Today we’d like to introduce you to Aja Faasse.
Aja, before we jump into specific questions, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I started my music studio in 2006 on an old piano someone gave me, even though I had been studying music since I was seven I never dreamed I would open my own studio one day. I remember when I came over as a kid with my little brothers on a greyhound bus to see the ocean for the very first time, we drove past “Aja Rugs” in La Jolla, my dad said to me “One day you will have a shop here with your name on it little Aja!”
I was about 11, I saved the business card and looked at it every day in my Michigan bedroom. I had never seen anything with my name on it before. Fast forward to 2015, and there I was standing in front of this huge “Aja Lee Music Studios” sign right int he heart of La Jolla Village, down the street from that very rug shop. I now have expanded to a beautiful studio at my home space where it is nice and quiet with a fountain in the garden where I teach painting (this passion began at three even before I could play music) outside and guitar, ukulele, Voice, Piano, Songwriting and Recording inside.
I truly have found one of my great passions in life, besides creating, teaching is the absolute most amazing feeling to me, to see the look on a students face when I know they are having the same breakthrough or realization about music or art that I have had, and to be able to spend my life and my time giving this gift over and over makes me happy to be alive.
At this point I have had students go on to do many great things in music, my first student ever went on to be inducted into the Carnegie Youth and others have gone on to start a music career at places like USC. With my after school student schedule in full swing, I am also able to teach adults throughout the day and am Home school Certified with Charter Inspired Schools, which means you can take lessons through my studio and the charter school will fund it, this is really cool for me and for the families I work with as I get to teach kids from all over the county now.
Seven years ago, I also extended my services to San Diegos oldest school The SD Center for Children, where I volunteer-teach a vocal class to the older at-risk teens as a way to build confidence, real skills, and connect, before they turn 18 and are set out on their own. It’s hard to describe the magic and the joy I get to share with these kids in class, but it is something that has and continues to change and shape my life every day. This year, my private lessons students joined in the opportunity to give back as well and have now generously started to donate their extra lessons to help support me in being able to continue!
My students are so important to me, they make me laugh and learn and see the world through their eyes, parents describe my studio as “therapeutic”, and this makes me so happy because when I set out to create my studio it was for so much more than just a quick lesson or a simple service, it was to use music as a catalyst for all the beautiful lessons in life, to use it as a language to help others express and learn in a different way than we do in school, to help others find their own voice and go on to do great things with that voice.
As Einstein so brilliantly put it, “Creativity is intelligence having fun.”
As I put it, when the mind is at rest, when the soul feels safe, when the student is not being judged on what they don’t know yet, the magic of creating begins… and anything is now possible.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Oh boy, no it has not been an easy road 😉 I drove out to San Diego from Michigan (takes about four days) as a brand new 18-year-old in my little red Pontic Convertable, I had a guitar and a dream, to live by the ocean and perform my music somewhere warm and lovely.
I had basically nothing and knew no-one, Back then you could start working at age 15 in Michigan, and I had saved up to get my car by walking to work every day, even in the heavy snow, once I got to SD and found an apt and a job I remember I had exactly $20 left before I got my next paycheck! The landlord looked nervous as I handed him my traveler’s checks (remember those!) but he, and many others since then, had a good feeling about me, and that’s what it took for me back then, just some good-hearted people who were willing to go outside the lines a little for me. I’ll never forget all the people who helped me out in so many little and big ways; it’s the reason I always stayed in this community, it is my family and my home now. After all this, it took me about five years to get things together to open my first studio in La Jolla, and since then, I have had six different studios as things grew and evolved.
Please tell us more about your work. What do you do? What do you specialize in? What sets you apart from competition?
In my music studio, I teach Guitar, Piano, Ukulele, Vocal Coaching, Songwriting, and recording. At my art studio, I teach how to paint in acrylic and oil to all levels, therapeutic painting, and how to make your own organic paint from natural pigments and walnut oil.
I love teaching each subject the same, but I would say I specialize in vocal coaching since that is a little trickier and challenging for the student and I love that I am able to build a connection that helps them with their own breakthroughs on finding and loving their own voice for life.
I am most proud to be open since 2006, that’s a long time for a new company that’s run by one person, in a town where you see businesses go up and down like clockwork!
What sets me apart is that I interview for my students because it ends up being a long-term relationship between serval years and life-long. I am only word of mouth and I don’t advertise because I am looking for quality students, not quantity. At my studio it will be a real connection, where we all go to events together, I go to my students classrooms and help them with projects to raise money for the local schools, I have tea and lunches with my adults students, and we plan and talk about how to make the community better, this IS my life not just—half-hour of it.
What has been the proudest moment of your career so far?
Wow, I can’t even pick one, some cool ones have been watching students get up on stage and seeing their parents just crying because it’s so amazing, performing a song that one of my at-risk teens wrote and seeing the pride in his eyes to be acknowledged when he got a standing ovation, or when I had a massive party with everyone in the community for the opening of my first commercial space studio over in the village in 2015, that was super fun.
I will be recording my new album at the end of February and it will be added to all my music that is on Itunes Pandora Spotify YouTube under Aja Lee 🙂 I also have a super fun blog on life travel art music and healthy recipes on ajalee.com.
- Website: AjaLee.com
- Phone: 8586927432
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ajaleemusic/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AjaFaasse
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/AjaLeeMusic
- Yelp: https://www.instagram.com/ajaleeajart/
- Other: https://www.instagram.com/ajaleeprivatemusicstudio/
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