This local music academy that started in the owner’s home is growing in a larger space

Jon Sanford holds the ceremonial Chamber of Commerce scissors at the ribbon-cutting officially opening his Oxford Music Academy Jan. 31. On hand for the occasion were city and chamber representatives. CONTRIBUTES/BOB RATTERMAN

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Jon Sanford holds the ceremonial Chamber of Commerce scissors at the ribbon-cutting officially opening his Oxford Music Academy Jan. 31. On hand for the occasion were city and chamber representatives. CONTRIBUTES/BOB RATTERMAN

Music Academy students have a new home for their lessons, and while operation started in November, the young business was formally welcomed by the Chamber of Commerce with a ceremonial ribbon-cutting recently.

Jon Sanford had a dream for his Oxford Music Academy, which started in his home. Now, there are 10 teachers in a variety of musical modes offering instruction to approximately 140 students. He is one of three piano teachers while voice lessons and teachers can offer lessons in a healthy list of instruments to students.

The academy is on the second floor at 421 South Locust Street, suite 201, in Bishop Square adjacent to the Lane Public Library. Sanford said he looked all over town for a suitable location when this one was recommended.

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“There are benefits to this place compared to others. I looked at one on College Corner Pike that was just a large empty room. It was too big. This one had separate rooms laid, three separate rooms,” he said, adding he talked to developers about sound-proofing but it was felt the construction materials and insulation provide enough sound containment.

He is a Nationally Certified Teacher of Music with a master of music degree from Miami University. Previously, he studied at Cincinnati Christian University where he graduated as Salutatorian. He has experience with all types of students, varying in age from 4 to 74 learning all styles of repertoire. In addition to being a private piano instructor, he is also an adjunct professor at Miami where he teaches a functional piano class and sight-singing/dictation to college music majors.

He started the Oxford Music Academy in his home, but when he applied for a conditional use permit to the city it became contentious with neighbors fearing additional traffic and parking issues. The ordinance failed on a 4-3 vote Aug. 21.

Sanford told City Council he had looked at possible business locations but they were too expensive or had other issues. He had looked into space at the Oxford Community Arts Center, but there was not enough available studio space.

One voice teacher was able to locate there.

Sanford said recently one potential location Uptown was in an alley but parking was limited and he feared for the safety of children needing to get inside.

Then, he found this location and was happy to find a place so ideally suited to the needs of the music instructors and their students.

Another advantage is that instructors can get in for lessons without Sanford having to be there, which gives more flexibility to the process. The three rooms allow multiple classes at the same time.

“Families enjoy it. In my home, I had two rooms. Families enjoy this because they can drop kids off at the same time. One family has four kids. They try to schedule it so they can make one trip and be done with it,” he said.

Technology helps with that, too.

One studio has multiple keyboards, which can be played to be heard over headphones. Using a splitter, the student and teacher can hear what is played while other students can be playing at the same time hearing only their playing. The instructor can let students practice the piece each one has been working on and signal the teacher by turning on a red light.

The teacher then will listen to the piece, make comments or corrections until it is right and the student can move on to the piece to be done in the coming week.

“Every student works at their own pace,” Sanford said. “People think of group classes as inferior but they are able to move at their own pace. They move faster through the method book.”

Teachers at the Oxford Music Academy offer a wide range of classes.

“In addition to piano, we have voice; guitar, which includes base guitar, ukulele and mandolin. We also have viola but no students yet, but we have a teacher to teach it,” Sanford said. “There is a lot of variety. That helps the student find the teacher for them.”

“Music is Life” reads a sign on the wall of one of the studio rooms and the variety of musical offerings and teachers at the Oxford Music Academy is a testament to that. The nine teachers in addition to Sanford, and their areas of expertise, are:

Ahdda Shur (voice) teaches classical and non-classical voice and helps singers and speakers recover from vocal strain or injury. She holds a master’s and bachelor’s degree in opera and opera stage direction from Indiana University.

Charles Ramsey (guitar, mandolin, ukulele) graduated from the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music where he studied classical guitar. He also holds a master of arts degree from the Hebrew Union College.

Alivea Cline (violin) transferred from Cincinnati Christian University to Miami University where she has completed her bachelor of music degree in violin performance.

Kang Ning Yong (piano) is a second-year graduate student at Miami University, pursuing a master of music in piano performance. As a pianist and teaching assistant at Miami University, she teaches functional piano.

Robert Head (piano) is a graduate from Miami University with a bachelor of arts degree in piano performance. While attending Miami he had been the pianist in Miami’s Jazz Ensemble and Jazz Combo.

Nathan Groot (viola, violin) is a violist and second-year graduate student at Miami University pursuing a master of music in viola performance.

Anna Adams (voice) is a junior at Miami University studying choral music education with a minor in musical theatre. At Miami, she is a member of Collegiate Chorale.

Mayu Uchiyama (voice) received her bachelor in music at the University of Redlands in Southern California, and currently pursues her graduate degree at Miami.

Anthony Rapp (guitar) has been playing guitar for almost ten years and teaching for the last two. Though he started in rock and blues, he found a passion in playing classical guitar. He received a degree in classical guitar from Miami University in May of 2017.

The web site is oxfordmusicacademy.com, and it can be reached by phone at 513-255-9022.

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