Rising stars: Musical aspirations matched with inspiration

August, 2017 Posted in Community

By Mary Owen

You were born to shine!Risiing Star Studio 2 Keith and Kara Blocker

That’s what Keith and Kara Blocker believe. To realize a decade-long dream of helping people of all ages hone their musical talents, the Stayton couple opened Rising Star Studios at 220 E. Ida St. in August of 2014.

“Keith started singing at a very young age,” Kara Blocker said. “It was obvious he was born with a gift. Stayton Middle School’s Solveig Holmquist noticed, and brought him wonderful opportunities, including traveling with the Oregon Festivale Chorale to Europe to sing the counter-tenor solo in the Chitchester Psalms. He also sang in the choir at Stayton United Methodist Church for
10 years.”

Kara was also an early blossoming musician, taking quickly to the piano, making it the major focus in her life.
She has taught and played for many
years since.

Keith and Kara met on Christian Mingle four years ago on the Fourth of July, and Kara said, “There were fireworks!” Kara moved to Stayton when they got married just six weeks later.

“Now our gifts are combined,” said Kara, who recognized “brilliant, young musicians with a love of people, who needed help with the business end of private music teaching.

“I love playing the piano and singing, and I love coaching students,” she said. “But my favorite thing to do in the whole, wide world is to watch someone shine in doing what they were born to do. So I love helping these young music teachers get to do what they love.”

After 23 years of working at the Stayton Safeway, Keith acquired skills to run the administrative end of the business. He tracks appointments for all of the teachers and students, does the scheduling, and as Kara noted “the re-scheduling and re-scheduling.”

“We like to be flexible to work around sports, sickness and family vacations and our teachers’ musical performances,” she said.

The musical duo currently offers lessons in musical theater, songwriting, music theory, voice, piano, guitar, ukulele, drums, violin and cello.

“We hope to expand our strings department to include viola and bass and an orchestra,” Kara said. “We plan to offer Broadway musicals, talent shows and garage bands.

“We also have exciting plans for encouraging our students to practice outside of lessons, the brainchild of a 30-year piano teacher who wanted to use creative ideas to adapt to the way life is now,” she added. “We don’t do life the way we did in the ‘50s, so we need to adapt the way we teach private music lessons.”

The couple tells their teachers to “follow the light in their eyes.”

“When we see their eyes light up, we know they’re on the fast track to learning and creating music,” Kara said. “It’s our job to find their inspiration. Funny thing is, when the student is inspired, I get to see the joy in the young teacher’s eyes. And that’s what brings a spark to
my life.”

Keith said he loves sitting at his desk and “watching the happy, smiling faces of our students coming for their lessons.”

“My pure joy is that moment when I receive a text saying, ‘I would like to sign up for lessons,’” he said.

Starting small and growing through word of mouth and the Stayton Community Connections page on Facebook, Rising Star Studios now has 85 weekly students. Most come from the Stayton area, but some from as far away as Albany, Keizer, Wilsonville and Molalla.

Rising Star Studios also offers video lessons for piano and voice, and several teachers offer home lessons. Prices vary by location and teacher, and 30-minute lessons range from $15 to $25. Depending on the interest of students, recitals are typically held several times a year to showcase student talent.

“We follow the interest of the public,” said Keith on Rising Star events. “Kara is currently having a conversation on the Facebook page about what programs the public would like us to offer. We are talking about starting a girl’s chorus and adult choir.”

In July, STOMP! Camp took place – a week of rhythm and percussion lessons with choreographed movement using hands and fee and ordinary objects to create a unique type of music.

“If you’re the kid who loves to click your pen, drums on your desk, or always has to keep moving, this is the camp for you,” according to website information on the event.

“Stayton has been so good to us!” Kara said. “We feel like we are a perfect fit for this town. It’s home!”

For information, text Kara at
971-304-4255 or visit
risingstarstudios.net.

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