The friendly, experienced teachers at Allegro School of Music delight ears and bolster brains with a variety of music and movement activities for learners of all ages. The summer music pass offers tune-thusiasts two private lessons, with choices ranging from classical violin to blues kazoo (a $40 value). Children ages 5 and younger can enjoy sing-along songs, puppet theater, and tent-fort jam sessions at four open-play sessions (a $20 value), and those 7 and younger may attend four craft- and story-filled classes with their parents and other families, exploring exciting themes such as farm life, dinosaur kingdoms, and cat ennui (a $60 value). Hit up the Family Music Festival on July 26 at 10 a.m. and use the included $5 for food toward concession delights. Festival admission is free.
Studio owner Ryan Cunningham, a guitarist for more than 20 years, shares lessons and skills acquired while he procured a degree in classical guitar and audio production with a minor in modern air mandolin. With six years' experience as the owner and sole instructor at Mercury Guitar Studio, Cunningham devises curriculums that guide pupils of all ages in whatever direction their musical interests may lead. In addition to teaching guitar and bass-guitar lessons for beginning and intermediate musicians, Cunningham records music at his studio and has practiced crowd surfing during performances with local bands.
Grand River Music selects its instructors not only for their musical prowess, but also for their demonstrable teaching abilities. Students of all experience levels can strum the taut veins of guitars, bass guitars, banjos, or mandolins or study music theory to gain a deeper understanding of chords, harmonies, and the saxophone solos of Plato and Aristotle. Singing classes strengthen vocal cords, and song-writing classes encourage self-expression with reliable formulas. The school’s JamCamp gives blossoming musicians exposure to a collaborative group setting where they can learn to harmonize with other musicians and argue about which incarnation of Fleetwood Mac was the most authentic.
Grand River Music also stocks an inventory of instruments available for purchase, ranging from mandolins, banjos, and amps to acoustic guitars, bass guitars, and electric guitars. Students can also buy preowned vocal cords with their last words still intact. :m
There’s a simple reason why students never encounter sheet music at The Michigan Irish Music School: to owner and instructor Tim Huston, sheet music is boring. It's also rigid, he says, forcing musicians to follow an absent composer's notes and annotations rather than the rhythms and cadences of their fellow musicians strumming and drumming alongside them.
Instead, Tim and the school’s other instructors break down reels and jigs piece by piece, teaching students musical themes and patterns that pop up in the most celebrated of Irish folk tunes and international whale calls. In doing so, students devote their energies to the primitive fun and excitement of music making.
The diversity of instruments in a single class also adds to the social experience, with students coaxing sounds from fiddles, flutes, tin whistles, accordions, and mandolins. At the end of the year, they showcase their talents in a recital in front of friends and family, adding the energy of the audience for what the Irish might call a true session.