3 Questions

3 Questions

With Queen Bee Music Association Executive Director Lindsay Taylor

Since its foundation in 2019, Santa Fe’s Queen Bee Music Association (1596 Pacheco Street, Ste. B-1, (505) 278-0012; queenbeemusicassociation.org) just can’t quit growing with its mission to musically educate the masses. What started as a program for kids has since expanded to adult instruction, and with spring music sessions starting March 21, director Lindsay Taylor spoke with SFR to give us the low-down on what makes this particular org unique within the local music scene, where things might go from here and what’s up with the bee reference.

What’s the reality behind running a full-time music education program?

Since we’ve been able to get a space in Midtown, it’s gone full-time and it’s been extremely rewarding. Now we’re surrounded by something that brings people a lot of joy in their lives, and I’m honored to have that as my profession. It’s been a lifelong dream to get to this stage. I have memories of nerding out when I was a kid, drawing music schools and putting pianos in every classroom. Santa Fe has a big need in music education that we’re really happy to help fill, and...we’ve been selling out classes left and right. There’s a lot of room for growth, and one avenue is that we want to be a big resource for music teachers in Santa Fe. There’s always been a really strong private lesson community, but this newer realm of group classes is an awesome way to meet new people. If you’re an adult who’s wanted to learn, you’re surrounded by people in the exact same boat as you are. That builds strong friendships, and people are always asking for more. When we started it was just 76 regular students in our programs, then we jumped to 1,000. By the end of the year, we’re aiming for 3,000.

The name comes from a Taj Mahal song, Queen Bee, which my husband used to sing to me when we first were dating. It’s personal, but also pays homage to the American roots music that’s been the soundtrack of our lives.

What difference do you find in teaching children versus adults?

Our approach is actually similar, because our goal isn’t to produce a virtuoso. We’re not focused on classical music, but rather familiar songs. My husband—Artistic Director and co-founder Brian Nelson—and I met in Denver working for a folk music school, Swallow Hill Music. It’s a very large school with a method of teaching based on experience rather than theory. You get into a classroom to learn to strum and string from familiar tunes, and then the theory gets worked into that, so not just scales and major and minor triads.

For adults and for kids, it’s just to genuinely enjoy the process and to build a lifelong appreciation for music. At any age, we want to make them more appreciative, whether at a concert or in their everyday surroundings. We meet people where they are and make sure they don’t move too slow or too fast. It’s mostly content driven—adults get a Johnny Cash tune and kids get something like “Baby Beluga.” We’re seeing people of all ages, from their 30s to retired folks who’ve had a guitar stuffed in their closet gathering dust for 30 years.

What have you learned about the Santa Fe music scene you might not have known before?

It’s hard to say what we didn’t know, since Brian has been a music educator here, so a lot of what he saw as a musician is what we responded with for Queen Bee. Music education and allowing people to get over the misconception that in order to be a musician you have to start learning when you’re 3. That’s not true! It’s like riding a bike, it’s just a skill to learn. The thing I’ve been most impressed with is how resilient everyone has been, since we’ve been shut down longer than other cities, especially in returning to live performances, but the creativity here is really overwhelming.

We accept donations of money or instruments, plus volunteer opportunities. Later this spring, we’ll be hosting a fundraiser for our scholarship program. I think if someone is interested in learning music and has had that twinge in the back of their mind, it’s not as hard to get started as you think. Plus, we teach with local gig-musicians Karina Wilson of Lone Piñon, classical guitarist Tito Rios and Bonnie Sims as a guest teacher later this spring.

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