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.
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.
The licensed educators at Kindermusik help enrich family relationships and bolster kiddies' mental development through interactive, music-focused play dates. Children from newborns to 7-year-olds can investigate the world of sound waves through age-specific sessions of sing-alongs, musical compositions, and sound barrier-breaking drum solos. ACE Music & Me sessions foster reading and language skills through dance and rhyme, and Village classes stimulate cognitive growth through musical activities. Guardians are encouraged to pick up a tambourine and belt out a note alongside their musical wards. After each pressure-free play date, Kindermusik instructors outfit each parent with a number of after-class activities suited to their child's developmental level and ability to impersonate Dick Clark.
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.
When Joan Barnes founded Gymboree Play & Music in 1976, she envisioned a facility where parents and children could play together in a safe and age-appropriate environment. In the following decades, Gymboree Play & Music spread to more than 30 countries across the globe, helping youngsters from infants to 5 years old develop cognitive, physical, and social skills. The company's instructors lead classes such as Play & Learn, its flagship course, in which parents and kids move through a seven-level program filled with storytelling, play activities, and debates on the merits of sandwich crust. Talented staffers also prep youngsters for school and foster development in areas such as music, art, and sports. Throughout all classes, they make use of custom play equipment designed by acclaimed playground designer and seesaw-tamer Jay Beck.
Originally founded in 1957, Old Town School of Folk Music teaches and facilitates performances of arts rooted in the traditions of diverse American and global communities. More than 700 accredited music, dance, theater, and visual-arts courses expand the cultural horizons of students of all ages and abilities, and more than 300 concerts and events reach more than 200,000 audience members every year.
Founder Frank Hamilton hoped that through his nonprofit academy "teacher and student would be partners in learning." Today, the school continues that tradition, fostering supportive learning environments that draw from an accessible education model. The school also presents performances by internationally known touring artists and Chicago's local artists—as well as its own staff and students—nearly every weekend, with free world-music concerts on Wednesday nights. Old Town School operates three facilities in Lincoln Park and Lincoln Square, including one 425-seat and two 150-seat concert halls, 64 classrooms, two music stores, a café, and a resource center.