By Kate LaChapelle
From singing in the shower to jamming out on air guitars when no one’s looking, we’ve all pretended to be rock stars at some point. With the New Year rolling in, what better time to make those stage dreams a reality and learn how to play an instrument? Here are the best places to help get you dusting off that Gibson or rat-a-tat-tatting to a new beat.
MacPhail Center for Music
501 South 2nd Street
Minneapolis, MN 55401
Hours: Mon-Fri: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Sat: 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Sun: 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.
This prestigious non-profit had humble beginnings as a school for violin back in 1907. Since its inception, the school has grown into teaching lessons and leading ensembles for nearly every kind of instrument and musical style imaginable. MacPhail has expanded into a few locations around the metro area and offers educational opportunities that run the gamut of private lessons to summer camps. It even has financial aid and scholarships available to those who may not otherwise be able to afford the luxury of a musical education. MacPhail has proven its worthiness time and time again, remaining a bastion of musical excellence.
6417 Penn Ave. South, Suite 7
Richfield, MN 55423
Hours: Mon-Fri: 3 p.m. to 9 p.m.; Sat: 2 p.m. to 9 p.m.
For a more rock star vibe, perhaps check out an open jam session at the Riff Factory. While they do specialize in guitars, they also offer a unique Rock Band Experience on top of traditional private lessons. Instead of merely rocking out with an instructor, they’ll group students of a similar skill level and teach them the necessary basics of being in a band; everything from concert set-up and tear-down to song writing and how to record in a studio, the 12-week program culminates in a live concert that is videotaped and available to students on DVD. So if you need any proof for Grandma on just how awesome you are on that Stratocaster that you just had to have this Christmas, look no further than the Riff Factory.
8056 Nicollet Ave. South
Bloomington, MN 55420
Hours: Mon-Thurs: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Fri: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Sat: 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Coming up on 75 years of business, Groth is a longstanding contender in the local music business. They offer not only lessons, but a huge selection of instruments available for purchase, rent, or rent-to-buy as well as a plethora of necessary music accessories from straps to stands to sheet music. Their lessons are coordinated during store hours and prices vary by individual instructor. For a respected and recognized name in music and an all-round one-stop shop, make sure to check out Groth Music.
14150 Nicollet Ave. South
Burnsville, MN 55337
Hours: Mon-Fri: 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Sat: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Sun: 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Another one-stop shop that’s been running for well over a century, Schmitt Music has several locations scattered across the metro area and it’s online lesson booking system makes finding the perfect instructor and available lesson times a breeze. Beyond individual lessons, group lessons are available for piano and guitar. Schmitt also offers the Rock Star Academy, an 8-week program with levels from beginner to intermediate that groups players together to learn how to be in a band and work together to put on a closing concert at the end of the program. For a range of options in musical instruction, alongside world-class service in instrument selection, head to Schmitt Music.
Kate LaChapelle is a freelance writer in the Twin Cities area who survived earning a film degree from Emerson College in 2010. She’s addicted to hazelnut soy lattes and sporadically tweets from @KateLaChapelle.