More than 10,000 students. That’s how many aspiring guitarists instructor Eric Mantel—an artist on three-time Grammy winner Steve Vai's Digital Nations record label—has reached since he began teaching in 1979. His guitar lessons cover a broad range of strumming techniques, from picking and finger rolling to trilling and vibrato. And to inspire his students, Eric pulls from the repertoire of guitar greats such as Eddie Van Halen and Eric Clapton.
In 1976, busy California mother Joan Barnes wanted nothing more than to find a play place where she and her kids could enjoy age-appropriate, educational activities. Finding none, she developed her own innovative play environment within a developmental-based program structure now known as Gymboree Play & Music. Today, kids tumble and learn in more than 650 locations in 33 countries around the world, engaging in open play and classes designed to build cognitive and motor skills. As parents participate in their children's development, their kids learn to paint, play music, and interact socially outside of their preschool knitting circles.
Despite an ever-growing base of more than 1,000 clients, Amy Tripple prefers to say she's honed her skills through her main source of inspiration: her own three children. The former elementary teacher employs her advanced child-handling skills as she captures candid images of young ones, preserving childhood memories more easily than laminating a beloved stuffed animal. The National Association of Child Photographers member also shares her know-how through regular classes that cover the basic elements of DSLR photography and how to manipulate the resulting images in digital scrapbooks and Adobe Photoshop.
Kids and adults sound out their musical and rhythmic prowess with individual and group lessons at Allegro Music and Dance Academy. Led by experienced teachers and supplemented with at-home video instruction, music classes encompass an array of styles and techniques to establish a foundation for jazz combos and kitchen utensil bands alike. Group guitar classes teach picking, strumming, and shredding methods to 6–13-year-olds with weekly classes of up to eight students ($240–$299 per 16-week session). Groups form according to age, with older crowds also delving into songwriting and basic rock star moves such as windmilling, power sliding, and trashing an expensive hotel room. Group piano lessons also convene weekly, with up to 10 novices imbuing fingers with basic tickling techniques, as well as theory and repertoire ($240 per 16-week session). Songbirds aged 9 and older stretch their vocal chords with one-on-one voice instruction, while younger warblers learn in the company of a piano’s finely tuned tones. The music class schedule showcases all group meeting times, but private instruction in keys, strings, or vocal chords can also be scheduled Monday–Thursday from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m., and Fridays from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.
A student of Native American, Peruvian, and Siberian shaman traditions, Rhonda Day-Kooy spreads her passion for medicinal plants through the green products, classes, and events offered at Blue Feather. Some of Day-Kooy's customers come to the botanical boutique for aromatherapy certification, and others stop in to purchase eco-friendly skincare products by Babo Botanicals and whimsically flammable wares from Flying Wish Paper. In the Healing Hut, Rhonda and her therapists lead spiritual therapies, including guided meditation, chakra balancing, and foot-based reflexology treatments.
Signature service: Kevin O'Connell Photography
Staff Size: 1 person
Average Duration of Services: 1–2 hours
Pro Tip: Bring your own camera; a tripod would be very helpful, but not required