Aaron Ortiz, Modern Music Academy graduate

265 Pacific St., unit C and D, San Luis Obispo


NEW TIMES How did the teaching at the MMA differ from private lessons or a music class at school?

ORTIZ Darren Clarke, who is our teacher and founder of the MMA in SLO, doesn’t just teach you how to play your instrument. Whether you play bass, electric, or acoustic guitar, percussion, it doesn’t matter because he incorporates so much more about the music industry into what you’re learning.

NEW TIMES Would you say that his teaching methods are more unorthodox?

ORTIZ No, not necessarily. On our first day of class, most of the students had some impression that we were going to practice our instruments 24 hours a day, seven days a week. But to be quite honest, some of us practice for a minimum 15 to 30 minutes a day. The rest of the class consists of things that you can’t get out of normal music classes, and that’s an idea of what the music industry is about.

NEW TIMES Could you elaborate more on what MMA focuses on?

ORTIZ The MMA and our instructors teach us the basics of the music industry. For example, we learn not only the theory of our music, but we learn the theory and chords of blues, jazz, modern, and classical, and understand why melodies and rhythms use a specific sound. We also have students form bands and learn how to coordinate everyone’s talent, from singing to performing, into a manageable band, while taking our songs into the studio and recording them into a real album. Eventually, we take our learning to a performance at SLO Brew as a graduation ceremony, and perform in front of a live audience.

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