Growing up there was one known rule in our house…if you play a sport you must play an instrument or be in chorus.  I opted for the alto saxophone and I loved every part of playing in the band.  There are many lessons learned through creating music that go beyond the notes on the paper.  So as my kids get older, I will be implementing the same rule in my house, which won’t be a fight at all because my kids love music.  My son even said to me once that music is his life.  If you have someone that you know that feels the same way, I highly recommend that you check out Dakota Music Academy (DMA) in Aberdeen, SD.  

If you haven’t heard of DMA yet, you will soon. I see this place really taking off and expanding the music scene in Aberdeen. Andrew Grandpre, owner of DMA, is a graduate of Northern State University in Music Education and when talking with him you feel his passion for both music and education.

DMA offers professional prep and music lessons on acoustic, electric, bass guitar, drums, keyboard, piano, vocals, brass, and woodwinds. Yeah, I know, that is a lot which is why there are five people on staff that all have their area of expertise: a woodwind specialist, brass specialist, drum specialist, and two other teachers that are multi- so they cover all the guitar, keyboards, and vocals. Andrew is a firm believer if you have a passion for a specific area then you will be an expert in that certain area. Most of their staff are actually teachers at different area schools as well, so you know that if you go to DMA you will be getting a quality music education.

DMA can accommodate all skill and age-levels. The youngest enrolled at DMA right now is just 7 years old. Andrew recommends that children start out with guitar and/or piano because they are core instruments, then from there if they want to branch off into other instruments it goes so much smoother.

Curriculum is something that Andrew is really passionate about given his education background. He believes it is what makes a music school work. Music lessons can sometime become haphazard, but a great curriculum can keep encouraging and motivating students by helping them to reach certain, attainable goals. Andrew uses a curriculum called Guitar DoJo. It is based on the Karate level systems and uses the color belts from white all the way to black to signify progress.

It takes years of commitment to become exceptional at an instrument, so Andrew likes to celebrate progress towards short-term achievements. After six months of study at DMA, Andrew encourages the students to take part in one of their concerts. Let’s face it, I know what you are thinking, sometimes recitals can be a little …let’s see..what is the right word…ummm boring, or maybe uncomfortable. Your kid may perform for three minutes and then you are there for the rest of the recital. This is not the case with a DMA concert. Andrew wanted to shake up the recital monotony and put on unique concerts at the Red Rooster to showcase the work of his students. Why not enjoy the atmosphere, coffee, and music at the same time. Eventually he plans to make these bigger and instead of one large, long concert he would break it up between a couple days to make it more accommodating to families. The staff at DMA also get together and put on some amazing concerts as well, so make sure to keep an eye out for those coming up.

DMA is located in the basement of the historic Alonzo Ward Hotel.

Coming down the old stairway, one would never expect this modern place that awaits you.

Walking around, DMA, has a big-city art museum feel with pictures displayed in a gallery format, a beautiful art deco wall, and perfect decor. Andrew wanted students to feel the creativity when they walked in and I think he totally nailed it.

DMA just opened on September 1st and already have 43 students, but of course looking to grow! DMA has nice, large lesson rooms and a beautiful lounge. They are also reviving the recording studio that was previously there. Andrew said he will be utilizing this space with a Headliner program that he is working on. This program will put students of like age and skill level into bands and eventually produce shows showcasing the bands. I mean what kid doesn’t dream of being in a band!

When asked why he wanted to start a music academy, Andrew stated that he wanted to reach a broader spectrum of students. He also has a passion for modern instrumentation, guitars, bass drums, keys, and wanted to be able to teach kids in those ensembles. Teaching the same principles they are learning in a school band or choir but putting those principles into rock, pop, or country bands.

The music academy teaches year round so whenever you wish you to join you can jump right in and they have a lot of capacity to grow. DMA is always looking for more staff as well, so if you have a background and a passion for music you may want to check out this really fun and creative place for employment. To check out more information or register online you can go to www.dakotamusicacademy.com. You can also find them on facebook @DakotaMusicAcademy 

“Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything.” ― Plato