“Flat 5 Music Studios” started off as a dream, which later turned into reality. As a young boy, Fred Barrera dreamt of playing metal music like some of his musical idols. His business partner, Jonathan Arias, had a dream of producing Jazz infused sounds. Unfortunately for both, Laredo studios largely focused on classical music, and they did not have the ability to teach those styles of music. This led Barrera and Arias to teach themselves through any means possible; Barrera went as far as asking another musician, playing metal at Hermes Music, to teach him.
Today, Flat 5 Music Studios provides inspiring musicians or musical lovers an alternative to teaching themselves through informal means such as YouTube. Whether you are barely picking up your first instrument or have years of practice, Flat 5 provides an opportunity for young metal heads and jazz lovers to learn to play what they wish and further their musical knowledge. “Flat 5 Music Studios is musical education that caters to the customer, as opposed to before when you had to learn Mozart and didn’t have a say” Arias explained. As someone who wanted to play Jazz, Arias agrees that the foundations within classical music are important, but there are alternative methods to gaining the same knowledge.
This is visible through their ability to use their own musical knowledge to educate their students. What make Flat 5 Music Studios different is its rock core, and their ability to incorporate that into different musical styles. Posters of famous bands and artists from Jimi Hendrix, Atreyu, KISS, and even local artists cover the walls. Racks full of Guitar World and other musical magazines entertain guests as they enter the teal shaded walls and sit on the leather couch waiting to be received. Through their musical displays, their instruments, and staff members—this studio oozes rock. However, Barrera and Arias are happily willing to learn and teach other genres of music. Flat 5 Music Studios provides a music haven where students can learn any style of music: classical, country, rock, and even techno.
Barrera has been teaching for over 10 years; his musical knowledge credited to Elmo Lopez Music Company, where he met Arias. Arias worked at Elmo Lopez for approximately 4 years on the retail aspect of the store. This allowed Arias to gain his knowledge of instruments and their components. Today, Barrera and Arias work in unison as owners of Flat 5 Music Studios, where they teach students how to play the piano, guitar, and drums, among other instruments and vocals. Barrera and Arias go the extra mile to teach their students, by deviating from traditional methods. This is not to say that they don’t teach their students basic techniques, such as reading music. However, when students want to learn a certain song or rhythm, they will learn the song and teach it to their students part by part. “The goal is to essentially be able to read music fluently, but sometimes the music doesn’t lend itself to it,” Arias explained. He adds sometimes if it’s too advanced, it is easier for him to teach how to count rhythms, and then later worry about reading. In addition to this, they also discuss the theory and background of the song, in order to further their student’s musical knowledge.
Flat 5 Music Studios gives musicians other opportunities to make their own choices and how their lessons fit into their lifestyle. To help accommodate music lessons into busy family schedules, Flat 5 Studios does not operate under contract, like other Laredo studios. This allows parents and students the liberty to work at their own pace and take off time when necessary. Their primary focus is to meet the customer’s needs, and this gives them the liberty to decide their own schedule. Registration is open to the public at any time, whether it is the beginning or the middle of the month. The ability of Barrera and Arias to listen to the needs of their students makes for a more successful business and for students to give their best.This hard work and dedication has paid off with a number of students that have stepped out of their studio with superior musical knowledge and talent. Barrera often has previous students stopping him to share their current endeavors. For example, Arias and Barrera taught ‘Volatile Colour,’ a Laredo band, who recently released their full-length professionally recorded album and music video. ‘Volatile Colour’ is a prime example, of the capacity that Flat 5 Music Studios has to offer to future and current students.