John Hand had a theory: for any problem a person might have, someone in their local community has a solution. To that end, he founded Colorado Free University, continuing a tradition that began with the Denver Free University of the 1970s and early '80s. Whereas the Denver Free University was created as a political move to make education more accessible, the Colorado incarnation sets its sights on simple personal betterment, becoming more of a learning network than a school. All of its teachers are independent contractors culled from the local community, and together they helm skill-based and enrichment classes for adults, spanning a range of artistic, humanitarian, and business disciplines.
Students can receive training in foreign languages or ASL, business or digital marketing, or acting, visual arts, or woodworking. The school's facilities also accommodate CompuSkills computer-training classes, which progress from basic sessions in computer operation to advanced sessions in photoshopping a ghost out of a family portrait. There are cooking classes, foreign language courses, and style classes, all of which turn out well-rounded pupils. The campus's 89-seat John Hand Theater, meanwhile, hosts intimate performances from local Firehouse Theater Company and Spotlight Theatre Company.
Every performer has a different goal. Recognizing this, the teaching staff at Academy of the Arts-Denver (each a professional in his or her respective field) designs all of their lesson plans around their students' individual goals. These highly personalized plans shape the approach to the school's age-specific, professional and recreational group acting and vocal classes. The teaching staff also uses their 75 years of accumulated experience to focus on talent development, whether students want to break into the business, or perform for the joy of it. Private lessons help build proficiency in guitar, bass, drums, and music production. Though lessons focus on specific technical training, the teachers encourage creative experimentation no matter the genre. Former students have established careers in TV, Broadway, Film, and Music. As they learn, Academy of the Arts-Denver's students are also encouraged to take part in rehearsals and performances.
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The faculty members at the School of Rock believe that immersion is the best way to learn any new skill, which is why they don’t just teach students how to traverse the notes and rhythms of guitar, bass, drums, keyboard, and vocals in isolation. In addition to teaching students the technical skills during one-on-one lessons, the professional music instructors push them to fuse their individual parts into songs during full band practices with fellow beginner rockers. This combination of one-on-one attention and cooperative group learning helps kids of all skill levels hone their craft while overcoming common pitfalls such as stage fright or playing off-tempo. As kids learn to shred riffs, pound out drum solos, and summon Ronnie James Dio by hitting the correct vibrato atop a silver mountain, the classes build their confidence and kick-start a lifetime of loving rock 'n' roll.
Broadway Music School is more than just a studio for music lessons; it’s a collaborative community where students meet to learn, appreciate, and enjoy music of all styles. Their vast roster of instructors covers almost any instrument imaginable, from guitar and piano to the more obscure, such as the euphonium, bagpipes, and taiko drums. The instructors are well versed in all styles classical and contemporary, allowing students to explore rare genres such as celtic violin, gypsy-jazz guitar, or flamenco guitar. They also lead lessons in subjects such as music theory, improvisation, ear training, composition, and song writing, allowing students to join ensembles once they learn how to play.
"I basically live, eat, and breathe music," says Strum and Sip owner Christopher Bloom. A 27-year veteran guitar player, Bloom already had 15 years of teaching experience and his own production studio when he had the idea to open Strum & Sip with some friends. Setting up shop at local watering holes, the guitar virtuosos cultivate a laid-back ambiance where students can sip their favorite drink while teaching their fingers new chord shapes or plucking patterns and learning songs to serenade people at a family gathering or congressional filibusters.