MONTROSE – Teaching music is sometimes described as watching a garden grow, from the instructor’s planting the initial seed with the student to watching as that student’s ability and concentration develop into a bloom of understanding, through music theory, technique and performance skills. They are some of the services Montrose Music (and its new music academy), located at 7 South Townsend Avenue, offers, as the area's first full-service music facility.
Owner Ken Crombie opened the doors of Montrose Music in late July, and has been hard at working tearing down the walls to access an adjacent vacant space for the creation of music classrooms and a professional recording studio.
The facility offers lessons in just about any instrument, Crombie says, taught by five instructors, including himself, all five holding degrees in music from nationally accredited music schools.
"My ambition was to create a professional family-oriented space where parents could bring their kids and feel safe about it. I've probably put together the best of the best [teachers] in this area," Crombie said.
The 3,000-square-foot facility houses a retail music store, four lesson rooms, one classroom and digital recording studio.
Montrose Music also offers rentals for students who lack the means to buy new or used instruments.
"Most of the parents appreciate that we can keep [rentals] local, and they do not have to go to Grand Junction," Crombie said.
Crombie, a former music educator in Ouray and Durango, has been playing music for 40 years, with 20 of those years dedicated to music education.
Since Montrose Music began offering lessons three weeks ago, the student body has climbed to about 50, said Crombie.
In a time when school districts are cutting music and art programs, Crombie said, there still is a niche for private businesses.
Music education is, he says, “the future of music. It's how most kids, most adults get into music. Probably 90 percent of the bands out there that you listen to, or members of orchestras, members of the business or promoters started somehow in school. So that's where you grab them; that is the future of music, period."
The academy's five instructors include Dave Nutful, who has played the guitar for 50 years, with a history of performing and recording experience in Chicago and Arizona; Jordan Carls, a native of Colorado with a degree from the University of Denver's Lamont School and Music, who has taught for the past 15 years; Lane Anderson, who carries a Masters of Music Performance degree from the City University in New York, William "Boxcar" Smethurst, a guitar player with a degree from the University of Georgia, and Crombie, who studied at the Berklee College of Music in Boston.
The five instructors, who have moved their teaching practices to the music academy facility, have also formed a local jazz quintet, and will serve as the studio band for anyone wanting to cut a record professionally.
"These are all world-class musicians, and some of the best I've ever played with," Crombie said.
He expects the recording studio will hopefully be operational in January, around the same time the facility starts reaching out to area students – children and adults – to include in future workshops and classes under its new name, "Rock University."
Recruitment for classes and workshops will begin in January, with the goal of gathering enough participants to form several jazz ensembles and other groups.
"This is something I have been working on for a long time," said instructor Jordan Carls. "The biggest goal is to provide a place other than public schools where you can do the actual music courses and play in different bands and have a whole slew of different people play with other like-minded people, from 5- and 6-year-olds to adults," Carls said.
When completed, Rock University and Montrose Music's academy will be the first full-service, sanctioned, private music academy in the county.
Crombie said one goal from the jazz development side is to create groups that participate in jazz festivals and other competitions around the state and in Montrose.
"We want to affiliate the town of Montrose with high-quality jazz," he said.
For Lane Anderson, a 1977 Montrose High School graduate who has been playing trumpet since the sixth grade, teaching music has been very rewarding.
"I really enjoy seeing someone starting out in the beginning, and seeing how they grasp the instrument, and seeing how they progress," Anderson said.
Anderson who has performed at Carnegie Hall, Radio City Music Hall and Lincoln Center, believes the new music academy will help enrich the Montrose area with music culture.
"It’s a real nice addition to the community," Anderson said.
After teaching in the New York area for 25 years, Anderson returned to Colorado to become the band director at Mullen High School.
Currently, Anderson is the music teacher at the Pope John Paul Academy, a private school in Montrose.
"I see it [teaching] as a process where they can get the concept down. If I can convey that I find it very satisfactory. It's like growing a garden," Anderson said.
For more information about Montrose Music, and its lessons and rentals, contact 249-4599.