City Transformation, Creativity, Music, News

Detroit’s School Of Music is in tune to Detroit’s soul


Detroit’s known the world over for music. How do we keep the sound alive in Motown for our own?

That’s where the Detroit School of Music comes in.

It was a typical winter day just outside of the Midtown neighborhood when Carole Hoste opened the gate for us.

detroit-school-of-music-funThe school is located in what was formerly the Malcolm X Academy, in a building that used to be a part of the public school system. Even though the system has left it, the outside of the School of Music reverberated with the hum of progress and potential that so many buildings in the area give off.

Music is important. I bet you didn’t know that individuals who study music demonstrate higher abilities in nearly all academic areas, a decrease in aggression and violent behavior, lower likelihood of abusing drugs and alcohol, and a lower instance of developing Alzheimer’s or other degenerative mental disorders. In short, music isn’t just about what your ears, but about your mind and soul.

So who is Carole Hoste?

Hoste got her start in teaching music with The Grosse Pointe Music Academy that started out as a small operation above a liquor store in Grosse Pointe Park, just across the border on Detroit’s far Eastside. Hoste watched as the GPMA went from a one-man operation above a popular liquor stop to a full commercial building with 20 teachers employed, a full-time receptionist, expanded class offerings and tons of happy students of all ages.

detroit-school-of-music-downtown-detroitHoste is also a teacher at the Catherine Ferguson Academy, a school for pregnant teenage girls that has generated a lot of news in the past few years.

With the usual dose of Detroit “Do-It-Yourself” attitude, Hoste got the ball rolling on the Detroit School of Music with funding from her own savings.

“I just thought, this could happen in Detroit,” she said. “This NEEDS to happen in Detroit. The need was there, and even though I had no business background at all, I thought if one guy could start small and grow his studio in Grosse Pointe, that I could do the same thing in Detroit.”

Even those who subscribe to the “Do It Yourself” ethos here do things with the help of others. In the fall two music students from Ann Arbor through other outreach efforts in Detroit came across Hoste (and the DSM) and through their love of music threw Hoste a benefit concert that generated some of the much needed funding to help her expand her efforts.

detroit-school-of-music-teacherRecently she has experienced enough need and desire for music that she has hired her first employee, and is currently looking for someone to teach drums.

What does the future hold for the Detroit School of Music?

“I would love to see us expand to occupy the entire building – giving musical life to a closed-down school would be so cool and symbolic, in light of seeing music leaving the schools that are still open these days,” Hoste says.

“I’d love to be able to provide employment for more of the really talented musicians around town to instruct. Of course, they’d all have a full roster of happy students. Expanding our offerings to include ensembles, rock band classes, music & movement for toddlers, even some music therapy services….giving community performances throughout the year, sponsoring master classes from professional musicians in the community and offering a nice amount of subsidized instruction for families or individuals who need it.”

Hoste has a vision for her music school and it’s a vision that infuses positivity to a city that needs it.

detroit-school-of-music-notesFor every kid who learns how to play the keyboard it is one less kid who learns how to carjack. For every kid who learns how to play Stairway To Heaven, it is one less kid who learns how to huff paint in an abandoned building. I am not saying teaching kids how to play chopsticks is the cure for all the city’s ailments, but I am saying the city can use all the help it can get.

Who knows, maybe Hoste teaches the next Marvin Gaye or Aretha Franklin.

What is the worst could happen?

Hoste reflected on what she’s created this way.

“DSM is an example of anything being possible in Detroit. I’m convinced there’s no other place, especially a major city, where a teacher with no business background can step out with nothing but faith and her savings account and create something like this. And to have it be so well-received, and well-supported, in this short of time … it’s nuts.

“DSM is certainly not the only case. Detroit is being rebuilt, surely not by the assistance of government funds or officials, but by regular people who aren’t waiting for someone to come and fix things for us. We’re seeing the needs of the community, we’re filling them ourselves … and crazy enough … it’s working.”

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3 comments on “Detroit’s School Of Music is in tune to Detroit’s soul

  1. Carole Hoste has the professional training, the varied musical experiences, the teacher training, the "can do" spirit and the positive welcoming personality to make DSM a success and a contagion.

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