Monday, April 06, 2009

Passions Play Out at Neighborhood Arts and Music School (NAMS)

Neighborhood Arts and Music School (NAMS) opened in January 5 of 2009, becoming a near-instant success as they progressed into the first quarter of the year—an impressive feat in a deep world-wide recession. If you know NAMS’ owners, Kelly Thomas and Matthew Gaskins, you probably wouldn’t be surprised.

Matt is an amazing musician, able to play a number of instruments at a level that impresses even his seasoned peers. He holds a Bachelors of Science in Performance, Percussion and Voice from Cameron University in Lawton, Oklahoma and in 2008 he earned his Masters of Music in Jazz Studies from the University of North Texas, one of the country’s most renown music schools.

Kelly earned a BBA in Marketing from the University of Memphis, with a minor in Music—a potent combination in any part of the music business. A classically trained flutist, Kelly also plays alto sax, and piano, and writes music and lyrics. As a former Air Force wife, she lived in 8 cities in 12 years, finding a way to continue to participate in music everywhere she lived, whether in community bands, church bands or teaching private lessons.

It is unusual to find accomplished musicians who not only have a passion for playing, but an equal passion for teaching. I asked Matt and Kelly what led them to open a music school at such a dangerous time.

“There is a simple joy in sharing music and what’s been given to me—passing it on to others,” confided Matt. “I always thought that teaching was for those who couldn’t do. But in earning my Masters, I started to dream of having a school. I found there was so much to learn in teaching. Once I saw the results of the performances of my students, I was smitten. It brought joy to my life.”

For Kelly’s part, she says “I love being able to provide an environment where students can learn to love music. Music is such an amazing and powerful gift and is something people can continue participating in their entire lifetime.”

As the concept developed, they knew they wanted to build a school that embraced the performance viewpoint—a place for students to perform and create. They succeeded beyond everyone’s dreams, except perhaps their own. To complete the picture, they quickly hired a number of accomplished teachers, finding those who could instill a sense of fun in the learning environment.

The school facility itself is a beautiful space, with a modern 50s and 60s retro feel that invokes The Jetsons. They currently have six lesson rooms, a built in recording studio, a small recital hall, and a large screen TV and Wii for the waiting area.

As a matter of full disclosure, I’ll reveal that I’ve had the pleasure of teaching fundamental piano and beginning to advanced guitar at NAMS for the last few months. I have a mentoring streak a mile wide, and I can tell you that it is an absolute joy having the opportunity to work for and with like-minded musician-mentors.

NAMS represents another great choice out of a small but impressive array of music teaching facilities in Frisco. If you are looking for music instruction for yourself or your children, I recommend that you consider NAMS.