When you think of kids’ music classes, what comes to mind? Maybe the primary colors and nursery rhyme, folk music style that Kindermusik made so famous. Or you think of elementary school days. Sitting with music books open to “If I Knew You Were Coming I’d’ve Baked a Cake,” at metal desks, the promise of learning to play the recorder at the end of class, dangling like a carrot for good behavior.
Walking into Pachyderm Music Lab, you realize that music here will be a different experience. Classes are parent and kid friendly, but the style is less traditional and more individualistic. The predominant musical style is rock, with lessons and classes geared toward band instruments like bass guitars and drums.
The Music Lab
The reception room sets the tone when you walk in, with its quirky decor. Since this is a music “lab,” other rooms are named with a nod to science. Walk to the back of the building, and you find the Lucid session room, named after astronaut and biochemist Shannon Lucid, and the Tesla room, named for scientist Nikola Tesla. These rooms are used for group lessons and can be rented out for band practices.
There is a private instruction room, as well as a playroom for children. The playroom includes a video baby monitor and, like the nursing station down the hall, makes it clear that children are welcome during sessions. The owner, Krystle Baller, is also the mom of a young daughter, and she understands the importance of having a space that allows parents of young children to continue their own music education during that season of life. “Moms need to grow and develop, too… If [your children] see you taking these steps to grow, it’s going to make them better. It helps you, and it helps them,” she said.
Take a right down the hall, and you will end up at The Lounge. This is where BabyPUNK! classes are held. BabyPUNK! is a new class offering that takes the most popular songs from grunge, punk and alternative bands, and makes them accessible to children.
BabyPUNK! is recommended for ages zero to four, or children who can’t proficiently count or use the alphabet. Instruments such as bass guitars, electric guitars, an electric ukulele, and a baby drum kit sit out, free to use for experimentation. Babies may not really be “rocked” to sleep by the music, but after an energetic session, it’s possible they may be ready for a nap.
The class begins with children entering the room to the background of Rockabye Baby! albums, which contain instrumental lullaby versions of rock songs. The first 15 minutes are used to get acclimated and explore the instruments. Then Krystle passes out the kazoos and leads the parents and children in three popular songs that have been modified for content and simplicity.
The kazoos eliminate the need to censor any lyrics, while Krystle’s method of teaching single notes, identified by colored shapes, makes the songs playable for young children. The result of the jam session is something like Jimmy Fallon and The Roots playing popular songs on classroom instruments.
Classes are 45 minutes long and cost $15 per child. Each class focuses on the works of a different artist or band. KidPUNK! is also offered for children ages five through ten, and provides a more challenging playing experience. Pachyderm Music Lab also runs drum circles and homeschool Intro to Music classes for families.
For more information on BabyPUNK!, or other classes and lessons for the whole family, check out their website, www.pachydermmusic.com. There you can also find out the interesting history of how Pachyderm Music Lab came to be, as well as the story behind their unusual name. You can also email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 704-550-6379.
Photos: Lara Americo
This story was written for CharlotteFive’s latest channel for parents in the QC, called QC Playground. Sign up for the weekly QC Playground newsletter here.