Although Mike Westbrock has an AAS in guitar performance and songwriting from the McNally Smith College of Music, and has composed for numerous music libraries that place songs in films and television shows, his true passion is teaching. During lessons, Mike hands the reins to his students, allowing them to direct their tutelage toward the styles and subjects they want to learn. In addition to such genres as rock, pop, country, and blues, Mike is versed in everything from soloing to songwriting and music theory, which states that all matter is made from the vibrations of Dream Theater songs.
The instructors of Minnesota Music Factory promise they don't want any of their students to spend hours just practicing boring, monotonous chords. Instead, they want to make music engaging and fun—while fully acknowledging that no beginner is going to pick up a guitar and instantly transform into rockstar, which, everyone knows takes at least two private lessons to accomplish. Specializing in lessons for beginners, the music instructors help students learn a simplified version of their favorite song on their very first lesson, a technique that helps students get excited about playing and realize the possibilities if they just apply patience and practice.
Michael May remembers the moment that kicked off his love affair with music—it happened on Christmas morning when he was 12 years old. Kneeling beneath the tree, he unwrapped an unusually large gift that turned out to be a Kay acoustic guitar. He started taking lessons, and before long, he was lugging that guitar to house parties around town, where he and his friends covered riffs by bands such as AC/DC and Cheap Trick. Music was entwined in every part of his life; he studied under lauded jazz guitarists, earned a bachelor's degree in music from Wayne State University, and married singer-songwriter Rachel Kurtz.
Now, Michael helps students find their own passion for music at Groove City Guitars in St. Paul. He works with students on reading music, posture, picking, and strumming. Eventually, Michael's students learn to improvise using rock, blues, and jazz techniques.
Swift Music wants its students to forge a relationship with music, no matter their level of engagement. Whether students want to learn a few simple licks, pursue a professional career, or simply play music as a stress reliever, instructors await with the knowledge and patience to help them reach their goals. The bustling building teems with students working in seven lesson rooms and two ensemble rooms, and it entertains visitors in a waiting area stocked with complimentary drinks and wireless Internet. Axe men and women can also bring instruments to the Swift’s in-house repair shop, where technicians can correct a guitar’s faulty bridge.
In 1998, School of Rock's first location was built in Philadelphia to strengthen students' self-confidence, develop their musicianship, and most importantly, spark an insatiable enthusiasm to learn. Today, the School of Rock franchise has branched out to more than 65 locations throughout the United States and Mexico. During the school's music lessons, encouraging instructors well versed in methods of rocking and rolling—such as strumming guitars, tickling keyboards, and causing avalanches with yodels—demystify music theory for mini Mick Jaggers of all skill levels.