Bold Music Starts a “Love Train”

Musicians from Ballantyne and across Charlotte participate in virtual collaborations

By Vanessa Infanzon | Posted on May 12, 2020

George Ramsay, co-founder and co-owner of Bold Music, knew the coronavirus would affect his teachers’ and students’ morale. His company hires musicians to give 30-, 45- and 60-minute music lessons to children and adults in their homes. Since March 16, the company’s lessons have been taking place via Zoom instead of in-person.

Ramsay and Dean Williams, two Davidson College graduates, opened Bold Music in the fall of 2013. The company’s 30 instructors teach almost 350 students in voice, production and six instruments (bass, drums, flute, guitar, piano and violin). Its Junior Jammers program is taught in Charlotte-area preschools.

During this unprecedented time, Ramsay thought that instructors and students needed something uplifting and fun to stay motivated and engaged. He asked the company’s music teachers to participate in a virtual project: record themselves performing Elton John’s “Your Song” at home for a collaborative video. The video was a success – raising people’s spirits and gaining 18,000 views on Facebook.

Four-year-old Cate Degros now takes a Junior Jammer music class online via Zoom. Photo courtesy of Annie Degros
Sixth-grader Taki Peroulas is learning to play the drums remotely.
Paul Swanson takes virtual piano lessons with Bold Music and participated in the "Love Train" collaboration. Photo courtesy of Emily Mattix
Ninth-grader Yianni Peroulas has been taking guitar lessons with Bold Music since 2017. His instructor is Dallas Dwight, lead guitarist of The L.A. Maybe.

After the success of “Your Song,” Ramsay upped the ante: He asked students and their families to perform the popular 1970’s song, “Love Train” by The O’Jays. He even gave the idea a name: “Bold Music Collaborations at Home.”

Several Bold Music students live in the greater Ballantyne area and have a role in the latest virtual collaboration.

Paul Swanson, a Piper Glen resident for 20 years, is a self-taught piano player. In 2017, he realized he’d taken his skills as far as he could alone and signed up with Bold Music. His weekly classes are structured: music theory, a performing assignment and a fun lesson with a song Swanson wants to learn. Swanson took part in Bold Music’s “Love Train.”

“It’s special now because it can be easy to think of yourself on an island,” says Swanson, 46. “When you do a video like this, it reminds you that you’re not alone. Making music is a great way to bring people together even if we can’t be face to face.”

The Peroulas family lives in Ardrey; they all participated in the “Love Train” video. With help from the mom, Stacie Peroulas, who is director of the dance program at Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church, they added a bit of Greek flair to their segment. Brothers Taki and Yianni Peroulas have been Bold Music students since 2017.

Taki is a sixth-grader at Providence Day School and is learning the drums. Yianni is a ninth-grader at Providence Day School, working on the acoustic and electric guitars. Since the middle of March, their lessons have been online. Their instructor is Dallas Dwight of the band The L.A. Maybe.

“People are having a hard time, some more than others,” says Yianni, 15. “It’s really important that people stay happy, stay safe. It’s cool to see everyone banding together and having some fun during quarantine.”

Bold Music also adapted its Junior Jammers preschool program. The program is now offered on Thursdays, 11-11:30 a.m. as a free virtual program for preschool-aged children, four to six years old. Parents may access it through the Bold Music website. Students learn the fundamentals of music, rhythm and pitch, and they get introduced to instruments such as the xylophone.

Four-year-old Cate Degros lives with her family in Ballantyne Country Club. She joined the virtual class on Zoom when she couldn’t attend the one at her preschool.

“[Cate] talks about it all week and sings the songs she learns in class,” says Cate’s mom, Annie Degros. “Cate constantly recites rhythms and talks about the instruments she uses. Also, Cate can be shy at times, and the teachers are so engaging and kind to adapt to her personality.”

Virtual instruction will remain an option for Bold Music students. For some, it’s an easier and less expensive option. “Bold Music Collaborations at Home” is also here to stay. The next video drops on May 29. Find Bold Music’s version of “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” by Tears for Fears on Bold Music’s Facebook page.

“As challenging as this has been, we’ve managed to build a stronger, more cohesive Bold Music family community than we’ve ever had before,” Ramsay says. “Everyone is more plugged in and engaged. We’re going to continue that trend moving forward. There’s a lot of good that’s come out of this.”