Detroit native Shirley Smith was born with a passion for music, and now she's back in her hometown to spread that love of music to her community.
Smith teaches vocal and piano lessons at her business, Journey Music Studios. She has worked with recording artists like Lisa McClendon, Jamison Ross, and Beth Griffith-Manley, a former contestant on NBC's hit show "The Voice." But Smith's lessons aren't just for the professionals. She mainly teaches lessons to kids and adults looking to start or develop their musical skills.
Journey Music Studios offers group and one-on-one lessons. They also offer classes on music theory aimed at musicians who can already play by ear, but would like to learn more about the rules of sheet music. These lessons aren't limited to a certain age range, and Smith is working to break the idea that music lessons are just for kids.
"I often say my students range from ages 5 to 85," Smith said. "As long as your mind is set in a good, healthy space to learn, you can achieve anything at any age!"
According to Smith, music lessons teach you more than just how to sing or play the piano. They can also build a sense of discipline and community. Especially for beginners, learning the basics can be frustrating if you don't see immediate progress. Smith tells her students that if they stick with it, and are consistent with daily practice, they will begin to see results.
"I tell my students that practice doesn't make perfect, practice makes permanent," Smith said. "Don't wait to sound better to feel confident; being confident will make you sound better."
Smith's own music career took her across the United States, to Jacksonville, Florida, where she worked as the minister of music for The Potter's House International Ministries. Her musical skills were recognized by members of the community, and she soon started getting requests to teach privately. After she taught a few lessons, she saw the potential of turning her lessons into a business.
Rather than build her career in Jacksonville, Smith decided to come back home. "I started thinking of the rich musical heritage that was still in the city of Detroit and decided I needed to be back home to help with any rebuilding that was gonna happen in my own musical way."
The former Cass Tech student said that she learned the value of being a good musician at school, but that music had always been a part of her life.
"My dad, both grandmothers, uncles, aunts, and grandfather were all musician/singers. Music filled my home every day. My father's band literally rehearsed at my home while my mom was pregnant with me," Smith said.
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