Sound Music Instruction was founded by Gary Westfall as an alternative to traditional studio music lessons. Gary developed an interest in music in his early teens while growing up in Seattle, Wash. He started his music education through private lessons at the local music store and group lessons taught at the local high school. He was unhappy with the quality and what he learned however; Gary decided to continue his education at famed Berklee College of Music in Boston, where the musicality and quality of education was much greater than he had ever experienced before. I didn't realize how much I really had not learned from my private music lessons," Westfall says.
Upon graduation, Gary moved to Los Angeles to work at a major record label. He maintained his love for music education and started teaching students of all ages and levels in their homes. I found with teaching students in their homes they were more comfortable, allowing the lessons to move smoothly. They learned more. They also practiced more because their parents got more involved, and since it was convenient for them, they missed lessons less often," he adds.
Gary then moved to Florida a few years later, where he continued to teach private lessons. He also taught group lessons at IMG Sport Academies, home of the famous Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy.
The sport academy was a middle school and high school. They took regular classes, but the majority of their education was in their sport. I taught a couple elective classes, and they were very popular. These kids never wanted to be musicians; they were going to be athletes, but they loved music and wanted to learn to play their favorite songs. It was great. He then moved to Michigan, where he taught at several music studios and music stores.
Seeing a need for a standard in quality private music lessons and an option for busy families, Gary decided to make his love of music a full-time occupation, which originated Sound Music Instruction. At SMI we believe in experienced, educated teachers (the best musicians don't always make the best educators), the convenience and comfort of bringing the lessons to the student, parental involvement (if the student is a child), and teaching each student as an individual in a positive, fun way. We know that 90 percent of our students will not make music a career, but we have many students that start bands, play in church, play in school, write songs for fun, and even just play along with their favorite songs," he says. "Through education, the student not only learns to play the instrument the correct way but learns to understand music, and learns to play with other musicians.
Our mission is to make a positive difference in the lives of children and adults by bringing the joy of music to everyone. We strive to set a standard in quality music education through excellent teachers, individual programs for students, and group lessons for those that cannot take private lessons; to make lessons convenient, safe, and comfortable by bringing them to our customers, at the same time keeping music affordable and fun.
Professional Associations & Certifications
- Music Teachers National Association (MTNA)
- Michigan Music Teachers Association (MMTA)
- American Guild of Music (AGM)
- MENC The National Association for Music Education
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