Lake Norman Magazine
Creative Ej was featured in a cover story in the April 2008 edition of Lake Norman Magazine. Here is an excerpt of the article...

By Barbara J. Mayer | Photos By Richard Rudisill April 2008

The popularity of TV shows such as “American Idol” and “Dancing with the Stars” is evidence of strong interest in the performing arts. That interest has led to rising enrollments for at least two Lake Norman area schools that specialize in teaching music, dance, drama and visual art to children and adults.

Creative Ej in Huntersville and Masterworks School of the Arts, with locations in Davidson and Mooresville, offer a variety of performance-type lessons. While their students may not become instant stars, they do get many opportunities to perform on-site and in the community.

Creative Ej
Creative Ej students, such as Tyler Kilbourne, left, Will Keenan, Danielle Tancora and drummer Mason McClanahan, not only learn but also perform in bands.

Creative Ej, at 12340 Mount Holly-Huntersville Road in Huntersville, is two years old and has 250 students ranging in age from 3 to 64; the average age is 12. The school has 17 degreed music instructors, many of whom are experienced professional musicians. Owners Jeff and Elise Gastineau planned their 10,000-square-foot facility to give students a chance to network, play and perform music together.

“Most traditional music stores use old methods of teaching,” Jeff Gastineau says. “They’re using the same piano books I used 30 years ago. We let our students choose their own music. We don’t want them to get bored and quit.”

Elise Gastineau, who has played piano since age 4, believes Creative Ej is bringing a taste of the big city music scene to the Lake Norman area. “We exist to help students realize their musical dreams and passions,” she says. “We incorporate technology into lessons. We teach our students to research things on their own, to be independent. We want music to be something that motivates and inspires them.”

Creative Ej offers individual and group lessons on all contemporary instruments, as well as an active band program and a Kreative Kids program that combines singing, dancing and choreography to songs by Disney artists. The school offers classes and summer camps in audio engineering, making use of on-site audio and video recording studios. New programs include a trio of art classes and a daytime Homeschool Musical Theatre that teaches home-schooled students how to write and perform their own musical theater script.

Private music lessons cost $100 a month for weekly half-hour lessons. Student band members pay $100 a month for weekly 60 minute rehearsals.

Showcases are held quarterly in the school’s 200-seat performance theater, giving students of all ages a chance to perform a solo, duet or band number on stage. Students from Creative Ej also have performed at local festivals, such as Denver Days, and special events, such as the Davidson Christmas parade.

“The students love performing,” Elise Gastineau says. “And they learn organizational skills, especially if they’re involved in a band, as well as team-building, nonverbal communication and stage presence.”
The band program has led to formation of 15 student bands for musicians of all levels, ranging in age from 7-year-olds to adults. Mark Aspland, owner of Hands-On Woodworking in Cornelius, plays guitar in a contemporary jazz band at Creative Ej. “Most of the instructors have four-year music degrees, and they know what’s involved in production work,” he says. “That’s something you can’t find anywhere else.”