Rock on at Maple Valley’s best kept secret


Dace’s Rock ‘N’ More Music Academy seems to be one of Maple Valley’s best kept secrets.

Founded by Dace Anderson four years ago, the music school has evolved and grown, thanks to its unique all-inclusive approach to lessons.

Anderson started the enterprise after he lost his lesson space in Kent and Maple Valley when the music stores he worked out of moved to smaller locations. For a while he was going to his students’ homes but it seemed to make more sense to find a place to teach.

“I didn’t have a place … and I had a whole bunch of students who wanted me to teach them,” Anderson said. “Originally I found a space above Gloria’s. Jim Flynn was nice enough to rent it to me without knowing much about me.”

Anderson and drumming instructor Phil Bowden were the teachers at what was then called the School of Rock — the name had to be changed when it was discovered there was already a business in Seattle by the same name.

Bowden gets the credit for coming up with what has become a popular class at the music academy, the rock band class, also known as “Rockology.”

Over the years the academy has gone through four names before arriving at its current one and “we’ve added and subtracted teachers.”

Currently Anderson teaches guitar, but as president of the academy he is stepping back from teaching to focus on running the place, so he looks to Carlos Tulloss to take on most of the guitar instruction now.

In addition, Allison Tulloss teaches voice and piano, but she also has knowledge of wind instruments in her back pocket that makes her more versatile, “She’s like that utility infielder.”

Despite the popularity of the classes — there are 13 bands in the Rockology class and more than 50 students taking lessons — Anderson thinks the school is still invisible to the community.

“I feel like most people in Maple Valley don’t even know we exist yet,” he said. “We don’t do much advertising. It’s mostly word of mouth.”

Anderson said the key to teaching music is not only offer the core lessons anyone needs to pick up an instrument but to allow a certain freedom that other music schools may not provide.

“We let them tell us what they want to learn,” he said. “All of our teachers know enough about music that we can do that … that we can teach anybody about anything in music.”

Another thing to point out is that while Anderson started the school as a for-profit venture he realized quickly that would not work.

“In order to do that the prices would be so high that only a handful of people could afford it,” Anderson said. “The business has grown about the same rate as my knowledge of business has grown.”

Anderson learned about the non-profit concept while the school was associated with the Rock School which has locations in Kirkland and Seattle but after a year of that he decided to try a different non-profit model on his own. And that led to another name change.

Anderson is proud of the fact that the non-profit model has allowed the school to be wide open to students of all ages and skill levels.

“If you shop around you’ll notice we have pretty low tuition,” he said. “As far as music schools go, I think we’re fairly unique. What sets us apart … is that we’re totally inclusive.”

Tuition is low because the school has sponsors every quarter that help cover the costs of classes, lessons and the Rockcitals that culminate each quarter for students in the Rockology class.

Anderson said they’re always looking for sponsors and now would be a good time for anyone interested to sign up to sponsor the next quarter.

Right now the Rockology students are preparing for their Rockcitals, which are an “inherently cooler” version of a recital a more stuffy, exclusive music school would offer because they turn into big concerts.

There are two Rockcitals scheduled for this month. There are so many bands, Anderson explained, they had to split the concert up otherwise it would have been a four hour show.

First up is a show at 6 p.m. Friday, June 26, at the Black Diamond Eagles Club and the second show is at 4:30 p.m., Saturday, June 27, at Studio 7 in Seattle. Tickets are $8 in advance and $10 at the door.

At the rate the music school is growing it may not be Maple Valley’s best kept secret much longer.