They’re hard at work playing music

| August 30, 2018 | 0 Comments

MATTHEW SAVAGIAN, 8, Muirfield Road, played Beethoven, Hayden, the “Star Wars” theme by Williams and his own jazz compositions at the June 10 young Musicians Recital. He was also the master of ceremonies, reading the closing statement on all the music played in a Windsor Square home as his teacher George Grove looks on.

School is back in session and local student musicians are hard at work reading, writing and playing a variety of instruments.

Many students attend Rhodes School of Music on Larchmont and the Los Angeles Violin Shop on Olympic, or they practice with independent teacher George Grove Jr.

Rhodes School of Music, founded by lifelong musician David Rhodes, offers one-on-one lessons for approximately 15 different instruments. The most popular offerings are piano and guitar, but students also can pick up more uncommon skills such as audio production.

The Rhodes School occupies the second floor above Burger Lounge at 215 N. Larchmont Blvd. The space holds nine teaching studios –– a few carved from singer/songwriter Leonard Cohen’s former recording studio suite — and employs 35 instructors for more than 500 students.

Rhodes welcomes the start of the academic school year. He believes that regular school often augments musical practice.

DAVID RHODES at the keyboard.

“School and music lessons supplement each other really well because music lessons help kids stay sharper in school, and school helps keep up the routine for practicing a lot more,” Rhodes said.

Sixth-grader Louis Reich has been playing at Rhodes School for three years. The Irving Boulevard resident takes weekly piano lessons and occasionally picks up the electric bass. He also plays clarinet in his school orchestra at Oakwood Elementary.

“It’s always really fun, I know a lot of the people at Rhodes. I’ve had lessons with a lot of the teachers here, and they’re all really nice,” Reich said.

STUDENT at the Rhodes School, Anya Shakmatova.

Rebecca Roberts, 15, also practices two different instruments at the Rhodes School.

The Arden Boulevard resident has been taking voice lessons for a year and a half and began playing the ukulele six months ago at Rhodes.

“I’ve just always loved music,” Roberts said. “I’ve always wanted to learn how to sing, and I started listening to music of people playing the ukulele, and I thought, ‘Hey, I want to play that!’”

Roberts practices at least an hour of singing and ukulele at home each day, and she occasionally combines the two.

Delaney Paul, 11, Wilcox Avenue, started playing piano at Rhodes School two years ago.

Her favorite feature of piano playing is the ability to perform her favorite pop songs, such as some by Taylor Swift.

“I like that I can just hear a song, and I can do it. I can play that,” Paul said.

The Los Angeles Violin Shop, 3350 W. Olympic Blvd., is a stringed-instrument store, crafting studio, repair shop and music school. Co-founders Danny Oh and Owen Lee opened the Olympic Blvd. shop in 2002 and held a grand opening for their new Orange County location this month.

The shop sells violins, violas and cellos adjacent to the music school, where students learn how to play those instruments plus piano. Students have the option of renting the shop’s instruments.

“A lot of the time, customers asked if there were any teachers. So, we thought, why don’t we start a studio for students?” Lee said.

Grace Rhim, a first-grader, has been playing violin for three years. Her father, Charlie Rhim, wanted her to pick up the violin for its developmental benefits.

“My wife and I don’t have a strong passion for music, but we heard that learning violin helps with hand-eye coordination. We wanted Grace to develop that when she is young,” Rhim said.

ERIN KIM poses with her violin in the LA Violin Shop. Photo by Talia Abrahamson.

Seventh-grader Erin Kim has only been practicing violin for a few months, but she loves it. She used to play the piano, but prefers the sound of the violin.

“I’m a beginner, but I like the violin,” Kim said.

George Grove Jr. is the traveling piano man of Hancock Park. He has taught piano for 30 years –– at his peak teaching 150 students a week –– and continues to be welcomed into the homes of 30 students every week.

Grove discovered his love for music when he was six years old. He walked three miles to practice piano every day, braving even cold midwestern weather, before becoming the organist at a monastery at age 14. He left the monastery at 21 for a music conservatory in Chicago, later becoming a private-practice attorney while taking lessons and then becoming a music teacher.

He also is a prolific writer and composer, having written four volumes on musical techniques and composed 500 works for piano. He does not publish his work but plays for own enjoyment. In addition, Grove is an avid rock climber.

Lucas Parisot, Windsor Square, played piano with Grove for approximately 12 years. He is a senior at Washington University in St. Louis, and in addition to playing piano, he also enjoys the cello, bass and banjo.

“Piano was a really good creative outlet for me. I loved playing music. It was a great baseline instrument to start playing other instruments and learning music theory,” Parisot said.

He credits Grove with encouraging his love and dedication toward music.

“I think one of the hardest bits of playing music is motivating yourself to practice –– it’s the only way to actually improve –– and it’s hard especially because it doesn’t provide instantaneous results like a lot of other hobbies do,” Parisot said.

“But George was always really good at allowing students to fall in love on their own with music, giving them the drive and passion to practice.”

Parisot no longer takes lessons with Grove, but he hosts Grove’s students’ piano recitals in his family’s home and still goes rock climbing with him, most recently in July at Stoney Point in Chatsworth.

KAYLIE MCMANUS, who grew up on Mansfield Avenue and was one of George Grove’s first students, is now studying music at the University of New York. Here, Grove performs one of his compositions in honor of Kaylie’s grandmother, Ann Welch, after she passed a year ago. It was her grandmother’s favorite. “She always made me play it,” Grove said.

Marat Daukayev, Jr., is a junior at Seattle University, and he has been a student of Grove’s since he was five years old, growing up in Windsor Square. Daukayev says that Grove helped him not only to learn how to play piano, but to discover a passion for music.

“I love not just piano, but music in general, and that [through music] I can express my emotions. Even though I might not be able to voice them sometimes,” said Daukayev, the son and namesake of the Miracle Mile / La Brea Avenue ballet school founder.

Marat Jr. continues to play the piano during college and enjoys composing his own work, a skill that Grove has helped him foster, he said.

“I’ve been doing a lot of composing in college, where I just play around with whatever pops into my head. I tend not to write it down; it’s more just to relax and have fun with playing,” Daukayev said. “George has been teaching me the more mechanical side of music, helping me understand the piano and how to read and write music.”

He added: “This is quite high praise, but I would say that he is my biggest role model in my life, and he is a very influential part of my life.”

By Talia Abrahamson, a junior at Marlborough School.

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