Michelle Childs Beedle practically grew up performing—she began at the ripe young age of 3. Since then, she's taught competitive singers, snagged roles in various movies, and even won two Emmy awards. With Antonia Studios, she shares her talents not only through voice and piano lessons, but also by painting faces and hosting princess parties.
With its neon-purple stage lights and 70” plasma screen, Dave's Guitar Instruction's studio resembles a rock-concert stage as much as it does a classroom. And that's the point. The school's classes, capped at eight students, combine the intimacy of a private lesson with high-tech, professional trappings. The studio's personal headphones pipe each student's chords to only their ears and the instructor's, providing sonic privacy and easing shyness; meanwhile, the stage platform vibrates to prepare students for the bass vibrations of a concert or having to perform during a minor earthquake.
Students of all levels hone their skills with the help of Dave Milliken, an instructor with more than 25 years of guitar performance experience. Dave's love for genres from folk to hip-hop informs his multimedia lessons. During classes, students play along with live recordings or watch concert clips featuring legendary guitar players and plectrums unjustly forgotten by history. For an immersive experience, Dave's students augment their classwork with custom at-home practice sessions, aided by online-video and audio resources.
When a school of music also contains a live-performance venue, it’s an indicator that the lessons stick. Such is the case with the Columbia Academy of Music, where private practice rooms sit just steps from The Bridge, a club accustomed to welcoming musical talent from down the street and around the country. A stage within range of instruction can inspire even the most stage-frightened students to step into the spotlight, where they’ll get the hands-on, feet-on stage experience that renders books worthless.
The academy’s tuneful staffers are no strangers to this kind of public performance—some instructors have shared the stage with the likes of Chuck Berry, Sting, and Hank Williams III—but many also are experts in what goes on behind the music. In lessons tailored for all ages, skill sets, and music-making manners, the school strengthens the confidence of budding musicians in once-a-week sessions. Instrument instruction infuses students with techniques across a range of musical genres; audio-production and engineering courses teach students how to make solid records and tolerate most singers’ misguided requests for more Steak-Umms in the monitor.
The professional instructors of the Kansas City School of Music pass along musical torches to students learning the basics of strumming strings or tickling ivories during private and group lessons. Private studios insulated with soundproof walls ensure maximum concentration for students sight reading on acoustic pianos or turning the pages of sheet music with their minds. Each instructor follows a comprehensive curricula that focuses on repertoire, technique, musicianship, ear training, theory, and more, and they encourage and prepare students to participate in recitals. Instructor credentials include either a masters degree or doctorate in their area of study.
The instructors at Palen Music Center impart expert rhythmic and melodic education during one-on-one lessons customized to each student’s skill set and taste in music. Throughout four weekly half-hour lessons, students perfect the ideal pluck on a guitar, bass, or banjo, or learn to underscore the arrival of an ominous cable repairman with a violin, cello, or viola. Lessons are also available for piano, drums, and brass tackle, such as the trombone and trumpet, and students can learn to shred in a multitude of genres, including bluegrass, rock, and classical. Alternatively, students can transform caterwauls into croons with vocal instruction after lubing up choral tubes with free coffee in a cozy waiting lounge that neighbors the store’s stockpile of guitars, drums, pianos, and wine glasses that, when filled with a specific amount of water and massaged, cry notes.