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Adventurous music business opens in Spring Hill

New studio offers private lessons and group sessions.

SPRING HILL — Playing music alone may please the singular soul, but making music with others widens the scope for all. Such is the belief at Adventures in Music, a learning and performing music studio started by instructor George Westbay and entrepreneur Rich Holley.

“Bringing students together,” Westbay said, “that’s what music is all about.”

The studio opened this fall in a cottage-style emporium in Lincoln Center, 12503 Spring Hill Dr. It has a spacious group performance area, as well as private lesson spaces.

Westbay has a degree in music composition. He places beginning learners with advanced students and arranges parts for each level. Group participation boosts learning, he said.

“The group encourages (each of) them to practice more,” said Westbay, 60. He compared a musical group’s dynamics to that of a sports team. “You want to excel. You don’t want to let your team down.”

So far, Adventures in Music has launched two performance groups — a string quartet of violins and cello, and an electric band with various electrified instruments. Both have performed off-premises.

About half of the studio’s students are adults, including some who are ticking off an item on a personal “bucket list.” Others like the idea of ensemble playing, and some are yearning to further their talents. Home-schooled students also participate at the studio.

The most popular lessons are on the piano, guitar and violin, Holley said.

The individual instruction attracts many students, Westbay said. In a public school classroom of 25 to 30 pupils, the most each can hope for is a minute or two of one-on-one time with the instructor, he said.

Adventures in Music offers an exploratory, first half-hour lesson free.

“They can play an instrument to see if they really like it,” Westbay said. Succeeding half-hour lessons are $20. Especially attractive at this season are lesson gift cards.

Participation in the studio’s recitals is free.

“It’s a thank-you and a reward for students and parents, for their patronage,” said Westbay. Holley also films the recitals for free, taking advantage of his own college studies in filmmaking.

Westbay also teaches private classes online. Currently, he teaches cello to a woman in Albuquerque and guitar to a student in Gilford, N.H.

“I look forward to doing more of that,” he said. “It’s a good way to make up lessons.”

Westbay, a New York City native who has taught for more than 20 years, provides lessons in piano, guitar, violin, viola, cello, banjo, mandolin, ukulele, clarinet and drums. Joni Travis Whitehead teaches piano. Johnny Ray offers vocal classes, as well as lessons on guitar, bass and beginning piano.

Holley, 25, handles the administrative side of the operation. Westbay said the division of labor is crucial, allowing instructors to devote all of their attention to music and their students. Holley also manages the small retail shop, selling student-level stringed instruments that “look nice, play nice, but are not expensive.”

The shop also carries small items, such as replacement strings. It handles some repairs, while major work on instruments is outsourced.

Adventures in Music is open 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday. More information is available at (352) 293-3770 or online at adventuresinmusic.net.

Contact the writer at graybethn@earthlink.net.

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