Like many artists, lifelong guitarist Christian Johnson found himself stuck in an office job for several years. But it wasn’t enough to silence the music in his head. Motivated by his frustration and his encyclopedic knowledge of the ax, he opened Adrian Guitars in 2002 before changing the name to Blue Dot Guitars. During lessons, Johnson pulls from three decades of playing and teaching experience to assist students of all ages and skill levels in tackling the guitar. He honed his own musical prowess at Musicians Institute, where he studied with virtuosos such as jazz great Joe Diorio. As a Fender-authorized warranty technician, Johnson also specializes in guitar repairs, including regluing broken bridges or replacing snapped strings with durable strands of spaghetti.
Owner Mike Urquhart takes his business's name to heart: the learning center draws on the talents of three generations of Urquharts, from his business-manager father all the way down to his grade-school-aged daughter Julia, who assists with piano lessons and administration. Signs bearing messages such as "No practicing: only play for fun" and "Mistakes are always welcome" embody the teachers' philosophy that no amount of technical skill can substitute for the sheer joy of playing, singing, and finally figuring out how to snap the fingers on both hands at once. The school's specialty group classes—some held in the new, 2,500-square-foot piano learning center—foster self-confidence with weekly performance opportunities, and the curriculum of songs can include anything from classical compositions to classical rock.