At West Michigan Glass Art Center, a non-profit art center in downtown Kalamazoo, students learn to create beads, stained glass, and ornamental baubles flecked with kaleidoscopic colors. Seasoned instructors lead demonstrations and work with students one-on-one, guiding them through techniques such as flameworking, glassblowing, and glass fusing.
As tech-savvy necromancers, the computer experts at R-Tech Guys invigorate healthy electronics and resuscitate broken technology. Besides boosting computers with memory upgrades ($15) and software installation ($20), R-Tech Guys' technicians can clean and defragment stuffy hard drives ($25) and hunt down and eliminate rogue spyware ($75+). Versatile, flexible, and eager for any tech-related challenge, R-Tech Guys will tackle any unlisted service job for $1 per minute and will even apply the fee for diagnosing a broken HDTV ($50) toward the cost of its repair.
Open 365 days a year, Southwest Michigan’s premier climbing gym functions as a 10,500-square-foot climber’s sanctuary. The state-of-the-art climbing center, which touts 30-foot walls and routes up to 65 feet in length, offers beginning belayers and skilled shale shimmiers alike the chance to reach the summit of impressive rock formations. Using hands and prehensile carabiners, climbers support their own weight and engage upper and lower body muscles for the ultimate endurance test. Whether pass holders are aiming to enhance current scaling skills or aspiring to rescue a few more tree-cats this season, Climb Kalamazoo can satisfy desires in a safe, comprehensive manner.
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.
Professional shutterbug Shannon Jacobs captures the culmination of formative high-school experiences through senior portraits. She strives to create personality-rich images that celebrate students' accomplishments by filling each frame with personal belongings, unique settings, and invisible friends who’ve been there since the beginning. To that end, she offers packages that include both studio sessions and on-location shoots as well as prints and digital files. When not taking photos herself, Shannon leads learners through the technical aspects of photography during workshops, allowing parents to capture kids in spontaneous moments and flattering light.