Dear Band Director, Private Music Teacher, or Parent of a band/private music student:

We are not here to steal students. I know that’s a rather abrupt statement, but I think it needed to be said. I think it necessary to tell you a little bit about why we are here and what we hope to do. But also, to explain how that impacts you and what you do.


Can I share a little story first?

When I was a boy learning to play music, I was fortunate enough to be a part of a genuinely solid music program through both junior and senior high school. My teachers were gifted, educated, and passionate. And I had opportunities for musical growth and experience that we’re significant. But my teachers, as all educators, were just men and women, and running large programs at that. They could only do so much and they played to their strengths, which I appreciate.

I love and appreciate these men and women dearly. They each played unique and important roles in shaping me. And I will never forget them. I am still in close contact with two of them, and one served as a reader on my book and recorded with me a while back.

I say all this because I am sure that you are pouring into lives of your students in a similar fashion. I am sure they won’t ever forget you either, and we want to say thank you for that and all you do to support music.

But these teachers and programs we’re not without limitations. Here are a few points in which I had needs that couldn’t really be met in these programs:

Music theory:

My teachers did their best, and they even spent personal time and portions of their office hours trying to teach me what they could. But they were busy, and most of the theory they had a solid grasp of and taught me were not the jazz and contemporary theory I needed.

Jazz improvisation:

We had one of the best jazz programs in the area, and I credit my high school band director with introducing me to one of the most important composer/arrangers in jazz (Stan Kenton). In fact Kenton probably influenced me more than any other American composer/arranger. But it is difficult, and improvisation while incredibly important is generally not the focus of a big-band class in high school. They did their best, and time is limited in a one period slot for a jazz band schools. Of course, they were also attempting this at 6:45 in the morning! This alone makes them heroes in my book!


This one is important. High school afforded me some opportunity. I led sectionals and had the opportunity once to lead a small combo of my original music in a band concert, and that is something special that I will never forget. But we reach new levels of skill, expression, and even comprehension of what we are learning when we share it with others through one on one mentoring.

These three areas just so happen to be a focus at the TIA in our instrumental studies classes and lessons. I’d like to put this out there: would you give us a chance to help meet the needs you might not be able to meet? We are not here to steal students or create needs that don’t exist, but to fill those that aren’t being met.

Put us in your pocket

Would you share who we are and what we do with your students and parents?

Would you consider challenging your students that are really hungering for growth in one of these three areas to give us a call?

We would love to come alongside of you and help them along, partnering with you in this way for the music education of our communities. Put us in your pocket. We could use the mentors: your student could inspire a student at the academy, and our student could find something they’ve been looking for—and bring back new skills, development, and passion to your classroom and your band program. Our mentor study program was created with your students in mind.

We are currently receiving students and mentors for our summer semester that begins July 6.

And if there is any way we can serve you, please let us know. I would be happy to come to your school and share about we are doing, talk about the mentor program, or even offer a helpful clinic.. just drop us a line.

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