Ann Arbor Music Center, owned by Karen King and Alex Johnson, deserves more than five stars. I have been taking lessons at the AAMC for more than five years and during that time have realized one of my ultimate goals - playing in a band in front of an audience! As an adult it was a bit daunting to finally, as Alex states, "learn how to rock", but Alex, Karen, my teachers - and the other students (including the kids) made it crazy awesome.

Prior to starting here I did a ton of research: I looked at every type of lesson available (e.g. store, home), lesson time availability (as an adult I may be out of town for work), types of lessons (group/band), and what types of music and atmosphere were presented (I like Alternative Music). My first lesson, as with all new students, was with professional musician and co-owner Alex Johnson. Based on that lesson and talking about what music I liked, Alex set me up with my teacher. As far as teachers go, AAMC has not only incredibly talented musicians, but musicians that know how to teach - here you will not just become a jukebox that can spew out memorized songs, but you will learn what music is, and suddenly what you hear goes from being (to use a metaphor) a good hamburger to "two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, pickles, onions, on a sesame seed bun"!  The atmosphere here is all about learning (they hid the music theory in my Green Day!) and fulfilling dreams. Oh yeah, and the lesson pricing for all you receive can't be beat. Join AAMC and you have a music family for life. ROCK ON!!!

-Robin D


My son has been a guitar student for the last 5 years and has gone from wanting to recreate what he heard in songs to understanding the theory behind the sound.  Now he is reinventing and inventing his own sound through his one on one lessons as well as band lessons and is poised to leap right into the arms of Berklee School of Music in Boston.  Alex and Karen are amazing caretakers of musicianship and they work hard to feed and fulfill the need to make music that children can't yet express.  

Brendon is able to read his students and know when to push and when to change direction so that lessons aren't boring or too frustrating and remain very rewarding.  

This year my daughter began drumming lessons with Joey and is so in love with music that I know it will be with her always.  Next stop is joining a band and she can't wait!

If you are looking for a non-traditional, organic, hands on musical experience that will foster your love for music and bring its expression within your grasp, this is the place to be.  Located in downtown Ann Arbor, parking is right across the street, and several shops and restaurants are within walking distance.  I promise you, you will not be disappointed.

-Amy O


Our experience at Ann Arbor Music Center has been phenomenal.  Both of my sons have been taking music lessons at AAMC for 3-4 years.  One takes guitar lessons from Brendon and one takes piano with Mick and is in a band with 4 other kids.  We adore both Brendon and Mick.  They encourage and challenge our musicians.  The music education cultivates both technique and theory as well as encouraging creative expression. My kids get to play songs that they like and are introduced to new music as well.  

The band experience for my younger son has been both supportive and demanding.  Alex is an amazing teacher/role model.  My son has learned how to play increasingly complex music in an ensemble setting. I appreciate that the students start out taking private lessons and are matched with other kids at their skill level.  My son loves his band!  Recitals are a total delight.  These kids sound fantastic, and are so proud of their accomplishments.

The other thing that's great about AAMC is how the older students act as mentors to the younger ones.  The high school age kids help at camp and are so supportive of the young kids. It's a safe, nurturing place for kids AND it totally rocks!

-Leslie R


Our 15 Year old son was a student with Brendon and Alex for 4 years.  I can't say enough good things about this school.  They are so good, we drove 26 miles one way for our lessons. Sure, you have lots of choices for music lessons, but this school takes it to a whole new level.  Our son is no longer a student, he is a musician, an artist - there is a difference.  He understands the concept of music and can read music as well as ear play.  Brendon and Alex are excellent mentors.  Take it from a parent who wasted money at another school for a whole year before visiting AAMC.  Technically, our son has 5 years of lessons but we really only count the lessons at AAMC.  Sadly, our time at AAMC has come to an end because of high school obligations. Thank you AAMC for sharing your love of music with our son. This is a talent he will have with him for life.  You never know, he might just be a rock star someday!

-Susie M


This is Ann Arbor's original "Rock Band School."  It is quite literally one of my family's favorite places in the whole world, where both of my sons and also my wife have found a vibrant world of music opened up to them thanks to the instruction, friendship and support of Alex, Karen and the whole AAMC crew.  

My 11 year old son started on the ukulele when he was just 4.  We knew it was pretty young for someone to start formal music lessons - but we appreciated that the folks at the AAMC were prepared to work with him and take things slowly to ensure that he had a really positive experience.  From the outset, all the instruction was motivated by the child's own interests.  Ensuring that he enjoyed the music he was playing meant that his enthusiasm for learning never waned.  However, music lessons never became simply "fun and games."  He was learning about music - not just how to strum a few chords, but learning about music theory, about notation, about reading tabs, about chord construction and inversions, about scales and rhythms.  At 7 he graduated to playing the electric guitar, armed with all the technique and music knowledge he'd learned on the ukulele.  By the age of 9 he started playing in a band with other students.  Two years down the track, his band has played all over town, at schools, fund raising events and even local bars.  He plays guitar, has discovered a wonderful singing voice and is writing his own music.  Every step of the way our friends at AAMC have encouraged and supported him, offering insights and advice to cater to all of his musical interests.  He's receiving a musical education that extends far beyond simple guitar lessons.

My younger son followed in his brother's footsteps, playing ukulele, moving to guitar, and also joining other students in his own band.  He has also developed some drumming skills to complement his guitar playing.  While the two boys have trodden similar paths, all of the details of their experiences have been wildly different.  Their instructor (Alex Johnson) has a special gift for identifying the differences in learning styles of his students.  This is no cookie-cutter experience that students receive, but a program that responds explicitly to the individual needs and abilities of the students.  Consequently, my sons' lessons take them into different styles of music, and they progress at very different speeds in various dimensions.  Yet both are always challenged, and are constantly buoyed by their accomplishments.

We've been so thrilled with our sons' experiences at the Music Center we even have my wife taking drum lessons now.  If you or anyone you know is interested in learning music, don't be satisfied with lessons that show you how to muddle your way through a song or two.  AAMC will develop your abilities to play ANY music you like, and provide the support to make playing music a real part of your life.

-Chad H


I've now had 3 kids take lessons here.   After the well-loved School of Rock movie came out we were proud to say WE HAVE ONE HERE! We've fondly call it "Rock Band School" - but that would be greatly underselling the place - you can do so more more than ROCK here.  We have!  My first kid took guitar lessons but also (by osmosis I think) learned drums and some piano. His musical journey took him thru rock, folk, blues, ska, reggae, hip hop, bluegrass and he's now immersed in JAZZ..  He LOVED just hanging out at the place.  I think he took out the trash, offered to help clean up, or whatever it took to just be a part of the great growing Family that Alex and Karen are raising up.  It was the BEST Teen Hangout I could ever have hoped for him.  

My 2nd kid took sax lessons here from a local well-known performer. This child was a bit different - he was more introverted and shy but he LOVED his teacher who really took an interest in him and his style of learning.  If you want your kids to learn from the BEST teachers around, you'll get 'em here - they have people from the local music scene, folks who are actively performing, composing, recording, producing, and very involved in the music industry.  That brings a whole other higher level to what music students can learn.  

My 3rd kid is now taking drum lessons - this is after studying piano and classical violin.  He is having such a good experience at AAMC he's decided percussion is his thing.  His musical journey hasn't been easy UNTIL NOW.  We used to have to beg, bribe, and yell to get him to practice.  Since he's joined the AlexKarenFamily of Music at AAMC he is practicing 1-3 hours a day all on his own.  He's often DONE with this long practicing before I get home from work (which I and the neighbors really appreciate - since it's drums and all!)  

Sorry to go on and on....but I have so much to recommend here!  I can honestly say that I could not be any HAPPIER  and I am SO PROUD to be a part of this INCREDIBLE place.  I can GUARANTEE that you would not be disappointed if you joined.  Do it NOW before it's too late - before your kid gives up and wants to quit music.

(p.s.  and it's not just for kids - I enjoy hanging out too - I see lots of happy students coming and going who are my age- yikes over 50!)

-Susan F


Several years ago, my son was taking lessons at another music studio. He showed promise as a guitar student, but the teacher he had was so sarcastic, critical, and negative that he was on the verge of quitting. That's when I saw a newspaper article about this guy named Alex Johnson who was starting a new thing called "Ann Arbor Music Center Rock Band School." I called him on the phone, and he spent 45 minutes talking to me about his philosophy of teaching music by encouraging kids, and laying out his intention to make the process fun and challenging at the same time.

I brought my son in for his first lesson and immediately saw the parallels with the Suzuki method of classical music instruction, whether Alex was thinking in those terms or not: he gave my son a CD of good guitar music to listen to every day and aspire to. He put him in a band with other students and coached them every week on playing that music as a group. Best of all, in private lessons, he started him off on the path of mastering the complex techniques a guitarist needs by working in small, digestible steps. As is the case with Suzuki philosophy, the Music Center instruction was (and is) not just about learning some songs. It's about becoming a well-rounded musician, only the student gets there step by step, not quite realizing how hard he is actually working because the process is broken down into so many digestible parts.

Alex was a role model from day 1, able to communicate his enthusiasm and joy in being a musician, not just by what he said, but by everything about the look in his eye, his body language, and his patience and encouragement of my wiggly fifth grader who just wanted to play and didn't see the big picture (yet). My son worked his way up from a beginning group playing 'Secret Agent Man." Soon he got to play the coveted solo on "War Pigs" at a "gig" at Starbucks, and lived through the memorable 12-hour "Stairway to Heaven" camp Alex dreamed up one year. I remember once, a year or so into the lessons, when I went into my son's room in the middle of the night, and he was lying in bed in the dark but still playing the guitar. I snapped on the light. "Alex told me to practice these hammer-on/pull-off exercises 10,000 times before next week," he said, with a smile on his face.

I can honestly say that Music Center is where my kid found his path, in more than one way. He's in his third year of college now, a music major studying jazz guitar.

So I've spent a lot of time hanging around at Music Center. Alex and his partner, business manager Karen, have built the place into a thriving school, but Alex still personally coaches the groups, and they have a ton of instructors. All seem equally devoted to taking each student where s/he is and getting that person to the next level. Here's the difference from a lot of other teachers and schools: they respect  the student and find a completely personal way to make the lessons right for that individual person. I remember feeling so detached from my piano and band teachers as a kid and as an adult. We were only working through books, and the books were dictating everything--not my interests, needs, or personal gifts or difficulties. If only there had been an AAMC when I was studying music.

My thirteen-year-old is now studying drums at Ann Arbor Music Center. Same old refrain: his band teacher is sarcastic, negative, and seems to enjoy embarrassing kids. He took private lessons elsewhere, from a teacher who would shake his head and say, "Hmph. You only got 87 percent right on that marimba scale." His teacher at AAMC, Garrison, is so patient and calm, and such a good role model for exploring the music and mastering it, that my boy said to me the other day that he could see himself studying music in college.

Really. If you or your kid want to learn music, this is the place to go.

-Laura B


Had first guitar lesson and evaluation w the owner, Alex, and was assigned to an instructor based on schedule and availability.  This is going to be great journey and am really looking forward to getting started.  Oh Wait...ok, that was Thursday.  Friday, I auditioned and joined a band (vocals), so by Sunday, I called the Center and switched to a vocal coach.  Had my first session last week and LOVE IT!  

Convenient parking directly across the street.  The center is one block from Main Street, in downtown Ann Arbor.  Classes are 30 mins, they bill you for the month upfront and I can see why.  It secures your spot with your instructor and keeps people from totally flaking out on their lesson, leaving the instructor high and dry.

Schedules are flexible and the people are friendly.

-Beth H


Learning to play piano has been on my bucket list ever since I was a Tori Amos obsessed teenager in the 90's. After I finally bought my first piano in April, I began the search for the "right" teacher. I wasn't sure exactly what I wanted in a teacher, but I knew that the crotchety school-marm hitting my knuckles with a ruler when I hit a wrong note and complaining about my posture kind of a teacher wasn't it. I'm in my early 30's and too old for that crap!

Mick, my piano teacher at the school, is anything but that. He's patient, answers all of my beginner questions honestly and is always positive and supportive. He's also amazingly skilled. I brought in a beginner Tori Amos songbook that I ordered as a "someday I'll be good enough to play this" goal. He sightread the music, listened to the original songs with me on my ipod, and then wrote out different chords so that it sounded more like the original, and was easier for me to play.

If you're at all considering taking up a new musical instrument, no matter what your age or ability, I highly recommend this place.

-Katie D


My son has been taking lessons for about a year now.  He has excelled way beyond our expectations.  They tailor your style of music to the instructor with the same style! What a smart concept. This place comes with the highest recommendation from me.  You really get what you pay for in this business, and they are worth every penny.

-Natasha G


This place is awesome. Everybody who works here is extremely knowledgable and helpful. I've been taking guitar lessons here for a few months and have already come a long way. They have some really nice guitars for sale as well. Alex (the founder) is also quite adept at making guitars (cool!). Anyway, this _is_ as good as it gets.

-Eric G


I cannot more highly compliment the Ann Arbor music center. Garrison was an excellent teacher, very patient and organized in his approach. I can't believe how much I have learned in less than a year. If you are trying to decide if you should take the plunge and start a new hobby, absolutely do it! It's fun- you will not regret it!

Alexandra D.


For several years I took bass guitar lessons at Oz's music, and although the information i obtained was very helpful, I found my lessons to lack direction, and my understanding of music was still very lacking.  This provoked me to begin taking lessons at the music center, where the owner (Alex Johnson) drastically improved my technique, and did wonders for my understanding of music.  I am always fascinated as well seeing the vast amount of younger students (as young as four!) coming in that are becoming wonderful musicians!  The ann arbor music center is the best place to get useful musical education in an exciting and interesting way, without having to deal with the rigorous of overly-structured classical methods that can deter people from music.

David G.