Though Gabriel has had a gift for music since he was 13, he knows that mastery over the piano is a lifelong journey. He still practices more than four hours a day, whittling his fingers down into more perfect instruments. Gabriel helps students hone their own skills with his lesson enterprise, Notes for Life, which shares its name with his debut album, a winding auditory road of funk and jazz.
Owners Michael and Lucy Fitzgerald are a nationally recognized ballroom duo that has placed as a finalist in more than 70 major competitive events. With nearly 40 years of dance experience, they opened Just Dancing West to share their love of ballroom dancing with the community in private and group classes geared to students of all ages.
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.
If it has frets or strings, chances are Mike Fazio and the instructors at Fazio's Frets & Friends know how to play it. What began as a love affair between Mike and his Harmony guitar when he was 10 years old has blossomed into more than 9,500 square feet of space dedicated to new and used guitars, basses, and amps. Inside Fazio’s, Fender Stratocasters, acoustic Taylors, and guitars from other high-end makers line the walls from floor to ceiling, surrounding a seemingly endless sea of amplifiers from brands such as Marshall Amplification and Budda Amplification. Fazio’s also deals in keyboards, drums, and banjos, and carries a variety of effects pedals to help guitarists re-create the sound of Slash, Hendrix, or the twanging noise during Home Improvement interludes.
Off the show-room floor, 15 lesson studios harbor instructors and their students who span a variety of experience levels. In order to ensure that these budding musicians receive top-quality education, Fazio’s instructors must audition before they can teach. Students without their own instruments can borrow guitars from Fazio’s rental shop, or they can carefully study Fazio’s factory-certified repair-center technicians in order to build their own out of a repurposed cello.
The well-trained tone teachers at the American School of Music enlighten aspiring musicians with custom private lessons in a variety of instruments. During a 30-minute lesson, music mavens?many of them professional musicians or degree-holding music educators?can teach a 10-year-old his or her first guitar chords, or help an experienced adult drummer hammer out the difficult timpani solo from The Odd Couple?s theme. Before the lesson, administrative staff gathers information about each student?s goals, experience level, and preferred musical style so that instructors can tailor the experience to his or her needs. Beginning singers and instrumentalists will also receive a complimentary lesson book whose sentient pages whisper words of encouragement during at-home practice sessions.