Willis Music’s staff of dedicated musicians taps into the shop's century in business to guide fellow melody makers of all levels among more than 3,000 instruments and a jungle of accessories. Though in-store stock may vary, patrons can peruse racks for catalog items such as a Planet Waves chromatic headstock tuner, which dials in string tension using vibration ($39.99), or they can pacify rampaging folk singers with strums on a ukulele ($37.50+). A Peavey bass amp ($99.99) gives modern and vintage voice to bass guitars, and metal-encased DigiTech effects pedals ($49.99) awaken drowsy ears with four roaring styles of distortion. Customers can beat out rhythms on the skin of a Toca street djembe ($49.90) or browse various other African, Caribbean, Middle Eastern, and Irish hand drums captured, tamed, and refurbished by independent craftspeople.
Established in 1994 as a professional African dance company, Bi-Okoto Cultural Centre helps spread awareness and appreciation of African heritage—and other cultures—through a variety of classes and programs. Classes include lessons in martial arts, Zumba fitness and Salsa dancing, and practice in West African drumming and dance. Along with the nonprofit centre's classes and outreach programs, Bi-Okoto continues to support its traditional dance company, which performs and tours throughout the United States and around the world.
With more than 10 years of tenure in the music industry—including experience teaching, recording, and touring with bands such as Blessid Union of Souls—Bryan Billhimer knows how to shred. In his latest venture, Center Stage Guitar Academy, he's converted his knowledge into easy-to-follow, high-quality lesson videos designed to let students master the guitar at their own paces. Shot from multiple angles, the videos feature split-screen footage for ease of comprehension. With instruction broken down into over 300 lessons with new ones added each month, students can start with basic strumming and fingerpicking techniques, building up the motor skills and hand dexterity needed to tackle subsequent lessons in barre chords, 12-bar blues, and improvisation. Students are welcome to design their own lesson plans based around skill levels, techniques (including music theory), or genres of music, such as country, blues, rock, pop, and pop rock, which must never be mixed with Diet Coke.
Kimberly Denney has dedicated her entire adult life to teaching music to kids. After receiving her BA in music education and MA in education administration, Kimberly taught music and band in public schools for 21 years. Now she teaches Kindermusik to families in Dayton and Cincinnati.
At her school, Kimberly and her team of instructors lead children from newborns to 7-year-olds in playful music classes with the goal of helping kids develop into great learners—not necessarily the next Mozart. Children sing, dance, and play age-appropriate instruments, all while developing a variety of skills in language, literacy, socialization, and problem solving, as well as improving their self-esteem. Parents and children receive Kindermusik@home materials that include a variety of activities to continue learning at home between weekly classes.
Dayton and Northmont Music Lessons' instructors teach every aspect of music, from composition and theory to improvisational group classes. Mostly, they work one-on-one with students ages 5 and up, starting with the basics. They teach their charges how to read music and translate the notes on guitars, pianos, ukuleles, saxophones, or even into song. Students get the chance to compose their own pieces in comprehensive song-writing sessions. They can also try their hand at forming impromptu bands in classes such as Thursday afternoon's weekly Jazz Lab Band, which requires students to already possess some skill and also a lab coat.
Through its network of professional musicians, JamPlay, LLC consistently creates and uploads intuitive, easy-to-follow online guitar lessons, producing up to 11 hours of new content each month. Dozens of session guitarists and rock stars from bands such as GWAR, Atreyu, and Megadeth help novices and intermediate players master scales, licks, and the fundamentals of performance for all styles of music. An online network of thousands of fellow students offer moral support, tips, and camaraderie as users play along with hundreds of prerecorded tracks or hone their music skills through fun online games.