Mike Semerau and the instructors at Chicago's #1 Drum Lessons have a trick up their sleeve. In addition to in-person tutelage, they provide professional pre-recorded take-home videos of proper drumming techniques for students to refer to while practicing. This kind of constant visualization and repetitive watching is what the instructors claim makes their students so successful as they drill new techniques such as double bass, ostinatos, and stick control. During lessons, teachers also cover subjects such as soloing, learning a student?s favorite song, creating original beats and fills, and teaching yourself. Chicago's #1 Drum Lessons has a play-along machine stacked with more than 1,000 songs, all of which have no drum track so that students can provide their own percussion and experience the sensation of playing and keeping time with other instruments.
“Routine is the enemy,” say the trainers at CrossFit Alpha Dog, whose students never see the same workout twice. Since the body adjusts to repetitive workouts, the team keeps it guessing by mixing up exercises with unpredictable combinations of organic movements, sprinting, plyometrics, and gymnastics. These workouts are designed to improve functional strength—practical musclepower that head trainer Tommy Moon calls upon during his firefighting career and that students may need when carrying an injured person to safety or a healthy person to a salad bar.
The gym itself reflects this functional approach. Gymnastic rings dangle from webbings of monkey bars, and a wide-open space offers ample room for lunges, sprints, and push-ups.
Musicians step into Music Box Records’ spacious studio to record, rehearse, and market their work. Part recording studio, part rehearsal space, and part indie label, the studio welcomes music-makers not only with professional recording tools and clean, airy facilities, but also with a team of experienced producers and promotional gurus. The crew cares deeply about music, and even runs an outreach program called Music Lab that invites high school students into the studio to learn industry secrets, such as how to build a following and how to smash an air guitar without ruining it completely.
Taking an all-inclusive approach to music instruction, American Music Institute offers group and private lessons for all ages, experience levels, and styles of music. College-educated teachers lead lessons for voice as well as instruments ranging from guitar and percussion to violin, oboe, and flute. Group classes are available for popular instruments—such as beginning violin and guitar—as well as music theory. Private lessons, meanwhile, provide weekly one-on-one instruction at the institute or in students' homes.
When children go to piano lessons, they raise their guard and treat the gift of learning music like a trip to the dentist. The instructors at New Song Music are well aware of the old-fashioned traditional piano-teacher stigma, which is why they keep their pupils in their comfort zones by bringing their lessons to the student's homes. With years of experience, a surplus of patience, and computer software that tracks students' progress, New Song Music helps transform tots into Rachmaninoffs in fun lessons that sharpen skills and stir creative juices.
Singer-songwriter Tricia Sebastian specializes in bilingual children's music, crooning originals in both English and Spanish. Her songs have been heard in Quaker cereal commercials and on ABC's Ugly Betty, and the Chicago Tribune says the Corpus Christi native's "playful, robust soprano could spark a Tex-Mex campfire."
But Tricia has another passion: music education. Since the mid-nineties, she's been a kids' instructor with Ravinia Festival's outreach arm and at the Old Town School of Folk Music. At CATS Creating Arts Together with Songs, Tricia takes classes into her own hands, folding fine arts curricula into academic pursuits. As an outreach program, CATS brings Tricia into schools along with her guitar, which she whittled from a singing, five-string tree. As a school of its own, CATS hosts classes, parties, and workshops. Tricia also connects students with tutors and consults with teachers to help them develop their own integrated arts programming.