Vermont Independent School Of the Arts Expands Programs

Arts / Jan. 8, 2004 12:00am EST

Vermont Independent School Of the Arts Expands Programs

The Vermont Independent School of the Arts (VISA), which opened its doors in 2000 at the Seven Stars Center in Sharon, is expanding its programs to the Randolph area.

VISA director, Scott Paulsen, announced recently that the school is now offering instrumental lessons at Chandler Music Hall on Main St. in Randolph. Paulsen will teach steel drum, VISA teacher Barbara Smith will offer lessons in flute, clarinet and saxophone; and Spencer Lewis will teach Suzuki violin and acoustic guitar lessons.

In addition to Paulsen and Smith, VISA has recently added three more teachers, including Lewis, Rory Loughran (drum set and world percussion), and Paul Rivers (acoustic and electric guitar).

The son of two public school music teachers (his father later went on to teach at the college level) Paulsen says he thought that the last thing he wanted to do was teach music. However, he eventually earned a degree in music from Johnson State College, and gave music lessons at area schools for six years.

Before founding VISA, Paulsen worked for the Ellis Music Co. in Bethel for eight years, doing instrument demo shows at area schools. He also plays in the South Royalton Town Band, where he challenges himself to learn to play a different instrument with that group every year.

Paulsen came to his specialty, the steel drum, in 1998, because, he says, "I wanted to learn to play something really unusual." His now-defunct steel drum band, Skabazza, was hired by Phish to play at its Lemon Wheel Festival in Maine, and he now plays professionally with Limbo Loco.

Steel drum music has become popular throughout Vermont. Through VISA, Paulsen also leads a community-based steel drum band called the Pandhandlers, and the Sharon Academy steel drum band, Pandemonium.

VISA does outreach work supplementing arts offerings in area schools, including the Sharon Academy, Sharon Elementary School, and the Newton School in Strafford, and Paulsen has big dreams for the success of the new association between VISA and Chandler.

"I’d like to think we could become the educational wing of Chandler," Paulsen said. "I hope we can also facilitate master classes and seminars with local artists and those who come to perform at Chandler."

For more information about VISA, call Paulsen at 763-2334, e-mail him at or go to the school’s web site:

By Martha Slater

Return to top