by JEFF SPRY Cascade A&E Feature Writer
Remember those quaint music shops where you could peruse guitar picks, sheet music and clarinet reeds while teachers instructed eager kids plunking on an old upright piano?
Well, Bald Eagle Music Education Station in downtown Sisters is that refreshing retro throwback to independent music stores of the ‘70s and ‘80s, offering private lessons, instrument sales and an impressive array of new and used musical accessories.
Owner and artistic director Rebecca French places great emphasis on innovative music instruction in a relaxed, creative environment. For weekly private instrument lessons, Bald Eagle provides classes in piano, guitar, ukulele, brass, trumpet, flute and drums, serving students of all levels and abilities, including exploration into various styles of composition and music theory at the rate of $35 per hour or $20 per half-hour.
“I opened this studio back in 2010 after I’d lost my job of 20 years and basically saw the need in our town for a place where someone could come and buy guitar strings and sheet music, and because I needed a job,” French joked. “My mother had recently passed away and before she moved on she told me to open my music studio and follow my dream.”
Bald Eagle is also home to TreeSpirit Instruments, selling fine-crafted, locally-made African tongue drums, cigar box electric guitars and previously-owned instruments. Expert piano tuning is another service recently offered and their free sheet music exchange includes heavy boxes of sheet music dating back to the 19th century for musicians and collectors to share, trade or locate rare and hard-to-find items.
“Our exchange library of sheet music is amazing and dates all the way back to the Civil War. Everything from gospel, boogie-woogie, all genres of classic from Baroque to modern and there’s new stuff coming in all the time.”
Partner Chris Patrick joined Bald Eagle Music in 2013 in the position of teacher, mentor and composer, instructing clients in flute, trumpet, guitar and bass guitar. Patrick has performed as a professional musician for over 25 years, playing French horn in the Philharmonic Orchestra and delivering a full spectrum of tunes in popular house bands playing everything from jazz, gospel, classical and old time country. His latest passion has been learning to handle the Highland Bagpipes.
“This is such an incredible music community with a strong musical base,” he said. “Right now we have a vision for a brass choir with the core of it being an adult brass quintet. I’m very excited to have Trevor Craynor, the new school band instructor, in town. He plays tuba and is very enthusiastic in including students for this new community brass choir. Auditions will be later this month so check our site and Nugget News for dates.”
French attended the University of Oregon School of Music from 1977 to 1980 with a focus on piano performance, music education for handicapped children and music theory. She’s taught privately to more than 200 students for over 30 years with positions at the Cascade Community School of Music in Bend and the Sisters Parks and Recreation District as the music educator for pre-school kids and 7-12 age groups.
In 2008 she became music educator for Camp Sherman’s Black Butte School District where she shared her vivacious love of music and energetic personality.
Another innovative program is tailored to parents and their children for kids aged two-five and may be available individually or as a group. Activities include dancing, drumming, engaged listening, singing and simple piano studies. Group guitar lessons are led by Chris Patrick at the cost of $20 per hour.
“Music as a meditation device and healing factor with its vibrational elements is so important, but those are just the intangible benefits,” said Patrick. “The real goal is the total mastery of an instrument and the enjoyment of the performance. It’s the reason we do music education.”
Every year, students of Bald Eagle Music deliver a holiday recital, spring concert and several in-house musical events to spotlight their blooming talents and newly-learned abilities. They also participate in seasonal community events in Sisters such as the Sisters Act Talent Show, My Own Two Hands Parade, the Sisters Holiday Parade and Sisters Rodeo Parade.
“I’ve worked with so many children and the one constant is seeing the kids blossom with the joy of music,” said French.“Teachers are noticing improved behavior, attendance and higher academic scores after just a few months of lessons with us. We’re all about reaching for the sky and finding the stars.”
382 E. Hood Ave., Ste. #C East, Sisters, www.baldeaglemusic.com, 541-410-9064