by Bruce Strand, Arts editor
An open house will be held Saturday, Aug. 20, at Signature Music Studios, a Rogers school offering a wide variety of training.
“With multiple teachers for every instrument, we are confident that we have the right teacher to meet your needs,” states Jen Hickle, who has operated Signature and taught piano since 1998 in Plymouth and Rogers, and currently has over 100 students.
Hickle opened Signature’s first permanent all-enclosed location at 20998 134th Avenue on Aug. 1. They’ll welcome visitors from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. today (Saturday).
Located in a former office building, Signature has seven separate studios and offers lessons in guitar, bass, voice, violin, drums and piano.
The staff of 13 music teachers all have college music degrees or professional performance experience.
“I require a music degree, previous teaching experience, and, just as important, a warm personality,” said Hickle. “We want our teachers to be excited about teaching both children and adults.”
Alex Seeman, for instance, teaches guitar and piano and helps kids play chords by ear if they’re in a ban. “He can relate if kids who play piano want to try the guitar,” said Hickle. A Japanese drummer named Tetsuya has a masters in percussion. A voice teacher named James has a masters in opera. He plays “character tenor” roles, the funny parts in opera, and is good-humored with students, said Hickle.
Asked to list a couple of prize pupils, Hickle cited Rachel Seppala and Meghan Walsh. Seppala’s high school teacher told her, “That’s all I can teach you,” so she attended Signature, where Hickle helped her audition successfully for the Perpich School of the Arts. Walsh was a student for 10 years and now is doing well as a music major at Augsburg.
Growing up in Maple Grove and Plymouth, Hickle said she thought it was “pretty normal” to be in a family that regularly gathered around the piano to sing. “I come from a very musical family tree,” said Hickle, whose parents also have music business.
She attended Fourth Baptist High School and Northwestern College, where she studied piano and graduated debt-free from giving piano lessons.
Her full-time teaching career started out of her home in 1998 in Plymouth. She soon needed to hire teachers to help when her enrollment grew. Eventually she rented three studios from North Ballet of Rogers. But now all the teaching is done at her new facility.
The Hickle’s live in St. Michael, where her husband is a pastor with Westbridge Community Church. She home-schools their four children.
To make Signature as homey as possible, the facility has a spacious waiting room with kids toys, Wi-Fi, magazines and vending machines. Parents can watch their child’s lesson through an observation window or sit in on them if they prefer.
Highlights on the schedule each year are student recitals in May and November. They’ve been held at nursing home, music stores and churches. Hickle hopes to secure the Little Theatre at Elk River High School for recitals.
“We want to support the Elk River Arts Alliance as much as we can,” said Hickle, who took part in this summer’s ArtSoup downtown.
Signature’s phone number is 763-670-8882. Hours are 1 to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.