Ep. 33: Looking for music lessons that fit your unique situation? Check out these options, with MacPhail Center for Music’s Paul Babcock

March 10, 2020

There can be many logistical obstacles to quality music instruction, including busy schedules, transportation, physical mobility, and rural location. If you haven’t found music lessons that fit your unique situation, learn about global options available for private lessons, group lessons, school instructor training, and more.


Our guest today is Paul Babcock, President and CEO of MacPhail Center for Music in Minneapolis. MacPhail reaches 16,000 students annually at five locations and through over 100 partnerships with community organizations. Paul has degrees in both music and business, and a Master’s in percussion performance.


  • MacPhail offers many private and group lessons online, including training for school districts, and music lessons for early childhood through high school anywhere in the world. (MacPhail currently has students as far away as South Korea, Estonia, and Saudi Arabia.)
  • Online learning can be especially helpful for those with limited physical mobility; schedules that are too full to accommodate in-person lessons; lack of transportation; extreme weather conditions; rural locations; shortage of teachers or class availability.
  • We discuss some unique benefits associated with online learning.
  • Virtual recitals, newletters, and more integrate online learners to the greater MacPhail studio community.
  • MacPhail’s online instruction is available worldwide.


Rhythm is everywhere – find the rhythm in everything you hear (e.g. car blinkers, the rhythm of a person’s voice, a dog slurping water in their bowl, the beeping of the light rail doors, the rhythm of a cash register, etc.).  Begin to vocalize your own rhythms internally or externally, synch up your rhythms while you move/walk/run/dance.


Upcoming MacPhail events:

MacPhail Concerto & Aria Recital

  • Conducted by Chi-Chi Bestmann
  • Sunday, March 15, 3:30 p.m.
  • Antonello Hall – MacPhail Center for Music (501 South 2nd Street, Minneapolis)
  • The MacPhail Concerto & Aria Concert is MacPhail’s premiere performance event featuring MacPhail student soloists performing with an orchestra of professional musicians under the baton of conductor Chi-Chi Lin Bestmann. Six performances are selected through two rounds of auditions to perform with orchestra.

MacPhail Spotlight Series: Anatomy of Genius  [see below for free ticket giveaway!]

  • Saturday, April 4, 7:30 p.m. with pre-concert lecture at 6:30 p.m.
  • Antonello Hall – MacPhail Center for Music (501 South 2nd Street, Minneapolis)
  • Ticketing info
  • Celebrating Beethoven’s 250th anniversary, we perform three major pieces from this musical genius. Regarded by many as the greatest composer of all time, Beethoven struggled throughout his life with the creative process, his place in society, and his health. As a result, he became a symbol for perseverance and victory in the face of tremendous obstacles, a trait reflected in his music. Artistic director Mischa Santora will highlight Beethoven’s musical intricacies and stylistic evolution over the course of his life, interspersed with Beethoven’s highly personal letters and contemporary accounts of his performances. The performance will feature select guest artists from MacPhail and the local music scene.

Summer Camps Enrollment Opens March 2

  • MacPhail’s 35 summer camps for ages 3-adult provide fun and unique learning opportunities to explore music and develop skills in a creative surrounding, for ages 3-adult with locations in Minneapolis, Apple Valley, and Chanhassen.


Paul shares this excerpt of a (2/22/2020) performance of his Rimshots! percussion ensemble of high school students. The performance was at the MacPhail Percussion Showcase, and the song is “Shared Space,” by Ivan Trevino.

Free Ticket Giveaway and Closing Words

I hope this episode has been encouraging for those of you who may not have access to in-person lessons, either because of your geographic location or for other logistical reasons. There ARE quality music lesson options out there for you.

For those of you near the Twin Cities: MacPhail is giving away a pair of concert tickets to a lucky listener! The tickets are for the upcoming Anatomy of Genius concert (Sat/April 4, 2020 @ 7:30 pm at MacPhail’s beautiful building in Minneapolis). Here’s what to do to enter the drawing for two free concert tickets:

  1. Post a screenshot of this episode to social media and mention something interesting you heard in the episode.
  2. Tag me so I can see your post/enter you in the drawing AND tag MacPhail.

This can be on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn. Do this before the end of the day on Tues/March 24, 2020. The winner will be notified the following day, March 25.

Until next week, may your life be enhanced with music.

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