Downtown Redding has another new occupant – the Redding Music School. aNewsCafe.com caught up with the owner, Greg Takemoto, to learn more.
Hi, Greg, and welcome to aNewsCafe.com. For those who don’t know you, could you tell us about yourself and your connection to Redding?
I am a Redding native who has moved back after 20 years of playing saxophone and teaching woodwinds on the East Coast. From middle school to high school, I took saxophone and clarinet lessons from Roger Hogan in Redding at The Brass Reed.
I graduated from Enterprise High School under the musical direction of the now retired Dan Niece.
After high school and with a music scholarship, I attended Chico State University. During this time I began performing regularly and lightly touring, playing music festivals and clubs around the North State. After two-and-a-half years at Chico State, I moved to the East Coast to finish up my undergraduate degree at Rhode Island College, where I was extremely fortunate to study woodwinds and music composition under the world-renowned woodwinds player Greg Abate.
This new experience really shaped how I viewed music as a career and helped hone my skills to become a strong saxophonist in the Northeast. I spent the next 19 years playing the saxophone all around the Northeast in various bands. I recorded, wrote and performed my own original musical projects as well.
I held clinics at various schools, and taught woodwinds at multiple music studios/schools, including the highly regarded Rhode Island Philharmonic Music School, where I provided private woodwind lessons and coached their critically acclaimed jazz combos. I was also the band instructor for 13 years to a competing middle school band program at Our Lady of Mercy Middle School.
You are definitely another Redding musical success story, and we are privileged to have you back here. Let’s talk about the new venture you are starting on Shasta Street. What is the Redding Music School?
The Redding Music School is definitely a new chapter in my life. I wanted to open up a facility that would not only be able to teach the basics of music to people of all ages but also be able to coach the highly talented as well. I hope that in a few years The Redding Music School will be the “place to be” for those who want to learn music in Redding.
To your knowledge, has Redding ever had anything like this?
No, not to my knowledge. I am aware that music lessons are held at other locations. However, my goal was to create a space that solely encompasses music education apart from the general music offered at schools. Redding Music School will focus on personalized music education using the latest technologies and techniques, done in a modern and streamlined environment.
I would also like people to see firsthand that you can succeed and thrive with music outside of school music/band, and that there are many opportunities if you follow your passion past high school and college.
How did the school come about? Was this an idea/dream you’ve had for a long time?
It has always been a dream of mine to be independent from other companies and businesses. Since I started teaching nearly two decades ago I have had a high success rate with my students, whether it be instilling a deep love of music or they themselves becoming professional working musicians. I always knew in the back of my head that eventually the next step would be opening my own facility.
Why did you decide to open the school in Redding?
Two reasons: One, I wanted to emancipate myself from other businesses. Rhode Island continues to thrive with many music schools, large and small. For this reason I thought it best to start somewhere where I could help the community build a music scene and perhaps offer a new experience to people.
Secondly, I wanted to be closer to my family in the North State. The difficulty of travel and demanding East Coast schedules meant that we weren’t able to visit as often as we would have liked. I wanted my parents to experience being grandparents, and I wanted my 6-year-old boy to experience the same great childhood that I had in a safe and beautiful community.
Rhode Island’s loss is our gain, and we hope being in Redding is a wonderful experience for your son. A few more questions about your new venture — what does the Redding Music School offer?
The school offers private music lessons for all ages and skill levels. Currently we are offering woodwind lessons and beginning piano lessons. With more interest I hope to hire a group of teachers who will share my same passion for music education and performance. Eventually, I would like to incorporate lessons for jazz combos, summer camps, and room rentals for aspiring bands. I really want to have a place that offers the highest level of music education and a facility that will allow anyone to come and enjoy music at any level.
Who can go to the school?
Anyone and everyone!
Who are the instructors?
Currently, I have Jeff Takemoto, a very accomplished piano player, teaching piano, and me teaching saxophone, clarinet, composition, and jazz combos. Again, with more inquiries of other instruments I hope to hire more teachers and eventually offer lessons in everything.
What excites you most about this venture?
Music education excites me the most. I am hopeful that people will see the benefits of higher music education, and I am excited at the possibility of children being able to see that music can open many doors in life. The list is extensive but can include scholarships to colleges, live performance, or just getting to know and appreciate music on a deeper level. I would like to be an example of the beautiful experience a lifelong journey of music can bring to someone.
Talk more about that lifelong journey of music for you. How did your love for music start, and how did it grow?
My love for music has grown over the years; as I got more proficient at playing so did my love of the saxophone, and the dedication it took to reach my goals. Music has allowed me to express myself in ways I never thought possible. The discipline of practice and the feeling of progress have given me so much joy. Also, the opportunities I have received because of this discipline have been a blessing beyond belief.
What do you hope a Redding Music School student experiences?
I would like a student to understand that music is a lifelong pursuit regardless of the initial skill level. I would want my students to feel happy achieving goals and gaining recognition (even if it is self-recognition) for their efforts.
If someone is interested in finding out more, what should they do?
You can visit Reddingmusicschool.com or check out Gregtakemoto.com. You can also Google search Redding Music School or find Redding Music School on Facebook. We are located at 1824 Shasta St. and can be reached at (530) 988–8382. If you would like, you can also follow my Instagram @gregtakemoto.
Is there anything else you’d like to mention or emphasize?
Music is for everyone. You don’t have to be a professional musician to love this art form. The benefits of music are endless, and conquering your goals, whatever they are, will bring you endless happiness.
Greg, thank you. Welcome back, and we look forward to what the Redding Music School will bring to the community in the years to come.
Photos courtesy Greg Takemoto