One of the most thoughtful gifts anyone can give for the holiday season is one that acknowledges a person’s creativity. If you know someone who has always wanted to play an instrument, here are some local outlets that offer instruments for sale as well as instruction.
School of Rock
(12020 Wilshire Boulevard, West L.A., 866.220.2476) is the newest outlet for the national chain of youth music schools. Kids from second grade through high school and at all levels of ability can take lessons in guitar, bass, keyboards, drums, and voice.
“We use an accelerated high performance method of music instruction” said School of Rock manager Daniel Leanse. “Our students play with joy and ease.”
A combination of a weekly private lesson and a group jam session (”Rock 101”) prepares youngsters for live performances. For those with less time to spare, “Access Pass” offers weekly private lessons that can allow kids to eventually enter the performance program. School of Rock also offers one-day workshops with special musical guests and summer camp programs. Programs are priced starting at $225 per month and include one free trial lesson.
Leanse said that a program for adults is in the works for early next year.
McCabe’s Guitar Shop
(3101 Pico Boulevard, 310.828.4497) is an iconic venue that features live concerts, music instruction, and musical instruments for sale or rental. Currently, McCabe’s is featuring the 50th Anniversary Taylor Grand Symphony Presentation Model, an acoustic guitar with abalone borders and a “Tree of Life” inlay on the neck. There are also ukeleles, mandolins, electric guitars and amps, harmonicas, tambourines, dobros, sheet music, instruction books, guitar straps, capos, and plastic guitar picks labeled “Purloined from McCabe’s” (take one for free).
Group classes include: Guitar, Levels One, Two, and Three, Songwriting/Theory/Improv, Tech/Repair (guitar maintenance workshop, guitar electronics, and recording), Banjo, Dobro/Lap Steel, Dulcimer, Harmonica, Klezmer, Mandolin, Ukelele, Violin, Bass, and yes, Musical Saw!
Prices average from about $120 to $170 for six to eight sessions. The instructors are all experienced performing musicians. Special instructors include McCabe’s regular performers like Peter Case and Joellen Lapidus. An open house and holiday show is scheduled for December 12.
(4316 Sepulveda Boulevard, Culver City, 310.398.2583) is also a combined music store, music school, and concert venue. Boulevard is an authorized dealer for Martin, Taylor, Gibson, Ibanez, Fender, National, and other makers of guitars, banjos, and mandolins.
Both group and private classes are available. Eight-week classes cost $90 to $125 and include beginning guitar, young person’s guitar, beginning singing, beginning harmonica, and Bernie’s Blues Repertoire Class with noted local blues musician Bernie Pearl. Private music instruction is available with teachers including Pearl and owner Gary Mandell. Two new instructors are banjo virtuoso Pat Cloud and Mark Shark who plays and teaches a variety of instruments ranging from dulcimer to balalaika.
(714 Santa Monica Boulevard) is a small but always busy store full of guitars, both acoustic and electric. The latest products include Bolt Amplifiers, the Gibson ‘50s Tribute Les Paul P-90 guitar, and Heil Microphones. A variety of acoustic guitars are on sale for prices ranging from $150 to $389.
TrueTone also offers guitar and bass lessons by Shawn Fleming, a studio and live performing artist with ten years of teaching experience. A half hour lesson is $30; the “best deal” is eight half-hour sessions for $200 or $25 per lesson. Fleming may be reached at 310.428.5222.