Former Willis Student Hits Broadway!

If you were not aware Willis Music has a pretty awesome lesson program. We have teachers at every location ready to teach your child or even you to play! Noah I am sure you are wondering what kind of lessons we offer? Everything from vocal lessons to Euphonium! You can check out the list of teachers here! We have some pretty talented kids in our lessons program and we love celebrating their accomplishments. There is one guy in particular we are highlighting! Noah Ricketts took piano lessons with Willis Music when he was 10 years old. All of his hard work paid off. Noah performs on Broadway now! That is pretty awesome! We got a chance to catch up with Noah recently. Check out what he has to say!

1. Where did you attend school and what did you study?

Well, I’ve attended a couple schools. I started in my hometown of Louisville, KY at the Youth Performing Arts School studying Vocal Performance. When I was a junior in high school I decided that I needed more from my artistic education, so I took a leap and moved to Northern Michigan. There I studied Theatre at a private performing arts boarding school called Interlochen Arts Academy, beautifully nestled in the woods. After that it was time for college. I moved back towards my home state and landed in Ohio, where I earned my Bachelors of Fine Arts in Musical Theatre at the Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music (better known as CCM).

2. How old were you when you started taking music lessons?

I was 10 years old when I began taking private piano lessons. Before that, I was studying clarinet and saxophone in my elementary and middle school band classes.

3. What were your dreams regarding music when you started lessons at Willis Music?

I’m not really sure what my dreams were. I remember walking into Willis Music at my local mall and seeing a woman play vigorously on the piano. I remember standing there totally obsessed with everything she was doing and itching to learn how to do it myself. I was totally enthralled with music at a young age but at that time I didn’t even realize that a career in music was even a possibility. By the way, her name was Janie and she later became my piano teacher and life long friend.

4. When did you realize performing arts was the career path for you?

Around the same time that I started taking piano lessons at Willis Music, my mother enrolled me in a summer program called Broadway Bootcamp. I was 10 years old and in a arm cast from a skateboarding accident. We were performing “School House Rock” and I was given the song “Conjunction Junction”. I remember being so nervous, but the spotlight hit and I was totally in it. All of my nerves turned into energy and I sang my heart out. It was at that exact moment that I realized that performing was what I had to do with my life. I had no other option.

5. What is the best advice Janie gave you when you took lessons with her? Noah Performing on Broadway

Janie gave me advice all throughout my life, even into the early stages of my career so,it’s hard to pick a singular lesson. But the biggest gift I received from her was the gift of creativity. She was constantly challenging me to think outside the box and break down walls that were in my way. It was a life lesson that has gone way beyond the confines of that Willis Music studio.

6. What musicals have you been in?

A lot of them. But a couple of my favorite roles are Terk in “Tarzan” , Javert in “Les Miserables” , and C.C. in “DREAMGIRLS”. To name a few!

7. What is your favorite musical?

My favorite musical is “Little Shop of Horrors”. I’ve been obsessed with the musical movie since I was a kid. The puppetry, music, and characters are all amazing. If you haven’t seen it, check it out!

8. What is it like living and working in New York?

Living and working in NYC is extremely challenging yet thrilling. Everyone is on a mission. If you’re putting up with the madness that is New York City, it’s for a good cause. It truly is the city of dreams. So waking up everyday knowing that your life could change at the drop of a hat is extremely exciting.

9. What was the biggest adjustment to make moving to a big city like New York?

For me it was my first job. About 6 weeks into living in NYC I was offered a job on broadway in “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical”. I was extremely honored and at the same time slightly overwhelmed. I barely knew my way around the city and the next thing I know, I’m performing in a broadway show after four days of rehearsal. Although it was a crazy time in my life, it taught me a lot about time management and learning on the go. That’s what I mean about your life changing at the drop of a hat! Noah performing

10. What advice would you give kids who are just starting out playing music?

If you love it, don’t give up. It’s a hard journey, but every day will get a little easier and in return you will only become stronger.

11. What is your biggest dream right now?

My biggest dream right now is to originate a role in a television series/movie. It’s a new aspect of the arts that I’m interested in diving into. So I’m excited to get into class and get the ball rolling!

So, what are you waiting on? Start playing today and follow your dream!

Give The Gift of Music

Give The Gift of Music


Have you started thinking of Christmas presents yet? Do you have ideas for everyone on your list? Music Lessons should be on the top of that list. Giving the gift of music is something that can last a lifetime. We have great teachers at all of our locations who are ready to help give that gift. Visit us online or in-store to sign up today!





Monica Gale Heard- Lexington KY

DMA Vocal Performance (abd), The Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL MMA Vocal Performance, The Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL Bachelor of Arts, Vocal Performance, Georgetown College, Georgetown, KY Bachelor of Arts, Piano Performance, Georgetown College, Georgetown, KY Lecturer/Instructor Berea College Berea, Kentucky 1997 – 2009 Teaching Responsibilities: Applied Voice Class Voice Applied Piano Class Piano General Studies Lecturer General Studies – Freshman Writing/Critical Thinking Aural Harmony Diction Staff Vocal Coach-Accompanist Conductor – The Berea College Women’s Chorus Academic Adviser Additional information regarding teaching career available upon request. First United Methodist Church Richmond, Kentucky July 2003 – September 15, 2014 Responsibilities: (part-time 2003 – May, 2009) Assistant Minister of Music and Worship Organist/Pianist/Keyboardist Traditional, Blended and Contemporary Worship services Leadership of Praise Band and Praise Team Three choir rehearsals per week Budgeting Repertoire selection Responsibilities: (full-time June, 2009 – September, 2014) Director of Music Ministries Oversee the Music Ministry of a large United Methodist Church Plan traditional, blended and contemporary services each week Conduct choir and praise team rehearsals each week Coordinate children’s choir programs Work with and coordinate volunteers Plan and facilitate at least two major productions each year Oversee large hand bell choir Maintain choral library and purchase as needed Organist/Pianist for all services Funerals/Weddings Report directly to the Pastor Other duties as necessary – please ask Additional information regarding church music career available upon request. Private Studio 1981 – present Teaching Responsibilities: Private Voice Lessons Private Piano Lessons Private instruction in Theory Recital coaching/accompanying Audition prep/accompanying

Click here to sign up today!



Chris Sherman- Eastgate OH

Chris Sherman has been teaching both bass guitar and guitar lessons for over 10 years. He was recently featured at the 2014 London Bass Guitar Show, to lead a master class in bass guitar. Also known professionally as ‘Freekbass’, he has three internationally released instructional DVDs. “Learn to play Funk Bass Level 1 & 2” by The RockHouse Method, and “50 Freekbass Licks You Must Know”, produced by TrueFire is now preparing to release a second Freekbass instructional DVD, entitled, “Funktronic Groove Construction”. Chris/Freekbass has released six full-length CDs, including “Concentrate” with guests Bootsy Collins, DJ Spooky, Adam Deitch and Steve Molitz, and “Junkyard Waltz” which includes guest appearances by Phish bassist Mike Gordon, guitarist Buckethead, keyboard wizard from P-Funk/Talking Heads Bernie Worrell, and is produced by funk legend Bootsy Collins. Although known by many as a bassist, Chris is also an accomplished guitarist and guitar teacher with a strong technique, groove, and theory background.

Click here to sign up today!



Brenda Mendenhall- West Chester OH

I have a Bachelor of Music degree from Miami University and am a certificated music teacher with the Ohio Department of Education. I also have a Master of Science degree in school counseling and I am a retired licensed school counselor. I have been teaching piano/keyboard lessons at Willis-Moeller Music since 1989. My lessons focus on necessary piano/keyboard basics and music or styles of interest to each student. I work with students aged 6 through adult years. Technology apps, white board work, and movement are also used to engage the younger students and assist with music development.

Click here to sign up today!



Matt Mauro- Kenwood OH

Matthew Mauro (piano and French horn) earned his Master of Music degree in 2014 at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. Matthew has performed with the Toledo Symphony Orchestra and the Springfield Symphony Orchestra (Ohio), and as a soloist with the Toledo and Stow Symphony Orchestras. He has also attended reputable summer music festivals, including the Round Top Music Festival and the Brevard Music Center. Matthew’s primary piano teachers include Luke Bartolomeo and Ryan Behan; he has also worked with internationally renowned pianist, Lambis Vassiliadis, in masterclass settings. His primary horn teachers include Randy Gardner (Professor of Horn at CCM), Elizabeth Freimuth (Principal Horn, Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, and Richard Deane (Atlanta Symphony Orchestra). Matthew is currently the Music Director at the Lutheran Church of the Resurrection in Anderson, Ohio, where he is the pianist for all traditional worship services and leads the choir and youth music ensemble. He is also a piano instructor at the Cincinnati Country Day School and teaches many students privately. Additionally, Matthew has enjoyed success in music composition. He was recently commissioned by the Worthington Kilbourne band program to write a piece for the Wind Symphony to premiere at the National Band and Orchestra Clinic in Carnegie Hall in April 2012. He has also had works for band published by the C.L. Barnhouse Company. Two of his pieces, “As They Return” and “Freeing Aurora,” earned finalists status in semi-annual Frank Ticheli Competition contests. PHILOSOPHY Music education is an incredibly important part of a young person’s life. Musical study helps to cultivate the ‘whole person,’ and there are countless studies that show music’s positive impacts on other academic areas. I have two primary goals for students in their lessons. First, they must enjoy playing music! A passion for playing will drive expression and improvement in performance skills more than anything else.

Click here to sign up today!



Mia Smith- Florence KY

Instructor at Willis Music since August, 2004 Mia has a great love for music and people and utilizes her gifts and talents to help her students reach their potential quickly. • Graduate of Central High School, Cincinnati, Ohio • Studied Music 10 Years with Prof. Frank Mahler, Saint Francis of Assissi • Managed her own piano studio for 5 ½ years in Knoxville, TN • Pianist for 9 ½ years at Valley Dale Baptist in Alabama • Teaches all styles of piano – classical, jazz, pop, contemporary Christian • Taught at Keyboard Plus for 5 ½ years in Florida • Currently serving as pianist and music minister for United Methodist in Latonia

Click here to sign up today!



Warning: Adorable Babies Playing Music Alert

Summer is an exciting time for learning music. So many fun things happen in the summer and it is a time where music making really comes to the forefront of what we do. The month of June even includes National Make Music Day- but more on that later.

As many of you know, we had Free Lesson Day in all of our stores a few weeks ago. We were so pleased with how many people came out and participated. We even had a few employees join in and they really got a lot out of it. You can hear more about Laura’s experience here.

Beginning lessons in the summer really gives you and your child a lot of time to practice- or even practice together. But on top of just taking lessons, there are so many other fun activies that can be done with music in the summer. One of those things is our class called Discovering Music. Discovering Music is a class for children anywhere from just a few months old to 5 years old. The class will be facilitated by Holly Hankin, one of our great employees at Willis Music Eastgate. Holly is currently working on her degree in Music Therapy and really has a passion for bringing music into a child’s life at a young age.

I really love seeing young people learning music. I make sure that whenever I get invited to a baby’s birthday, I bring along a gift that is in some way musical. I have tried to train my nephew early so that he will definetly be playing an instrument. He already has the perfect piano hands! Here is a picture of him with his hands in perfect position (So maybe the toy is upside down but he’s still young!)

Discovering Music will be on Tuesday mornings from 10:30-11:30 at our Eastgate Mall location. We can’t wait to see you there. I will leave you with this adorable baby- I’d say his parents have the right idea!

Colleen Cranley

Lessons you don't pay for...count me in!

Lessons you don’t pay for…count me in!

Saturday, May 23rd was Free Lesson Day at Willis Music. All of our stores offered a free guitar/keyboard lesson to anyone interested! I decided to take advantage of this! I have never played a musical instrument. You are probably thinking: “hold on…a music company hired someone who doesn’t play an instrument of any kind?” Yes they sure did! I mean I can’t even sing (believe me you don’t want to hear me try!). But, I have wanted to learn because it is never too late to learn. I always wanted to play an instrument, but I have never had the courage to learn. To me, it just seemed too difficult. When we decided we were doing Free Lesson Day, I thought to myself, “why not take a Ukulele lesson…start off small!” So I am writing a blog about taking my very first lesson!

I walked into the Willis Music-Eastgate store with my husband and incredibly cute niece in tow! My husband played as a child and my niece’s mom is a very talented flute player so of course it is just in their blood! (Lucky them). My family… well let’s just say we don’t have any Mozart’s in the fam! So I was totally new at this. I told Denise Burkhardt ,the manager, I wanted to take a Ukulele (aka “Uke”) lesson. She asked Mike Bachelier to give me a lesson! By the way, Mike is a great teacher! He grabbed a uke and a chord book and sat down to teach me. Now, he opened the book to the first set of chords he was going to teach me and it might as well have been Latin! No worries though, Mike showed me what strings and frets matched with those in the book and what fingers I was supposed to use on each. Here are a few pictures and a video of him showing me.

Pretty soon he handed the Uke over to me so I could try on my own. I got the first chord ,an A chord, down with no problems! Then I thought I was super cool so I was going to try the more difficult E chord… four fingers… psh I got this! Or so I thought! Darn small hands! I know it is great to have small hands to play a Uke, but apparently I have infant hands! My poor fingers couldn’t reach all of the strings! Mike made sure I had my fingers properly placed and assured me with time you get better… let’s hope so. Here is Mike placing my fingers (and stretching them as far as they could go) in the right places. Before long I had a few chords down. Here I am strumming a little!

It doesn’t sound like much, but hey, it was my first time actually playing real chords instead of me just pretending to play. I am pretty excited to buy my first Ukulele and learn more. I am proof that you are never too old to pick an instrument up and take lessons.
Here are a few pictures from others joining in on the fun! This is Leah Decatur getting a guitar lesson and my adorable niece Izzy starting off young! (Hey you are never to young to start right?)

Laura Barrowman

You Received A Musical Instrument For Christmas…

Now What?

Congratulations!!! If you received a musical instrument for Christmas, someone really cares about you. You now have in your possession the gift that keeps on giving. The gift that does not care about your age, sex, race, religion, class and so one. Although you may go through many instruments, the music itself will last most of your lifetime.


It’s never too late to learn! This is one of our mantras. Watch these videos, get inspired, then read further.

Now that you’ve seen the videos, it’s time for you to start your journey of making music.


Whether you opened up a humanatone or a Steinway Grand Piano from under the tree, the instrument is only the facilitator of your music making process. YOU are the music.

With that being said, do you have everything you need to play, maintain, clean and store your instrument? Over the next few days we will feature different articles pertaining to your instrument. Check back often for your instrument category.

  • There was a guitar under the tree just for me! COMING SOON
  • I got a drumset for Christmas! COMING SOON
  • I opened a violin from under the tree! COMING SOON
  • There was a woodwind instrument under the tree! COMING SOON
  • There was a brass instrument under the tree! COMING SOON
  • I got a keyboard for Christmas! COMING SOON

Please note if you received an instrument for Christmas that is not listed above, comment on this blog or send us an email and we will reply with a personalized list just for you!


If you are not doing it already, we encourage you to do lots of “listening.” Always be listening and never stop listening. Are you listening? If you are, your next question might be, “What should I listen to?” As stated by one of the greatest american composers, Duke Ellington:

There are two kinds of music. Good music, and the other kind.

We highly suggest listening to “Good Music.” You should try and listen to music that features your instrument but you should at least start with what your “ear” tells you.

Remember when we said “anyone can listen to music?” We really meant it. Here is an example.

Bottom line, think about this: If you don’t listen to music, how do you know what you want to sound like?


How do you learn something new? Do you research on the internet? Do you just hope and guess? Whether you are a “self-taught” type of person or not, EVERYONE must practice in order to learn/improve upon a skill. “Talent” only gets you so far.

How do I know if I am getting the most efficient results from my practice time? Wait, what is “practicing?” I don’t own a “woodshed,” what does it mean to go there? I was progressing really quickly but then one day it just stopped; what happened? If you have asked any of these questions, then Music Lessons are definitely for you.

If you are a beginner and have never asked any of the above questions, Music Lessons are also for you. Did you know that it is impossible to break a habit? You can only form a new habit that hopefully supersedes the bad one. Start with good habits. Start with music lessons.

For information about our Lesson Programs, click HERE.


Add listening to music and playing a musical instrument together, and the result is described in this video:

Recapitulation (ask your new lessons teacher about this word)…

Music is a combined effort of your learning, listening and lessons. You may catch on to this whole music thing real quick or real slow. The truth is, it does not make a difference. The amount of fun and enjoyment you will experience when you play your instrument should be the same for the beginner as it is for the professional. In fact, it gets better the more proficient you get at your instrument.

Before you click on the sign to the right and schedule your lessons and start practicing, we will leave you with another quote by T.S. Elliot:

You are the music while the music lasts.

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New Teacher Alert!

Willis Music Lexington is happy to welcome Chase Clark to their team of qualified teachers. Chase has been working as the Willis Music Lexington Band Rep since the spring, and is happy to teach during the evenings! Read more about Chase below and click here to sign up for lessons today.




As an educator, Chase has taught at various schools and music camps throughout Kentucky and Tennessee. Teaching with his first instrument, the trombone, Chase has appeared as a guest instructor at prestigious music programs such as Lafayette High School, Beaumont Middle School, Edythe J. Hayes Middle School, and John Hardin High School. Chase also has taught at the Annie Moses Band’s Fine Arts Summer Academy in Nashville, TN since 2010. This fine arts camp trains 200-250 students in which Chase is the primary trombone and low brass instructor, jazz big band section instructor, and a member of the faculty performing groups. As well as teaching across Kentucky and Tennessee, Chase maintains a successful trombone studio of emerging talent in the Lexington, Kentucky area. As a performer, Chase has appeared with an extensive variety of musical groups such as the University of Kentucky’s Opera Orchestra and Jazz Ensemble, the Annie Moses Band, Wycliffe Gordon, and Grammy-award winning artist Bob Mintzer. Chase also recorded with Bob Mintzer on the album “Go” which released in 2011. Chase also joined with the Annie Moses Band to perform in Carnegie Hall in 2012 and the Grand Ole Opry House in 2013. He currently can be heard as lead trombone/soloist with local artists in the Lexington area such as the jazz big band the MetroGnomes, the oldies rock group Big City Groove, and the Lexington Community Orchestra.



New Teacher Alert!

We are excited to welcome Krista Weiss as a new teacher in our Kenwood and Florence locations. Krista teaches Clarinet and Bass Clarinet. Read more about Krista below and click here to register for lessons today!


Krista Weiss currently serves as principal clarinet of the Columbus Indiana Philharmonic and second clarinet of the Richmond Indiana Symphony. An active freelancer, Krista has recently performed with the Cincinnati Symphony, Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra, Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra, Indianapolis Opera, Lexington Philharmonic, Kentucky Symphony, South Bend Symphony, Fort Wayne Philharmonic, and New World Symphony, as well as on dozens of recordings for the Hal Leonard Corporation. Krista attended Indiana University where she received both her Bachelor and Master’s Degrees in Clarinet Performance. She has also spent several summers participating in music festivals, including the Aspen Music Festival, National Repertory Orchestra, Chautauqua Music Festival, Brevard Music Center, and Marrowstone Music Festival. During the 2010-2011 academic year Krista served as the clarinet instructor at Indiana State University in Terre Haute, Indiana, teaching a full studio of undergraduate and graduate students and performing with the ISU Faculty Woodwind Quintet. She currently serves as a Reserve Method Clinician for D’Addario Woodwinds and has traveled to dozens of schools across the Midwest to give clinics on clarinet fundamentals and equipment. Krista enjoys teaching clarinetists of all ages and abilities and maintains a private studio in the Cincinnati area.


New Voice Teacher- Tonya Jenkins

We are very excited to have Tonya Jenkins on board teaching at our Lexington Location.

Tonya teachers voice lessons and is available any time of day on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays. Sign up for lessons Today!

Teacher_66290.jpgI’m so happy you are considering vocal lessons! I have been singing since I was 5 years old. I entered every competition, choir and vocal group I could. When it was time to go to college, my Dad told me he would pay for my college education or an apartment in New York so I could audition for musicals. He was my biggest fan. I teach vocal conditioning and technique but most importantly I try to help instill confidence in each student. After college I performed for 10 years. I was the Music Director at a private school. I’ve been doing private vocal instruction since 1997. I’ve always sang at Church. I believe any talent is a gift from God. I try to give back any way I can. Music is truly my passion and I would love to work with you.

You can view Tonya’s Profile Here


Open Mic Night! Tuesday, March 11th from 6-8pm

The next installment of our Open Mic Night! is TOMORROW, Tuesday March 11th from 6-8 pm.

Any performer on any instrument is welcome. Kids and teens are especially encouraged to participate.

Come on out and show off your talents or just come out and listen and encourage the others.


Willis Music in Lexington hosts Open Mic Night! the second and fourth Tuesday of each month.

Rock away the Winter Blues!

I don’t know about you, but I am getting very tired of the sub-zero temperatures! One trick I have found to kicking those winter blues is music! Rocking out on your instrument is a great way to stay warm, and a great activity for those days when it’s too cold to go outside! This is a great time to start those music lessons you have been meaning to get around to! Across all of our stores, people are staying warm with music! We have so many great new teachers, you should come in and check them out! Don’t forget you can even sign up from the comfort of your own home by clicking this link! We can’t wait to share the warmth of music with you!