I left my band "Jojo Pepper" to focus on my loving, beautiful wife Maria and two young children. I tried to work a "real" job and still actually spend some amount of time with them. The year was 1999 and it was tough. No music was played. There was no time. I was resigned to a life of work, sleep and more work. There was hope growing up in my own house though. It was like God telling me, "here's why I gave you this gift stupid." I really almost missed it.
I did not bank on the musical talent of my two kids. I bought some instruments and started teaching my new "band," a seven year old son (Joseph) and a nine year old daughter (Laura). Jojo played the drums and Laura the bass and guitar. We called ourselves "Smash Radio." Well, they turned out to be way more talented than their father. Laura started writing songs in 5th grade. They rocked like genetic mutants. We played a couple talent shows at the Lovettsville Elementary School and the townfolk got pretty excited for us. A few parents asked me to teach their kids and I said, "OK, I'll give it a shot."
Make no mistake, I am here today because the community of Lovettsville supported me and I will never forget that. I thank my Lord, my family and my town for the wonderful life I've been given. The ones that asked me to teach their kids changed my life and allowed me to do what I love. The town graces me by making my Fall Concert a part of the Annual Oktoberfest. I have had 2 concerts a year since 2005 and they have become great cultural events for area youth and their families. I even accepted an invitation to bring my "Immortals" to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, OH after playing some music for the personnel there. In the words of Jason Hanley, the Education Department Manager of the Rock Hall, "I've never heard anything like that on this stage and it's kids!, I can not believe it." The staff made the kids lifetime members of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and they have a standing invitation to play ANY TIME. I just showed these kids why I love music and they responded and took me along for the ride. It is amazing.
I reached out to this community of Lovettsville in search of support and they stood with me like they'd known me all their lives. What I have 6 years later is like a fantasy. My students have progressed farther than anyone could have dreamed. My bands play at the local Lovettsville Pizza and Subs on the deck in the summer. It's becoming quite the tradition and I bet it will snowball into something great down the road..too many folks are showing up. I'm also sending kids to music schools, watching them get accepted to top colleges, and aching deep in my heart when they go. But I know they'll keep coming and I know they'll make a difference in this world. My students are motivated, they are talented and they amaze me every week. I love my job.
When I get my two children together now (at 15 and 17), I can't contain my joy that my first two students still love it so much and have progressed to such a high level. They are not entirely unique though. Very few of my students have ever quit which is why it's so hard to get kids in here now. Once a student comes through my studio door I make a committment to them and they to me. I will stand by each of them to get them where they want to be and I will never, ever give up on them. I will be here teaching, rocking, mentoring and loving it, for years to come.
Update...2013...The Immortals just got back from Cleveland where they changed lives teaching inner city kids. They gave people better days by playing incredible concerts at The Cleveland Heights Youth Club, The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Curiosity's Cafe. The business is successful beyond my wildest dreams. I have less bands than in the past. I now demand a much higher standard of practice and dedication in order to be selected for a group. The kids are AWESOME. Practice and improvement are definitely UP. My recital 2 weeks ago was the best EVER.
Every day is a new joy for me and it just gets better and better. My son Joseph is now 17 and the best drummer I've ever seen. My daughter is 20 and is a music major at Binghamton University. She has declared her music major and is doing very well. I don't think I'll ever stop loving this job or what it bring sot me the kids and the community.
Update 10/6/14: Wow!! This place is insane. This is my first year without a Keim child in the business. I have not lost my motivation; quite the opposite. I find myself better equipped as a 45 year old to do this job than I was at 35! The kids in the bands are extremely capable and the Immortals are now able to play anything from Led Zeppelin to jazz standards, latin music and all the top songs by anybody. I have Miss Pam in here teaching too, it's just a great supporttive community of people I simply LOVE having in my life. I can not thank the Lord enough for these incredible blessings.
Please contact me so I can pass the joy of music to your children!