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Fortin Academy brings arts instruction to Tamaqua area

The Fortin Academy of Music is bringing more opportunity to the Tamaqua area.

A chance to learn, grow, perform and have fun.

Tamaqua native Dave Fortin understands there is a need for his service in the community.

“It doesn’t exist so much in Tamaqua,” said Fortin, who currently resides in Luzerne County. “I wanted to be able to incorporate some of what’s here in Luzerne and bring it over to Schuylkill County.”

Fortin, a 2004 Tamaqua graduate, credits longtime Tamaqua Area High School choir director John Buglio for helping direct his passion in the music realm.

“He was always a huge inspiration for me and always pushed me to always strive to do other things. I thought, outside of high school, there isn’t anything in the way of actual music education in the Tamaqua system.”

Fortin started teaching privately at the Tamaqua Community Arts Center a few years ago.

“We were outgrowing the space,” Fortin said. “People started asking me if I would teach other things, and because I couldn’t, I wanted to be able to hire other people that could. Thankfully, the Tamaqua Citizens Fire Company reached out and said we have this huge space that we’d love to use for the community and asked if I was interested in having more of my academy there. We transitioned over there, and I hired additional teachers.”

Fortin hired many different instructors with a minimal background of a bachelor’s degree. Odds are the academy can teach anything of interest, including cello, violin, ukulele, drums, guitar, trumpet, piano and much more.

“It grew from one-on-one private lessons, to offering dance, which is the latest. We started with some pop-up dance classes to see how it would grow, and what the level of interest would be.

“There isn’t anything in the way either of adult dance classes in Tamaqua. … I wanted to be able to offer something to the adults as well. I hired a competitive dancer to offer some of her courses here.”

Fortin said he started biweekly classes, children’s chorus classes for K-7 students. Grades 8-12 are in future plans.

“We’re in the works for some future things such as getting some “mommy-and-me” classes for parents and their children 0-5 years old, for them to play instruments with the kids and learn nursery rhymes. … It offers a lot of encouragement and music growth starting at an early age. From there, they can start to transition into one-on-one lessons, because we start as early as age 4.”

Fortin is working on hiring both a theater and acting instructor to teach classes.

“We’re working on getting the rights to get everything, so we can actually have full-on theater performances. Alongside of that, some professional performance makeup application, for the students that have to wear costumes and performance makeup, we’re going to teach them how to incorporate all of those things.”

The academy’s student intake has doubled since March, Fortin said.

“My hope is just that we provide a compass for a brighter and more beautiful future. Just always creating a better tomorrow through music.”

Fortin and his colleagues can teach over Zoom, and the academy even has a student who lives in France who is taking lessons.

Many Fortin academy students performed in the American Cancer Society telethon Aug. 14 Additionally, the academy also hosts biannual recitals.

“We always have winter and spring recitals, which offers a lot of the students the ability to get in front of groups of people and that encouragement that they need, and just getting outside of their comfort zone,” Fortin said.

“Some people don’t realize what they have until it’s in front of them and until they’re forced to do things. Once they get outside of their comfort zone, they realize the talent that they actually have inside of them. For people that say, I can’t sing, I will tell you, yes you can. … Recitals offer them the ability to showcase their talent and have other people come and experience the joy of what they’re doing.”

The academy is located at 99 W. Rowe St. in Tamaqua.

For more information, visit fortinacademyofmusic.com, or call 570-704-9111.

Children's Chorus teacher Amanda Ficca with Adalyn Sklodowski, Perry Brown and Noah Christman. CONTRIBUTED PHOTOS
Rayn Middleton displays her award certificate.
Kelsey Lora (teacher), Amanda Ficca (teacher), Deanna Kowalski, Mason Job, Alexxa Kowalski, Koreena Bittner, Amaris Means, Carly Green, Elizabeth Wentz, Katie Purin after their performance on the cancer telethon.