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Dream musical dreams

Music shop is one man's vision of having lessons and instruments in the same place.

July 27, 2010
  • Kim Andrews plays one of his guitars off the rack in his Newport Guitar and Music shop in Newport Beach.
Kim Andrews plays one of his guitars off the rack in his… (Don Leach, Daily…)

NEWPORT BEACH — Aiden Marshall has rock star dreams of roaring crowds, packed stadiums and his name on a lighted marquee.

But for now the 8-year-old beginning guitarist settles for learning the fundamentals in a tiny, almost hidden music shop behind a multiplex on San Miguel Drive.

Owned and operated by longtime guitar instructor Kim Andrews, Newport Guitar and Music is a throwback to an earlier time when budding musicians bought their instruments and took lessons in the same shop.

Andrews, 55, opened the shop about four and a half years ago when his guitar lessons were consistently requiring him to travel to cities without local music and instrument suppliers.

He wanted a place where he could sell guitars and teach students to play. So he opened his shop on the edge of Newport Center.

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His lessons, which incorporate games, simple fractions and fun word acronyms, appeal to students as young as 7 and as old as 98 — the latter a grandmother who is a natural at the ukulele.

"He gets right down on the same level as the kids," said Sue Marshall, Aiden's mother. "The instant my son met him, they just clicked."

While Aiden, who lives in Irvine, learned to identify musical notes and symbols by hurling Velcro-covered balls onto a "sticky" music chart, Marshall listened with obvious pride as her son distinguished between eighth, 16th and whole notes.

Andrews' musical education was a tad more formal. He was certified at the Musicians Institute in Hollywood in 1984 after learning a broad range of techniques in classical, acoustic and electric guitar.

However, Andrews is, at heart, a jazz man. Among his musical idols are American jazz guitarists Pat Metheny and Larry Carlton.

"Melodically, there are so many different colors," Andrews said. "Rock is a little like vanilla and chocolate, but with jazz, it's like walking into Baskin-Robbins' 31 Flavors."

For the handful of years the shop has been open, it's been doing pretty well, despite competition from large retailers like Sam Ash and Guitar Center.

Andrews relies on a steady stream of loyal customers and his students' word-of-mouth referrals, which is how Marshall and Aiden found out about the shop.

Although he would like to move into a larger location in the future, perhaps something with storefront advertising space, right now he said that he sees it as something of a trade-off.

The best street-facing locations often don't come with their own parking. Situated on Edwards Cinema property, as the music shop is now, means more than enough parking to satisfy his customers, Andrews said.

And who knows if the small space will one day give birth to rock-star dreams.

After reciting "Eat A Delicious Gummy Bear Early," a mnemonic device for standard tuning on a six-string guitar, Aiden asked Andrews about bringing a friend to his next lesson.

While Andrews does arrange "jam sessions" for the students, it might be a few more weeks before Aiden is ready.

"[Aiden] wants to be a rock star," Aiden's mother said. "This is a good place to start."

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