Marilyn S. receives drum lessons from instructor Juiette Payne at Quinn Community Center in Maywood last month. Below, Jocelyn Vertiz, Jacob Vertiz, Ta’Miyah Wilson. | Photos submitted.
Monday, February 8, 2016 || By Nicholas Samuel
Starving Artists Studios music students crowded in a circle around their instructor, Juiette Payne, as he glided his fingers across the piano and showed his students how to properly play a scale with both hands at his piano class during a recent night in Maywood.
“To make a chord, you need to be able to make a scale. To make a scale, you need to know your notes,” Payne told his students. “We need to be focused and attentive.”
Parents then watched Payne, 27 and founder of Starving Artists Studios, teach their children one-on-one how to play notes such as the treble clef and bass clef.
“I want to play the piano because it will look good on my resume,” said 13-year-old Jocelyn Vertiz of Maywood, who also takes songwriting lessons at Starving Artists Studios.
Besides piano, Payne also teaches guitar, bass, voice, songwriting, drums and theatre at Starving Artists Studios, located at the Quinn Community Center, 1832 S. 8th Ave.
“Lots of people may be a jack of all trades, but never master anything,” Payne said. “I wake up everyday with a passion to sharpen my craft and get better. I want to cultivate that into my students.”
Payne, a Maywood resident and Proviso East High School alumnus, founded Starving Artists Studios in 2014. Classes are divided into 12-week sessions, including introduction sessions, practice sessions and rehearsal sessions for the big recital, held in the Quinn Center’s lower level.
Classes are offered to individuals ages five and up and are open not only to Maywood residents, but residents throughout the Chicagoland area.
“I incorporate music they typically hear and have them play it in class,” Payne said. “Students critique each other. Some people may not like your music and kids need to be exposed to that at an early age, because it will help them build tough skin and strengthen their craft.”
Payne said he first became interested in music when he saw the 2002 movie “Drumline,” starring former Nickelodeon sensation Nick Cannon.
“After I saw that, I went to the drummer at my church and asked him if he could teach me how to play. I woke up every morning before school to learn to play the drums,” Payne said.
The Proviso East alumnus said all the other instruments he plays was self-taught.
Payne’s wife, Gabriela, 24, helps teach music classes and serves as an office manager at Starving Artists Studios.
“Everyone loves music. Even just the sound of music creates emotion,” Gabriela said. “You hear people all the time saying don’t go for music in your career because you won’t make any money, but if someone’s really into the arts, that passion should be brought out of that person.”
Photography and illustration classes are also taught at the studio by two hired instructors.
Vertiz said the classes allow her to show her passion for songwriting and to her, the teachers there are not just teachers, but her best friends.
“They push us out of our comfort zone and make sure we don’t give up so easily,” Vertiz said. “It’s comfortable here and I can be myself. It’s truly an amazing feeling knowing that I’m getting artwork done and also having an amazing time; I never want to leave.”
Payne, who noted that Starving Artists Studios was recently established as a tax-exempt nonprofit organization, said he hopes to increase enrollment, retention and staff, and launch the nonprofit in different locations throughout the Chicagoland area.
He also wants students to perform at downtown locations, attend art galleries to meet different artists and attend music conferences, where they can see professional artists, such as Stevie Wonder, Pharrell and Christina Aguilera, perform.
“I wish I had these opportunities when I was in high school. I would love to give other artists the opportunity to develop their craft,” Payne said. “I’m yearning for their creativity to be unlocked.”
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