Utah Music Training Studio Pivots In Pandemic
AMERICAN FORK, Utah — With the COVID-19 pandemic making it impossible to do business the way it had always done, Caleb Chapman’s Soundhouse faced an uncertain future just a couple of weeks ago.
“This is a tough time and there are so many of us that are small business owners that this is just back-breaking—it’s going to be the end of a lot of businesses,” Chapman said of his self-titled music performance training studio. “We can’t close for a week — never mind a month or two months or three months and really it was going to be the end of a two-decades-plus business that’s been a fixture here in Utah and in the music education scene.”
Then, inspiration struck — a “fully-immersive, completely remote” program that is now allowing the studio to expand rather than contract with 300 participating musicians.
“They’re rehearsing, recording and even performing online,” Chapman explained. “We help the musician on how to set up their own home recording studio basically. There’s software that we use and a mic setup and the musicians are able to do this all from their own bedroom.”
Chapman said the musicians then collaborate with others weekly in production meetings with a producer, who essentially offers instruction and coaching on music and recording.
Musicians from as far away as the United Kingdom, China and Japan have now registered to take part, according to Chapman, and the business has also been able to broaden its range of instructors.
“Now we’re no longer limited to our instructors that are geographically here with us in Utah,” Chapman said. “That’s opened it up to many of our friends, including huge Grammy-winning artists from all over the country.”
Among those is three-time Grammy Award-winning saxophonist Jeff Coffin, who now tours with Dave Matthews Band.
“We can now do this together in a way we’ve never been able to do it before and, man, I’m stoked about it,” Coffin said Monday in an interview via Zoom. “I’m so excited to be working not only with Caleb as I’ve been doing for many years, but with all these other great artists who are buddies of mine. These kids minds are just going to be opened up in such a beautiful and particular way.”
Coffin also acknowledged the tough new realities of pandemic life for musicians.
“We had Australia canceled, our summer touring is postponed until at least July, end of July,” said Coffin, who also works as an educator at Vanderbilt University. “It’s forcing us into isolation in a job that depends on the fellowship of one another—depends on us interacting with students, being able to run a band, et cetera, et cetera. It puts us at an incredible disadvantage in so many different ways.”
Chapman said the pivot in the business model was providing relevant opportunities for musicians while bringing hope to a place where little existed two weeks earlier.
“Businesses can adapt and good things can come out of bad situations,” Chapman said. “We can continue this important, you know, process of making music.”
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