Uptown Music Collective has grown in leaps and bounds since its founding in April 2000, and Executive Director Dave Brumbaugh is still coming to grips with the Collective's fast-paced advancement.
"We've had steady growth in numbers but rapid growth in performance opportunities," he said. "We've been busily trying to develop a better system of management."
The non-profit music school has grown from 60 students in a small office above a bakery to more than 120 students in a roomy parish at 848 W. Fourth St., which is quickly filling up with students and equipment.
"We're eventually going to be needing a larger space," Brumbaugh said.
In addition to a wide array of lessons, classes and workshops, students at the Collective have the opportunity to participate in a number of performances each year. Public performances have been the school's largest area of growth, and have moved in recent years to the Community Arts Center, which Brumbaugh said has boosted audience attendance.
"This past year, we've done an outrageous number of shows," Brumbaugh said. "Performances have taken off quite a bit."
The Collective has put on four productions since September and has a St. Patrick's Day show, "Unforgettable Fire: A Tribute to Irish Rock" in the works. The show will honor the music of Irish artists including U2, Enya, Damien Rice, the Cranberries and Sinead O'Connor.
Students at the Collective are encouraged to become active participants in their musical education by participating in performances, volunteering in the community and taking part in the Collective's Internet show, iOn Uptown, which airs twice a month on YouTube.
Students take care of all the behind-the-scenes aspects of performances, from technical work to organizing rehearsals to providing lighting and sound. Over 50 students make up the various crews who work together to make sure performances go smoothly.
"We try to make it so that the kids do everything," Brumbaugh said.
Students are required to volunteer at least 10 hours each year to community service through the Collective's outreach program. The Volunteer Music Project brings the students into hospitals and nursing homes to provide comfort through music.
"We're working on a project with the Center," Brumbaugh added. "We want to send students to teach guitar at their after-school program."
Students write, produce and host each bi-monthly segment of iOn Uptown, which include live performances, interviews, music videos and news.
Having taught music in Williamsport for 21 years, Brumbaugh has watched a number of his students grow up.
"It just kills me when they leave," he said.
His favorite part of being a teacher is "watching students perform and watching them grow."
Fortunately for Brumbaugh, many students come back to visit and some of his 13 teachers are former students as well.
Brumbaugh sees potential for many new ideas at the Collective as its continues to grow. He sees the school eventually moving into a bigger space, continuing to acquire more students and maybe even beginning a student-run recording studio, but his goal for the moment is to provide the best possible education for students.
"There are so many possibilities for what we do," he said.