Five years ago, Montrose Downtown got a unique addition to its collection of shops, galleries, boutiques and restaurants, and it’s still going strong.
Owner Jordan Carls started playing music as a 5-year-old. His parents noticed that he was picking melodies up just by listening to them and so started him with piano lessons to develop this talent. Woodwinds, mainly clarinet and saxophone, followed in 6th and 7th grades. Instead of going to high school, Carls auditioned for college band and in conjunction with his test scores ended up going to Mesa State in Grand Junction.
Born and raised in Montrose, Carls was set on a life in academia. His goal was to be a teacher, then a university professor with a few PhDs under his belt, but he became disillusioned with the system and instead decided to move back to Montrose.
He saw a gap in what he considered to be important areas and Precedence was essentially born. The academy was formed with a group of other master teachers (a master teacher is generally considered to be someone that is so knowledgeable on their subject that they can adapt their teaching style to meet the needs of any student), partly because of a need but also to allow these teachers to do what they do best.
To teach at Precedence, teachers need either a master’s degree in their subject or 20 years performance and teaching experience. Currently there are around 10 music teachers, but that can change seasonally.
There are two visual art teachers at the academy. Working off the same principles as the music teachers, the visual art teachers need the same level of education or experience. The visual arts program offers a range of subjects including painting, sculpture, photography, and drawing.
Precedence welcomes anyone who wants to learn, but the largest group of students at Precedence typically fall between the ages of 5 - 16, however, right now the youngest “student” is an 8-month-old that attends Tot Rock, a music therapy-based program that aims to give kids a head start with the basics of music and also provides social development.
When it comes to music, Carls is understandably passionate, particularly about the need for young people to have it in their lives. “There seems to be huge push in public schools towards STEM, but in a lot of cases the fine arts departments are usually the first to get funding cuts,” he says. “While STEM disciplines are great at training logic in the brain, music and art train us and our soul to deal with the rigors of daily life and add joy and color to ourselves.” Carls points out that the academy does work closely with band directors at Montrose High School to provide private lessons to supplement the learning of students, particularly if their instrument of choice isn’t part of the band.
Carls is the president of the Montrose Music Teacher Association, the local chapter or the Music Teachers National Association, which provides master classes and arranges concerts and other events. Many of the teachers at Precedence can also be found in and around Montrose performing.
This summer, there will be a series of summer camps with the next one beginning on June 10. There will also be a week-long intensive arts summer camp.
For more out Precedence Music Academy visit www.precedencemusicacademy.com.