Music academy celebrates 30 years in Gainesville

Published: Sunday, January 31, 2010 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 29, 2010 at 4:35 p.m.

Walking into the Academy of Music & Art and Gainesville Guitar Academy, you hear the drums first. Followed by the pianos. Then the guitars. Finally, the singers.

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Mark Schulle, left, and Rebecca Micha, owners of the Academy of Music and Art and Gainesville Guitar Academy, will celebrate the academy's 30th anniversary on Feb. 7.

Aaron E. Daye/Staff photographer


Meet the owners

Mark Schulle, 53, owner/director, Academy of Music & Art and Gainesville Guitar Academy
Personal: Single, no children
Dream partner for lunch: Classical guitarist John Williams
Best advice received: “Do what makes you happy.”
Favorite book: “Lord of the Rings” series
Most recent movie seen: “Avatar”
What is playing in your car: Yes' “Tales from Topographic Oceans”
Hobbies: Boating, watching movies, watching Gator football
Education: Botany degree from Florida State University

Rebecca Micha, 67, owner/director, Academy of Music & Art and Gainesville Guitar Academy
Personal: Married for 20 years to David Micha, two sons, three grandchildren
Dream partner for lunch: Mozart
Best advice received: “Be yourself.”
Favorite book: “Love in the Time of Cholera” by Gabriel García Márquez
Favorite movie: “Julie & Julia”
What is playing in your car: Selections from Gilbert and Sullivan
Hobbies: Gourmet cooking
Education: Bachelor's degree, Mississippi State University for Women in vocal performance; master's degree in vocal performance and music history from Radford University

If walls could talk, the ones in this business would sing.

Owners Rebecca Micha and Mark Schulle don't seem to notice the sounds anymore. They are used to them and to one another. The partners finish each other's sentences and elaborate on each other's thoughts. They share a common passion — music.

Schulle has been a partner in the 30-year-old business since 1986. He started in botany, working at the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences at the University of Florida while teaching music at night.

Because of his duties as owner, he instructs only two days a week now and said he really looks forward to those two days.

He does not have any children, but said his students are like his kids, and they constantly surprise him with their abilities. Some of his former students have even started to bring their children to the academy.

Micha, a vocal and piano teacher who also teaches humanities at Santa Fe College, did not start working at the academy until 1993. She said when she became a partner the next year, she was excited to spread her consuming love of music throughout the community.

All questions lead to answers about the importance of music and bringing people to the arts.

Ingrid Rosenthein, who has been a music and vocal teacher at the academy for 15 years, said the academy's success rests on the love Micha and Schulle have for music.

“They both complement each other so well,” Rosenthein said. “Becky is full of ideas, and Mark pays so much attention to detail.”

Ed Legare, now a teacher at Oak Hall School, and the late David Reiser started the academy 30 years ago in a room at Lipham's Music. Legare, a jazz musician, said their main concern was to provide a place for musicians to make stable wages.

He can see his mission still being fulfilled today.

“I'm just delighted it's still going on after all these years, and I just think it's fantastic,” Legare said.

In addition to providing experienced musicians a place to work, it gives students a place to learn. Students as young as 6 months old come to the academy every week to build their music skills.

In addition to art classes and Musikgarten, a music class for small children, students are taught one-on-one. That allows teachers to construct a special teaching strategy for every student, Schulle said.

“One-on-one instruction is crucial,” Micha said. “It's the only way to truly learn an instrument.”

About 500 students of all ages come to the 22 faculty members to learn a variety of instruments, including bass, flute, banjo, guitar and piano. Students also can learn those instruments in different musical styles, such as jazz piano and classical guitar. Some of the students are still in school, while others are retirees who did not have the time to learn an instrument when they were working.

Although some of the students are just starting out, many are very accomplished and serious about their craft. Rick Cameron, a percussion instructor for 18 years, said he has students who perform at local venues like 1982 and Backstage Lounge.

The academy encourages the students to work together on ensemble pieces and holds jam sessions. Schulle said they also encourage students to compose their own music.

The academy will be celebrating its 30th anniversary with a recital and awards ceremony 3 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 7 at the Thomas Center. Teachers, as well as students, will be performing.

Schulle hopes the academy will continue to please employees and students.

“We try to make it a fun place to work and a fun place to learn,” Schulle said.

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