CalArts Alumni Magazine

A little musical world on Larchmont Boulevard.

David Rhodes, founder of Rhodes School of Music, which is located in Larchmont Village, Los Angeles
David Rhodes, founder of Rhodes School of Music, which is located in Larchmont Village, Los Angeles

For centuries there’s been symbiosis between art making and teaching. It not only provides a source of income for artists, but also a way to refine their skills and connect with a new generation of makers. Today that tradition lives on, and there’s hardly a better example than Rhodes School of Music founder, David Rhodes (Music MFA 12, Music BFA 10).

The school has quickly grown into a bustling hub for music lessons in Larchmont Village and Los Angeles at large. It began out of necessity. Rhodes remembers, “I was driving all over the city to teach, and I wanted to open a small studio for myself, in which to teach, practice, and compose.” That studio was a success until a rent increase forced Rhodes to rethink. “I had to figure out how to make it work—a second teaching studio was added, and suddenly Rhodes School of Music was born!”

Although he didn’t set out to run a full-fledged music school, that’s exactly what it has become. Now, seven years later, the school has 35 teachers and more than 500 students enrolled. “Because of the popularity of the location and the excellence of the teachers,” he says, “we grew really fast, and I wanted to provide space and lessons for everyone interested in learning music.”

David Rhodes didn’t set out to run a full-fledged music school, but that’s exactly what it has become, with 35 teachers and more than 500 students enrolled.

Rhodes is beloved by the school’s community and staff alike, in part because he understands the realities faced by working musicians, and because he cares. “As the school grew,” he admits, “I had to learn how to run a business in order to ensure that the school would thrive and that the teachers and front desk staff had full schedules and reliable incomes.” The teachers took note. “I’m not sure where I’d be without the Rhodes School,” acknowledges guitar teacher and CalArts alum, Steven van Betten (Music BFA 14). “It allows me to chase my musical goals while working at a place I love and care about.”

Rhodes has cultivated a growing community. “The waiting room is the most important room in the school,” he says, smiling. “It fosters so much community, sharing of ideas, connecting kids and families—creating a little musical world on Larchmont Boulevard.”

Rhodes has also tapped the CalArts community, employing more than 60 alumnx so far. He knew that CalArts would be a great “filter” for finding the right teachers because “CalArtians readily share the vision and vibe of the school. In addition, their training at the Institute prepares them to thrive in a teaching environment. They know how to work with people and help students with any genre of music.”

The future of the school is bright, and Rhodes couldn’t be happier. “The school gives me an outlet for my skills, but what I didn’t realize when I started, was that it would also enhance the surrounding community. Helping to create a community of musical families and teachers has been very gratifying.”