to all folks interested in the Kalamazoo Academy of Rock

Thanks for being interested! Here are the details:

Who: We are a rock band program for young musicians aged 8-18. Our players are enthused about music and willing to put time and effort into developing their skills and experiencing the fun, satisfaction and thrill of playing quality music at a real rock show. The commitments consist of a weekly 45 minute private lesson, primarily focusing on learning the songs that the band is playing at the semester ending show and a weekly 2 hr. band rehearsal. The student must also commit to playing outside of lessons/rehearsals in order to learn their part and contribute positively to their band.

Where: Our home since we started in 2009 has been the former Gibson guitar factory at 225 Parson St., an historic place where B.B. King, Eric Clapton, Les Paul and many, many other guitar greats have visited as the birthplace of their guitars. Since that building is under a welcomed reconstruction, we've moved (temporarily) to 579 Portage Rd.

When: We run three sessions/year. Fall - Winter/Spring - Summer

Band rehearsals - . We have four Varsity bands, rehearsing on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays & Thursdays from 6-8pm.  We also have three Workshop Bands for those not in a performing band due to needing more experience or the performing bands are at capacity.  The Workshop Bands rehearse on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays from 5-6 pm.

Jay Gavan directs our Monday Workshop Band, Monday Varsity Band, Thursday Workshop Band and Thursday Varsity Band.  Jay is also an active musician and teacher.  A past member of The Red Sea Pedestrians he now plays in several creative music projects including The Birdseed Salesmen.  Nate Heymoss directs our Tuesday Workshop Band and Tuesday Varsity Band. Nate's been a teacher since 2003 and is a founding member of the nationally touring band Funktion.  His current band is The Mainstays. See info on Jay and Nate below. Phil Barry directs our Wednesday Varsity Band.  Phil is a professional guitarist from Kalamazoo with many years of gigging and teaching experience. Currently teaches at Marshall Music and performs with several Michigan based groups including Corn Fed Girls, Thunderbolt & Lightfoot and May Ewlewine.


 Private lessons  We are very excited about the quality of teacher we are able to provide!

- On guitar we have Nate Heymoss and Jay Gavan - excellent players in a variety of styles and experienced teachers.

- Joe Chamberlin and Neal Conway teaches bass.  Joe is in national touring band FlyPaper and has been a teacher and bassist in Indiana and Michigan for 15 yrs.  Neal is an accomplished player in the funk style (and many other styles) and plays in The Mainstays.

- On drums we have Jesse Williams. Jesse is a graduate in percussion at WMU School of Music and is a very active drummer and teacher around town.  One of his bands is Full Frontal Cortez.

- Keyboards are be taught by me.  I have a bachelor’s degree in music education from WMU, was a high school band director, played keyboards in a progressive rock band in the late 70’s (back in the day!) and have taught piano here in Kalamazoo for 25yrs. 

Specific day, time and place for private lessons are worked out between individual students and the instructor.

Equipment - all you’ll need to bring is your guitar, bass or drum sticks. Keyboards, amplifiers, drum kits and microphones are provided.

Cost - for the 10 week fall session: $578 (Workshop Band $463). For the 16 week winter/spring session: $858 (Workshop Band $704). Summer session is also 10 weeks at $578 (Workshop Band $463).  Tuition is payable in monthly installments or lump sum.  Tuition includes private lesson cost.

The Gigs - We end each session with a performance in a real rock club! Currently we play at Wild Bull and when the weather's right, on the outside stage at District Square. We have played RibFest every year since 2010. Past session ending shows have been at The 411 Club, Louie's and The Strutt.  We've also performed at Bill Wright’s Rock for Kids, and the Boiling Pot festivals.  These are held at the Arcadia Festival Site in downtown Kzoo.  We get on the main stage and play with a big pro sound system in front of hundreds of people!    

Giving back to the community - Rock music has a proud tradition of social awareness and supporting worthy causes with concerts.  We at KAR think this is an important tradition to pass on. We play every year in early February at Bell's Eccentric Cafe. Our bands choose the causes we play for. In 2016 we raised $2500 to help reconstruct the historic smokestack at the old Gibson guitar factory.  In 2015 we raised $2000 for Make A Wish Michigan. In 2014 we raised $1500 for DC Strong. In 2013  along with Bell's we raised $2,285.50 for the Boys and Girls Clubs of Kalamazoo.  In 2012 we put on a benefit show with the proceeds going to Active Water and Family and Children Services.  Our April 2011 spring performance had all proceeds go to Japanese earthquake/tsunami relief.  With the help of the audience and The Strutt we were able to raise over $600 for the cause.

Recording Sessions - An experience in a pro recording studio is part of learning to be a rock musician.  Early in the winter/spring session our bands go into the Broadside Productions studio and record two songs each that are then made into a CD.

More info - for examples of K.A.R. performances go to our Facebook page or

Feel free to call me at (269) 342-7374 or use the “Contact KAR” page of this web site to inquire about sign-up or just to ask questions!

Rock on!

Jeff Mitchell

Kalamazoo Academy of Rock