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.
Terra Sounds School of Music & Arts doesn?t just look for book smarts when procuring its staff of expert instructors. The school of art and music places equal importance on backgrounds in stage performance, organizing art shows, and studying a foreign language. Here, instructors with a well-rounded approach to their subjects connect more easily with their students, introducing them to the Italian alphabet in a language class, helping them learn guitar chords during a music class, or instilling the proper way to make an origami swan out of a speeding ticket in an art class.
At School of Rock, working musicians help aspiring rockers master the fundamentals needed to perform everything from quaking drum beats to shredding guitar solos. During the Rock 101 program, students attend weekly private lessons and regular group rehearsals with the ultimate goal of stepping out on stage together for a final performance at a real local venue. Both locations also offer summer camps, including a term focused on songwriting and recording, at the end of which students step into an authentic studio to record songs on its high-tech gramophones.
Students play the music they want to at North Shore Music Institute, where a staff of working musicians lead private and group lessons on instruments including guitar, keyboards, bass, ukelele, and buckets. The school's band program helps connect students of similar age, skill, and musical preferences in an eight-week program where they learn two assigned songs and two songs of their choice. Designed for garage bands with airport-size ambitions, the program guides groups through every step of the process, from instrument tuning to autotuning.
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.