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Feedback Rocks, Loud and Local

A music school moves out of the home and into an Arts District theater space.

Students at Feedback School of Music won't be confined to closed-in lesson rooms or subjected to living room visits by the piano teacher.

They'll go straight to the stage.

Not that they'll have an audience. Not yet, anyway. 

"It's a great nest we've landed in here," said Jim Dinou, Feedback's music director and co-founder, while standing at the rear of the Open Door Repertory Company's theater space at 902 S. Ridgeland Ave. 

Dinou, 44 and a career musician, said music instruction at Feedback isn't made to feel like some rigid chore. Instead, the lessons, all taught by local musicians, allow students to explore their creativity.

In addition to regular guitar, drum, vocal, spoken word hip-hop, piano and sax lessons, Feedback will twice a month host "meeting of the minds" jam sessions for students and teachers alike. 

"We use improv as a starting point," boasts the school's website, "not endless scales that might not hold most kids' interest."

The new partnership with Open Door allows Feedback to use the space Monday through Thursday, and on the occassional Saturday. With a few dozen seats, good acoustics and a great sound system, Jim and Midge Dinou (Feedback co-founder) say the theater is a far cry from the South Elmwood Avenue home where the school was born. 

And to hear Jim Dinou tell it, you can see one of the visions for the new space: a dimly lit theater packed with a small crowd listening to an intimate rock set. Maybe to be captured live for webcast. Maybe taped for video. Maybe recorded for for a live album. 

"We're hatching out of here," he said, adding the possibility of partnering with local theater groups to score their productions. They're also using the space for open mic nights and "teacher showcases." 

Rates for lessons at Feedback average $25 for 30 minutes, with discounts on group lessons. The school is also offering a membership plan designed for donors to earn discounts on lessons while support the school and its mission. 

"I love supporting all different forms of art, and for young children to be exposed to this creative approach to music is just fantastic," said Melissa Elsmo, one of the nonprofit school's two board members. (The other is Rich Klevgard.) "My son is taking drum lessons. He absolutely loves it. He was nervous because he's never played before...now, he's banging on everything under the sun."

Feedback School of Music is located at 902 S. Ridgeland Ave. To learn more about the teachers, the theater and membership options, see their official website. For a sampling of Feeback instructors' work, see their SoundCloud page. The embedded track, California, was written, tracked and mixed by Feeback students, with help from instructor Ian Leith and Jim Dinou. 

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