Kevin Lampson Featured In Hendersonville Times-News

Teacher Creates His Own Innovative Courses

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By Beth De Bona

Kevin Lampson’s passion for music and history is motivating him to create original courses for students at Lake Lure Classical Academy.

Relying on flexibility for curriculum that the public charter school offers, Lampson is innovating courses, like the history of jazz, that are unlike anything else at schools in the state.

“Where arts education fails students is that they don’t tell the why, when or who,” said Lampson, who is in his second year of teaching at Lake Lure Classical Academy. “I try to fill in the gaps that students don’t get in other subjects.”

With original courses like The North Carolina African American Experience, and in a class instantly popular with students on the history of Rock n’ Roll, Lampson is creating many “aha” moments in students with the mostly high school students he teaches.

Lampson, 34, acknowledges that he’s really teaching sociology, but especially to give context for music appreciation, to give young musicians the cultural background to impart the full picture of the styles they’re taught to play.

“First and foremost you have to give relevancy to a student, and if you don’t do that, students aren’t going to care as much,” he said, adding the example that without context as to why Billie Holliday sang the way she did, it’s hard to fully appreciate the music.

That’s important, Lampson believes, if students continue to play music beyond school — to learn cultural context as well as the ability to improvise proficiently, which happens to be another class he’s planning to teach, in the next academic year: music improvisation.

“Students will learn more about any instrument they’re playing if they can improvise,” said Lampson, who holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Jazz and Studio Music from Morehead State University.

“His enthusiasm and passion translates into everything he does,” said Thomas Keever, executive director of LLCA. “He’s a very bright young man; we’re proud to have him here.”

Curriculum director Jessica Boland agreed, adding that Lampson’s courses provide LLCA’s students with “exposure to unique topics.”

Lampson believes the well-rounded music course offerings he’s providing are a factor in retaining students — parents are liking what they see, and students are taking note, too.

“The reason I really like Mr. Lampson is that he’s gone into actual music theory,” said William Witherspoon, an 11th-grade Hendersonville resident who has taken Lampson’s guitar classes and his Music I class. “Sometime it does get a little complicated, but then he’ll explain it. I’d definitely take another class next semester.”

Lampson started teaching middle and high school band and guitar classes at the public charter school, though he began planning original courses in the summer, just in time for the school’s move to its permanent facility on Island Creek Road.

“It’s something that I haven’t seen anywhere else in education,” said Lampson, who added that he’s had nothing but support from administration and the school board for the courses he’s teaching. “It’s totally different, and it’s really important for me for people from the area to know what is happening here.”

LLCA offers education for students in grades K-12, and many are from Henderson, Buncombe and Rutherford counties, according to Lampson.

He’s pretty sure no other high school in the state offers a course like his North Carolina Music, which covers the historical context as well as the music of the Scots-Irish settlers of the state’s highlands, the history and music of the Cherokee people, North Carolina folk and bluegrass artists, and even the music of the contemporary Asheville music scene.

Tenth-grader Micah Moore, who lives in Flat Rock, decided to take Lampson’s Rock n’ Roll history class after a friend recommended it. Moore, who said he prefers hip-hop music, is appreciating rock music the more he learns from Lampson.

“It’s a lot more than I expected to learn,” said Moore of the class, which is specific enough to zero in on a single day of the 1967 Woodstock Music Festival during one day’s lecture. Whole individual weeks of the 17-week course are dedicated to Woodstock, the Southern rock scene and female icons of the 1970s, to give a few examples.

Informing all Lampson teaches are the tenets of a classical education, with a framework provided for everything students learn; for LLCA’s high school students, the school strives to impart a classical-style education. “The whole point is to get well-rounded thinkers,” Lampson said.

He believes classes like “The North Carolina African American Experience” fill in the gaps in students’ education and provide context for the post-Civil War experience  of African-Americans, which in turn gives students a better understanding of current events like the protests in Ferguson, Mo.

To illustrate, Lampson poses the question: How can you learn about the music of the 1960s without learning about the history and culture of the 1960s?

To learn the roots of jazz music, a foundation of learning about the slave trade into the Caribbean, the cultural influence from France to New Orleans and the history of the Harlem Renaissance are all part and parcel of a full understanding.

“You have to put yourself in the perspective of the person who saw it,” he said. “I’m bringing students back to this stuff and they love it.”

To learn more about LLCA, call 828-625-9292 or visit llca.teamcfa.school.

New Expansion Plans Announced For 2016 – 2017 In Hendersonville Times-News – May 22, 2016

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Michael Ridenour, director of the Music Academy of WNC, teaches Savannah Barnwell, 10, on Friday afternoon. Patrick Sullivan/Times-News

Published: Sunday, May 22, 2016 at 4:30 a.m.

The Music Academy of Western North Carolina has announced significant expansion plans, which includes the rollout of an afterschool program for elementary students.

The academy’s director, Michael Ridenour, said he will begin phasing in a series of new programs at the Hendersonville-based academy over the next year, expecting to add 200 more students to the school.

Starting next school year, the academy will begin offering afterschool string instruments program for fourth- and fifth-graders in Henderson County. Flyers for the afterschool program will be distributed to fourth- and fifth-grade students in Henderson County Public Schools. The afterschool lessons will be taught in a classroom setting at the academy at 235 Duncan Hill Road several times a week.

“This program within itself is a pretty big undertaking,” said Ridenour. “I think it will benefit a lot of kids in Henderson County and prepare them for other programs that already exist.”

Ridenour said there isn’t any kind of string program for elementary kids in Henderson County. Academy leaders want the afterschool program to supplement the strong programs at the middle and high schools along with the Hendersonville Symphony Youth Orchestra.

“We’re trying to accomplish a couple of goals,” Ridenour said. “Number one is just to have a good extracurricular music activity for fourth and fifth graders. Number two is to start to develop, along with the Hendersonville Youth Symphony, an elementary school ensemble. Right now, they start they start at the sixth-grade level but they don’t have anything for the elementary school kids.”

The afterschool program will roll out in September at the elementary schools. The academy also plans to offer onsite classes at new FernLeaf Community Charter School next spring.

In addition to plans for an afterschool program, the academy will begin offering online lessons later this summer using an online program called JamKazam. It is an online meeting site where musicians can play together in real time over the internet. Similar to Skype, instructors will be able to teach their students from anywhere.

“What this does is it kind of takes us outside our brick and mortar building here to where we can offer online lessons,” said Ridenour. “We can offer them here, or since we have a lot of teachers traveling from Asheville and other counties, we can actually offer online lessons and they can do them from their home, but still come through the music academy.”

The academy has about 200 students right now. Ridenour expects the afterschool programs to add 100 to 150 more students and the online lessons to add another 50 for now.

“Just those things were probably looking at a good 400 students total, and that’s kind of being conservative,” Ridenour said. “That will pretty much solidify us as the largest private music school in the county once we get these programs up and going by the end of the year.”

An afterschool program and online courses aren’t the only new additions. The academy teaches many styles of music, including classical, rock, jazz, pop and country. Now they will be adding a folk music program to the mix.

“Western North Carolina is kind of a mecca to folk music,” Ridenour. “We’ve had a lot of calls for folk music like mandolin, banjo and things of that nature, but I’ve never really found someone that was an area expert of that.”

He found that someone in Tyler Cason, who holds a bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music education from North Greenville University and is pursuing a doctorate at the University of Georgia. Cason will be teaching folk guitar, harmonica, mandolin, banjo, songwriting and voice in the folk music program, which is expected to roll out in full this fall.

Next spring, the academy will also begin publishing method books and publications from instructors. The academy currently has 14 instructors, most of whom hold masters or doctorate degrees in music education.

The Music Academy of Western North Carolina was founded in 1997. In 2009, the academy moved to is current location at 235 Duncan Hill Road and had since expanded three times to accommodate student growth. Ridenour said it’s likely he’ll have to expand again next year after all the expansion plans are phased in.

For more information, visit wncmusicacademy.com or call 828-693-3726.

2016 Annual Spring Student Recitals Are This Coming Weekend

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We will be holding our annual spring recitals this coming Friday night, Saturday afternoon, and Saturday evening in the performance room at the Music Academy of WNC. We are very proud of all of our students, their hard work, and dedication and look forward to hearing them perform this weekend.

Our Faculty Members Are The BEST in Hendersonville

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Our faculty members are simply the BEST of any private music school in Henderson County. They are the backbone of the music education experience we offer to all of our students at the Music Academy of WNC. All of our faculty members hold a minimum of a Bachelor’s degree in their field of study (72% hold a Master’s or higher), possess decades of teaching and performing experience, are great with students of all ages, and have warm and inviting personalities. Check out our faculty members HERE and compare them with other area music schools. We believe you will not find a better educated, dedicated, and professional faculty for your music education experience. Give us a call at 828-693-3726 and discover why we are the #1 Choice, Best Value, and Largest Music School in Hendersonville, North Carolina.

Three Reasons Why We Are The #1 Choice, Best Value, & LARGEST Music School In Hendersonville, NC

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Why is the Music Academy of WNC the #1 Choice, BEST Value, and LARGEST Music School in Hendersonville, North Carolina? Here are three reasons:

1. Our regular tuition rates start at $100.00 per month for weekly, 30-minute lessons. Some area music schools charge upwards of $125.00 for the same thing and regularly discount down to our every day rates for promotional purposes. We believe in giving our students fair, high-value tuition rates every day of the week without the promotional gimmicks.

2. All Music Academy faculty members have decades of teaching experience at the private studio, public/private school, or college/university levels. In fact, eight out of eleven (72%) hold a Master’s Degree or greater in their field of study (more than any other private music school in Henderson County). In addition to their teaching credentials, our faculty members have warm personalities, are extremely friendly, and dedicated to teaching the style of music you want to learn in your music lessons.

3. We serve over 200 students weekly for private music lessons, ensembles, and music classes (more than ANY private music school in Hendersonville). We have served thousands of families since 1997.

Give us a call to set up your FREE consultation to meet our faculty, tour our facilities, and register for private music lessons at 828-693-3726 or visit our website at http://wncmusicacademy.com and see why we are the #1 Choice, BEST Value, and LARGEST Music School in Hendersonville, North Carolina.

Three Important Questions To Ask Potential Music Instructors BEFORE Starting Private Music Lessons

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By:  Michael Ridenour

Choosing the right music school and music instructor can be a daunting task for anyone starting music lessons.  Not all music schools and private music instructors are created equal and students can spend a lot of time and money finding that out.  Asking the right questions and doing some research on potential instructors before starting private music lessons can maximize the learning process and eliminate a mountain of frustration. Neglecting to ask the right questions can leave a student feeling very frustrated to the point where money and time are wasted and the love of music is greatly diminished.  Here are three very important questions to ask potential music instructors before starting private music lessons.

1.  Q:  Where did the music instructor receive their education and what is their teaching experience? 

 A:  Many private music instructors teaching today, especially the more popular instruments such as guitar, bass, and drums, have little to no formal music education.  They have either received their musical training from lessons at a local music store or are self-taught.  Many might be competent performers but they are far from great teachers.  The best recommendation is to find a private music teacher with a minimum of a Bachelor of Music degree (or equivalent) on their instrument.  If a teacher is really serious about music education then they will take the initiative to educate themselves.  In addition, the training of a music degree allows the instructor to learn how to properly teach technique and musicianship on their instrument.   It also gives them the proper experience with many proven, time-tested teaching philosophies and methods to incorporate with their students.   You have to ask yourself – would you be comfortable with someone teaching your child math, English, or social studies without a college degree, proper training, and certification at a primary or secondary school?  If the answer is “No” then why should you lower your expectations and standards when it comes to music lessons you are actually paying for with your hard-earned money?

Ask the potential music instructor about their past teaching experience.  Have they taught music in the public or private school system, at a college or university, or in a private music studio?  How long have they taught in each of these settings?  Their answers will tell you a lot about their teaching experience and longevity.  What types of music curriculum and methods do they incorporate in their private lessons?  Their answer will tell you about the direction your lessons will go and what you can expect to learn from them.  What is their teaching philosophy?  Their answer will tell you a lot about their lesson organization and pedagogy beliefs.  The more teaching experience an instructor has the more likely you will find a well-educated and seasoned music instructor.  Do not settle for a music instructor without the proper collegiate music education, pedagogy training, or teaching experience.  It is really not worth the frustration and can be a potential waste of time and money.

2.  Q: Does the music instructor teach proper technique on their instrument? 

A:  The first inclination is to except an answer of “YES” but you have to investigate a little further to make sure proper technical training will be incorporated into each music lesson.   As a classical guitarist, with a Master’s of Music degree and over 20 years of teaching experience, the one thing I constantly see with students coming into my studio from other teachers is the lack of proper technical training.  Normally, students are coming to me from other teachers because they are frustrated and cannot play what they want to play.  One look at their hands and how they play makes the root of their frustration pretty obvious – they have never been properly trained in the playing technique of their instrument.

I once had an eighth grade student come to me from a previous teacher.  She had taken guitar lessons from this teacher for about a year and found herself not being able to play what she wanted to play.  I asked what method book she was studying and she told me it was the same book that I used.  Since she had been taking lessons for about a year, I thought she might be at the end of the first method book or just starting the second.  That is the normal progress a student that age would make in my studio with proper technique supplementation.  When she told me she was almost finished with book three I thought to myself that she was either the next Stevie Ray Vaughan or we were going to have problems.  Unfortunately, the latter was the case.  Her technique was so bad that she could hardly play and actually gave up the guitar in frustration.  Her parents basically wasted their hard-earned money on a year’s worth of guitar lessons and, instead, purchased their daughter a lifetime of frustration and disdain for the guitar.  I personally would have asked that former teacher for my money back.

Proper technique is different for every instrument and the voice but all should be deeply rooted in classical music.  There is just no way around that fact.  Students should find a private music teacher that incorporates proper, classical-based technique into their lessons for all musical styles (including rock, jazz, country, blues, etc.).  A student cannot play or sing what their hands or voice will not allow.  Proper technique, especially for beginning students, is crucial to a successful music lesson experience where progress can be made to advanced performance levels.  This is a rampant problem in the private music education world I see every day.  Don’t let it become a problem for your personal music lesson experience by taking lessons from a private music instructor that does not incorporate classical-based technique.

3. Q: Does the music instructor teach proper musicianship and music theory on their instrument? 

 A:  Make sure music reading is taught in all lessons.  There are teachers out there that do not teach their students how to read music because many cannot read music themselves.  That’s hard to believe but more common than you might think.  Many people think of “music theory” as some mystical term.  It really isn’t.  Proper music theory training in a private music lesson setting should include but not be limited to the following: music reading; the major and minor keys; chords and their extensions derived from these keys; the modes of the diatonic, melodic-minor, and harmonic minor scales with the chords and extensions derived from these scales; and the understanding, placement, application, and incorporation of these items on the instrument for performance, phrasing, improvisation, and music making.  If a student is interested in becoming a music major then any legitimate private music school should be equipped to offer and teach a college-level freshman music theory course and general music history to prepare students for college entrance and placement examines.

One item that has been lost, due to the aide of computers and software, is the art of transcription; especially for rock, jazz, blues, and other popular music forms.  Students are not developing their ears the way they used to because computers are taking over that task.  The best ear-training tool music students can learn is how to transcribe for their instrument.  True transcription is actually setting down with a recording, writing down the music on paper, and placing it on their instrument.  Transcription, in my opinion, brings all the elements of music theory and performance together for the student.  It makes music come alive on an instrument and fosters a greater understanding of the theoretical elements of music and how they are used in different musical styles.  It teaches the student how to become a musician on their instrument which, with the guidance of a good teacher, is the ultimate goal in teaching musicianship.

Your music education experience is very important and the right questions should be asked to maximize your music education investment.  Finding a private music teacher with a music degree, proper teaching experience, and insuring proper technique and musicianship training are incorporated into every lesson will help potential students find the right music teacher, maximize progress, and guarantee years of enjoyment in playing a musical instrument.

Please give us a call at the Music Academy of WNC at 828-693-3726, schedule a FREE Consultation to discuss music lessons, or visit our website at http://wncmusicacademy.com for more information about our music school.  We would love to discuss your musical direction and help you achieve your musical goals.

Michael Ridenour is the Director and founder of the Music Academy of WNC in Hendersonville, North Carolina.  He holds a Master’s of Music degree in Guitar Performance with over 20 years of teaching and performing experience.  He has taught music at the middle, high school and college and university levels as well as private studio settings.

Faculty Member of the Week: Jamie Leigh O’Neil (Flute, Woodwinds, Cello) – March 14, 2016

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Jamie Leigh O’Neil teaches flute, woodwind instruments, and cello at the Music Academy of WNC.  She has been on our faculty since 2015.  She holds a Master of Music degree in flute performance from the University of Nevada at Las Vegas and a Bachelor’s Degree in Music Therapy from the University of Georgia.  Click HERE for more information about Jamie Leigh and give us a call at 828-693-3726 to schedule your flute, woodwind, or cello lessons.

Save 20% During March Madness at the Music Academy of WNC!

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It’s MARCH MADNESS at the Music Academy of WNC! SAVE 20% off our low monthly tuition pricing throughout the month of March! The Music Academy of WNC offers the most comprehensive and largest variety of music lessons than any other music school in Henderson County. Our faculty is the most educated and experienced in Hendersonville with the majority holding a Master’s degree or greater in their field of study. All of our music lessons incorporate classical-based musicianship and technique within the style(s) our students wish to learn. Plus, they are LOTS OF FUN! We currently offers private music lessons in the following:

* Guitar (Electric, Classical, Acoustic)
* Bass (Electric, Upright)
* Drums & Percussion
* Piano & Voice
* Violin, Viola, Cello, & Double-Bass
* All Woodwind and Brass Instruments

Give us a call at 828-693-3726 to schedule your FREE Consultation to discuss your musical direction at Hendersonville’s #1 Choice, Best Value, and LARGEST Music School.

Unlocking The Diatonic Modes Guitar Workshop Held Saturday, February 20, 2016 at 9:00 AM

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“Unlocking the Diatonic Modes” Guitar Workshop (Intermediate to Advanced Guitar Players).  This workshop is for intermediate to advanced guitar players and will cover the seven diatonic modes and their applications over chords and common progressions.  Workshop topics include:  the seven diatonic left-hand patterns; modal identification over various chords and progressions; modal patterns across the entire fretboard; modal theory; fretboard theory; and MUCH MORE!   The workshop will meet on Saturday, February 20, 2016 from 9:00 AM – 12:00 Noon.  Workshop is taught by Mike Ridenour (M.M. Guitar Performance).  Workshop materials are included in tuition price.  Tuition:  $30.00.  Click HERE to register.

Six-Week Beginning Guitar Class Begins This Thursday, February 18, 2016

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Six Week Beginning Guitar Class (Ages 9 and Up).  The Beginning Guitar Class is for beginning students ages 9 and up.  This class will cover music reading and basic guitar playing technique for electric and acoustic guitar.  Class will meet each Thursday from 1:00 – 1:50 PM starting February 18th and ending March 24, 2016.  Class is taught by Mike Ridenour (M.M. Guitar Performance).  Method book is included in tuition price.  Tuition:  $25.00.  Click HERE to register.