Jan. 19 2016 03:31 PM

San Diego’s young musical hearts run free in variety of ways

Former SOR student getting the most out of his final exam
Photo by Charlie Homo

It's the music-loving parents' dream—your children decide they prefer the piano to PlayStation and Fenders to Facebook. But what's next? If self-teaching or YouTube how-to videos don't fan the creative flames, there are a surprising (and diverse) number of local music instruction options available.

From toddlers to teens, and turntables to trumpets, here are a few programs for the budding bandleader in your house:

School of Rock—San Diego

When the busy schedule of original music director/local legend Mike Keneally (Zappa, Dethklok) forced him to step down, the program was left in good hands. For eight years, multi-instrumentalist Tyler Ward has overseen shows, the SOR house band, and taught lessons for the nearly 20-year-old national company. And that's in addition to playing in local bands Oh, Spirit and The Kabbs.

Starting at $99 and offering programs for preschoolers to adults, most students attend twice a week. Once for a lesson with their rock instrument of choice, and once for "band practice"—all in preparation for an end-of-term concert with other school of rockers.

Upcoming student shows include "Nirvana vs. Foo Fighters" and "The Music Of The Beatles," but Ward is taking it one step further with his "Best of San Diego" show on Feb. 5 at the Irenic. To help them "get stoked on their own scene," he's challenged his students to pick music from local artists who have released an album in the last year.

"I want them to know they don't have to reach back to the '60s for cool, guitar bands," says Ward. "There just might be one that lives on their exit."

Fundamentals DJ Academy

Founded in 2011, the Fundamentals DJ Academy was acquired by California-based event production company SOS Entertainment in 2013. First expanding on the existing program by using instructors and facilities for internal company training, Fundamentals now operates under the mission of making "the fundamental concepts of DJing and electronic music production accessible to anyone wanting to learn."

Starting at $35 per hour and open to all ages, the FDJA offers DJ basecamps, private instruction and after-school enrichment programs. The academy is also introducing their first online classes and course content this year. SOS Entertainment owner/CEO (and longtime DJ) Derek Sage oversees the program with Fundamentals director Greg Murphy.

"Music has always been ageless," says Sage. "But it's only recently that DJing has become mainstream. Grandma knows about it and your kids know about it. And technology has totally decreased the barrier of entry. This is something a lot of kids are interested in doing, and now they can."

San Diego Performance Academy

Piano teacher Jerrie Dean first started the SDPA from her living room six years ago. It wasn't long before the need to expand found her partnering with CEO and co-founder Dean Bruce, and the current version of the East County music school was born. Its Santee facility provides private and group lessons in guitar, piano, bass, drums, acting and vocals starting at $99 per month.

"It's important that our teachers are as connected as the new generation of people weíre teaching," says Dean. "We not only have to teach the craft, but be familiar with how people are producing and broadcasting it in the current landscape."

Nightingale Music School

Now in its 14th year, La Jolla's Nightingale Music School specializes in music classes for infants, toddlers, preschoolers and elementary-age students. Expansion to a secondary South Park campus came in 2010, and the school is looking to do it again in Carmel Valley very soon. While it specializes in early childhood music, the NMS also offers group guitar, keyboard and drum lessons. Plus, it hosts birthday parties and enrichment programs like science, art and movement classes.

"Music is such a wonderful conduit for learning," says founder Jennifer Tandy, "especially in young children. Early childhood music and movement classes have many cognitive benefits and positively impact all areas of development."


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