Carmel Music Academy Instructs Students of All Ages
Photographer / Michael Durr
There are no barriers to entry into the arts, and Jon E. Gee and his wife Sondra, who was given the nickname “Mrs. Gee” by a tour accountant of John Mellencamp, embrace this concept by welcoming a wide range of ages into Carmel Music Academy.
“No one is too young or too old to learn how to play,” Mrs. Gee says.
Since opening in 2011, their youngest student was under two years old and their oldest is in their 80s.
Each of their music rooms contain multiple instruments. At Carmel Music Academy, they feel that exposure to other instruments is important for growth.
“A student often asks, ‘Can I try that?’ pointing to another instrument,” Jon E. Gee says. “And we say, ‘Sure! Let’s finish with your lesson and then you can pick that up and try it.’ Perhaps the gravitation to another instrument leads them to something that sparks an even deeper passion for music.”
The philosophy of Carmel Music Academy is “the instrument will find the musician.” Case in point Jon’s musical journey to finding his main instrument, the bass.
When Jon E. Gee was 16 he was introduced to a band that needed a bass player. When asked if he played bass, Jon replied, “Yes!” But He didn’t. He immersed himself in learning how to play this new instrument and from that day on he played bass every day.
“I was 24 years old before I didn’t play everyday,” Jon says. “And I loved playing! It was the biggest rush of my life to play in a band.”
The method of teaching at Carmel Music Academy may be considered unconventional, but it is natural to human instinct.
“We teach how to read music, but we don’t teach it first,” Jon adds. “The students learn theory quickly once they start playing well. By playing first, they are listening and have reference points to the music. Reading music is easier once you are already playing. It suddenly makes sense to them — the student gets the connection.”
Carmel Music Academy teaches music the same way we learn to speak, as children when we learn to speak we begin with sounds. An infant is not handed a manual on the proper way to create these sounds. There is no coach other than excitable parents when a baby coos. Speech is intuitive and learned, initially, through hearing and mimicking sounds which is refined naturally over time. First by creating sounds, then words, sentences and, finally, formal structures. This process is parallel to learning music. At Carmel Music Academy, music theory is peppered into the lessons once someone has the sight, sound, tactical and auditory experience of playing.
It’s a fact that a lot of rock stars and famous musicians do not read music. When the famous guitarist Chet Atkins was asked if he could read music, he replied, “Not enough to hurt my playing.”
Muscle memory is powerful. Having a multi-sensory experience with music makes it easier to retain. Written music was created for communication purposes, which transcends across all spoken languages. This methodology is intuitive learning. Those who only know how to read music, very seldom retain their musical ability throughout their lifetime.
Carmel Music Academy creates a family that reaches beyond lessons. Several Carmel Music Academy graduates are doing big things in the arts. Former students have performed with professional and touring acts such as the Band Sugarland, the Jersey Boys Tour, pop music icon Debbie Gibson as well as other performing and touring professional acts. One former student, who is now a PhD doctor, lives in New York City and has his bass on a stand in his office on top of his desk, his nickname is the Bass Doctor.
“Our goal is to make musicians for life,” Mrs. Gee adds. “Even if they don’t play professionally, they still play, they remember the life lessons.”
A strong sense of community is experienced by students of Carmel Music Academy. Students have performed at Disney World and around the state of Indiana. Locally, Carmel Music Academy engages with the Carmel Community Playhouse, The Cat Theater, the Carmel Gazebo and Carmelfest. They have also performed at Pinheads in Fishers and the Indiana Landmarks Center. Their future goals are to have their students perform at famous destination locations. For example Carnegie Hall, Kennedy Center, and in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Jon E. Gee and Mrs. Gee’s passion for music philanthropy extends beyond Indiana. Jon serves as an Honorary Board member for Little Kids Rock, an organization providing the resources for schools and children who don’t have the resources for musical instruments. Other board members include Gene Simmons of KISS, Carlos Santana, Ziggy Marley, Bonnie Raitt, Paul Simon. and the late great B.B. King. Little Kids Rock provides music education and opportunities for underserved areas, where music has been taken out of schools. Little Kids Rock are in 45 states, helping more than 400 school districts with the resources to ensure music stays in schools.
“Carmel Music Academy is the place that I never had as a kid,” says Jon, who was discouraged from pursuing a career in music by music professors. “There are a few of our students that I think should be signing autographs now.” “We are very confident music will be one of their life long passions.” The point is: If you love it, if you really love it, and it is your passion, you need to pursue it because we make musicians for life.”
Carmel Music Academy focuses on fostering passion and purpose with music. Jon and Mrs. Gee’s efforts speak loudly for how much they love what they do. They know there are no barriers to entry to music, and if one is passionate enough, Carmel Music Academy will nurture that passion!
Carmel Music Academy is located at 13295 N Illinois Street Suite #117 in Carmel. You can visit them online at: CarmelMusicAcademy.com or info@CarmelMusicAcademy.com or give them a call at 317-743-2961 for more information.