When James Lenger opened the first Guitar Cities in Chicago’s financial district eight and a half years ago, it was because he realized there was a whole demographic of business professionals who were interested in pursuing music but lacked any kind of easy access to instructors.
“I think it’s just there’s a number of people that have wanted to learn music and, you know, as opposed to them thinking, ‘I have to trash this idea, I can’t do it anymore,’ it allows us to bring music over to them. It’s still something they can actively pursue,” says Lenger.
A Holland native, Lenger is now bringing music even closer to home, opening his fifth Guitar Cities location next week in Suite 400 of the Calder Plaza Building at 250 Monroe NW.
“I think Grand Rapids has always been important to me to get back to because not only is it full of a lot of entrepreneurship and has a great financial area, but it’s also an area that participates in art and the arts,” he says. “I think that’s evident with things like ArtPrize and even things like the growing number of (craft) breweries. There are a lot of neat things kind of coming on in the area and it’s always been a priority to get back here to do this.”
After a few years of growing success at the Chicago location, Lenger decided to open up a second location in Manhattan’s Midtown in 2011. After that spot proved to be another successful venture, he opened a San Francisco location later that year and a fourth location in London a few months after that.
He says all of the locations were selected because they were places with good business districts and had space that allowed him to open a new location somewhere that would be accessible to the demographic Guitar Cities was created to serve.
“It’s also been important that we’re in locations that are easy to access for the people who are living and working around the area,” Lenger says. “I also think it is important for Guitar Cities to be a place that really communicates well with the instructors, too, so we’re not looked at as some kind of corporate entity that just wants to make a bunch of money. We’re trying to be here for both the students and the instructors.”
Brian De Young will serve as Guitar Cities' Grand Rapids piano instructor, but Lenger said he hasn’t yet completed the interviewing process for potential hires for the guitar instructor position. In the meantime, he says he’ll act as interim guitar instructor, commuting between Grand Rapids and Chicago so he can still offer lessons for those interested until a permanent hire is made.
Learn more about what kinds of services Guitar Cities offers or schedule an appointment online at guitarcities.com
Writer: Anya Zentmeyer, Development News Editor
Images Courtesy of James Lenger