I have always loved music, especially the Americana styles of music like Bluegrass, Blues, Jazz, and of course Rock. I was a teenager in the seventies and the music that was produced during that decade that has come to be known for its variety, intensity and passion. I bought my first guitar when I was 12 with my own saved dollars. It was purchased at Hume Music store, in Topeka. I don't remember the brand, I just remember it was a red starburst pattern varnish, hard to play and is cost me $40.00 of chore earned money. Now I look back and realize that it was probably one of the most important purchases I ever made. It opened the door to my life and love of all styles of music. Especially American Folk and Bluegrass Music.
These styles were not taught in public schools or even private music studios in this area at that time. I started playing violin in 4th grade in Topeka and learned through the public school system. The only styles we learned there were classical and an occasional fiddle or show tune. It was fun and I had good teachers all the way through college, but the problem was Classical music wasn't my passion. I can remember to this day the first time I was invited to play my guitar with some other guys in high school. Looking back it was my first experience with a jam.I loved that experience. I attended my first Walnut Valley Festival, better known as Winfield, the year I graduated from High School. I remember walking around and seeing so many people playing music together, without music, and having fun doing it. I wanted to be like them. The question was how? How did they know how to play with others and change chords and take breaks?
I had been playing for eight years learning the violin and guitar and I had no idea how to join in. I would have been terrified to even try and that brings me to the passion of my life, which is to provide adults and children the opportunity to play music both for themselves and with others. The Americana Music Academy with it's mission statement of Teaching the Music America Plays and Serving Community Through Music is a place for all musicians from beginners to professionals, to learn to play, to learn to jam, to teach, and to provide musical opportunities for the communities it serves. We have been growing this Academy in Lawrence for almost ten years and we opened in Topeka last fall. We teach students of all ability levels and all ages. We have a Beginners Jam and two other regular Saturday afternoon jams in both locations. We have started many people down their own musical path and helped them find others who were on the same path. These relationships, born out of musical interest, have created many healthy activites and opportunities for those involved. This is how we grow musicially and this is what we share with others.