The Fairmount School of Music inspires students

Fairmount School of Music. Courtesy of Ann Marie Falcone

From guitar to piano to ukulele, the Fairmount School of Music offers instruction in more than 21 different instruments, and helps children and adults of all ages find their musical niche.

In 10 years, the school has almost doubled the number of its teachers, to more than 26. The school offers group classes as well as private lessons.

Mike McNamara, guitar instructor, teaches many of the group classes. He’s been teaching at Fairmount for five years.

“We get students to play rock ensembles,” McNamara said. “We started to group them by age, levels and musical interests. Each group meets for about an hour every other week, and then plays at a local venue, the Boneyard in Mayfield Heights. We pack the house every time.”

Students receive videos of themselves performing, and enjoy the lights, monitors and close ups of them that the video captures. The class, For Those About to Rock, is a co-creation of McNamara and Tommy Haywood, another teacher at the school.

Inna G. Onofrei, composer and piano instructor, started teaching at Fairmount in 2006.

“A lot of new generation students get bored with classical music, and have been asking me to play songs about their dogs, for example,” Onofrei said. “I’ve been composing since I was 15, so one day I got the idea to make an album for my students. I have 10 pieces, and my students worked on about half of the album. They’re really excited. They think it’s challenging, but at the same time it’s very entertaining.”

Onofrei’s "Lola’s Adventures," a piano composition, is the first project she has written for her students.

“The first time they looked at it, they were really scared,” Onofrei said. “They told me, ‘It looks so hard.’ In a couple of days, they realized it’s not so hard, and to grow as a musician, you have to challenge yourself. There are a bunch of different techniques hidden in the pieces to help them learn while having fun.”

The importance of being creative is one aspect of enjoying and learning music that Onofrei tries to convey to her students.

“Music isn’t just entertaining, it makes it helps our brains and memory develop. That’s why it’s important to help our young generation be interested in music,” Onofrei said.

Sandy Love, a guitar and trumpet master, is one of the school’s most experienced teachers. He started teaching middle school in 1972, and then played for Motown Records from 1974–77. “I live in Michigan, but I drive here,” Love said. “I have about 20 students a week here and other students in Michigan. A lot of the kids I have taught have grown up to become recording artists.”

Ann Marie Falcone, the school’s director of education, has been teaching for about 18 years. Some of her students play in the Cleveland Orchestra Youth Orchestra, and she even coached one student all the way to first chair. She is currently in the process of writing an opera based on an original story, and refers to herself as a “closet composer” because she didn’t get a degree in composing.

The Fairmount School of Music offers many classes and instruction in a variety of instrument. Call 216-321-5868 or visit for information about classes and prices.

Yelena Tischenko

Yelena Tischenko is a senior majoring in magazine journalism at Kent State University and a Heights Observer summer intern.

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Volume 5, Issue 8, Posted 1:03 PM, 08.08.2012