Passion Pulse Vol 1 Issue 1

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Hello to our Passion Community, and welcome to the very first edition of the Passion Pulse, a monthly newsletter where you get to feel the pulse of what’s happening at Passion Academy, and a regular peek into where we’re going.

We believe that YOU ARE PASSION. You make this place what it is…Richmond’s Premier Academy for the Arts.  The definition of “premier” is “first in rank or leading”, and we really do believe that we are leading the way, not only in what we’re doing, but in how we think about each and every person that comes through our doors. Passion Academy is different in all the best ways, and we think that all of you make us stand out because you believe in our vision to mentor students in a way that gives them value, purpose, worth, creativity, discipline, and excellence. So, we say thank you! And we want to return the favor by letting you into the heartbeat of our life together here at Passion Academy. We hope you enjoy the very first edition of the Passion Pulse!

We Are Doin’ Some Damage in the West End…

If you are signed up for one of our many Summer Camps, you may have noticed a little demolition derby going on at our West End location. We’re still open for business as usual, but as they say, ”please excuse our mess.”  We are expanding and renovating so we have more room (and rooms) to meet the needs of everything going on in our programs. Here’s the scoop on all the exciting developments:

Phase One included the creation of a brand new “Studio 4”. This has actually been completed already, so if you come visit you’ll notice a new studio where the TV and waiting table and pay phone once were. But the most exciting part is that we are giving you a brand new lobby! We are creating a more private and inviting lobby space, right when you walk in, for you and all of our guests to enjoy while you’re waiting for your students or chatting with us and each other. We hope to have this all set up for you by the middle of August…enjoy!

Phase Two is something we are particularly looking forward to as our Artist Development and Band Development programs grow. We are adding a new, and much larger recording studio and “live room”, a space that can be used both for rehearsing and recording. These two programs are extremely unique, and hard to find elsewhere, so we’re really proud to be able to offer them.

Another increasingly popular program is our Electronic Music Production program. So the best part of this new addition is that now, we can use our current smaller recording studio exclusively for EMP studio space. This is a really popular art form, and we would love to see more students refine the gift they have in producing electronic music. So if you know someone who is getting into electronic music production please send them our way. We’re adding rooms to the house, invite people to come over!

Phase Three may be last, but it’s definitely first on our priority list and it will see the transformation of our current band room into a second dance studio! The new 2017-2018 Dance Schedule is now live and enrollment is currently open.

Passion Dance has really been taking off, thanks to our amazing Program Director, Sarah Ruppel Bullis and her staff. We really want to honor the great work that they’ve done and the excellent programs they produce by giving them another studio so they can add some more advanced classes and dance forms.

We’re also going to be welcoming back the very talented Daniel Swanepoel and his wife Caitlin from South Africa. They will be a great addition to our Passion Dance team and we are excited to have some more studio space for them to work in!

Passion Summer Camps Have Begun!

Question: What do you do with your kids in the summer, when there’s no school, it’s 95 degrees out and 95 percent humidity, and you’re not taking regular lessons because of your 6-day trip to Florida, the 4-day long weekend to the Outer Banks, and your mid-week jaunt to Grandma’s house?

Answer: You come to one of Passion Academy’s Summer Camps!

There is still some room left in the following camps, so sign up today by clicking on one of the images below:

Music Camps

Voice Camp (2nd Session)  July 24 – 28
Band Performance Camp  July 31 – August 4
Strings Camp (2nd Session)  August 7 – 11
Drum Camp  August 14 – 18

Dance Camps

Lion King Ballet Performance Camp  July 17 – 21
Jazz and Contemporary Camp  July 24 – 28
Hip Hop Dance Camp  July 31 – August 4
Summer Dance Intensive  August 7 – 11

The Music Parents’ Guide

Did you know that “every child has some degree of musical talent”? Did you know that “hard work trumps ‘natural talent’ every single time”? Did you know that “the majority of students quit an instrument after their first year of playing, not because they do not have music talent, but rather because their music teacher is not very good, or because the student has no idea how to practice, so they don’t make real progress and become frustrated. Or the students’ parents don’t have enough knowledge to support their children through the beginning stages of their musical growth?

These tips, taken from The Music Parents’ Guide by Anthony Mazzochi, and others like it can be extremely helpful if you are the parent of a young musician. We invite you to grab a copy of this at either one of our locations, but more than that, we invite you to start a conversation with your student’s mentor on how you as a parent can help them succeed.

That’s all for now…next month in the Passion Pulse we will give you a very personal and in-depth look at The Story of Passion Academy. Until then, we invite you to follow us, like us and share with us on Facebook and all of our social media channels!

10 Reasons to Thank Your Music Teacher

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Many people making a living from music, or even those who carry it on as a hobby, will be able to remember being heavily influenced or inspired by a music teacher. Whether it was at school or as a private tutor, they are often responsible for that initial bit of encouragement that makes young people realize that music can be much more than something to be enjoyed in your spare time.

Even if it doesn’t ultimately result in a professional career, engagement with music is increasingly being recognized as a great benefit for us all in many ways. This has produced a growing number of efforts to draw attention to the importance of music education in schools and in the community.

Music Monday is an annual event held in Canada on the first Monday of May. Organized by the Coalition for Music Education since 2005, it brings together school children and their teachers, community groups, music ensembles and work colleagues to highlight the benefits of a musical education. The day involves a mass concert where groups across the country come together at the same time to play a song which has been chosen as the anthem for the year.

Another major part of the day is to highlight the hard work put in by music teachers. A couple of years ago, CBC asked several leading musicians to write letters of thanks to their most influential music teacher to recognize the role they had played in their life and education. The letters described teachers who had run numerous bands and musical ensembles at high schools, organized trips to competitions in other cities, and inspired the creativity of their pupils.

In one of the letters, jazz pianist Oliver Jones writes about the huge impact his piano lessons with Daisy Peterson-Sweeney, the sister of famous jazz pianist Oscar Peterson, had on him: “All of my musical life I have considered myself to be very fortunate to have been surrounded by wonderful and talented people, those who have guided me, inspired me, and most of all those who have motivated me as a youngster. It is rare to find all of these qualities in one person.”

Even for those of us who don’t quite manage to make a professional career out of musical performing, there are no shortage of things that we can take from our school music lessons and the teachers who delivered them. Here are ten things music teachers should be thanked for.

1. They taught you that it’s OK to make mistakes, and making them is how we learn and grow as a person. That’s something useful for life in general, not just music.

2. They taught you to believe in your abilities and stay calm under pressure. Again, not bad qualities to have regardless of what you’re doing.

3. They encouraged you to do your best and push your limits.

4. They destroyed the “practice makes perfect” cliche. In reality, a copious amount of practice is not enough to become a great musician. You always need to find a way to make yourself inspired.

5. They show tremendous dedication, including by taking after school lessons, running school orchestras and clubs, and planning activities. A lot of this additional commitment is never recognized in a teacher’s working hours or salary.

6. They made mathematics easier to understand. After all, its simpler to grasp the concept of two quarter notes fitting in to a half than trying to stare at a badly drawn diagram on a blackboard.

7. They pushed you to take responsibility for your actions, by practicing for your weekly piano lessons or remembering to bring your violin to school.

8. They opened the doors to something which has been shown to stimulate the entire brain. As noted in a recent article, a vast quantity of scientific research has proven the positive effects of music in many areas.

9. They stressed the importance of always looking for ways to improve. Whether or not you’re still playing piano today, a healthy dose of self-criticism can only be a good thing.

Original article on CMUSE 4/21/2015

Band Benefits

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The summer is fast approaching and our Passion Camps are filling up quickly. There are many great reasons to be a part of a band experience. In this article, Tim Bakker (Lead Mentor and Passion Camp Director) explains the benefits of being in a band.

One of my primary passions is directing bands. Since I went professional about 16 years ago, of the many hats that I have worn over the years, including the countless times leading worship, playing instruments, writing songs, arranging, producing, I would say that leading bands is my favorite. It’s something I’m passionate about. There has always been something rewarding about not just playing music to an audience as an individual but being part of a team of musicians who are all working towards the same goal – making music and in turn making people happy.

I have traveled to many countries around the world and the band experience is almost a universal one. Sometimes it required moving beyond language barriers, but when everybody starts speaking the same language of music, regardless of language, ethnicity, color etc. – it’s truly a gem… one worth repeating over and over again.

In the past 10 years, especially here in the United States, I have worked with a lot of youth bands, whether schools, churches, communities or organizations. I have picked up some valuable insights into the world of the young student and how playing in a band and expressing themselves through music in general, has made an impact on them as individuals and the ultimate result of influencing those around them in a positive way.

I have seen shy and socially awkward kids come into a band setting, nervous, overwhelmed, terrified and on the verge of tears…. that have eventually become confident, well adjusted individuals who everyone wants to hang out with. I have seen other kids who were already confident, but were not leading the pack but rather pulling others down with negativity and divisiveness. Yet after working with them for a year, I have seen these same kids evolve into true leaders who lead their peers with confidence, set the example and lost their ego in the process.

Besides the whole “learning life through learning music” principle, there are many other benefits to playing in bands. Students who play in a band tend to do very well with higher level learning. They have an academic edge over those who don’t play musical instruments. There has been research done from leading universities and a recent endorsement from the U.S. Secretary of Education, saying, “‘The arts can help students become tenacious, team-oriented problem solvers who are confident and able to think creatively.”

There is more and more evidence that musicians have organizationally and functionally different brains compared to non-musicians, especially in the areas of the brain used in processing and playing music. If you learn how to play an instrument, the parts of your brain that control motor skills (like using your hands, running, balancing, etc.), hearing, storing audio information, and memory actually grow and become more active.

So I have come up with a list of 15 benefits to playing in a band. This is primarily focused on my experiences with youth bands, but the same principles will apply all across the board, no matter the age or stage of life.

Students learn to read a new language – Music. Whether it is following music notations, chords, hearing chord changes, harmonies, melodies, rhythm, tempo etc. they develop the skill to communicate and “speak” a whole new language.

Students learn teamwork. They get very good at working together. Team skills are a very important aspect of being successful in life. Playing an instrument requires you to work with others to make music. You must learn how to cooperate with the people around you.

Students learn to memorize. Once they have followed their charts and know the music fairly well, they memorize it for performances, so they are constantly in the mode of retaining large “chunks” of data, downloaded and stored in their memory bank for later use. Research has shown that both listening to music and playing a musical instrument stimulate your brain and can increase your memory. A study was done in which 22 children from age 3 to 4 and a half years old were given either singing lessons or keyboard lessons. Another group of 15 children received no music lessons at all. Both groups participated in the same preschool activities. The results showed that preschoolers who had weekly keyboard lessons improved their spatial- temporal skills 34 percent more than the other children. Not only that, but researchers said that the effect lasted long-term.

It refines listening skills. Being in a band requires students to use their best listening skills. They listen for rhythm, pitch, blend, dynamics. Playing an instrument requires you to listen very carefully to things. You learn to hear when you or someone else is playing a wrong note or chord. Tuning your instrument means hearing if the pitch you’re playing is high (sharp) or low (flat). By playing in a band you are guaranteed to improve your listening skills.

It helps develop better eye and hand coordination. Students learn to use their eyes differently. They must follow their music charts and translate what the chart says through coordinating their fingers via their instruments. So, by reading musical notes on a page, your brain subconsciously must convert that note into specific motor patterns while also adding breathing (if you’re a singer) and rhythm to the mix.

It teaches you to multi-task, manage time and have better organizational skills. Being in a band requires you to really learn how to be organized and to manage your time wisely, since there is more than just you to worry about. A good musician knows that the quality of practice time is more valuable than the quantity. In order for a musicians to progress quicker, they will learn how to organize their practice time and pick out the challenging parts to work on, making efficient use of time. And then there’s the printing out of charts, having a pencil ready to take notes, putting the charts in a binder if necessary and remembering to bring all those things along with their instrument, cables etc. to band rehearsal. Not to mention rehearsal times, organizing gigs and all the rest of the stuff that goes with being in a band.

It teaches you discipline. Playing an instrument can be very challenging. One of the qualities that musicians learn is discipline. Practicing often and working on the hard parts of music and not just the easy and fun stuff requires discipline. When you’re in a band sometimes you are required to play the “boring” parts that require little skill. Yet if it’s not there, it makes the song you’re planning to perform only “half baked”. Every musical part is important. The best musicians in the world are masters of discipline which is why they are so successful on their instrument. They see the simple and the complex through one lens.

It boosts self-esteem. Being in a band gives students a sense of pride and accomplishment and is good for their self-esteem. It raises their confidence level and eases their mind that they will not let their band mates down or disappoint them. They learn to bring their part to contribute to the overall success of the band, and in doing so they feel validated.

It teaches you perseverance. Learning to play an instrument takes time and effort, which really teaches you patience and perseverance. Most people can’t play every piece of music perfectly the first time. In fact, the majority of musicians have to work difficult sections of music multiple times in a row before they can play it correctly. If you hang in there the hard work will pay off, even if you feel like giving up.

It provides opportunities to be stretched. There have been many times where I would put another instrument in someone’s hand, one they don’t play or feel comfortable with, and said to them, “you’re playing bass for this song”, or “you’re singing back-up” or “grab that tambourine and play along” (yes, I draw the line at the cowbell!) They learn to be stretched beyond their comfort zone, and in the process they put themselves out there and expand their knowledge of other instruments and learn what it’s like to be under pressure.

It improves your comprehension skills. According to a study published in the journal Psychology of Music, “Children exposed to a multi-year program of music tuition involving training in increasingly complex rhythmic, tonal, and practical skills display superior cognitive performance in reading skills compared with their non-musically trained peers.” It’s not surprising to hear results like that because music involves constant reading and comprehension. When you see black and white notes on a page, you have to recognize what the note name is and translate it to a finger position on your instrument. At the same time, you also have to read what rhythms the notes are arranged, or if playing by ear, retain the rhythm you hear from a recording, in your memory bank.

It expands your knowledge of musical styles, genres and music history. Regardless of the primary style of music your band plays, a good band will inevitably venture out of their boundary lines and play other styles of music, whether it be for a specific gig or just as an experiment. Often times you are forced to research certain genres and styles, artist profiles, specific chord charts etc. and listen to music you ordinarily wouldn’t listen to. All of this leads to an often unintentional “crossing over” or meshing of styles.

It develops your social skills. Playing an instrument can be a great way to enhance your social skills. I have seen many kids come out of their shell through playing in a band. Weekly band rehearsals become an oasis in an often stressful and complex world and many times the friends you make in the band become like family. It’s very common for people to gain lifelong friendships through musical activities like these.

It teaches you to be a performer. One of the goals of practicing so much on your instrument is so that you can perform for others. The more you get up in
 front of people and perform, the easier it becomes and the more you will enjoy showing off your skills that you worked so hard to develop. Playing on stage in a band helps build confidence in yourself, and being prepared and really knowing how to play your part makes it much easier to get up and play for a crowd.

So there you have it. There are probably many more reasons that I did not put down on paper that are floating in my head somewhere, but you get the idea… go be in a band!

In spite of all these great reasons, if the experience isn’t fun and something you make a part of your life, it won’t hold as much value. Make it a part of your lifestyle and let the music flow out from all the experiences you have in your life.

As an instrumentalist myself, one of my favorite musicians is Charlie Parker. Whenever I want to practice my skill I pick up the saxophone or flute and start sight reading his books. Charlie Parker himself once said, “Music is your own experience, your thoughts, your wisdom. If you don’t live it, it won’t come out of your horn.”

Wanna play in a band? Do it and then live it! You can be the performer you never thought you could be!

Tim Bakker specializes in Keys, Vocals, Band Direction, Production, Coaching and Arrangement.

You can learn more about our Band Performance Program HERE


The Select Blend

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We are a unique blend of cultural diversity, superior quality and world class experience… you won’t find us on a shelf, confined to mediocrity. We are not emulating what has been done before, and packaging it with a different branding. And though we do offer a free cup of freshly brewed coffee, we are not that kind of blend. What we are is a collective of music, dance and arts, balanced with mentorship and leadership training, and infused with passion to equip and mobilize, even the youngest generation.

There is nothing quite like it… the unique opportunity to be mentored by experienced musicians and artists who have hailed from Sweden, South Korea, Australia, South Africa, and even from across the plains of the U.S. as well as locally, to bring a premier academy of arts to Richmond, Virginia. Our renowned mentors resonate within them, elements of knowledge, skill and passion, cultivating an environment for students to grow in their gifts and talents, through mentorship that is custom designed to the student’s unique qualities.

Kate Jones - Community Rockstar

Kate Jones – Community Rockstar

We offer opportunities for students as young as toddlers to engage in expressive art, while growing in their relationship with God. Imagine our youngest generation discovering the wonder of God’s creation through Bible stories, art, music, and explorative play. Private and group lessons are available for students of all ages and skill level to learn piano, guitar, drums and vocal disciplines. Band lessons, dance, art, sound engineering, media design, song writing and leadership training will also be available to those who desire to enrich their lives and those around them.

We welcome you to come by during our business hours (Monday-Thursday 10AM-6PM, Friday 10AM-4PM and Saturday 12PM-4PM), meet a few of our mentors, tour our studios, enjoy a free cup o’ joe and discover how you can accomplish your dreams by enrolling in Passion Academy.

Tour our Studios

What is Creation Explorers?

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DSC_7501 - Version 2Children are constantly discovering God’s creation as they explore the natural world. This class introduces preschool age children to how God magnificently created the wonderful world that we live in. The is a preschool enrichment class that meets twice per week for 2 1/2 hours allowing time for lessons, activities, and play.

2 to 3 Year Olds
Tuesday and Thursday
9:00am to 11:30am

4 to 5 Year Olds
Monday and Wednesday
9:00am to 11:30am


1. To foster your child’s curiosity about the masterful works of our Creator through scripture, music, dance, various art projects, and science experiments.

2. To help your children develop a love for God and His word by using a richly illustrated and simply written Children’s Bible and reading to them a new story every week. Various other children’s books will also be included that relate to each weekly theme.

3. To become secure when separated from home and parents, develop positive social skills, and to develop trusting relationships with their teachers and most importantly, God.

The theme of our first class was The Treasure of Snow!

Most importantly, the children learned that sometimes we have to take a closer look to see the beautiful things God gives to us each day in such a busy world. We talked about how God asked a man named Job a long time ago if he has seen the treasury of the snow and that if you look closely at snowflakes with a microscope you can see that they truly are beautiful designs and a treasure!

We showed the children real pictures of beautiful snowflakes up close. We then talked about the meaning of treasure and how treasure isn’t just golden coins. It is anything that we think is beautiful and hold dear to our heart.

The children learned that God treasures us more than any of his creation, loves beautiful things and knows that we do too so he creates snow for us… One of His many wonderful creations! He made snowflakes beautiful and different, and he makes us beautiful and different! We thanked God for creating snow in a closing prayer.


For more information or to enroll your child, contact:

Katie Johannesson
General Manager
(804) 503-2010


The Treasure of Snow



We painted with Christmas tree branches! The children enjoyed adding snow to their trees and sprinkling our snow mix on top.



We enjoyed a yummy snow cone treat! Snow is cold!!! Brrrr!



The children played in “Sparkle Snow!” The were instructed to find 5 different snowflakes hidden in the mix for their “treasure bags!” They also had fun filling cloud shakers with snow and making it snow.



Story time



We discussed fun things we can do in the snow! The children enjoyed playing with white, sparkly, peppermint play dough. They made snowballs, snowmen, and snowflakes using sparkly pipe cleaners and q-tips!



The children learned about God’s water cycle, and how snowflakes are formed. We started on ground as water with blue dancing ribbons, then slowly rose to become clouds. Then we became frozen because of the cold winter and fell as snowflakes. We danced “The Snowflake Waltz” and then we slowly fell to the ground. We then blanketed the ground with snow using white sheets and we went on a sleigh ride with jingle bells! The children were instructed to freeze and quiet their bells every time the music stopped.



The children played with cotton balls and water, pretending the cotton balls were clouds. This process was a wonderful discovery of absorption, weight, floating and sinking.


Workshop Success

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Workshop Page Header

This morning’s workshop was a tremendous success! We were quite surprised with the natural talent from each of the kids. Everyone was very eager to learn and the results were quite impressive! A big thanks to Hope Church for hosting and to all of the families that participated.

If you’d like more information about our next workshop, email or call (804) 412-8100.

Make sure to join our mailing list and LIKE our Facebook page to stay in the loop.

Enjoy this brief video of today’s workshop experience!

The Treasure of Snow

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The Treasure of Snow

Bring your child to our Creation Explorers class this Saturday to discover and explore The Treasure of Snow! We will look closely at the beautiful and unique designs of snowflakes, learn how snowflakes are formed through literature and exciting sensory play, create snowflakes through art and enter a world of imagination and fun through music, instruments, and dance! Your child will look at snow differently after this very unique experience as we explore one of God’s truly amazing designs!

Saturday December 7th
9:00am to 11:30am

Hope Church
12445 Patterson Ave
Richmond VA 23238Katie-Profile-Pic

For more information, contact:

Katie Johannesson
General Manager
(804) 503-2010

Overwhelmed with excitement!

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As our opening day quickly approaches, we are amazed how fast God has been putting things together. We have seen so much of His grace and favor throughout the entire process. We give God all the glory and can’t wait to welcome you during our Grand Opening on Saturday, January 4th!

Prior to our opening, we will be conducting a Worship Arts Workshop on December 7th. This will be a fun-filled introduction to the Worship Arts for ALL AGES offering general instruction and break-out sessions for Guitar, Bass, Piano, Drums, Vocals and Spoken Word/Rap led by our mentor staff.

Do you have a 2-5 year old? They can experience our Creation Explorers class during the workshop!

Do you want to learn how to paint? Come experience our Worship through Painting class!

Location: HOPE Church
12445 Patterson Avenue
Richmond VA, 23238
9am – 1pm
(804) 986 8980
Cost: $15

Workshop Poster

On Sunday November 24 at 7pm, Hope Worship Arts is releasing its first all-original full length album! It will be a night filled with music and stories about the songs and writers. Original music by Tyler Crowley, Paige Butcher, Mark Brown, Drew Daniels and the Hope Worship Arts Team. Several of our mentors were honored to be on the record and will be performing at the concert. We hope to see you there!

Here’s a trailer for the album:

Fight For Us from HOPE on Vimeo.