Music school founder clings to his passion after brain injury


Dave Waters still forget things. He is still looking for certain words when he speaks. But since Waters, the owner of Golden Strip Music School, suffered a head trauma in 2012, he is quite satisfied with the condition he is in today.

“What I have is called a Chiari malformation,” Waters says. “Basically the back of my brain tried to escape from my scalp.”

The disease is congenital, but Waters had a snowboarding accident in 2012 that exacerbated his symptoms, which led to surgery in early 2013.

“I was suffering from severe headaches,” he says. “I was walking like I was drunk; I would forget what I was talking about. There is no cure for it, but they are doing brain surgery, which they did for me in February 2013. It relieved the pain, I can feel my left side again, ”he adds. he laughs. , “I don’t walk like the drunk town anymore.”

Unfortunately, Waters did not recover everything. A longtime music lover and musician, Waters had spent years playing guitar, and he particularly enjoyed playing heavy metal. After his operation, it was no longer possible.

“After the brain surgery, when I got out, I had a hard time playing,” he says. “I thought about going back to school, but it was just really frustrating for me. I grabbed the guitars and put them in the cases and ignored them because it hurt too much to look at them.

Fortunately, Waters has decided not to give up music, and the Upstate just got better.

Instead, he got to work on a plan he had been thinking about for years: to create a music school, but not just any music school. Waters wanted nothing less than the best, and he wanted to extend the standard concept beyond a place where people learn to play musical instruments.

“After being unable to play, I thought, what else can I do to continue my love of music? And it was with the best teachers that I was able to find and find a way to make sure that I could retain the best teachers. “

Working with friends and instructors Kevin Heuer (drums) and Shawn Allen (guitar), Waters set out to make his dream come true, eventually finding the perfect location for the 6,000 square foot Golden Strip School of Music. on Garlington Road. in Greenville.

“It took years of preparation,” he says, “including several business plans to see what I could make work. Much thought has gone into this. The search for a suitable building began, which took forever. But we got lucky with this building and got a lot.

And Waters has much to be proud of. In addition to 11 instructors teaching drums, guitar, keyboards, vocals and more, the Golden Strip School of Music has a performance stage, studios for podcasts and YouTube videos, and a recording studio. with Grammy-nominated engineer Joel McCreight behind the boards, a program showcase that pairs different students together for group performances, and a first-class lounge for family or friends of students to relax in during class. They are even adding music therapy specialist Megan Danelz to the staff in mid-January.

“This is all because of the experience I had and my kids had taking music lessons,” Waters says. “Music lessons are often taken after the fact because they are attached to retail instrument stores whose job is to sell instruments. I wanted a better place than this without any retail issues. I paid a designer to come here and design the living room because when you walk in I want you to know we’re not taking any shortcuts here.

And this approach includes the provision of musical instruments.

“I want this to be a place where the teachers are all happy,” Waters says. “I want them to have an interest in me. I like happy teachers, and I want to make sure they have everything they need to do their job, and if they don’t have it, they can come and see me and get it, whatever. either amplifiers or a piano – whatever they need, I’ll do my best to get it for them.

Waters, a New York native who moved upstate in 2015, says he would like the Golden Strip School of Music, which officially opened last March, to become a significant part of the community. local artistic.

“I want this school to become the music center for the Greenville area,” he says. “I would love it to become the musical center of the state. But I didn’t want it to be just music; I wanted it to be about the people in our area. Some people in our area don’t play music, but they can come here to our YouTube studio or our podcast studio and do something. It’s a building and a business for everyone. It’s a welcoming place where everyone is accepted, and you are all there to make music or create stuff.

  • Since the Golden Strip School of Music opened in March 2020, “in the midst of the pandemic,” Waters says with a laugh, masks and social distancing are required, and the school’s website has a full breakdown. of their daily cleaning procedures.
  • Waters says that even after his traumatic brain injury and subsequent surgery, he knew music would still be a part of his life. “I knew I couldn’t play anymore, but it was never about being involved in music,” he says.
  • For more information, visit the school’s website at

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