Some people spent months of quarantine perfecting a sourdough starter or learning how to cohabitate with their new 24/7 officemates. Baltimore musicians Joshua Espinoza and Erik Franklin did something different with the newfound time that they had on their hands: they founded a music school.

Celebrating its first year in business this month, Patterson Park Academy of Music is poised to become THE destination for quality (and FUN!) music education for kids in East Baltimore.

Espinoza, a concert pianist, and Franklin, a clarinetist and adjunct professor of clarinet at Towson University, had been teaching music lessons privately to students before the pandemic. But when the giant pause of 2020 happened and they slowed down, the couple realized that there was a lack of access to quality music instruction in southeast Baltimore. Quarantine downtime gave them an opportunity to create the music school structure and launch the business, which has been excitedly welcomed by the community.

“We realized that there were no after-school music programs for busy families in East Baltimore, and so we set out to provide fun, creative, and easy to access options near Patterson Park,” said Espinoza.

Conveniently located on the third floor of the Julie Community Center, PPAM offers private instrumental music lessons (piano, guitar, drums, violin, and more) from an impressive faculty of musicians.

“First on our faculty checklist is whether a teacher is great with children,” said Espinoza. “If they can inspire a child to be creative, even in the very first lesson, we know they’ll be a terrific fit for PPAM families. We are proud to have assembled an exceptional faculty of experienced, extremely patient, and highly qualified music teachers.”

Like other local music schools, lessons are set-up in a semester structure (15 weeks in the fall and 22 weeks in the spring). Not sure if a particular instrument is right for your pint-sized maestro? Don’t fret! Students can try lessons for three weeks before committing to a full semester.

But PPAM isn’t stopping with individual lessons. This winter, they are expanding to offer choral music instruction for kids and launching a new early childhood music program for babies, toddlers, and preschoolers.

The children’s chorus program is divided into two age groups: Patterson Park Wee Singers (ages 5-6) and Patterson Park Children’s Chorus (ages 7-11). PPAM wants all kids to love singing and this new program promotes having fun while developing strong music fundamentals and expressivity. Fair warning – this isn’t your grandma’s kids’ chorus. The director, Sonya Knussen, rocks spunky pink hair and, in addition to music, loves all things unicorns, rainbows, and stickers. Singing with the chorus is going to be an exciting crescendo for PPAM kid singers! If you think your child might be interested, there’s still time to sign-up. The program kicks off on February 2.

The early childhood education program is directed toward cultivating the bittiest music aficionados and will offer morning caregiver-and-me classes for infants (ages 0-2) and toddlers (ages 3-5). These classes, created by Meredith Lustig, are designed to develop a musical foundation that prepares children for a lifetime of music making and enjoyment. The best part? Not only will parents connect with their littles during class, they will learn how to encourage musical expression in the home! Unlike the other programs at PPAM that are divided into semesters, early childhood classes are offered in six-week increments. The second six-week winter session begins mid-February!

Want to learn more about Patterson Park Academy of Music? Check out their website or give them a call at 336.471.5930 . (And be sure to tell them (cool) progeny sent you!)