The halls of the Salvation Army Waxahachie Corps have been ringing with music for the past month. Outreach Director Luis Villanueva and Lt. Frankie Zuniga came up with a way to reach out to homeschool students in the area. They felt that a music program would be the perfect way to do that, and it has paid off.

“We are really excited about our music program,” Villanueva said. “The minute we put the information out there that we were offering the program the phones started ringing a lot.”

He said there are at least 70 students taking part in the program every Tuesday-Friday between the hours of nine and noon. Villanueva said the goal is to reach as many children and young people as possible, and it has been his experience that music is a wonderful way to accomplish that mission. He said the program is about more than learning music, but it's about understanding the beauty of it, especially Christian music.

“Music is a great way for people to escape from this world and go to another dimension,” he said. “It also gives young people an opportunity to express their feelings and emotions.”

He said the students are having a great time attending the classes, and their excitement for learning music is showing through.

“They are all working really hard, and it shows with each class,” Villanueva said.

On this particular day he was holding a piano class for several students who attend Way of the Cross Christian Center. Although the students attend school in a building, they all work at their pace, which allows for flexibility in their schedule. That is why the Salvation Army agreed to allow the students to participate in the music program.

Some of the students offered feedback as it pertains to attending the classes and what they enjoy most.

Jordan Mathews is a tenth grader who wanted to take piano because he loves the sound of the instrument. He said taking the classes at the Salvation Army have been fun solely because of who his instructor is.

“Luis makes learning music fun,” Mathews said. “I like the fact that he jokes around and has fun, but he's very serious when it comes to us learning to play the instruments.”

Mathews' cousin Eric Thompson is in the eighth grade and enjoys the music classes because of Villanueva's humorous approach to music.

“He's funny and he has a very positive attitude,” Thompson said. “He makes learning to play the piano fun.”

Brianna Halloran said she loves attending the classes because of Villanueva's understanding nature.

“When we mess up he doesn't make us feel stupid,” Halloran said. “He's really nice, even when he's correcting us.”

She added that she also loves his sense of humor, which Halloran's classmate Jade Santos agreed with.

“Luis is really funny,” Santos said. “I'm really enjoying taking lessons from him and he has taught us a lot already.”

One of Villanueva's main goals is to host a Christmas concert at the end of the semester to give parents and people in the community an opportunity to see what the students have been learning. The concert will be held at 10:45 a.m. Sunday, Dec. 8 in the sanctuary of the Salvation Army.

“We will close out this semester with a Christmas concert,” he said. “I'm really looking forward to it because it will be a way for the students to show their parents what they have been learning.”

The new semester will bring with it more classes and more opportunities for the homeschool students to expand their knowledge through the arts Villanueva said.

“Next semester we will be adding drama, art, dance and drums to our music program,” he said. “That will give each student a chance to add to what they already have learned.”

He said when this happens they will be in need of more volunteers. They will be looking for people with a love for music and a talent in one of the specified areas to volunteer their time to teach classes. He said the more volunteers, the broader the scope of learning each student will have.

There is a waiting list, but Villanueva encourages parents to get their children on the list for next semester. To make a donation or to sign up for the music program, call 972-937-7727.

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