With its neon-purple stage lights and 70” plasma screen, Dave's Guitar Instruction's studio resembles a rock-concert stage as much as it does a classroom. And that's the point. The school's classes, capped at eight students, combine the intimacy of a private lesson with high-tech, professional trappings. The studio's personal headphones pipe each student's chords to only their ears and the instructor's, providing sonic privacy and easing shyness; meanwhile, the stage platform vibrates to prepare students for the bass vibrations of a concert or having to perform during a minor earthquake.
Students of all levels hone their skills with the help of Dave Milliken, an instructor with more than 25 years of guitar performance experience. Dave's love for genres from folk to hip-hop informs his multimedia lessons. During classes, students play along with live recordings or watch concert clips featuring legendary guitar players and plectrums unjustly forgotten by history. For an immersive experience, Dave's students augment their classwork with custom at-home practice sessions, aided by online-video and audio resources.
Owners Michael and Lucy Fitzgerald are a nationally recognized ballroom duo that has placed as a finalist in more than 70 major competitive events. With nearly 40 years of dance experience, they opened Just Dancing West to share their love of ballroom dancing with the community in private and group classes geared to students of all ages.
In 1998, School of Rock's first location was built in Philadelphia to strengthen students' self-confidence, develop their musicianship, and most importantly, spark an insatiable enthusiasm to learn. Today, the School of Rock franchise has branched out to more than 65 locations throughout the United States and Mexico. During the school's music lessons, encouraging instructors well versed in methods of rocking and rolling?such as strumming guitars, tickling keyboards, and causing avalanches with yodels?demystify music theory for mini Mick Jaggers of all skill levels.
School of Rock's Rock 101 program acquaints beginners with the instrument of their choice using a curriculum of weekly private lessons and group band rehearsals. Virtuosos ready to hit the stage can participate in the performance program, which prepares students for live performances that pay homage to beloved rock icons such as Queen, Led Zeppelin, and Mount Rushmore.
At Dave Simon's Rock School, dedicated instructors help students develop musical abilities through programs centered on collaboration and live performance. In addition to private lessons, the school provides a venue for kids to cultivate skills and build confidence using the same cooperative methods that professional bands use when persuading the tour-bus driver to stop for tacos. Working together according to their experience level and skill, bands apply musical theory to perfect their sound among their ensemble, eventually presenting live shows and recording a CD in the facility's state-of-the-art studio.
When a school of music also contains a live-performance venue, it’s an indicator that the lessons stick. Such is the case with the Columbia Academy of Music, where private practice rooms sit just steps from The Bridge, a club accustomed to welcoming musical talent from down the street and around the country. A stage within range of instruction can inspire even the most stage-frightened students to step into the spotlight, where they’ll get the hands-on, feet-on stage experience that renders books worthless.
The academy’s tuneful staffers are no strangers to this kind of public performance—some instructors have shared the stage with the likes of Chuck Berry, Sting, and Hank Williams III—but many also are experts in what goes on behind the music. In lessons tailored for all ages, skill sets, and music-making manners, the school strengthens the confidence of budding musicians in once-a-week sessions. Instrument instruction infuses students with techniques across a range of musical genres; audio-production and engineering courses teach students how to make solid records and tolerate most singers’ misguided requests for more Steak-Umms in the monitor.
Since 1967, Palen Music Center has been fostering the musical arts throughout Missouri with five locations stocked with instruments and staffed by musicians who offer both shopping insight and musical instruction. The center’s instrument rentals and private lessons—which are available for a variety of different instruments—give aspiring musicians a chance to explore their options before purchasing an instrument of their own. And for those ready to invest, Fender guitars, Tama drums, Roland keyboards, and a wide array of other instruments are kept stocked at each of the shop’s locations.