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Tune your musical dreams with this new music institute in Gainesville
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Gainesville resident Mary Grace Nix, 12, plays the piano during a private music lesson through Lakewood Music Institute in Gainesville, Thursday, July 12, 2018, at Lakewood Baptist Church. The institute, which is not limited to Lakewood members, aims to teach people of all ages around the county to play music. - photo by David Barnes

Not too long ago, students who weren’t quite skilled enough to join the Lakewood Baptist Church worship band didn’t have a place to learn. They were left to practice on their own or find help somewhere else.

For Zak McQueen, associate worship pastor at Lakewood, that wasn’t good enough. So he came up with the idea for a new music school, Lakewood Music Institute, with lessons held at the church off Thompson Bridge Road.

“We started brainstorming about what it looked like to be local, not just at Lakewood, but kind of offering it for the whole entire Gainesville area,” McQueen said.

He said that vision grew to a vision of teaching people of all ages from around the county how to better play the music they enjoy. 

It’s not just for members of Lakewood, but for anyone who wants to learn music at a discounted rate. Individual 30-minute sessions are $25 while 30-minute group sessions, which can include up to five students, are $10.

Lakewood Music Institute
Where: 2235 Thompson Bridge Road, Gainesville
How much: $25 individual 30-minute session; $10 for 30-minute group sessions
Contact: 770-532-6307
More info: www.lakewoodlife.org/lmi


“I think our vision is just offering quality music instruction that will assist in the development of musicians in our community,” said Kim Stice, director of Lakewood Music Institute. “But what I think makes our music school unique is we’re trying to cater the lessons to the student’s musical interests and goals. So we really teach a variety of styles.”

Stice said most music schools already have a set curriculum or a book out of which  they teach, so students can sometimes get bored if it’s not the type of music they want to learn. That’s why the institute is careful to teach the basics of music if it’s needed, but also teach the style the student wants to learn, so they’re able to grow in the way they want.

Stice said the kinds of music they teach is “completely across the spectrum.” It’s everything from pop to broadway, classical or worship.

“We have students that are learning Beethoven and are on the classical track to study classical music at a university,” Stice said. “But then we have students who are really more casual learners, or maybe there’s just a couple songs on the radio they want to learn. So with each lesson, we try to make sure the student’s interests are being met.”

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Zak McQueen gives a private guitar lesson to Sara Everett, 11, through Lakewood Music Institute in Gainesville, Thursday, July 12, 2018, at Lakewood Baptist Church. The institute, which is not limited to Lakewood members, aims to teach people of all ages around the county to play music. - photo by David Barnes
McQueen said he gets “a little excited” when he thinks about the possible growth of the institute. Right now, it only has about 40 students and seven instructors. Each instructor, who is a member of the Lakewood worship team, works to teach voice lessons along with drums, piano, guitar, bass guitar and even violin. But as the upcoming school year draws near, McQueen knows the number of students will grow and said he hopes to have more instruments and more instructors to accommodate.


Eventually, he’d like to have an actual event centered around the institute, too.

“I am a dreamer, so I can put a little bit too much stuff into the future,” McQueen said. “But we’ve sat down and talked about implementing a music camp every summer, just to try to be like a big kickoff event every year.”

Whatever comes of the institute, McQueen is hoping to “supplement” the Hall County and Gainesville school systems and what they are doing to further music education.

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Kim Stice gives a private piano lesson to Mary Grace Nix, 12, through Lakewood Music Institute in Gainesville, Thursday, July 12, 2018, at Lakewood Baptist Church. The institute, which is not limited to Lakewood members, aims to teach people of all ages around the county to play music. - photo by David Barnes
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