The Pueblo Chieftan

Piano studio opens Friday in Pueblo West

Using the Piano Marvel technology that is extremely popular in Pueblo West, students now have the option to take piano lessons in a group setting at the new Music Marvel Academy.

The academy will officially open its doors Friday with a two-day open house to introduce the community to its offerings and ideas.

“It’s technology-centered, as opposed to a traditional studio that tends to have traditional teaching methods and one-on-one instruction.”

The academy will use local music teachers for instructors to help guide small groups of students in piano studies, as well as guitar and drums. The students will use the Piano Marvel software and will have the teachers on hand for immediate assistance and direction.

“The benefit is double-sided,” Shifflet said. “There is a lower cost for people who want to do the lessons, but using the technology, it facilitates individualized learning. Just in a group setting.”

The state-of-the-art music technology lab has eight stations with, “what we feel is the best music education software there is,” Shifflet said.

The other concept of the music studio is something Shifflet said he’s never seen before — the ability to have open hours with access to come in and practice. Because the majority of learning happens during practice sessions and not lessons, students can often make mistakes — and then continue practicing them — before being corrected at a traditional lesson. With Piano Marvel, students are immediately corrected and guided, meaning they can learn and advance quickly.

“By offering the ability for people to come in and practice on a station during open hours, that’s an awesome way to resolve (making mistakes),” Shifflet said. “There will be a moderator there to help.”

The Piano Marvel software is Colorado-based. The founder, Aaron Garner, is from Pueblo West. He studied piano at the University of Northern Colorado and BYU, then moved back to Southern Colorado (Rye).

Garner and Shifflet talked about the idea of Piano Marvel for awhile, but Shifflet said “we kind of felt like some large music corporation would probably do it.”

Tired of waiting for that to happen, about five years ago they pitched the idea to local investors — many of whom live in Pueblo and Pueblo West — and raised about $850,000 to develop the software.

The technology has taken off. Shifflet said sales doubled in 2013 (the program is subscription based), and people worldwide are using Piano Marvel. Several universities are beginning to pick up Piano Marvel as well.

Shifflet said the hope is, of course, that the studio will be successful and can stand as a model for other Music Marvel Academy locations in the future. A piano studio in Florida has already contacted the Piano Marvel Company, inquiring about using the curriculum in its location, and a group in Thailand has inquired as well.

Classes at the Music Marvel Academy will begin in early February. The open house will allow people to come in and check out the studio, signing up for classes if they wish. They will also be eligible for door prizes (like a month of free access to the lab).

The grand opening is Jan. 31 and Feb. 1 from 11 a.m. until 6 p.m. The studio is located at 279 S. Joe Martinez Blvd. (across from the Pueblo West Library) and can be reached at 251-9731 for more information.

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