[Virginia Zak] works now as the keyboard teacher at Southern California's fastest-growing arts school--an institution where Bach and Muddy Waters sit together comfortably on the shelf. Since its opening in 1998, the Fender Museum has offered lessons in guitar, piano and more for kids, ages 7 to 17, who not only want to rock but also want to learn the tricks of the trade. Apart from its guitar and piano lessons, the museum is also assembling a technical program for aspiring producers. As more classrooms open up, rock 'n' roll may be joined by dance, theater and world music.
When Fender Corp., along with the city of Corona, sponsored the opening of the Fender, it filled a void in local education. "There were only three music teachers for 18,000 students in the Corona- Norco Unified School District, in our immediate service area," says Paulyne Becerra, the museum's director of development. "So once we started the program, it became more evident that there was a huge need for it."
In its first summer, the Fender started small, with guitar, piano and drum lessons for 209 students. Two years later, construction began on a larger site while the classrooms shifted to a private house owned by the city. Last month, the museum unveiled its new home: a 33,000-square foot facility with classic guitars and memorabilia on the ground level and classes and studios upstairs.