Before the big-name headliners take to the main stage at Dallas Oktoberfest on October 1 to thrill 8,000 fans, Run for Cover will warm up the crowd. Run for Cover is the Lake Highlands School of Music (LHSM) student band, whose owner Zach Galindo, a graduate of Lake Highlands High School, says his students work year-round for the chance to perform in front of a live audience.
“Music is the best motivation, and a taste for the stage is everything. When you’re on stage with people watching, nothing can match the rush you get. This is the pinnacle of what we want to create – real stages, real sound equipment, real audiences. It is the thing that cannot be reproduced.
Many of the kids who won a spot in Run for Cover started taking lessons with Galindo and his team of dedicated teachers before the studio moved from their rough warehouse on Plano Road to their new digs near the Alamo Drafthouse. . Classes fill nine rooms, including guitar labs, recording studios and rehearsal spaces. Galindo admits that his teenage and tween students sometimes get nervous before going on stage. Heck, even Rihanna, who recently signed to play in the Super Bowl, suffers from stage fright.
“These kids are pretty savvy, though,” he says. “Most of them are no strangers to performing, so they’re ready.”
Galindo says seven is the ideal age to start piano lessons, although he has targeted five- and six-year-olds who have done very well. Nine is the golden age to pick up the guitar. Some parents, however, wait for a sign from the child.
“If they’re singing along to music and it doesn’t sound bad,” Galindo jokes, “that’s a good indicator. If they’re tapping beats and it sounds consistent, they’ve got an ear. There are different levels of natural ability when it comes to music, just like athletics. Some of us can run really fast, some can’t. Athletics is always a wonderful activity for everyone, and so is music.
Galindo strives to make lessons fun for young students, and he helps them find and enjoy the dividends.
“Music lessons are a goal-oriented process, and performing is the best reward,” he says. End-of-semester recitals foster a great sense of accomplishment, but students reap the rewards at the end of each class.
“What is most enjoyable for me as a teacher is the five to ten minutes we play together at the end of the lesson. It’s a jam session. It is a performance in itself. Playing together as a group is a special experience. It’s different from creating art alone or being in the cast of a play. It’s immediate. We’ve all had a time when we felt down and we heard a song, and that was enough to lift our spirits. There is no such thing.
Galindo has some advice for parents looking to foster a love of music in their young charges.
“Create a dedicated listening time instead of watching TV. Make listening to music a family activity. Today I ask the kids what their favorite band is or what their favorite song is, and they don’t I don’t know. When I was a kid, I would listen to entire albums by an artist, but today’s kids consume music differently. Their music catalog is just an app.
Galindo says his family would listen to the car radio and play “Name That Song” on family trips. Today’s family could start listening to five different playlists on five headphones, he says.
“Each person has their own algorithm for determining what they will like, so they may not be exposed to other artistic genres. Applications are organized for us. It’s wonderful, it’s just different.
Last May, Galindo opened Oak Cliff School of Music, a collaboration with Arts Mission Oak Cliff. AMOC, housed in a repurposed historic church, provides rehearsal and performance space for dance, theater and other arts organizations. Galindo has a working studio there with around 20 students, but he hopes the Oak Cliff studio will eventually expand to accommodate around 200 children, as LHSM does.
Galindo’s latest passion is serving on the board of Swan Strings, a non-profit organization providing free music education and sound therapy services to students with limited resources. Professional musicians fan out to Dallas neighborhoods to teach guitar, vocals, songwriting, and ukulele, and one class per week is offered free at LHSM.
“Swan Strings, started by Jess Garland, is Dallas’ most dynamic nonprofit for music education,” Galindo raves. “I think Swan Strings should be in every neighborhood – all they need is space and funding.”
The Lake Highlands School of Music is located at 6760 Abrams Road, Suite 205.