Playing some music with a Pulse

Jeff Benson

A Newport Harbor High School student is proving you don't need to pay

through the nose to play through the notes.

Costa Mesa resident Anna Jordan, 15, plays electric guitar and

sings backup vocals for Pulse, a beginning rock band that plays songs

by artists such as Alanis Morissette and Lit. She's getting ready for

a Jan. 30 performance at the Old World restaurant in Huntington

Beach, while also learning to play the drums and piano.

All these instruments require a great deal of time, which

typically equates to a great deal of money for music lessons.

But Anna and other children are taking advantage of the nonprofit

Performing Arts Guild of Orange County, which provides an hour of

children's music lessons for half the going rate -- and operates

without charging any initiation fees or contracts, according to

founder and guitar teacher Steve Strombeck.

"This is not your typical half-hour revolving-door music store

program," Strombeck said. "Most of our instructors hold at least one

degree in music and are talented professionals."

The Performing Arts Guild operates at Planet Sound Studios in

Santa Ana and receives grants from former members, which allows

instructors to provide one-hour lessons for $25.90. Most half-hour

lessons in Orange County cost about the same price, Strombeck said.

"We have come a long way to reaching our goal in providing an

affordable and innovative lesson program," he said. "Our goal is as

funds, donations and contributions continue to grow, that we will be

able to drop our lesson rates for 2006 by another 20 to 30%."

Aspiring rock stars typically practice for about three months in

the guild's rock program before tackling their first public show,

Anna said.

Other students can take advantage of discounted equipment rentals

and vocal, brass, string, woodwind and percussion lessons.

"It's just a lot of fun, because I love music as it is, and being

able to play is really cool," Anna said.

Anna's dad, Jim Jordan, said the lessons have done wonders for his

daughter, who hadn't even picked up an instrument until a year ago.

"[Strombeck] started a hidden talent in her," Jordan said. "She

started with electric guitar, and since then, she's tried out the

drum set, the piano and singing. He likes to take kids with an

interest in music and expose them to the whole music world. Now she's

reading and writing music."

Since she began playing, Anna has also performed with the

Performing Arts Guild's in-house rock band, OnStage; has been invited

to one of the program's compilation bands, which features all-stars

from other guild bands; and has hooked up with South Coast Repertory,

her father said.

Word is spreading about the discounted lessons, and students are

beginning to come from Newport Beach, Costa Mesa and from as far as

San Juan Capistrano, Strombeck said.

The Performing Arts Guild of Orange County is at 2931 S. Main St.,

Suite D, in Santa Ana. For more information, visit

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