Left and top right courtesy of School of Rock, bottom Courtesy of Visible Community Music School
Music for tots and preschoolers
Joe Murphy is the director of Music for Aardvarks, an interactive music class for parents and children ages 1 to 7. He believes everyone has a special way they communicate with music.
“I do my best to create a fertile environment for self-expression,” Murphy says. “Some of my kids are more exuberant, and participate in the songs the whole class, while some may look like they are totally zoned out, but go home and recite the whole class to their parents.”
David Weinston in Brooklyn, New York, started music for Aardvarks in 1997. Murphy obtained licensing to start his own class and now has locations in Midtown, East Memphis, and will soon open in Bartlett, Collierville, and Hernando.
“All of the music I use are original songs composed by Weinston that the class and I play on instruments. It is rare I will use a CD unless we’re just having free dance time,” Murphy said.
For Murphy, the class is more experiential than results-oriented, and each day is a new adventure. Classes incorporate everything from shakers and bells to parachute play.
Katie, the mom of 4-year-old Maisie, says those music sessions are the highlight of her daughter’s week. “It is the perfect combination of singing and movement that keeps my kids engaged and having fun,” she says. “I am not ashamed to say I find myself singing the songs the day after we go. It is such a fun way to spend quality time with your child.” • aardvarkmemphis.com
For older kids interested in learning guitar, bass, drums, keys, and vocals, the School of Rock might have what your tween is looking for.
The School of Rock is a rock star training boot camp of sorts. To get an idea of the child’s musical experience, new students are evaluated by General Manager Marc Gurley and other music instructors who decide what instrument would best fit them.
“Sometimes, a student will come in convinced they want to play the drums, but get behind a drum set and it just isn’t right for them, but when they try their hand at bass, they excel,” Gurley says. “The physicality of each instrument is different, as well as the way students think. So many factors can determine what instrument fits each personality type.” After the evaluation, beginners are usually placed in a Rock 101 program where they attend one individual and one group session a week. As lessons progress, students work towards performing.
“We want you as a student to grow as a musician, so we are going to challenge you,” Gurley says. “Learning musical technique is great, but what good is it if you never use it?”
Beginner students perform rock shows in-house; while more advanced players get to shine at venues like Young Avenue Deli, Levitt Shell, and Newby’s.
“I have heard stories of a kids who were shy and self-conscious becoming confident and self-assured,” Gurley says. “A presentation in front of an English class is nothing once you have performed for a crowd of 1,000 people.”
“My daughter feels like School of Rock is her second home,” says mom, Naomi Bragsdale. “The fact that she can perform at places like Hard Rock Cafe and the Levitt Shell really motivates her to practice on her own and excel at a faster pace.” • memphis.schoolofrock.com
Giving access to the joy of music-making
Operated by music students and alumni at the Visible Music College, The Visible Community Music School also provides a fun, hip atmosphere for kids to learn music. “Students at the college are musicians training for careers in music, like music ministry, production, and song-writing,” says Sawyer Schafbuch, director of VCMS. “This creates an extremely caring teaching force.” Schafbuch says their goal is to provide Memphis with affordable, accessible music instruction through individual and community classes. “If a student is really passionate about their music, and comes to their lessons consistently, but cannot afford an instrument, we will provide one,” he says. “All of our instruments are donated by people in the community.”
This year’s new endeavor will be fine-tuning the music programs at various schools around the city, such as Peabody Elementary and Binghampton Christian.
“This will be our third year at Binghampton Christian, and it’s an especially exciting one because they have progressed to learning instruments in-depth now,” Schafbuch says. “We had a recital last year where they sang ‘Stand by Me,’ ‘Someone Like You,’ and other pop hits.” • visible.edu
To learn more, go to their websites.