Soul Funktion Studios may be known for training and nurturing some of Whistler’s finest dancing talents, but it appears that the studio is looking to broaden its horizons, building on their fledgling musical program which was launched last year.
Codi Dalen is the owner and operator of Soul Funktion Studios. She started the studio about five years ago with the hope of developing the dance and performing art talent in the community.
A musical program wasn’t part of the agenda until last year, when the office manager and local musician, Jeremy Thom, pitched the idea of teaching guitar and drums. Since they recently added a third studio space, Dalen and Thom were able to make the idea a reality, with the belief that it would provide another creative outlet for local youth.
“It’s another way to express,” Dalen explained. “Dance is a manifestation of yourself — that’s what I believe — and music is also that form.”
Thom has been making music for over 12 years now, and has called Whistler home for almost six years. He comes from a pretty musical family — his brother, Jesse, and sister, Rachel, are also local musicians — and he doesn’t just sing, he also plays guitar and hand drums, and is part of a local band, The Riding Tide.
While working in the office at Soul Funktion, he began to notice there were quite a few requests for music lessons, but no one was teaching in town. So, after getting the go-ahead from Dalen, Thom spent all of last summer creating music lesson plans to begin teaching at the studio last fall. He started by teaching hand drumming and guitar. Mason McMillan offered private DJ lessons outside of the studio, as well.
While the classes are all-ages, the group sessions are generally aimed at a younger crowd. Thom recommends private lessons for older learners. The group classes are competitively priced — $110 for eight sessions — while the private sessions are a bit pricier.
Whether participating in the group or individual lessons, Thom agrees that the new classes help round out the studio offerings and musical abilities.
“For both dance and music, obviously rhythm is a huge factor, and you might not think so, but with guitar and vocals. You also have to learn about all of music, not just that one particular thing,” he added.
And Thom doesn’t just teach traditional theory.
“It’s more of a comprehensive approach,” Thom explained. “It’s more about concepts and understanding music, as opposed to learning how to write sheet music and stuff like that.”
He uses tablature, which is more practical and is commonly used on the web, so it’s a bit easier to pick up.
The demand for the classes has grown significantly, with enrolment numbers climbing steadily.
“Last year, he had two older guitar students and three younger guitar students, and already now he’s got like four full classes and private (lessons) coming up,” Dalen said.
Now, they’re expanding the music program to offer vocal classes.
“Since I’m a singer, I’m able to show them what I know,” Thom said with a laugh. He added that it’s been very rewarding to have the chance to help people hone their musical abilities.
“The kids that are super excited about it and at the next class, they’ve got everything down pat that you’ve shown them and they’re ready to move on — it’s exciting!”
“…The drumming classes are fun — sometimes they get a little noisy,” he said with a laugh.
He finds the guitar classes most rewarding because people progress more noticeably over a short period of time. He plans to continue building the music program at the studio for the foreseeable future.
Dalen is hoping that the new vocal aspect of the studio will grow and thrive, so that eventually, they can intertwine the dance and music programs to create a new musical theatre program.
“The sky’s the limit to where we can go from here, but let’s foster it, let’s grow it!”
Fall classes at Soul Funktion Studios start up again during the week of Sept. 29. For more information call 604-966-0644.