Monday, June 11, 2012

North Shore Music Institute teaching kids how to rock

Given the number of music competition shows on TV these days, there is no shortage of people wanting to become the next big thing.

The instructors at North Shore Music Institute in Northfield know what it takes to make it in the music industry. This month, the music school will launch its Summer Rock camp program for kids age 8 to 15. More information is at

I had the chance to talk to instructor Myles Kanzer about the program.


Q - What made you want to start a summer camp program for youngsters this year? Is the program generating a lot of interest?

Both Michael Poukpo and I have participated in other camps in the past, and with other area camps not running programs this year, we saw an opportunity to fill a void. 

Our past experience has shown us that kids love going to camps like this, and not only have a great experience socially but a lot of musical development takes place over course of the program. It's inspiring and gives us a lot of pride to see kids make strides with their art and grow in their abilities and confidence.

Q - What should those who sign up for the program expect to learn?

Some learning is very straightforward: chords, scales, soloing and other musical information that can be relayed from one person to another. Most of the learning is not as textbook. 

Working with a group, learning your role in a band or a particular song, meeting other kids your age who enjoy and play music, being exposed to music you may not have heard before because of the new friends you meet, etc. It's a great opportunity not just to to learn more about music, but about being a musician.  

More importantly, we hope to inspire kids to love music so that it becomes part of them for the rest of their lives the same way that we were inspired at a young age.
Q - Since 2002, the studio has been providing instruction to students of all ages. Have your students ever surprised you with their talents? Did the movie "School of Rock" help or hurt what the studio strives to do?

We have had some very talented people come through the school. More than a handful of students have gone on to Berklee in Boston, and other students have formed some really impressive bands that have some followings and notoriety, like Will Jacobs and Derek Song. 

We have students that start learning multiple instruments and are successful and accomplished in all their musical pursuits.

The movie "School of Rock" was part of a larger resurgence of classic rock music. "School of Rock", as well as the Guitar Hero video game series and Rock Band video game series, have all contributed to an increased interest in music that may have otherwise been lost on a younger generation that was further removed from those bands and styles. 

One of the main things that we do differently is providing musical education in many styles, not just rock. We prepare students for high school and college auditions in jazz bands and anything else they need.

Q - Likewise, what do you think is the effect of all the music reality shows on TV today? Is everybody looking for their 15 minutes of fame?

Andy Warhol must have been some kind of prophet because we are getting closer and closer to that as a reality. But TV has a far less impact today, regardless of how popular a show may be. 

It's all about YouTube and online content. You don't have to make it past auditions, or drive to a big city for taping or sign up or do paperwork. You just need a laptop and your talent, and if people like it, the world will start clicking.

Q - What separates North Shore Music Institute from other music schools? How do the instructors use what they have learned in their own music careers in teaching the students?

The instructors are what separates [NSMI from other music schools]. No one has better instructors than we do. 

They have all the qualities you want in an instructor and with wildly impressive resumes. Our drum instructor, Marty Binder, was a regular drummer for Buddy Guy, Albert King and Koko Taylor, and is one of the most sought after blues drummers in Chicago.

Guitar instructor Louie Zagoras had fame with his band Rollover and has toured with The Allman Brothers, Sheryl Crow and Joe Satriani, just to name a few. And our drum instructor, Jim Hines, won a Grammy with Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys. 

You can't beat a Grammy winner. We also have professional composers who have written and currently write music for television, film and Internet shows. We are very proud of all of them and are privileged to have them all teaching here.

Q - What have been the biggest accomplishments of the studio since its formation? What other things would the North Shore Music Institute like to accomplish?

Putting together this phenomenal group of instructors who have guided great kids to become great musicians is everything we want to accomplish. 

We can only hope to keep growing and adding more impressive staff to keep young artists inspired and motivated to strive, improve and feel passionate about music.