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  • Andrew Grandpre

Why Start a Music Academy?


I started learning my first musical instrument when I was just 10 years old. I took piano lessons and I hated it. In fact, after just 2 years I begged my mom to let me quit. It wasn't that I didn't like the piano, the piano was fine, but I wanted to be a drummer; at least at that moment I wanted to be. So I did what every kid that age does, I became a drummer in the school band. This turned out to be a great experience and I thoroughly enjoyed being a part of the band, but when it came down to my drum set skills, I was still absolutely terrible. Turns out, bering a good drummer in band didn't mean I could be a good drummer in a rock band. So I finally took my first drum set lessons.


My first drum set teacher was a cool guy and a very good drummer, but his method of teaching drums didn't turn out to really teach me that much. I still remember the first time that I descended those creepy narrow stairs into this guys basement. There He was sitting behind his gorgeous drum set and here I was sitting behind my simple drum set. He asked me to play "something", so I played the first beat that came to mind. I don't know if it was good or bad, but I remember He called it the "South Dakota Stomp" and said that every kid my age always played something like that. From then on He would show me cool beats and I would try to learn them, while I thought to myself, "This is cool and all, but how do I use this to play with people?" That's the question that drove me for so many years of musical study, how would I use this? I didn't get the answer until much later.


Though drum lessons were cool, I eventually decided that I would just study music on my own. I got my first guitar for christmas when I was 15 and taught myself how to play power chords. For the next few years that's really all I knew how to do, I could figure most stuff out with some of what I found on the internet, but it was very hit or miss. When I was 16 my band director found out that I played guitar and asked if I wanted to learn bass guitar for the jazz band. Wide eyed and bushy tailed I figured, "how hard could it be?" I looked up the fingerings online and then figured out how to piece the jazz band songs together. This is how most of my musical studies in high school progressed. I would get asked to do something for school, I would look it up online or talk with other students about how I might do it, and then I would try to make it work.


Fast forward to college. I attended Northern State University in Aberdeen, South Dakota, where I decided to pursue a degree in Music Education. Little did I know that I would finally see the breakthrough in my musical life that I was so desiring to see and eventually fall in love with teaching music. College was so special for me, because it is the first time that things finally began to click. I really dug into learning piano and absolutely fell in love with it. I learned how music theory could apply to everything that I currently new about instruments I had spent years learning, such as guitar and bass guitar. Most importantly though, I started playing music with other people who loved playing music as much as I did. This is where I truly started to shine and finally fell into my passion for music.


During my sophomore year of college I started teaching guitar, bass guitar, and drum lessons for a local music store. This was the first time that I had taught a private music lesson and I loved it. I discovered that I could take my passion and excitement and use it to get another person passionate and excited about music. I learned quickly how to find the music my students wanted to learn and show them how to play it. But as I developed over the years as a private teacher I learned another very important element of teaching; how to use the music that my students loved, to teach them the very fundamentals of music itself, the things that it took my until college to discover.


After college I got married and did all your typical life stuff. Got a job being a music teacher in a school, bought a house, had a kid; through all of that I kept teaching private lessons on the side, but it really became just that, a side gig. After a few years of this a few of my close friends encouraged me to branch out on my own and start a full time music lesson studio. After a year of thinking, I decided that this really could be great idea, but what kind of music studio would I start? I had been part of your typical home studio where one person teaches out of there basement and honestly hadn't really enjoyed it. But then I had also been part of a high end college music experience that had a whole staff of teachers, many performance opportunities, and other passionate students to share my journey with. So how could I combine these two ideas together.


That's where Dakota Music Academy came from. Finally a place where students of all ages and skill levels could come together with a passionate staff and really learn what it means to be a musician. We teach students the music they love, but we also teach them the important music knowledge that they really need to grow as a musician. Our staff are specialized in the instruments that they teach, but we as a staff can also show our students how we bring all of our instruments together to create fun and memorable musical performances. Then we offer our students those unique opportunities to meet and play with other students who share the same passion and excitement. DMA is kind of a big experiment in a new way of educating South Dakota musicians, but we are excited to be on the journey. We are setting out to help students of all ages and skill levels become excellent musicians who bring creativity and beauty to our society through impactful musical contributions for the rest of their lives.


How about you? Do you have any music lesson stories to share? Post a comment below and tell us about your musical learning journey.

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