Studies have shown that art education is extremely beneficial for children. Luckily, there are a variety of ways for kids to get involved in the arts. Music Maker Workshops, a family-owned business in Ahwatukee Foothills, offers a wide array of music classes and private lessons for both children and adults.
On Monday, the studio started another session of its renowned Rock Band program. The workshop is year-round and organized into 16-week sessions. The program is open for children between the ages of 9 and 16. An adult session is available for those 16 and older.
The studio hosts auditions to place new members in their bands. Band placement is based on the student's age, experience and music preference. Each band consists of a drummer, singer, and a guitar and bass player.
In order to participate in the Rock Band program students must pay a one-time fee of $299, which covers the venues where the bands perform as well as the weekly practices. Students are also expected to attend all sessions.
In the past year, the rock bands performed at many venues such as Hard Rock Café, Club Red, Barro's Pizza and Rock Taco Cantina. The bands have also helped raise money for charities, such as the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.
Ethan Shanker, a 10-year-old drummer, started taking lessons at the studio in 2003 and participates in the workshop. Shanker's parents have also taken lessons at the studio and his father is part of the Rock Band program.
"It's one of the only rock band programs closer to here (Ahwatukee), and I really enjoy playing the drums," Shanker said.
Jacob Paige, 13, started taking lessons at the studio about seven years ago and is also involved in Rock Band. Paige plays bass and keyboards, and also takes bass and piano lessons at the studio.
"It's just fun to meet with other people who have the same interests as you, and to play with other people," Paige said.
Mike Hinrichs and Jason Zarecki, known as Mr. Mike and Mr. Jay, are two of the main teachers in the program. Hinrichs is a guitarist who teaches the beginning and intermediate bands and Zarecki is a bassist who teaches the intermediate, advanced and adult bands. Zarecki also teaches students how to play the guitar, drums and saxophone, among other instruments.
Hinrichs is known for his great sense of humor and for his fun Rock Band practices, while Zarecki is known for his variety.
Zarecki also helps the studio select different venues for the bands, organizes band line-up and makes CDs for the students. He also has a strong graphic design background and makes posters and keepsakes for the students.
"They've got really high-quality teachers, which is important," said Tamera Shanker, Ethan's mother.
Both Shanker and Paige's mothers believe that the studio has provided great opportunities for their children.
"I think it's been a great experience for my kids. It's nice that they have different opportunities here for different instruments. It's a family atmosphere and they get a lot of great experience with the Rock Band in the community," said Traci Paige, who has three children who take private lessons at the studio and are in rock bands.
"Ethan has really flourished with both the program and the private lessons," added Tamera Shanker.
Her son received the Most Improved Drummer of the Year Award at the end of 2011.
"I think you get a lot more than what you would expect for the price. I think the experience is invaluable, you can't even put a price tag on it," said Traci Paige.
During this Rock Band session the bands will perform at Horizon Presbyterian Church, the Ostrich Festival and the Hard Rock Café. The bands will also work with Alice Cooper's Solid Rock Foundation.
In addition to the Rock Band program, Music Maker Workshops offers a variety of other programs, like Spring Break Music Camp March 12-15, in which students pick three of their favorite music activities and design their own camp. Like the Rock Band program, students are separated into groups based on age and ability.
For more information about Music Maker Workshops, call (480) 706-1224 or visit www.musicmakerworkshops.com
• Arselia Gales is interning this semester for the Ahwatukee Foothills News. She is a sophomore at Arizona State University.