Passion Pulse Vol 2 Issue 2

Posted by | Announcements, Events | No Comments

Hello to all our parents, friends, supporters, and students. Welcome to another edition of The Passion Pulse. And welcome to February! Although the holidays seem long gone, February is actually jam-packed with activity. The Superbowl, Valentine’s Day, Black History Month, President’s Day, Mardi Gras and Lent, the Winter Olympics…these are just a few of the goings on here in our country and around the world.

Have you ever stopped to think about what all of these events have in common? The answer is ownership. As we celebrate Black History Month we find ourselves (hopefully) taking ownership of mistakes made in our country’s past, as well as owning up to how we can all do better. As we celebrate Valentine’s Day today, we celebrate love, something that goes far beyond just a feeling, but rather takes ownership on our part to actually BE loving, even when we don’t “feel” love.

Over the next few weeks millions of people all over the world will take ownership of their spiritual lives, their internal world, as they revel in life and then spend some time fasting and reflecting on the things that matter most. And as we get ready to take some time off of work and school this weekend, we celebrate some very well-known leaders who decided to take ownership of their destiny and their country’s destiny, as well as their God-given rights to enjoy life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. And finally, we recognize what may be the most obvious and concrete examples of ownership…world-renown athletes displaying the fruit of years and years of what we might call extreme ownership, taking charge of our own minds and bodies, disciplining ourselves to achieve a dream, whether it’s a Superbowl ring or a gold medal.

Inspired yet? Ready to take some ownership? Great! Because that’s exactly what we want for all of our students at Passion Academy…a sense of ownership when it comes to their talent, their dreams and their goals.

Anthony Mazzochi says something very powerful about this idea of ownership in his book, The Music Parents’ Guide. “When a student understands, “why”, “how”, “where”, and “when” to practice, they have been given power. They will feel a sense of responsibility, which will then lead to self-motivation and routine. Ideally we want our children to have ownership over their own learning in every aspect of life, and music education is a wonderful way to teach this.”

So, in addition to everything going on this month, and in the spirit of all those who came before us, here’s to making February, “Passionate Ownership Month.” Together we celebrate our ability, as uniquely created individuals to achieve and to accomplish all that we set our hearts and minds to.

Please mark your calendars for Saturday, April 21 for our next live music showcase. Stay tuned for registration details but start working with you or your student’s mentor now on a song.

Passion is always looking for new mentors. If you know people who you think would be a good fit for our Passion team and culture, please refer them to the application page on our website.

Just another quick reminder that we have a new texting platform at Passion where you can receive periodic and important updates on big things coming up, as well as weather events and schedule changes. For Passion Academy updates text PASSION to 33222. For Passion Dance updates please text DANCER to the same number. 

Enrollment for Passion Summer Camps is open now…take advantage! And just in case you need a few reasons to sign your child up for something that will keep them occupied while they continue to learn and grow while you’re still trying to work here ya go…summer camps…

Ensure Continued Development of Skills
• Foster Independence and Self-Reliance
• Build Confidence through Successful, Meaningful Experiences
• Develop and Strengthen Friendships Rooted in the Arts

And if that isn’t reason enough, Passion’s Summer Camps are just cool!

For more information, click on the desired camp image below


Passion Dance is also hosting a couple of Musical Theatre Master Classes with Megan Tatum on Saturday, February 24:
Session One is from 3:30-5:00pm for 12 and under
Session Two is from 5:30-7:30pm for 12 and older


Summer Worship Leadership Training Intensive

Do you know young people in your church who have a gift for music and worship? Passion Academy will be running its first ever Art of Worship Summer Intensive this year. Dates are still TBD, but we are looking for young adults who are interested in joining us for a 1-2 week intensive focused on helping young worship leaders discover their call as a worshiper and their potential as a worship leader. We are calling it The Start of Worship: Summertime.

In addition we will have a one-week track intensive called The Art of Worship 2.0 for more experienced worship leaders who are currently serving as leaders/directors or pastors in their church.

Prospective students can apply now on The Art of Worship page.


Passion Pulse Vol 2 Issue 1

Posted by | Announcements, Events | No Comments

Being Enough in a New Year
What was your New Year’s resolution? Was it to lose weight? Exercise more? Watch TV less? Spend more time with your family? Maybe it was even to practice, or have your children practice their music or dance more…wink, wink.

Whatever it was, have you ever thought about where these resolutions come from? Why do we make them? Why do we have such trouble keeping them? Well, the obvious answer might be because we want to be better people right? We want to weigh less and do more, or maybe do less and just be more. We want to accomplish more and regret less. We just want to feel better about ourselves, about who we are and what we do. I mean who doesn’t right? So then why do we find it so hard to actually accomplish the “more”, to accomplish these “betters” that we set out to achieve and become? Here’s something to consider…maybe it’s because we tend to lose sight of our starting point, actually being “enough”. And no, we don’t mean just getting by being “good enough”, while never striving for excellence, this is an overall perspective, a running narrative in our heads, maybe even a fear, that constantly makes us doubt whether we are living up to the expectations we have for ourselves and the ones we think others have for us.

As a new year opens up at Passion, we really want to help show each student what their strengths are, where they shine and what they can accomplish, starting with the idea that who they are, them just being them is enough. It’s a great jumping off point don’t you think…beginning with the idea that you are uniquely created to be and do things in a way that nobody else can? We think so, because as each new student walks in, as each new program gets started or as familiar ones start up again, we get to take what is and make the most of it in order to unwrap and discover what will be. We get to uncover talents, skills, goals and achievements that lead to our students’ excellence and greatness. And that is when great things happen!

We got to experience so many exciting moments with you in 2017, but we are even more excited for the year to come. We are excited to discover all of the the possibilities ahead of us, for Passion as a whole and for each one of your students. We are grateful for all that they bring and how they make us remember every single day that we have so much to be thankful for, so much that already makes up all the best of who we are. To that we are excited to add the promise that the best is yet to come!

Invincible Continues to Inspire
If you didn’t get to see Passion Academy’s Winter Showcase production of Invincible you’ve probably heard by now that you missed out on an amazing experience! Fortunately, however our friends at Altamira Film Co. were able to put together an incredible video chronicling the event and the impact it had and continues to have. So here it is, hot off the press, Passion Academy and Altamira Film Co. proudly present Invincible: A Story of Hope.

Live Music Showcase – Rescheduled for April

As you recall our winter Live Music Showcase was cancelled due to, well, winter. As you recall this same weather phenomenon put some kinks in our winter live music showcase. After initially rescheduling another winter showcase for February, we thought it best to give everyone more time to prepare so we can do it up right. So we have moved our next showcase to April. It will be a spring showcase and will be the only one until winter rolls around again. Stay tuned for more details on this, but in the meantime please encourage your students to begin thinking about songs they might want to perform. April will come around quickly!

Election Day!
Voting is now open for Virginia Living Magazine Best of Virginia 2018! We would LOVE it if you could take a moment and VOTE for Passion Academy and Passion Arts Foundation. You helped catapult us to local fame and recognition through Richmond Magazine, Style Weekly and Virginia Living where last year we won “best of” in multiple categories. Help us do it again in this year’s edition of Virginia Living Magazine’s Best Of! You have until 11:59 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 28 to submit your ballot.

Looking for a Few Good Mentors
Passion is always on the look-out for new mentors who have a heart for mentoring, a proficiency in the Arts, and a willingness to serve, especially as we grow! We have mentors with a variety of backgrounds, experience, and education. If you know people who you think would be a good fit for our Passion team and culture, please refer them to the application page on our website. Thank you!
Passion Beer…That’s Right…Passion Beer!
Sugar Shack brought you the Passion Donut, but THIS Friday, January 26 from 4pm – closing, Three Notch’d Brewery will be bringing you the Practice Makes Passion Beer! Don’t miss out on trying this unique blend. And, not only is this a great chance to try a great beer with a great name, but our very own Passion Academy mentors/artists Colleen Christman and Elliott Johnson will be performing live at Three Notch’d from 5:30 – 6:30 pm. Pint specials will also be running from 4-7 pm. Come join us! Three Notch’d is located in Scott’s Addition at 2930 Broad St. All proceeds will benefit our Passion Arts Foundation.

Snow Days and the Like
The winter of 2017/18 has already proven to be out of the ordinary. With schools closed frequently and spring still a solid month away we wanted to just take a minute to remind you that our policy at Passion is to try to stay open as often as possible, while at the same time keeping everyone’s safety in mind. So please be sure to keep in contact with us often and early, and we will do the same!

New Texting Platform
And speaking of staying in touch, Passion Academy has just implemented a new texting platform that allows us to communicate with our Passion community via text! And it’s incredibly easy to sign up, for Passion Academy updates just text PASSION to 33222. For Passion Dance updates please text DANCER to the same number. Rest assured you will not be bombarded with promotional material; but you WILL be receiving important updates on things like snow day closures and major changes that you need to know about.

Summer is Coming
Although the recent snow has made it seem like summer is a long ways off, this week’s weather should be a reminder that it WILL be here before you know it; and with it will come Passion’s diverse offering of summer camps…vocals, drums, strings, artist band development, electronic music and of course our increasingly popular dance camps (Prince and Princess Pre-school Camp, Musical Theatre Camp, Ballet Performance Camp, and Hip Hop Camp). Start thinking about which camp(s) you or your student is interested in so you don’t miss out when dates are released. Passion summer camps run from mid-June to mid-August.

The Reason for the Season

Posted by | Announcements, Events | No Comments

Christmas time is here…family drawing near…fun for all that children call, their favorite time of year…” (Christmas Time is Here – Charlie Brown Christmas)

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. With those holiday greetings and gay happy meetings when friends come to call…it’s the hap-happiest season of all…” (It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year)

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, everywhere you go, take a look at the grand hotel, one in the park as well, the sturdy kind that doesn’t mind the snow…” (It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas)

Santa Clause is comin to town, Santa Clause is comin to town, Santa Clause is comin to town…” (In case you didn’t guess this one…it’s Santa Clause is Coming to Town)

City sidewalks, busy sidewalks, dressed in holiday style. In the air there’s a feeling of Christmas…” (Silver Bells)

I’ll be home for Christmas, you can plan on me, please have snow and mistletoe, and presents on the tree. Christmas eve will find me, where the lovelight gleams. I’ll be home for Christmas, if only in my dreams.” (I’ll be Home for Christmas)

As these well-known Christmas songs declare, part of the magic and the beauty of Christmas is that it comes and then it goes, and then it comes around again? Today I looked at the official Christmas countdown clock so I could work on an Advent calendar with my daughter. It’s 10 days until Christmas folks! For kids those 10 days will go by much more slowly than for us adults. Maybe that’s why Christmas is so great as a child and a little more stressful as an adult. Time moves more slowly for kids. And maybe that’s why it seems harder and harder every year to make Christmas really mean something, because it seems to go by faster and faster as the years go by. And we all want Christmas to mean something right? We want the magic to be real, we want the way the house looks to be the way it looks all year, we want our family to act the rest of the year the way they do on Christmas (well, maybe not all of us do) but you get the idea. We recognize that there is supposed to be something special about these few short weeks out of the year.

I have great news though…there IS something special about these few short weeks, and it makes all the difference during the rest of the year. And that something special is found in a story and a question. The story is about Jesus, and the question is about whether I not I live as if the story is true. What if it really is true that a man named Jesus came to earth as a baby? What if it’s true that he really was worshipped by shepherds and kings, that he really did grow up to heal the sick and raise the dead and bring hope and life to an entire world of people, to everyone who ever existed and everyone who ever will exist. What if He really did die to take on the burdens we carry every single day? And what is he really was raised to life in order to not only take those burdens away, but to give us wings so that we could fly over the haze that so many people call life. What if all of it really is true? And what if, by taking it and putting it inside our minds and our hearts it could give us the very thing that the angels declared to the shepherds on that warm spring night so long ago…peace on earth!

We hope and pray this Christmas that it really will become true for you. We also hope that you find a little of that peace at Passion, that when you or your students walk through our doors they feel something different, that they feel wonder and joy and. But especially that they feel peace all through the year. We pray that it’s a safe and beautiful place for them to have fun and to experience all the best parts of life.

From our Passion family to yours, we want to wish you an extremely merry, a very happy and a purposefully peace-filled Christmas, New Year’s, Hanukkah and whatever other holiday or tradition you decide to celebrate to make this time of year special. And we want to thank you for the piece that you bring to us…the gift of yourselves, your students, your family, your gifts and your talents.

A Fantastic Year in Review
As we close out 2017 and prepare to jump into a new season, we wanted to take some time to reflect on all that you have helped Passion accomplish and become in 2017. Here are a few highlights from a crazy but amazing year!

The Best of 2017
Maybe the first thing we should mention is that 2017 was the year we started bringing you the Passion Pulse! You’ll notice in January’s issue that the heading will say “Volume 2” as we get ready to share a whole new year of exciting updates!

In March of 2017 Passion Academy brought on the newest member of the leadership team, our worship leadership and piano mentor Randall Goulard. And in April, with Randall’s help, Passion launched it’s Art of Worship program, a much-needed and much-talked about mentoring and development program for worship leaders.

In addition to our new worship leadership mentor, we added 25 new mentors in the areas of voice, piano, guitar, drums, artist development and of course Passion Dance! We added 145 new music students and 82 new dance students to our Passion Academy family and had multiple Artist Development students releasing their very first music! Here’s a quick list of the new tunes coming out of Passion Music Group. All in all Passion released 26 original songs that were written by our students and their mentors and were produced completely in-house!

Glory Miller – Tempest (8 Song EP)  Release Date: February 14, 2017
Zoe Macgill – Nothing To Fear (Single)  Release Date: April 4, 2017
Whitney Hull – Wildflowers (Single)  Release Date: May 15, 2017
Lauren Cash – Late At Night (4 Song EP)  Release Date: June 16, 2017
Jui Paithane – About Love (4 Song EP)  Release Date: July 28, 2017
Sarah Mackenzie – Sapphire Skies (Single)  Release Date: August 11, 2017
Passion Academy – We’re Doin’ Motown (Single)  Release Date: August 30, 2017
Flipside – Zero Gravity (Single)  Release Date: November 11, 2017
Nick Faulconer – Untested (5 Song EP)  Release Date: December 1, 2017

Summer Highlights
Summertime at Passion this year was a crazy but beautiful time of transition. The main highlight was the remodeling of our West end location, completed in just 8 short weeks, during which we continued to offer all of our normal lessons PLUS our many summer camps. Here’s a quick recap of what the new digs look like…

    •    In Phase One we added a new studio…Studio 4.
    •    In Phase Two we added a brand new (and much more comfortable and inviting) lobby space for all of you to relax in.
    •    Phase Three saw one of the biggest changes, our new Band Development / Recording Studio, Writing Suite and Vocal Booth, a much needed addition for our growing artist development program.
    •    And finally, Phase Four gave us Dance Studio Two, allowing us to add more dance mentors and classes!

During that time we also ran multiple Dance Camps, a Strings Camp, a very successful Voice Camp, and our first annual Drum Camp. And to top it all off, we hosted over 90 students in our largest camp of the year, an 8-day whirlwind tour of the sounds of Motown, the Sound of Rock Music Arts Camp.

Also during 2017 we were honored to find out that not only do you guys think we’re doing something right, but others do too! This year Passion had the privilege and the honor of winning some great and important awards in our own community.

Richmond Magazine Best of 2017
Best Music Classes for Adults
Best Music Classes for Children
Best Dance Classes for Adults (2nd Place)
Best Dance Classes for Children (3rd Place)
Best Local Summer or Day Camp Program (3rd Place)

Style Weekly Family Favorites 2017
Favorite Music Lessons
Favorite Performing Arts Lessons
Favorite Day Camp
Favorite Place to Celebrate a Birthday

Virginia Living Best of Virginia 2017
Best Performing Arts Company in Central Virginia

We are so proud of these awards because they let us know that we are doing something right, that our vision of providing quality music education, while also providing strong mentoring relationships is headed in the right direction. To that end though we are probably most proud of how we wrapped the summer up. In August of 2017 we launched Passion Arts Foundation, raising over $1,200 with a very successful benefit concert. With that we were able to award a one-year scholarship to a very deserving student, Virginia Ventura. Be sure to check out the story and more about our Passion Arts Foundation here. It is at the core of what we want to do and who we want to be!

Thank you for taking the ride with us in 2017. There is so much more to come….

Current Announcements

Invincible is here, and we want you to be here for it. Have you seen our amazing students performing on CBS 6? Have you heard how the story told through Invincible is already making an impact on so many people? Most importantly, have you bought your tickets yet? Well now’s the time…our Winter Showcase featuring Invincible is playing THIS SUNDAY, DECEMBER 17 ONLY at 4 pm at Godwin High School! As they say, the stage is set, the cameras are rolling, our students are incredibly excited and we are ready for action. Come help make Invincible incredible! You can buy your tickets here or at the door but don’t miss out!

Live Music Showcase – Rescheduled for Feb. 10
The children were ready to play out their song. The parents were ready to all sing along. The songs had been practiced, all was ready to go. But that weekend in Richmond…it snowed! The parents were wondering, what will we do? Will there be another recital in one month or two? As the questions abounded…who, what and when? Passion proclaimed that our student showcase would be February 10. The date has been set, the details will come. But a make-up recital? Yes, we’re having one!

Holiday Closures
Christmas is only 11 days away now. Hopefully by now most of you have a good idea of what the Passion Academy holiday schedule is. But in case you have questions here’s the plan. We will be open through the holidays but not ON the holidays. So if your lessons fall on Monday December 25 or Monday January 1st, we will probably all be with our families. Other than that though, please assume that your lessons will take place as normal unless you hear differently. However, if YOU know you will not be here for a lesson that doesn’t fall on one of the holidays, please contact Passion via as normal to let us know if and when you will not be here for a regularly scheduled lesson so we can schedule a make-up.

Please note: All dance classes have a holiday break from 12/18/17 – 1/2/17

Passion Pulse Vol 1 Issue 5

Posted by | Announcements, Events | No Comments

Gearing up for INVINCIBLE!
Tickets are going quickly for our Winter Showcase featuring Invincible, coming up in just one month! Trust us when we say you want to be a part of this event. Invincible will tell an important story and will touch on important themes like bullying, friendship, identity, strength, courage and hope. It will also help kick off the official launch of Passion Arts Foundation. We’re asking for your help in finding sponsorships for the show’s expenses so that 100% of the proceeds can go towards Passion Arts Foundation, providing scholarships for students whose lives could be impacted by the arts but can’t afford it. It is a great way to give back, but also to see a great show that we know will make an impact on your own life. Help us find sponsorships, buy your tickets and help make Invincible incredible! Invincible is playing December 17, 2017 at 4:00PM at Godwin High School. See you there!

Proceeds for Invincible benefit Passion Arts Foundation, the Bridging RVA 150 Beds for 150 Kids campaign and the Cameron K. Gallagher Foundation.



In addition to Invincible, on December 9, 2017 at 2:00PM at Stony Point Church, we will ALSO be having a live music showcase featuring all of our music students. All the details as well as registration can be found here. This is a great opportunity for family and friends to come see how your student is progressing, and undoubtedly to hear a few versions of your favorite Christmas songs. But be sure to register and be sure you’ve had a conversation with your student’s mentor so you know what your child is playing or singing and how to help them prepare.


Holiday Closures
As you probably guessed, both of our Passion locations will be closed on Thanksgiving Day. But please take note that we ARE running normal lessons and classes the rest of that week, including Black Friday and the weekend of November 25-26, 2017. Please email with any scheduling needs or requests, keeping in mind that the more continuity for your student the better, and that make-up lessons are always the way to go over canceling a lesson entirely.


Gratitude in an Age of Fear

Have you ever stopped to think about all the things you’re afraid of? Don’t make a list, it will scare you. But there really are a lot of things that keep us up at night and stressed out during the day, especially these days! We almost think, “how can we not be afraid?” Enter Thanksgiving, a time of good food, family, fun…and hopefully gratitude. But even though we know we should live in a state of gratitude, even though we are constantly reminded about it, even in our age of fear and especially at this time of year, it still can seem incredibly hard to do. So maybe we should start small.

The other day my family and I were at Short Pump Shopping Center. We came to ride the train, we stayed for Christmas. It was nap time for our 3-month old, but for our 3-year old it truly was the most wonderful time of the year! After we crossed the parking lot I found myself chasing my daughter through a shady corridor of shops, and then she saw it…”EEEEEEK!! Daddy, it’s SOOOO BIG!!” Is there any sound sweeter to a parent’s ear than the sound of pure delight, of unencumbered joy? The tree really was big, but can you imagine how it looks to a 3-year old?! We rode the train, played on the playground, threw coins in the fountain, made a quick, first time exploratory stop at Santa’s place. But, as we headed back to the car I knew that the highlight of the day was the moment she first saw the colossal Christmas tree.

See for a child, his or her gratitude, their sense of wonder and joy is infinitely bigger than their fears. And inside all of us is a child’s voice, calling us to be excited, to be expectant as if every morning is Christmas, to serve and to love and to share as if everything we give away will indeed come back to us and then some, to live gratefully by living joyfully, to live in wonder and in hope. You might say it’s God living right in the center of us, constantly calling us to come aside and take a look at the awe-inspiring tree we call living and to be overwhelmingly grateful that it’s been set up for us to take in, to inspire us and challenge us to live every day to approach every situation as if we don’t have a care in the world!

A big, grateful and peace-filled Thanksgiving wish from our Passion family to yours. Thank you for sharing your children with us, they help change our perspective every day!

Practicing with Your Children

As the holidays rush upon us, and speaking of your kids and our students, we’d like to encourage you to take advantage of both their time off, and hopefully some well deserved time off for you, by sitting down and practicing with your child. Not only is it a great opportunity for you to spend what might be some much needed quality time with your kids, but studies have actually shown that the more parents are involved with their child’s practicing, lessons and homework, the more likely that child will not only enjoy a closer relationship with you, but that they will experience more success and satisfaction with their craft.

In fact, the Australian Journal of Music Education, during a 2011 study looking at parent involvement regarding both practicing and lessons, they found that…

– The majority of students welcomed their parents being at their lessons.
– The majority of parents enjoyed helping their children practice.
– Contrary to popular belief, there was no significant difference between a parent’s’ own musical prowess or knowledge and their child’s success. What made the difference was simply the parents’ involvement.
– The largest factor contributing to student success was the level of student effort put into learning. Therefore, parent involvement was more effective and more necessary for younger children, the younger the child the more direct parent involvement needed.

So between the turkey and the pumpkin pie this year, be sure to take some time to show everyone that, not only is your child progressing, but that you are progressing as a parent, perfecting that delicate balance between time with your kids and the rest of life’s demands. Remember that it really is true what they say, you don’t get these days back, so make the most of them while they’re here.

Music helping Bealeton woman beat depression

Posted by | Announcements, Music Education | No Comments

By Cassandra Brown
Staff Journalist at Faquier Now

After 10 years of chronic depression, the Bealeton resident has found renewed hope through music and faith.

Virginia Ventura travels 90 minutes each week from her home to Richmond to pursue her dream of playing music.

A paraplegic since age 6 because of Transverse Myelitis, Ms. Ventura has suffered from severe depression since middle school.

Transverse Myelitis “was pretty much an overnight thing,” said Ms. Ventura, 25. “I went to sleep and I woke up and couldn’t move my legs.

“I remember my parents crying all the time when this happened. You don’t get it when you’re 6, and you don’t think this is going to change your life,” she said. “I guess it wasn’t until my teenage years when it affected me more.”

Before her depression, Ms. Ventura played viola for two years in school and took piano lessons.

“When I picked up an instrument, it felt natural to me,” she said. “It’s something that never left my mind. I remember how proud and happy I would feel playing.”

Through a one-year music scholarship from Passion Arts Foundation near Richmond, Ms. Ventura can pursue music again.

Last year she started to make progress in overcoming depression.

“When I was at my lowest, I opened my heart to God, and it’s gotten better,” she said.

“My depression stole a lot of being a kid,” Ms. Ventura explained. “Now I have this mindset of do what makes you happy. Picking up the violin was definitely on the top of that list.”

Determined, Ms. Ventura turned to the Internet and searched for a studio where she could rekindle her love of music.

In July she found Passion Academy in Henrico County and decided to email the staff about possible scholarships.

“I honestly wasn’t expecting a response. But, I said a little prayer to God before I sent the email,” Ms. Ventura said.

A few days later she heard from Passion Academy Founder and President Derek Smith, who had chosen her as the foundation’s first scholarship recipient.

“I would say the main reason we decided is because she has overcome a lot of pain in her life,” Mr. Smith said. “This is a perfect example of what we want to do for other people.”

Unable to work because of a recent illness, Ms. Ventura received $2,000 worth of music lessons and a violin from the nonprofit foundation.

The Passion Arts Foundation, founded about six months ago, hopes to give out about 10 scholarships a year, funded with donations and the proceeds from benefit concerts.

Over the next year, she will learn to play the violin, drums, piano, electric guitar and how to produce music. Lessons take place on Mondays for about 90 minutes.

“It makes me feel like I have some sort of purpose,” she said. “Thanks to Passion Academy, it will allow me to live my dreams.

“It’s very calming and peaceful. It gets my mind off things.”

With newfound determination and hope, Ms. Ventura plans to enter the 2018 Ms. Wheelchair Virginia pageant and raise enough money through a GoFundMe page to purchase a wheelchair-accessible vehicle.

“I think that’s another cause for my depression is being held down by other people’s schedules or staying home because it’s too difficult to go out,” she said. “Me getting a car, I see that as being another catalyst. It’s going to open so many other opportunities for me.”

One day she hopes to compete in the Paralympic Games.

Ms. Ventura strives to inspire others with depression to pursue their passions and dreams.

“I feel like a lot of people get so caught up in jobs that they forget to work on themselves, on their hearts,” Ms. Ventura said. “If you have a passion, just don’t put excuses up. Go ahead and do it. The reward is going to be so much better than the risk you think will happen.”

Click below to watch interview with Virginia Ventura.

The Importance of Music Education

Posted by | Music Education | No Comments

What if there was one activity that could benefit every student in every school across the nation? An activity that could improve grades and scores on standardized testing? An activity that would allow students to form lasting friendships? An activity that would help students become more disciplined and confident?

Fortunately, there is such an activity. Unfortunately, many schools will not make it a part of their curriculum, due to issues of funding and scheduling. This activity is something that everyone is aware of, but not everyone has a chance to participate in. This activity is music.

For years, music classes have been the ugly ducklings of school curriculums—the last courses to be added, the first courses to be cut. They have always taken second place to traditional academic classes. Music, however, has proved itself to be extremely beneficial time and time again, from the undeniable improvement in grades regarding traditional academic classes to the glowing remarks from music students everywhere. In an ever-changing world, the addition of music education in schools needs to be next on the academic agenda.  Music education should be a required component in all schools due to the proven academic, social, and personal benefits that it provides.

According to the No Child Left Behind Act, the following are defined as, “core academic subjects”: English, reading or language arts, mathematics, science, foreign languages, civics and government, economics, the arts [emphasis added], history, and geography (Benefits of the Study 1). Although music, being a part of the arts, is supposedly on the same level as other academic subjects, it is not being treated as such.

Music education greatly enhances students’ understanding and achievement in non-musical subjects. For example, a ten-year study, which tracked over 25,000 middle and high school students, showed that students in music classes receive higher scores on standardized tests than students with little to no musical involvement. The musical students scored, on average, sixty-three points higher on the verbal section and forty-four points higher on the math sections of the SATs than non-music students (Judson). When applying to colleges, these points could be the difference between an acceptance letter and a rejection letter.

Furthermore, certain areas of musical training are tied to specific areas of academics; this concept is called transfer. According to Susan Hallam, “Transfer between tasks is a function of the degree to which the tasks share cognitive processes” (5-6). To put this simply, the more related two subjects are, the more transfer will ensue. This can be evidenced with the correlation between rhythm instruction and spatial-temporal reasoning, which is integral in the acquisition of important math skills. The transfer can be explained by the fact that rhythm training emphasizes proportions, patterns, fractions, and ratios, which are expressed as mathematical relations (Judson). Transfer can be seen in other academic subjects as well. For example, in a 2000 study of 162 sixth graders, Ron Butzlaff concluded that students with two or three years of instrumental music experience had significantly better results on the Stanford Achievement Test (a verbal and reading skills test) than their non-musical counterparts (qtd. in Judson). This experiment demonstrates that music can affect improvement in many different academic subjects. All in all, it can be shown that music education is a worthwhile investment for improving students’ understanding and achievement in academic subjects.

Related to academic achievement is success in the workforce. The Backstreet Boys state that, “Practicing music reinforces teamwork, communication skills, self-discipline, and creativity” (Why Music?). These qualities are all highly sought out in the workplace. Creativity, for example, is, “one of the top-five skills important for success in the workforce,” according to Lichtenberg, Woock, and Wright (Arts Education Partnership 5). Participation in music enhances a student’s creativeness. Willie Jolley, a world-class professional speaker, states that his experience with musical improvisation has benefited him greatly regarding business. Because situations do not always go as planned, one has to improvise, and come up with new strategies (Thiers, et. al). This type of situation can happen in any job; and when it does, creativity is key. Similarly, music strengthens a person’s perseverance and self-esteem—both qualities that are essential in having a successful career (Arts Education Partnership 5). Thus, music education can contribute to students’ future careers and occupational endeavors.

Participation in music also boasts social benefits for students. Music is a way to make friends. Dimitra Kokotsaki and Susan Hallam completed a study dealing with the perceived benefits of music; in their findings they wrote, “Participating in ensembles was also perceived as an opportunity to socialize with like-minded people, make new friends and meet interesting people, who without the musical engagement they would not have had the opportunity to meet” (11). Every time a student is involved in music, they have the chance to meet new people, and form lasting friendships.

Likewise, in a study by Columbia University, it was revealed that students who participate in the arts are often more cooperative with teachers and peers, have more self-confidence, and are better able to express themselves (Judson). Through one activity, a student can reap all of these benefits, as well as numerous others. Moreover, the social benefits of music education can continue throughout a student’s life in ways one would never suspect. An example of this would be that “students who participate in school band or orchestra have the lowest levels of current and lifelong use of alcohol, tobacco, and illicit drugs among any other group in our society” (Judson). By just participating in a fun school activity, students can change their lives for the better. Music education can help students on their journey to success.

Chinese philosopher Confucius once stated, “Music produces a kind of pleasure which human nature cannot do without” (Arts Education Partnership 1). Music education provides personal benefits to students that enrich their lives. In the study of perceived benefits of music by Dimitra Kokotsaki and Susan Hallam, it was found that “participating in an ensemble enhanced feelings of self-achievement for the study’s participants, assisted individuals in overcoming challenges, built self-confidence, and raised determination to make more effort to meet group expectations regarding standards of playing” (12). In an ensemble, every member is equally important, from the first chair to the last chair. Thus every person must be able to play all of their music and be ready for anything. When one person does not practice their music and comes to rehearsal unprepared, it reflects upon the whole ensemble. Needless to say, no one wants to be that person. So students take it upon themselves to show that they want to be there and come prepared. This type of attitude continues throughout students’ lives.

Furthermore, group participation in music activities can assist in the development of leadership skills (Kokotsaki and Hallam 13). One participant in the perceived benefits of music study stated that, “I have gained confidence in my leadership skills through conducting the Concert Band” (Kokotsaki and Hallam 28). Conducting an ensemble is just one of the many leadership opportunities available to music students.

Music can also be a comforting activity to many students. High school senior and school band member Manna Varghese states that for her, music is a way to relieve stress. When she is angry or frustrated, she likes to play flute or piano to relax. For students, music classes are not necessarily something they participate in for a grade, or to put on a college application. Students participate in music classes because they enjoy them and want to be there.

Even though it has been proven that music education benefits students, many people argue that it still should not be required in schools. They state that with the increasing importance placed on standardized testing, there is not enough class time to include music classes (Abril and Gault 68). However, it has been shown that the time students spend in music classes does not hinder their academic success. A study by Hodges and O’Connell found that “being excused from non-musical classes to attend instrumental lessons does not adversely affect academic performance” (Hallam 14). Thus, in reality, having students enroll in music classes would not be detrimental to their academic performance, and the students would then be able to reap all of the benefits that come with music education. Furthermore, funding for music education is an issue at many schools. The people in charge of determining funding for schools often choose to fund traditional academic classes over arts programs. Paul Harvey states, “Presently, we are spending twenty-nine times more on science than on the arts, and the result so far is worldwide intellectual embarrassment” (Hale 8). Clearly, the current system for the allocation of funds for schools is not adequate. By transferring some of the funding from traditional academic classes to music classes, this embarrassment could be avoided. Evidently, although some may try to argue against it, music education should be required in all schools.

What would life be like without music? Imagine it for a moment. No listening to music on the radio on a long drive. No music to dance to. There would not be any soundtracks in movies, and concerts and musicals would be nonexistent. Eventually, no one would even remember what music is. Many people do not realize it, but music has a bigger effect on their lives than they may think, and they would definitely care if it was to disappear. Without music, life would never be the same. To keep music alive, students must be educated about it in schools. Students will not only get to experience and enjoy what music has to offer, but will reap the innumerable benefits that come with music. Ancient Greek philosopher and teacher Plato said it best: “Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to imagination, and life to everything.”

Written by Alexis Kalivretenos, first-prize winner of the 2014 Humanist Essay Contest

Works Consulted

Abril, Carlos A., and Brent M. Gault. “The State of Music in Secondary Schools: The Principal’s Perspective.” Journal of Research in Music Education 56.1 (2008): 68-81. JSTOR. Web. 19 Oct. 2013.

Arts Education Partnership, comp. Music Matters: How Music Education Helps Students Learn, Achieve, and Succeed. Washington D.C.: n.p., 2011. Print.

Hale, Donna Sizemore. “Stay Involved to Protect the Arts.” American String Teacher 63.3 (2013): 8. ProQuest. Web. 19 Oct. 2013.

Hallam, Susan. “The power of music: its impact on the intellectual, social and personal development of children and young people.” International Journal of Music Education 28.3 (2010): 269-89. Print.

Judson, Ellen. “The Importance of Music.” Music Empowers Foundation. N.p., n.d. Web. 1 Oct. 2013.

Kokotsaki, Dimitra, and Susan Hallam. “Higher Education music students’ perceptions of the benefits of participative music making.” Music Education Research 9.1 (2007): n. pag. Google Scholar. Web. 26 Oct. 2013.

National Association for Music Education, comp. The Benefits of the Study of Music. N.p.: n.p., 2007. Print.

Thiers, Genevieve, et al. “Music Education and Success…From the Band Room to the Board Room.” Everything We Needed to Know About Business, We Learned Playing Music. By Craig M. Cortello. N.p.: n.p., n.d. Web. 18 Oct. 2013.

Varghese, Manna. Personal interview. 24 Oct. 2013.

Why Music? Prod. NAfME. Radio

Passion Pulse Vol 1 Issue 4

Posted by | Announcements | No Comments

Have you ever been to Hollywood Cemetery here in Richmond? If not then fall is a great time to go visit. Leaves are falling from the trees, covering the ground and the grave sites. And off in the distance there is a huge tree whose leaves are currently half brown, orange and red and half green. It sits in the middle of a field surrounded by tombstones, and when you look at it, you can’t help but think what about what a metaphor it is for the life cycle, for life and death and the space in between. Think about the season we’re about to enter into. One holiday memorializes death, the next one celebrates gratitude for life and the next one, for many people celebrates the gift of the life that led to death and resurrection. So, as we move into fall, as we begin the crazy, beautiful, nostalgic, busy, hopeful, and even sometimes painful holiday season, we just want to say thank you for spending part of your life cycle at Passion Academy. We love to tell people how we are about more than just quality education in the Arts. We are about bringing life and joy and the gift of music and dance to all of our students. We love that you are a part of the vision and a part of our community.

And now, without further adieu here are all the exciting things going on in our world!

Passion Dance FREE Trial Week is going on right now so don’t miss out! It’s our Passion Dance program’s free trial week, where we’re inviting ALL of our students AND GUESTS to try out any dance class they’re interested in for free! The only condition is that you have to register ahead of time. Help spread the word that we have dance classes for both kids AND adults. We offer Tap, Ballet, Contemporary, Hip Hop, Musical Theater, Jazz, as well as a Dance Discovery class for children ages 3-5 and a Creative Movement class for children ages 2-3. If you happened to miss out on the class you wanted to try this week, you’re welcome to register and attend next week!


Halloween is coming, which means another Spooktacular Halloween Party at Passion Academy! This year’s shindig will be on Saturday night, October 28th from 6:00pm to 9:00pm at the West End location. As many of you know, we have just completed a beautiful remodeling of our home base. Come check out how spooktacularly decorated our new digs will be. The festivities will include something for everyone…games, food, candy and of course some spooktacularly scary music for the occasion. This is a family affair too, so bring the family, the neighbor’s family, the neighbor’s cousin’s family…bring the family you like and even the ones you don’t, this is an event for anyone and everyone and a great opportunity to introduce someone to our West End campus. Costumes are encouraged but, as this is a family event, please keep them relatively related to this life and not the next.


On the 17th of December from 4:00pm to 6:00pm we are inviting all of you to join us for a very special, one-of-a-kind Winter Showcase. This will be our highlight event of the year. And in lieu of our regularly scheduled programming, we are going to be bringing you a poignant, moving and powerful production, an eye-opening story told through music and dance called “Invincible”. Invincible is the story of a young girl whose strength is put to the test when she is forced to move with her mother away from everything familiar to her. A new school brings pressure to fit in with her peer group, and before long she becomes the victim of bullying. The question is, will she have what it takes to be invincible?

It’s a story about a girl who overcomes her challenges by realizing that she is a beautiful, independent person in her own right. Along the way, she realizes that she doesn’t have to fit the mold of certain groupings, that she can make friends, just by being herself. Her ultimate discovery is that she has a bigger place in the world, and that she can help others who might be having similar struggles. It is a touching story reflecting on the joys of life, overcoming struggles, and inspiring hope.

We want you to come to this event. We want you to tell your friends and family about it, especially people who you know are having a hard time, people who are losing hope. But we also want you to come because, by doing so you will be supporting others who are struggling, through the Passion Arts Foundation. All proceeds from Invincible ticket sales will go towards providing resources for the foundation, so we in turn can offer educational and mentoring opportunities to those who need it most.  Our hope is that this event will move people to action, increasing opportunities for others who are struggling and who need a creative outlet.



The holidays are here, and, as much as we’d like to think that music lessons and dance classes are the only thing going on in your world, realistically we can see your calendar from here, the one that says, “Thanksgiving at cousin Fred’s in Charlotte, office Christmas party, school Christmas program, church Christmas cantata (accompanied by 5 extra rehearsals), and of course that little trip over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house.” So, in light of the facts, we’re asking that, when you sit down to map out the quickest route from here to Dayton, Ohio, you would just hop on the computer and shoot us an email to to let us know when you’ll be absent during dates when you have regularly scheduled lessons or classes. It really helps us for our planning. But also remember that when we don’t use something we tend to lose it. So shoot for consistency, and if you fall and land at grandma’s house we’ll be there to pick you up in January.

Right now, if you were to sit down and write it out, how busy would you say that you and/or your children are? This is one of the hardest questions to ask ourselves. Why? Because it’s hard to determine how to master the art and at the same time avoid the curse of busyness.

It’s a huge blessing to able to be busy, it means we have life, health, opportunities, dreams, passions and talents, it’s a gift really. It’s also an art form worth learning how to manage. But sometimes, if we’re really being honest, it can become a curse. So, how do I know that the quality of my “yes” is being well-defined by the quantity of my “no”? And, more importantly, how do I help my child make sense of all of the things they could be doing, while making sure they aren’t indeed becoming a jack of all but master of none?

Here are a few easy questions you can ask yourself as a parent or as a student to determine whether you or your child is just too busy?

  • How much are you sleeping? All successful, healthy business people, entrepreneurs, people of influence, etc. will tell you that they work hard and wake up early. But they’ll also tell you that they get a full-night’s sleep every night. And all the major studies will tell you that those extra hours your teen is hibernating are actually critical for their continued emotional, physical and physiological development. Just because they want to act like adults doesn’t mean they’re not still kids.
  • How stressed are you, your kids, or your family? Again, studies show that an enormous amount of the problems we suffer from both physically and mentally, come from stress. We weren’t designed to operate under duress all the time. But so often we do, and most of the time we don’t even realize it because it has become so “normal”. So, be willing to take an honest look at what you or your student is stressed about and why. Simplifying the schedule may be an easy fix.
  • How effective am I being at whatever it is I’m undertaking? Jack of all trades, master of none is certainly a truism worth considering. But let’s take it a step further and suggest that “master of no trades equals the inability to be jack of any”. There is a feeling of satisfaction and healthy pride that comes from knowing and feeling like we accomplished something, like we moved forward, progressed, overcame and achieved. This is extremely hard to do when there are too many things on our plate. Remember, just because something is a good idea, doesn’t mean it’s a good idea.

How am I or my child doing as a person?  Is your student becoming the fullest, best version of themselves, or a pieced together version of who others would like for them to be? Are YOU becoming the fullest, best version of yourself, or a pieced together version of who others would like for you to be? This can be a hard question to ask now, but it can be even harder to change who we are later.

Our goal is to discover the intersection of our greatest passions and our greatest gifts, not how many things we can accomplish in one lifetime.

6 Reasons Dance Training Makes Us Better Human Beings

Posted by | Uncategorized | No Comments

6 Reasons Dance Training Makes Us Better Human Beings
by Steve Zee

Everyone knows that training is the cornerstone of a successful career in dance. But as a dance educator, I also take comfort in the fact that high-quality dance training helps shape students into genuinely good people (in addition to creating future artists, which is a wonderful goal in itself.) These are the lessons dance teaches that help make students into better humans:

Improvement Takes Commitment Over Time

In my tap courses at Cal State University, sometimes students are shocked when they can’t learn something quickly. In today’s world, we’re used to getting fast results. You need an answer—Google it. You need to talk to someone—text them. The cooking channel wants your dinner to be easy, the physical trainer wants your workout to be five minutes, Rosetta Stone can have you speaking Mandarin in an hour.

But dancers know that even when you have aptitude, there’s no substitute for hard work and perseverance. Acquiring any skill of value takes time. It’s the way we learn to dance, to play music, to speak a foreign language, to succeed academically, to change social norms and to break down barriers. We lace up our shoes day after day, week after week, year after year and learn how to dance. Commitment over time is the very antithesis of modern living and is at the core of dance training.

“Failures” Are Opportunities

At the foundation where I work that gives low-cost dance lessons to underserved kids, we do assessments to place students in the appropriate level. Every year we remind the kids that in academic schooling not moving up to the next grade every year is seen as a failure but in the arts, it is normal to stay in a level for multiple years as you perfect your skills. Every year there are kids who don’t move up and are upset. But they soon realize that moving to the next level comes with mastery of a certain set of techniques and mastering those techniques takes hard work.

You Don’t Get Something For Nothing

In dance class you are only entitled to what you earn. And what you earn doesn’t even necessarily have to be perfect dance technique. Some of my favorite students over the years have not been the best tap dancers but they’ve been magnificent students. They show up on time and are prepared, they work hard, they sweat and they persevere. Maybe they don’t become the most skilled dancer in the room, but they often reap the most benefits. And here is the beautiful part: those kids have worked hard exactly because they don’t have a feeling of entitlement.

We Are Accountable to Ourselves and Each Other

At the foundation where I teach we have a very strict wardrobe policy. Any student not properly dressed sits and observes class that day. It may seem overly harsh, but there’s wisdom behind it. There might be a time that a dancer or their family forgets the uniform, but it doesn’t happen again. Over time, as the dancer matures, they learn to be responsible without the parents being involved, and you no longer hear “My mom forgot my shoes.”

Dancers also become responsible for learning the material. They learn that the teacher is not a puppet master who can make a body do the correct thing; it is up to the student to learn the material. They learn that they are responsible to the rest of the class, and that being absent lets down their classmates because other dancers can’t get in a good practice without everyone in the room. Missing class, coming to class unprepared or not focusing on executing the steps properly, they learn, affects everyone else.

Cutting Corners Isn’t An Option

My younger students will invariably ask me when they can move to the next level and my answer is very frustrating to them, I’m sure. I say that there is really only one level: beginning. If everything goes well in the beginning, improvement will flow. If any corners are cut, it will be hard to become advanced. I distill advanced steps down to the same words I use for a person’s first tap lesson. Anyone with an aptitude for dance who excelled a little too quickly will tell you that they eventually go back to fill in the gaps.

What Other People Think Doesn’t Matter

In a world that is so concerned about appearances, dance teaches you that what others think is not the most important thing. I try to explain to my young students that they can’t let their experiences get derailed by what they think someone else may be thinking. If they stand front and center in class and make a mistake, what does it matter what another student thinks? Stand in front, get that correction, improve because you want to and let someone else’s view be damned. Let those too lethargic to meet their potential stand in the back and watch you strive to be better. If you can’t do it today, there is always next class and you are already on the way because you have begun.

Originally posted on

Passion Pulse Vol 1 Issue 3

Posted by | Announcements, Music Education | No Comments

Hey Passion Family! Well, the rumors are true…summer is officially over! How do we know? Because Labor Day has come and gone, students are returning from Grandma’s house, and the back-to-school shelves are looking quite bare. But mostly we know because the stores are not so subtly serving up pumpkin egg nog! If the egg nog is out, then summer must definitely be over! So, time to gear up and get ready to “fall” in love with everything going on in September at Passion Academy.

West End Construction Complete

They say Rome wasn’t built in a day…but that was Rome. And, while our West End Remodeling Project wasn’t completed in a day, a LOT was accomplished in a very short amount of time. And now, just in time to enter the fall season, and right on schedule, we are happy to announce that Phase 3, the construction of our new dance studio in the former Band Development studio is complete! A big thank you to Daniel and Derek for all of your hard work, and a big thank you to all of you for your patience during the transition. Passion Academy has been through quite an impressive transformation.

Passion Arts Foundation Annual Benefit Concert a Huge Success

A huge thank you to all who participated in our first annual Passion Arts Foundation Benefit Concert! The event was a great success in so many ways. Our partnership with Nightingale Ice Cream Sandwiches was a hit, selling out all the goods, there was a tremendous turnout estimated around 100 people, and in true Passion Academy form the performances were top notch. There is even word on the street that a new hit group called “Daniel and Son” performed. But the best part about the event was being able to raise money for what is probably the most meaningful part of Passion Academy, our Passion Arts Foundation.

We are happy to report that Virginia Ventura, a very deserving student who we highlighted in last month’s Pulse, was able to benefit directly from the Foundation, and from the concert. Virginia received a fully refurbished violin and began violin lesson two weeks ago! What an opportunity for her and for us. Once again, a big thank you to all of you who came out to make this possible. Please continue to support and champion our Passion Arts Foundation. We truly believe that the work we are trying to do through it speaks volumes about who we are at Passion and who we want to be.

The Art of Worship

Did you know that Passion Academy has a Worship Leader Development program? It’s called The Art of Worship and we hope you’ll take a minute to check it out.

The program was developed by our worship leader mentor Randall Goulard out of something that has been a huge part of the core vision of Passion Academy since the beginning: a desire to serve churches by helping them grow and thrive in the areas of worship and the creative arts. The Art of Worship includes not only individual one-on-one worship leader mentoring, but also sound engineering consultation for churches and overall worship program consultation. The sky really is the limit in terms of how we want to help churches and their worship programs be everything God intends for them to me. So if you know of churches, worship leaders, pastors, or if you are connected to anyone that might be interested in letting us help them, please let us know or direct them to our website. Help us get the word out!

The Music Parents’ Guide by Anthony Mazzochi

Did you know that students who take a break from playing and practicing over the summer is a major reason why they don’t continue with their instruments? You didn’t? Well, now that we have half of you feeling guilty, let us reassure you that’s not the only reason students stop playing or get discouraged. Anthony Mazzochi lays out a number of reasons why it can be difficult for you or your student to stick with an instrument long enough to see real results. Here are some other common factors:

  • Parents don’t see music as a core subject. Music has to be made a priority in order to see success. We don’t usually think about quitting English or Math, because it’s seen as too important. Parents who see music the same way, as a core subject will see their students quit less often.
  • Students don’t know how to get better. Without the proper tools and practice habits to get better at anything, students will become frustrated and want to quit. When parents are invested in learning enough about music to help their child succeed they can help support them at home.
  • Parents and students think they aren’t musically talented. Natural musical talent is often misunderstood. As long as students know how to practice and do so regularly, they WILL get better.
  • The instrument is in disrepair. Students, parents and teachers need to be aware of the basics of instrument maintenance and be on top of repairs when needed so that the student isn’t mistaking a broken valve or reed for a wrong note.
  • Other activities are pulling the child. Life is all about priorities right. Especially as fall begins to ramp up, it is really important for parents and students both to be thinking about what they want to be involved in, and what they should be involved in. The old adage, “jack of all trades, master of none” is only too true when it comes to extracurricular activities. Also remember that the “quality of your “yes” is defined by the quantity of your “no’s”.
Lastly, voting is now open for Family Favorites presented by Style Weekly! It would mean so much to us if you would take a moment to vote for Passion Academy in the Activities categories: Favorite Music Lessons, Dance Lessons and Performing Arts Lessons. Thank you for your support!


Passion Pulse Vol 1 Issue 2

Posted by | Announcements, Events | No Comments

Hello again to our Passion Community, and welcome to the second edition of Passion Pulse, our monthly newsletter where you get to hear the heartbeat of what’s happening at Passion Academy. It’s been an exciting summer, so let’s get right into all the goings on.

Passion Academy Voted #1 in Richmond Magazine

Have you seen the latest edition of Richmond Magazine? If not, be sure to pick one up and check out pages 182 and 158. You’ll see something that we hope makes you very proud. Passion Academy has just been honored by the voters in Richmond for having the “Best Music Classes for Adults” and the “Best Music Classes for Children”! Not only that, Passion also won 3rd place in the “Best Dance Classes for Children” and “Best Local Summer or Day Camp Program” category. A big thank you to all who voted for us and to all our Passion Academy supporters! We are indeed proud of the Passion brand, and we’re so glad that you are too!

And while we’re on the subject, allow us to make one final plug for our last music camp of the summer, our Drum Camp going on next week August 14-18. There’s still space though, so be sure to enroll right away if you’re interested!

Passion Academy is proud to announce the first annual Passion Arts Foundation Annual Benefit Concert this Saturday evening, August 12 from 6:00pm to 8:00pm at Independence Golf Club. Come enjoy an evening of musical performances by Passion Academy students and mentors, first-class cuisine provided by Tavern 19 and exclusive ‘Passion Symphony’ Nightingale Ice Cream Sandwiches, all for a great cause!

Have you heard of Passion Arts Foundation? It really is a part of what we do at Passion, and something that we would like more people to know about, so please mention it to someone the next chance you get. Passion Arts Foundation is the non-profit wing of Passion Academy, and it has one clear, distinct and very important purpose, to help provide outstanding quality music education experience for anyone who needs it but can’t afford it.

Currently we are working to raise money to provide music lessons for Virginia Ventura. Virginia is 25 years old and lives in Fauquier County. She has been a paraplegic since the age of 6 due to Transverse Myelitis. She used to suffer from depression since the age of 14, but continues to get stronger every day. She now desires to live out her passions and goals in ways that she has always dreamed about, but had no motivation to pursue. She has always wanted to play violin, electric guitar, drums, saxophone and piano and is full of the courage, patience and desire to learn them all no matter how long it takes. Due to her medical ailments, she has a very limited income that restricts her ability to afford tuition. Now more than ever, she has the desire to do things that make her happy, and we want to help turn her desires into reality.

With your help, Passion Arts Foundation will be able to provide a scholarship for Virginia’s music education. So please come join us at Independence this Saturday, August 12 from 6:00pm to 8:00pm for a night of great music for an even greater cause. Tickets are $10 per person.


The Passion Story

Did you know that the word “passion” comes from the latin word, “patior” which means “to suffer”? And did you also know that the context of the word centers around being willing to suffer for a purpose?

“When you are truly passionate, you are pushed along by your desire, to the point where you are willing to endure pain, suffering, and loss for the object which is the focus of your attention” (The Etymology of Passion)

Passion isn’t just about liking something, it’s about being willing to sacrifice for the thing or the person or the dream or the life that is more important to you than whatever it is you’re giving up.

In the last edition of the Passion Pulse, we promised to tell you the Passion Story. But this summer our fearless founders have been crankin’ away getting our West End location ready for the next chapter. So, in the meantime, while we’re still compiling that piece for you, we thought it would be fun for you to get to know a little bit more about a couple of guys who truly understand what it means to be “passionate”, both as musicians and as business owners, but most importantly as people. These guys have truly experienced the sacrifices, the hard work, the disappointments and rewards that come from following your dreams. So here’s a little “did you know” about our own Daniel Johannesson and Derek Smith.

~Did you know that Derek was born in Japan and Daniel was born in Sweden?

~Did you know that both Daniel and Derek have been married for over 10 years! Daniel and Katie for 12 years, and Derek and Deb for 18 years. Both of them knew their wives for at least 4 years before getting married. Daniel and Katie were together for four years before getting married, and Derek and Deb actually met in middle school in Bismarck, ND. And now, they both have 2 kids.

~Did you know that both of their wives are artists in their own right? Daniel’s wife Katie is trained in music and theater studies, and Deb has her degree in visual communications and graphic design.

~Did you know that Daniel toured professionally before settling down? He lived in New York performing on and off Broadway for several years.

~Did you know that both Daniel and Derek excelled at sports when they were younger before getting heavily involved in music? At 14 years old Daniel was the 5th fastest in his country in track jand field (that’s “country” not “county”). And Derek was, by points, the 3rd ranked BMX rider in the country at 8 years old.

~Did you know that both Derek and Daniel share a passionate relationship with God, and that both have powerful testimonies of how they discovered God and their faith?

~Did you know that Daniel and Derek both serve regularly on the worship teams at their churches? Daniel is the worship leader of the James River campus of Bon Air Baptist Church and Derek serves as a drummer at Hope Church.

Thank you guys for helping us understand the meaning of “passion” and for being passionate about us!

West End Construction Moving QUICKLY!

Our West End remodeling project is moving ahead at full speed and right on schedule as we get ready for the next chapter of our story. Many of you have experienced our new lobby already. What do you think? Comfortable and inviting?

Well there’s lots more to come. Construction is already in full swing on the new recording studio, and after that the band room becomes our much anticipated second dance studio! The best part is that all of this will be completed just in time for our fall season to kick off, and just in time to welcome our new world-renown dance instructor Daniel Swanepoel and his wife. They are going to be an amazing edition to our team and we would love for you to get to know them. Check out all their bio information and be sure to stop by the West End location to get a tour of the new digs!

The Music Parents’ Guide – Anthony Mazzochi

Do you remember the first time you ever learned how to play a musical instrument ? I don’t consider myself to have an outstandingly detailed long-term memory. I’m one of those, “I think that happened somewhere between five and ten years old” kind of people. But I do remember the first time I played the piano. I remember how it felt, what the teacher taught me, what the room looked like…everything!

There really is something special about the first time you learn an instrument. It’s like going underwater for the first time…a whole new world opens up. And, for any budding music students, the million dollar question (and for parents this can mean quite literally the “million dollar” question) is…which musical instrument should I play? How do you figure this out? Does it matter what instrument my child picks? How do we go about the process? Here are some hopefully helpful tips taken directly from The Music Parents’ Guide

  • The first step is the most crucial: picking an instrument that suits your child’s identity and personality and picking one that they want to play.
  • The most important thing is to have the student be involved in the process.
  • The second most important thing is to be aware of the many instruments available.
  • It is crucial that your child start by playing an instrument that they are excited about learning.
  • No one can make an educated decision about the instrument that they want to study without hearing it played beautifully. So be sure to give your child the opportunity to hear whatever instrument or instruments they’re interested in played well.
  • One of the biggest reasons students quit playing their instruments is unnecessary frustration. Instruments are challenging enough to begin with, so any physical limitations that could be avoided should be considered ahead of time.
  • All said and done, if a student really loves a particular instrument’s sound, you need to go with that!

As always, you can pick up a copy of Anthony Mazzochi’s book at either one of our locations. But in addition, we hope you will continue to initiate these kinds of conversations with the leadership at Passion or with your student’s mentor. We love to help guide people through the process because we love it when students truly discover their passion. It’s what we do!

Until next time…