons didn’t even realize that they were learning because they were having such a good time.
Lupu and Stoian do not underestimate the importance of music education. Lupu’s early involvement has resulted in a life-long musical career spanning the globe. Stoian regrets her earlier choice to drop piano lessons in favor of basketball while in high school and has resumed her piano instruction. Not only has music education played a major role in their lives, but they also witness the impact on the lives of their students on a regular basis. “There are many studies confirming the importance of music. Some benefits include strong brain development, memory training, boosting creativity, improving vocabulary and language, building self-discipline, patience, and commitment, increasing motor skills, improving listening skills, and enhancing social skills in addition to developing math skills and critical thinking,” Lupu observed.
As Pluto so aptly said, “Music brings life to everything.”