Pump up the volume

Jimmy Stadler and his Taos Academy students get ready to rock the holidays


Taos roots our youth – and gives them wings to fly. So it makes perfect sense that rocker Jimmy Stadler teaches music at Taos Academy. In addition to teaching students the academics of music, Stadler’s curriculum gives them the practical experience of what it’s like to be a working musician. After weeks of practice, four groups of students get to strut their knowledge and their talents on stage.

On Saturday (Dec. 16), all are welcome to attend “The Taos Academy Charter School’s Holiday Music Show.” Presented by Jimmy Stadler, the rocking evening will take place at the KTAOS Solar Center, 9 State Road 150, north of El Prado. The all-ages show begins at 6 p.m. There is no cover charge, but donations are appreciated.

The Taos Academy bands are: Jimmy’s Daycare, Messingschlager, This Time Again and Easily Distracted. It’s not an evening of holiday music, but pure rock ‘n’ roll.

Tempo asked Stadler what it’s like to teach music. “It’s controlled chaos,” he said. “A music class is not like a math class. “They all have instruments and are discovering new things. They are turning volume knobs up and the they are getting really loud.”

The class Stadler has been teaching for years is Music Application. “I don’t know if I’ll ever change it,” he said. “We learn music theory, scales, chordal knowledge/ recognition, and number charts. Every class is different every seven weeks. Last quarter we had a cellist playing the contemporary music of White Stripes.”

Based on previous years, the KTAOS pavilion gets packed for this student music show. “The bands number 40-plus students – so when you take into account all of the family members, other students, and other supporters, it’s pretty wild,” Stadler said.

He explains that these shows are not only a good experience but create beautiful, memorable moments for the youth. For example, some students realize that performing music in front of a live audience is what they really love. While others make the conscious choice not to pursue a music career – after experiencing being in the limelight in front of 200 people.

Stadler’s syllabus calls for four shows a year. “Everybody makes progress,” he said. “Somehow after seven weeks we’re pretty much ready to go. Every seven weeks is when I have a new class. I start up again in January.”

Stadler expresses deep gratitude for all the generous donations people give at the show’s door. Those donated monies go toward myriad needs such as practice pads, music stands, guitar cables and strings. “We go through a lot of guitar strings,” he points out.

KTAOS general manager Dave Darus donates the performance space and the sound. This is notable as the KTAOS Solar Center stage is home to large acts, including those with an international footprint.

At Taos Academy, some of the donated funds have been used to set up a dedicated music room. “Twice a week I have to set up and tear down all the gear: six mikes and stands, four electronic keyboards, six electric guitar amps, and put them in a corner because I share my room with other teachers. But now starting January I’m going to have my own music room after seven years. There’s a Baldwin grand piano already in the new room.”

There are many musicians in Taos. But it’s not “what” you do in life that defines a career, it is “how” you do it. Indeed, Stadler was recently named a 2017 Unsung Hero. He is well-known for being an active performer on the music scene and for being a highly dedicated teacher and community member. He regularly attends the Taos Living Center to conduct sing-alongs with its elderly residents.

About his students Stadler said, “They experience what I experience. That’s my job: to give them a taste of what it’s like to be in a band, to work up songs, to present them to the public and to promote the show with fliers. Also, I teach them about getting along in a band and about patience.”