After founding its musical teaching experience, Are Uke Crazy?, Phoenix and Danielle Rose have expanded their program into the Weatherford Music Academy and are about to open a new location on Fort Worth Highway.
Phoenix and Danielle, both public education teachers, were able to hire instructors this summer and get a bigger location to expand their teachings into an academy.
“Until July of this year, it was just us, we were doing everything, and now we have all these amazing instructors that can work with students and help create curriculum,” Phoenix said. “We had not been able to expand and our studio is just built-out — 100 students with just two rooms is just crazy. Now in this location, we’ll be able to have six lessons happening simultaneously and still room for one more. Part of the mission of what we’re doing here is to facilitate a platform for young artists to be able to create and even generate content. We’re constantly creating opportunities not just to get on physical stages, but to get on the platform of sharing their videos on social media. It gives our students a totally different chance to shine.”
Danielle said she remembers when Are Uke Crazy? started and is excited about where it’s gone.
“I remember the first day [Phoenix] came home with a bunch of ukuleles for his classroom and he wanted to do a summer camp with ukuleles. Ever since that, he’s just been on fire, and the community is hungry for it. We started that and it was just like a moth to the light,” Danielle said. “The Weatherford Music Academy is like the umbrella and they can still take the Uke Crazy class with us.”
With the addition of instructors, the Weatherford Music Academy will teach students on guitar, ukulele, brass, woodwinds, violins, drums and piano.
Gannon Phillips teaches guitar, ukulele, bass and brass at the academy and has been a lifelong musician. Phillips has a music education degree from Howard Payne University and a master’s degree from Hardin Simmons. He was the low brass instructor at Howard Payne, student-taught at Hardin Simmons and had several other careers in the music industry before eventually making his way back to Weatherford, where he grew up.
“I saw what Phoenix was doing and contacted him and I really believe in what this studio is doing — spreading music to kids in a way where our focus isn’t necessarily to be the next Stratovarius, or whatever name you want to throw out, the goal is to spread music enjoyment and love and appreciation where people can take that music as a lifelong love. That’s the most important thing we do,” Phillips said. “That’s the message we’re teaching, we want you to love music and we want to facilitate that with you in any way possible.”
Another instructor, Justin Rowe, just graduated with his music education degree from Texas A&M University-Commerce and was about to accept a job at a car dealership before Phoenix got a hold of him.
“When he applied to us, he was about to go in for an interview at a car dealership and I told him that he loves music, he has a music education degree, and to come work for us and I would make it my job to find and create opportunities for him,” Phoenix said. “One thing Justin is very talented with is working with younger kids, he has that gift. He’s actually piloted our first ever homeschool general music course and the kids absolutely love it.”
Rowe said he loves teaching and if he was unable to teach music, he would find some type of career where he could teach kids.
“I originally wanted to be a middle school band director and actually student-taught at Aledo ISD. I’ve been a Weatherford resident my entire life and I love teaching music and I love teaching students,” Rowe said. “If I wasn’t teaching music, I would find something to teach kids. I’m an assistant with the youth program at my church, so I just love teaching and watching people grow in their skills, their confidence and understanding things. This has been the best job I’ve had so far and the reason I love working here is because all of these instructors also share that passion. It’s really been a humbling and happy experience so far.”
Rebecca Roviny teaches violin at the Weatherford Music Academy and started playing 10 years ago.
“I started playing 10 years ago when I was 8 — I started on viola and then switched to violin — and then about a month and a half ago I applied to the academy to see if there was anything I could help out with and they were just so lovely, really friendly and willing to take me in and trust me,” Roviny said. “I’ve been giving lessons for about a month and the students and everyone have been so kind and willing to listen and kind of go with my crazy teaching ideas. I literally had a student go up to the wall with her violin and stick a cushion between the violin and the wall to make sure she wasn’t slouching down. If the cloth dropped, then she knew she was slouching forward, so already the students have just been fantastic. I don’t feel like I”m at a job, it’s like I’m with friends and a community.”
Phoenix said they will also be expanding their programming to include additional courses and camps.
“We’re working on a Mommy and Me course right now, we’re working on expanding our offerings for adult students and this summer we may to a rock band camp where students come in with different instruments,” Phoenix said. “We’re going to be doing more for singer/songwriters, so there are a lot of things in the works and it’s only going to expand even more.”
Phoenix said Uke Crazy and now the Weatherford Music Academy wouldn’t have been possible without the help from his employer, Weatherford ISD.
“The only way that this could have ever been possible was with the support of Weatherford ISD. That’s been really helpful because a lot of our original students and current students have come from, I believe, every elementary school in the district. We also have students from TCA, Couts Christian Academy, Grace Christian, we’ve got students coming from Granbury and some from Denton now, so they’re coming from far and wide,” Phoenix said. “We pride ourselves on transparency and anybody can schedule a free tour with us because we want people to see our studio, we want people to meet us and see us in action.”
As for the official opening of the new building, at 1510 Fort Worth Highway in Weatherford, Phoenix said they’re hoping to open and start teaching by Nov. 1.
“As soon as this location is open, we’re going to be having open house events a lot more frequently,” Phoenix said. “I would say give us a call, visit our Facebook page, people can schedule a tour with us any time.”
For more details about the Weatherford Music Academy visit the Facebook page or weatherfordmusicacademy.com.