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.
Instructor Dave Curtis understands why many people shy away from music lessons. Stereotypically, music lessons can be stiff, demanding, and no fun at all, as stringent teachers suck a player's passion out with rote repetition. Dave's philosophy is to let students play music their own way, because he believes music should never stop being joyful. During 30- and 60-minute lessons, Dave eschews standard chord-gorging and endless rounds of "Mary Had a Little Lamb" for a sharpened focus on music theory—the not-so-secret language that accomplished musicians speak. In one-on-one lessons, Dave inspires students to play the songs that they want to play as they learn to transpose, write, and arrange their own songs.
Students in Modern Music School's international net of 70 locations get more than by-the-numbers technical training. Instead, the focus is on enjoying the art, and though the teachers are classically trained, their lesson plans home in on rock, jazz, funk, pop, or virtually any other genre. Beginners thrive in the laid-back, fun-first atmosphere, which encourages them to set their own pace on the path to stardom, both in practicing their instrument and in converting to an all-leather wardrobe. The school's highly individualized method readily lends itself to private lessons, and the band program not only helps fledgling stars strengthen their chosen style but also rounds up potential gigs when the group feels stage ready. Other performance opportunities are available at regularly staged concerts through the team program and every morning in students' own showers.
From 18 studios scattered around Los Angeles, Lori Moran Music Studios’ armada of instructors offers all-ages voice, piano, guitar, violin, and composition classes. With teachers who have worked on films such as Dreamgirls and Dance Flick, world-touring operatic productions, and Grammy-nominated choral CDs, the school can cater to virtually every musical taste—from classical to jazz to pop. Students choose the emphasis of their lessons, whether they want to work on their public performance skills, write their own songs, sight-read scores, or simply be able to play musical chairs during a power outage. Many will also get the chance to show off in recitals, concerts, and showcases.
French-born writer and school director Caroline fills teaching positions at La Petite Ecole Française with only native French speakers. That way, students will be guided through grammar, vocabulary, and conversational styles as they're currently used in Francophone countries, rather than relying on the potentially outdated info available from textbooks or someone who's just watched Children of Paradise several times. A wide range of programs helps bilingual students stay in touch with their French side and introduces adult learners to solid fundamentals. Special events deepen cultural awareness with movie screenings and art-exhibit visits.
Brother-and-sister duo Glenn Treibitz and Cheryl Fox and their team love their jobs. The pianos that Hollywood Piano Company stocks unlock dreams, passions, and ambitions, and he couldn't think of a better way to spend his days. Family-owned since 1928, the store sells acoustic pianos made by some of the best manufacturers, including Estonia and Baldwin. There's also digital pianos by Roland and Kurzweil that precisely simulate the sound and feel of acoustic pianos. Glenn and his team of music lovers also tune, rent, and restore pianos. To give customers everything they need to fully appreciate their new instrument, the shop offers lessons, as well.