Ballard: Music academy to offer style-specific lessons to all ages | Community business

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In a few short weeks, Aberdeen will be home to a brand new one-stop shop for music lessons.

Dakota Music Academy is the first business endeavor from owner and Aberdeen native Andrew Grandpre, 30, who has been playing music for most of his life.

Grandpre learned from conventional teaching methods, was classically trained and is partial to group performance and rock bands. But he always wondered where people could learn that style of playing in Aberdeen.

Enter Dakota Music Academy, which starts its first semester Sept. 2.

The main office of the business is a newly renovated space on the basement level of the The Ward, 104 S. Main St. There, three rooms will be used for lessons, and a recording studio across the hall offers two more, including one sound-proofed drumming room.

“I wanted to create one central place where people of all ages and all experience levels could come and take high-quality lessons. And they can be educated in the instruments they want to learn in the styles they want to learn,” Grandpre said.

He has been teaching private music lessons for nearly a decade — a side gig that started when he was studying music education at Northern State University.

Following graduation in 2012, Grandpre worked at Pauer Sound and Music. That was around the same time music instructors around the country were borrowing from the movie “School of Rock” and teaching lessons in group settings.

Grandpre and a co-worker took the concept on to rave results, which inspired him to try it years later, as head of the music program at Aberdeen Christian School.


Jackson Rott, left, looks on as Andrew Grandpre demonstrates a chord during a guitar lesson at Dakota Music Academy. American News photo by John Davis

He piloted a program there called the Worship Class, with the purpose of teaching students as a group, in a band format, in what he called “a musical ensemble that exemplified modern instrumentation.”

Having the experience from Pauer Sound helped. The class quickly became a hit and sparked in Grandpre ideas about the future.

He loved music and teaching — that much he was sure about. But whether he wanted to do it at a school was another question.

“You’re limited to the school you’re in,” he said. “I missed teaching the more modern instruments — guitar, drums, keys, things you’d see in rock bands.”

And so, from previous experiences, the idea of Dakota Music Academy began to take shape.

In its first year, the academy will only offer private lessons. Grandpre wants to focus on building a foundation for the future, when he hopes to mirror his rock schools at Pauer Sound and Aberdeen Christian.

Eventually, Grandpre hopes the academy will inspire a future generation of musicians.

“I remember a community that used to have what seemed like a garage band on every corner. When I was growing up, young people were starting bands left and right and we’d all play shows together,” he said. “And it just seems like we’ve lost a lot of that now, so that’s what I want to reinvigorate.

Grandpre is currently sifting through applications for teachers at the academy. When all is said and done, Dakota Music Academy will offer private lessons in acoustic and bass guitar, drums, keyboard/piano, voice, brass and woodwind.

It was important to Grandpre that each teacher have a college degree, along with ample performing and teaching experience.

“Our credentials are quite stacked and that’s purposeful,” he said.

Having experts in the different disciplines is crucial to Grandpre and one of the things that defines the business as an academy, rather than a studio.

While creating a studio model with one teacher and several independent students would have been easier, Grandpre said he had a bigger vision for what would become of Dakota Music Academy. He wanted more students, more ensembles, more teachers and more instruments.

For every aspect to be as successful as possible, Grandpre knew he couldn’t do it alone. In fact, it wasn’t much of a question to him whether he would have others involved in the endeavor.

“In college I learned how to teach every instrument, but that doesn’t always mean you’d want me teaching every instrument. I know people who are much more skilled and more passionate about that instrument than I am,” he said. “That’s the vision. Because then every student is getting a high-quality lesson from an expert.”

Dakota Music Academy can take on as many as 140 students, and registration is still open on the company’s website.

Lessons will be scheduled a year in advance, like any normal school. Students will be able to request custom packages, such as 30 minutes of guitar and 30 minutes of piano in one session. An impressive teaching staff makes that possible.

Sitting in the office he only moved into last week, Grandpre is often blown away by the surreality of his journey. Becoming a local entrepreneur is not something he had ever seen for himself, but it’s a role he’s come into naturally, with plenty of help from friends, family and the community.

“We all go into this with a good level of ignorance and you need to,” he said. “That being said, I’ve been really amazed at the Aberdeen community. I mean the second I started talking about a business, people started listening and pointing me to resources.”

Grandpre and his wife, Charlotte, want to plant their roots in town. They did everything they could to make sure they stayed here, aspiring to make a difference in the lives of the next generation of Aberdonians.

“Even though we’re a for-profit business, we want the community to know that we love Aberdeen. That’s why we’re still here. A lot of millennials are moving out of Aberdeen but we wanted to be the opposite. We wanted to be countercultural,” he said. “Yeah, we’re a business, but any good business is about serving its clientele and that’s where we’re at. We’re here to serve.”

News & notes

  • Addictive Ink and Hub City Vapor has moved.

The tattoo and piercing shop is now at 114 S. Main St.

  • Junque Shack, 422 S. Illinois St., Suite 3, is having a “pick our stash” sale on Saturday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Items available for purchase include project pieces, ready-to-paint wood furniture, miscellaneous items and more, according to a Facebook post.

  • Fresh Farms will make its way to Aberdeen today, with Georgia peaches, Michigan blueberries and Washington dark cherries and peaches in tow.

The truck will be parked at Hobby Lobby, 2424 Sixth Ave. S.E., from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m.

Folks can reserve and prepay orders at Fruit can be purchased at the truck for an additional $4 fee.

  • The Farmer’s Wife Boutique, 104 S. Main St., will be donating part of its sales this weekend to local schools.

Twenty percent of sales today will go to Lincoln Elementary School. Saturday’s sales will go to the Langford Area School District.

Patrons can also take in school supplies to the shop for a chance to win a $50 gift card.

  • Despite a bevy of rumors, nothing concrete has been decided for the future of the former Max & Erma’s, 715 N. 10th St., according to owner Kevin Pharis.

While Pharis previously said he and his wife, Kara, planned to open a restaurant, it’s not known yet whether that will be the same chain or something new.

Max & Erma’s opened in February 2010 and closed in April. It is owned by Montana-based Glacier Restaurant Group, which also operates MacKenzie River Pizza Grill & Pub, Ciao Mambo, Craggy Range Bar & Grill and Latitude 48.

  • Children up to 12 years old will have the chance to get their eyes checked for free at the Brown County Fair.

A KidSight Eye Screening van will be set up Wednesday through Saturday at the new Kids Zone, west of the Odde Ice Center. A screening takes less than a minute and can indicate whether a child should go in for a complete eye exam. Visit the KidSight Eye Screening Facebook page event for more information.

  • Danger von Dempsey’s Pizza and Brewhäus, 1023 S. Main St., is hosting Keep the Pint Night on Sunday.

Patrons who order any Dempsey Brewing Co. beers between 4 and 9 p.m. can keep the pint glass for an extra $1.

  • Did you know? PetMaxx, the pet wash station at AutoMaxx of Aberdeen, 515 Jones St., is accessible 24/7 and accepts cash, coins or cards.

On the northwest side of the building, PetMaxx also features a special vacuum that carefully extracts water and loose fur, so no towels are required for drying patrons’ furry friends.

  • A building permit for $330,000 has been issued to Target
  • ,
  • 3316 Seventh Ave. S.E., for parking lot improvements.
  • If you haven’t yet signed up for The Square Deal, our free, monthly business newsletter, visit to see what you’ve been missing.

Follow @eballard_aan on Twitter.

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