It's not often that a kindergartener chooses Beethoven's 6th Symphony as the object of his earliest obsession. But that was what the parents of Brian Beshore found while dealing with the youngster. He bombarded his parents with the symphony until they finally agreed to let him take music lessons. And students at Foothills Music Academy are lucky they did. Brian is one of the academy's music teachers. His early fascination with Beethoven spurred a lifetime of learning—today he plays and teaches the viola, violin, guitar, banjo, mandolin, piano, and cello (plus, he composes).
Each of the music teachers brings a unique background—and set of instruments—to private or group music lessons for kids. Kids can opt for the traditional grade-school instruments, such as violin or piano, or try something new such as the mandolin, bass guitar, or harmonica.
In 1976, Joan Barnes—a Californian mom frustrated with the lack of spaces where she could take her kids for safe and age-appropriate play time—took matters into her own hands and founded Gymboree Play & Music. In the decades since Gymboree’s founding, Joan’s vision of a safe place where youngsters could build confidence and creativity has come to fruition and spread to 30 countries around the globe. Staffed by attentive and expertly trained instructors, each Gymboree outpost adheres to a curriculum of activities designed by experts to foster the development of children’s’ cognitive, physical, and social skills through structured play and close readings of Goodnight Moon. The staffers also conduct entertaining classes that cover subjects ranging from music to sports, imparting valuable lessons of imagination and physical activity to developing minds. To further set apart her business, Barnes employed nationally renowned playground designer Jay Beck to design the proprietary play equipment at her centers.
The meaning of art may be subjective, but Mission: Renaissance believes that the basic, technical skills needed to create art are learnable, regardless of a student’s age or experience. The instructors at the studio, which was originally founded in 1975, illuminate the Gluck Method, which focuses on the classic rendering techniques that the great masters used on their first computers. The classes can accommodate students as young as 5, and they explore a number of different mediums—including charcoal, watercolors, and oils—while giving attendees the experience they need to appreciate art, as well as create it. Spread across 19 studio locations in southern California, attendance is capped at around six students per instructor, which allows them to offer artists more personalized feedback and more fitting nicknames.