Best Of Dallas

Let Your Kids (Or Yourself) Learn Music From 10 of Dallas’ Finest Musicians

Kerry North
Kenneth Everette Pritchard has his own music school called Pritchard School of Music in Garland.

Chances are, you have once caught yourself in line at the grocery store after a long day at your corporate job, deciding that you have endured the grating minutiae of daily life for too long.

“Isn’t there more to life than this,” you ask yourself. “I used to go to concerts on weeknights and work on three hours of sleep. What happened to me?”

As these thoughts dance in your head, you buy your groceries and load them into your car. During the trek home, your car stands still in bottleneck traffic, and so you put on an album you listened to during your golden years. As you listen, you realize that the only thing you have to look forward to is a John Mulaney comedy special on Netflix you’ve been planning on watching tonight, and it bums you out.

You ponder your way into a rabbit hole and realize that your kids are still in school, and that their future is still a blank canvas they have a good couple of decades to fill. So you try to talk them into doing something creative, whether that means picking up a guitar, or producing music on FL Studio and uploading it onto SoundCloud.

You do this so adamantly because you think you have already missed that exit, and it instills worry.

Well, there is good news. You haven’t. No matter how old you are, there is still some canvas left in your life to fill. Sharon Jones was 40 years old and working as a corrections officer when she got a gig backing up Lee Fields during a recording session, so don’t think that age is holding you back.

Instead, start devoting some of your life to creating music. And if you are serious about your kids doing the same thing, try to get them on board as well, and learn from 10 of DFW’s best musicians who also teach.

Sarah Ruth Alexander – Denton
Many know Sarah Ruth Alexander as a member of various experimental outfits, such as Cerulean Giallo, They Say the Wind Made Them Crazy and Asukubs. But she also teaches vocal lessons to aspiring singers at a modest rate. She will probably give you a cup of espresso before guiding you through vocal exercises, and it will surprise you how effectively it enhances your vocal delivery.

Dennis / Stefan / Aaron Gonzalez – Dallas
Each member of the Gonzalez family is a respected participant of the Dallas music scene, and their talents and contributions simply cannot be overstated. Dennis (trumpet), Stefan (drums) and Aaron (bass) all comprise jazz trio Yells at Eels. Stefan and Aaron both form grindcore duo Akkolyte. All members are affiliated with various acts, such as Orgullo Primitivo, Asukubus, Unconscious Collective, Mother II, Pinkish Eels and others. All three were behind a free after-school music program for grade school students in Oak Cliff called La Rondalla, which is sadly now defunct. If you want your kids to learn from these virtuosos, you can enroll them for the simple price of securing funding for the program.

Kenneth Everette Pritchard – Garland
Kenneth Pritchard is perhaps best known as the guitarist and vocalist of Dallas rock band Dead Mockingbirds (full disclosure: he is also the spouse of former Dallas Observer music editor Caroline Pritchard), but lately, he has been using his talents to operate the newly-opened Pritchard School of Music. The Garland-based school offers instruction in guitar, piano, drums and vocals.

Ansley Dougherty – Fort Worth
The Panic Volcanic vocalist and brainchild behind her namesake indie soul outfit, Ansley, also works as a vocal coach at School of Rock in Fort Worth. School of Rock occasionally throws matinee gigs at established clubs in the area, and if you want your kid to learn how to hone their stage presence, it would only be practical to seek instruction from someone who has performed as frequently as Dougherty has.

Leoncarlo Canlas – Denton
Violins are often viewed as an elitist instrument, but Denton’s Leoncarlo Canlas has broken down that stigma through his namesake solo project, Leoncarlo. He also teaches the instrument at Bonduris Music, a Denton-based music school that prides itself on being “the choice of musicians from all over North Texas.”

Chelsey Danielle – Denton
Two months ago, Chelsey Danielle reached the two-year anniversary of her joining Pearl Earl as keyboardist. As significant as that has been for her, she is also channeling some of her creative juices into Helium Queens and a solo project, for which she is slated to release an EP later this week. Danielle has also been teaching classical percussion and drumline for about a decade, and she has been giving private instruction on drums, keyboards and vocals. And honestly, who better to do all of this than somebody who has studied music education at the University of North Texas?

Freddie Jones – Carrollton
Did you know that the Dallas Cowboys have an official trumpeter? It’s true. Anybody who is tasked with hiring a musician with Jerry Jones’ money is going to hire the crème de la crème, and naturally, they picked Freddie Jones. Jones is also an adjunct professor at Brookhaven College who has performed with jazz legends such as Freddie Hubbard, and is the founder of Trumpets4Kids, a nonprofit that provides students free trumpets, contingent on a contractual agreement that stipulates they will “practice one hour a day, maintain the trumpet, as well as teach, help and perform for other kids.”

Poppy Xander – Dallas
The prolific Poppy Xander takes on a workload that would make a lesser person collapse from exhaustion. On top of performing in Starfruit, Helium Queens, Levi Cobb & the Big Smoke, Panic and PriMadonna, she also teaches voice and piano privately. She has also spent four years teaching music in a public elementary capacity.

Jeffrey Barnes – Denton
Jeffrey Barnes spent decades of his life as the saxophonist in Brave Combo, the Grammy Award-winning polka band that was on an episode of the Simpsons, was once name-dropped by Bob Dylan, played Tiny Tim’s last recording session and contributed to the score of the Tupac Shakur film Bullet. He also regularly performs improvisational music comedy with Paul Slavens at Dan’s Silver Leaf on Monday nights, and performs in Joe Pat Hennen and the Industrial Street Jug Band. We dare you to find a music teacher with a CV that impressive.

Torry Finley – Fort Worth
Torry Finley, aka Tornup, is a Fort Worth-based hip-hop artist and bassist, who used to perform in the long-defunct metal outfit Spacebeach. He also plays bass at the Paradox Church in Fort Worth and has recorded with the church’s music collective, Paradox Music. Since November 2018, he has been providing bass guitar instruction at one of Guitar Center’s Fort Worth locations, and those students are lucky to be learning from an instructor who has paid dues as long as Finley has.