By Erin Sullivan Special to AFN
Music Maker Workshops has flourished for 14 years in Ahwatukee Foothills as a true family business that continues to expand.
Since its initial establishment, it has evolved into more than a studio meant solely for private lessons. It now serves as a place for music lovers of all ages to participate in programs that suit them.
Kindermusik classes are available for infants and toddlers, while music therapy and themed birthday parties are also offered.
“We have been developing things as we see a need for them,” owner and founder Beverly Bigam said.
The most recent addition to their program list is the adult Rock Band, an extension of the Rock Band program for younger students.
“Adults have expressed an interest, too, in getting together and jamming,” Bigam said.
Rock Band was developed to give experienced students an opportunity to try out their skills in a group setting. Bigam said that after a few years of private lessons, students tend to get bored and Rock Band lends them a more affordable group option of trying something new.
The bands perform at venues that Music Maker books for them. The youth Rock Band groups range from 9 to 11 year olds.
Michael Polenick, a third-year guitar student at Music Maker, started playing in Rock Band about a year ago.
“It’s a good experience to have,” the 14-year old said. “We’ve done the Festival of Lights and Hard Rock Café.”
Bigam also organizes recitals every year to give students a chance to perform and feel good about themselves.
“We like to show them off,” she said. “They inspire everybody.”
Eric Peterson, 11, started playing piano in second grade and has been a feature performer at Music Maker recitals. He is a triplet, and explained that when one of his sisters started playing piano in first grade, he would sit in the waiting room. He figured that instead of waiting, “Why not just play?”
“Piano is a big thing in learning,” Peterson said. “After a hard day, it’s good to come here and let it out.”
Bigam agreed and finds that “when they come in, they’re sort of immersed in (music) and I think it’s really, really healthy.”
Music Maker also hosts camps over school breaks for those who want to try up to three different instruments. An upcoming music camp will be March 14-17 from 9 a.m. to noon.
“The future is bright because music is such a demand,” Bigam said. “As long as we have good programs and good teachers I think the future is good.”
Music Maker has been successful because it meets these goals. They have more than 500 students currently enrolled and an impressive list of 22 teachers.
“I believe in hiring a good staff because you’re only as good as your teachers,” Bigam said.
And Bigam’s dedication to being the best has paid off.
“Mostly all of our advertising is just people telling people,” she said.
The business’ growing popularity could not have been possible without the support of her family during the first years of Music Maker, as well as their continued involvement throughout the years.
“It’s a total family business,” she said.
Bigam’s first love has always been piano but, initially, she chose nursing as a career. While she was raising her children, she began teaching at schools, taught private lessons and played at funerals and weddings.
These side projects soon fueled her ambition to return to working with children. This time, she wanted to include all instruments, not just piano.
Fourteen years ago, Bigam established Music Maker and taught her own curriculum out of Piano Warehouse in Ahwatukee. Six years ago she moved to the current Music Maker location at 3233 E. Chandler Blvd.
Upon opening Music Maker to its present location, Bigam approached her two daughters and husband for assistance in the studio. Her daughter, Kim, started Kindermusik and remains very involved with the program. Her other daughter, Shelley, worked with Music for Little Mozart and is in charge of Rock Band, as well as the website and advertising for Music Maker.
For more information on Music Maker, call them at (480) 706-1224 or visitwww.musicmakerworkshops.com.
• Erin Sullivan is interning this semester for the Ahwatukee Foothills News. She is a junior at Arizona State University.