Backbeat Music Academy

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9575 SW beaverton-hillsdale hwy #B20. rear entrance, Beaverton, OR 97005

These aren't your parents' music lessons. 

Backbeat Music Academy is built on the best practices of education, rather than old-school  traditions. So remember being forced to sit at the piano and play songs you didn't like? That isn't us. That system discourages twice as many students as it supports. Instead, we're founded on the principles of fostering growth mindset, autonomy, inquiry, connection, exploration and fun. The result is a low-pressure environment where students play music on their terms, learn how to ask questions, set goals and meet them. 

We offer music lessons, bands and camps both in-person and online. We are dedicated to the idea that everyone can establish their own relationship with music. The idea isn’t to push our students to be the best musicians they can be, but to encourage them to be as good as they want to be: To let them choose what their wishes are and to supply them with the tools to make them a reality. Our amazing teachers are some of the best teachers and musicians around - having toured with acts like Al Green, B.B. King, written best-selling books on music and graduated from top universities. Our teachers jam with our students because, like language, the best way to learn music is through interaction and hands-on music-making. 

We teach piano, guitar, drums, bass, vocals, ukulele, horns, violin, viola, cello, banjo and mandolin. If you can't decide what to learn - you don't have to! All our teachers are multi-instrumentalists and you can study multiple instruments in the same lesson. For example, you can focus on piano, but also spend a little time learning to play the drums, singing and/or the guitar. You can also sign up for our Try Everything Lessons or a Try Everything camp. 

Some of our core principles are: 

The Practice of Practice: There’s a myth that if you simply do something long enough you’ll get good at it. That’s not exactly true. It isn’t time that does the work - it is the person practicing. Rather, everyone does what they think will work. When someone sits down to play the piano, they will press the keys they know in the way they think will be easiest. If they’re right, then it will work - it will meet their expectations and achieve their goals. However, if they misunderstand, then it won’t result in what they expected. This is the core mechanic behind effective practice: Practicing isn’t repetition, practice is problem-solving. Practice is figuring out how things work. It is figuring out what the notes are and how those notes relate. It is figuring out what to pay attention to - and what not to. Figuring out how to hit the drum to get the results you want. It is changing your understanding of yourself and the world, so you can get the results you want. This is also an important mechanic behind developing a Growth Mindset. 

Autonomy: There is an old saying in education that Teaching Isn’t Telling. Everyone learns from their own experience - and they experience what they pay attention to. At Backbeat, we leverage this by what I call ‘teaching from behind’ - we take whatever has the students interest and bend that subject to one of the skills that they will benefit most from. 

This is the reason that all our teachers are multi-instrumentalists, so your kids will get to try out a variety of instruments within their music lessons. In fact, we encourage it because it's just good teaching. Our Try Everything Camps and lessons really lean into this, but they are always available as a part of any music lesson - so students can focus on piano, but also learn to play the drums or ukulele in the same lesson. Besides spurring inquiry, it embeds the idea that it isn’t the instrument that makes the music - it is the musician. It gives the students more examples of how to make music, allowing them to learn faster, relate better, and develop a wider view of music. As our teachers also study off instruments, it gives them a chance to remember what it is like to be a student - when notes didn’t fly out of their fingertips at will - and this helps them to teach better!

More important, though, is the idea that music isn’t for us - music is for them. They’re the musicians - they’re the ones doing the connecting. At the end of the day you have to connect on your terms.

If you’re just playing the notes you’re supposed to be playing you’re doing it wrong. Music isn’t about playing the right notes - it is about connecting. You can’t connect with someone because you’re supposed to - you have to do it authentically. In other words, you have to mean what you do in music. Furthermore, if you don’t understand the meaning of the notes they’ll never connect the way they’re supposed to. It’s like using a word you don’t know the meaning of, or casting a spell in Harry Potter: The movements are important, but the intent is the real story.

Besides, making music doesn't require mastery, just like sports or painting don't require mastery to enjoy, or to benefit from. While there are high-pressure sports teams, bands and even arts programs - we take a different approach. Instead of pressuring students to work as hard as they can, we encourage exploration and the development of autonomy.  Besides - a student who practices 5 hours a day because they are supposed to will never get as good as someone who practices an hour a day because they love it. The end result is a student who enjoy music for what it is and what it means to them. 

Growth Mindset: If, in your mind’s eye, you think your ability is limited by your talent, then when you run into something you don’t succeed at you’ll assume it is because you aren’t talented enough. This is called “Fixed Mindset” and unfortunately it is baked into American culture to the point that most kids believe this. The alternative is Growth mindset, where you see your limitations not on some arbitrary “talent” level, but based on what you know. Through ‘figuring out’ practice, you knock down your limitations and expand your ability.

By creating a safe space to make mistakes, to take music at their own speed and to explore what they want, we set the table for our students to step out of a Fixed growth mindset into one where they see what is really holding themselves back.

This year our summer camps are:

  • Try Everything 
  • Rock Band 
  • Write Music for Computer Games
  • Songwriting 
  • Vocal Choir

ask about our Custom camps!

Camps are half day, but organized so you can enroll in two for a full day experience.

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