Bojangles Music School Location
Inspired by a struggling street artist he met in a New Orleans jail cell, Jerry Jeff Walker wrote the cautionary tale that would become a hit song with “Mr. Bojangles.”
Guitar teacher in Houston and owner of Bojangles School of Music Shawn Parks used the catchy name to christen his school in 2007. “If you listen to Bojangles, it’s totally a warning,” Parks laughs.
When Parks started Bojangles, he was the only instructor filling his schedule with in-home classes in all of Houston. He then included additional teachers and in 2014 found a physical location to operate at one of the most respected and reputable guitar shops in the country, Rockin’ Robin Guitars.
This month, Bojangles expanded further by opening its second location in The Heights, sharing a studio with Julia and the standards. Bojangles Music School Heights enables more Houstonians to have access to quality lessons while providing Bojangles with the space to take group lessons for the very first time. They plan to host the first annual Rock and Roll Revue student show later this fall.
“In many ways, it’s a homecoming for me,” Parks says of the school’s second location. “I lived in the Heights for 15 years and built my business out of my little house in the Heights. I know a lot of artists have been fired from The Heights, but it’s still a very artistic area.
For Parks and his team, which includes his wife Elisabeth Parks, the artistic spirit is at the heart of what they do as they strive to provide quality tuition to students of all ages while giving musicians locals a stable way to make money during the day and always finding a way to keep it local, until their sign is made by local artists.
“At the heart of what we do is teaching children and adults and we want them to receive the best education possible. How do you do this? You have good teachers and you pay them. Bojangles Music School offers lessons in electric and acoustic guitar, piano, drums, bass, mandolin, ukulele, lap steel and more.
Paying teachers and supporting Houston’s music community while teaching the next generation of performers has always been the mission of Bojangles Music School. As a small, local business that isn’t part of a larger out-of-state franchise, Parks can pull this off.
“There is a music economy here and we are very aware of it here at Bojangles. We try to build on that and highlight it with certain things that we do,” he says, referring to the Night For Guy show they put on every year. “We try to tell our story, help train artists and keep a community of artists here.”
Shawn’s staff has always been made up of local musicians, whom he got to know through his support of live music. For many musicians, finding a consistent way to make money during the day helps support their artistic vision and personal financial needs in a city where gigging has always been difficult due to the size and nature of Houston. .
“Shawn recruited these guys not because they showed up with no job, but because they’re good musicians and good with people. That’s the number one criterion,” says Bart Wittrock, owner of Rockin’ Robin Guitars and Music.
“Being asked to take this space was probably the greatest professional honor I’ve ever had,” says Parks, who was named one of Houston’s Top Entrepreneurs by the Houston Business Journal who named him one of the 40 under 40s to watch in 2020, ironically one of the toughest years for Parks and most business owners.
Bojangles and Rockin’ Robin have a smooth partnership as the two companies are not only obviously music-centric, but also serve as hubs for local musicians who form lifelong connections with each other. Walk into either of these businesses every day and you can find some of Houston’s finest musicians hard at work.
“On some level, everyone at Bojangle is primarily a gigging musician. They know what you need to know and what you don’t need to know,” says the busy former teacher and musician from Houston. Paul Beebe. He describes how students would come to see him play in one of his many bands, including Beetle and Disco Expressions, only to be shocked and in awe of what their teacher could really do on stage.
“Knowing how to play a song is good, but learning how to learn songs is something else,” says Beebe, in keeping with Bojangles’ pedagogical approach, which not only aims to meet students where they are technically, but helps them get to their next level by giving them videos after each session to help them keep track of what they’ve done and what needs to be practiced before their next lesson.
“Knowing how to play a song is good, but learning how to learn songs is something else.”
“To be honest with you, I’m more concerned with the passion and respect for music as a teacher than the quality of your playing,” Parks says, pointing out the adverse adverse effect that can occur when children are not meaningfully taught. way, ultimately distancing them from the music and making their lessons just one more chore they have to do that day.
“You have to find that sweet spot and it’s different for every child and every adult. Yes, I want to teach music and I want them to play it, but I want them to enjoy music and love music I want this to be the first step on a long journey in music,” Parks says.
Bojangles Music School Heights is now open at 1529 Heights Boulevard. For more information, visit bojanglesmusicschool.com