by: David F. Ashton, Cadenza Academy student Cory Sterling learns a new guitar riff from teacher and co-owner Mike Pardew.

Many of those who want to become more than simply top-scoring 'Guitar Hero' videogame players have discovered a new Southeast Portland school where they can learn the art and craft of music: Cadenza Academy.

The primary instrument taught at the Cadenza Academy, when it opened 2½ years ago, was guitar - which is co-owner Mike Pardew's instrument of choice.

'Now we also teach bass, drums, keyboards, sax, violin, viola cello, mandolin, and trumpet,' said Pardew. 'We also offer classes in songwriting, and how to do music recording. Guitar and singing are the most popular.'

Before opening Cadenza, Mike and his brother shared studio space at a couple of music stores. 'I travel a lot, and my brother found this space; it seemed ideal for a music studio. We brought in friends who taught other instruments, and we got rolling from there.'

Even though many of the school's students will never play professionally, Pardew said the most important thing is 'learning how to appreciate the music that they really like; how to listen for the features of music that they enjoy. From this, students learn why they like [particular] different songs.'

Because their students aren't simply fulfilling a school requirement, this musical academy's staff helps newer players learn skills that help them perform solo, or with other musicians. 'Whether it's playing with friends, or in a garage band, or even going on tour, we help students enhance their command of their instrument.'

Playing music is both calming and energizing, Pardew commented. 'I like most the meditative aspect of playing music. At the same time, there's so much involved with playing an instrument or singing, you have to give it all of your energy. It's totally involving, but it's also relaxing.'

Before getting back to the session we were attending, student Cory Sterling - a student with Mike for about 1½ years - mentioned that he really likes jazz music the most.

'Especially when I'm playing with other people, and [the music] really works, you know. It's a great feeling to be able to communicate with other people through music,' Sterling smiled.

Cadenza Academy is located on S.E. 21st Avenue, just south of at S.E. Clinton Street. Visit the school online at:

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