How We Started

Musical Understanding thru Sound Education

M.U.S.E. was started in 1986 in the San Francisco Bay Area by Bryant Allard and partner Pete Lewis. Bryant and Pete saw a great need in the private schools for instrumental band programs. However, most private schools could not afford to hire a band director on their staff. M.U.S.E. approached administrators with a no cost program to the schools; the tuition would be paid for by the individuals who are participating in the program. With a minimal amount of advertisement, M.U.S.E. quickly expanded its band programs throughout many of the Bay Areas schools by word of mouth based on its’ reputation.

After Pete Lewis’s departure from the company in 1989, Bryant continued to expand the program in the Bay Area. In 1992 Bryant, his wife Teri, and daughter Cameron, decided to move to the Northwest to Portland, Oregon. Bryant continued to expand the M.U.S.E. Program into the Portland metropolitan area as he maintained and expanded his business in the Bay area. M.U.S.E. has grown over the years to include 40 schools in two states (California and Oregon). M.U.S.E has also reached out into the public schools and is currently in 10 schools in the Portland and Beaverton School Districts.

Over the years, Bryant has been very successful in developing a specialized curriculum for his program. “Because our program sends teachers out to the schools once or twice a week, we needed to design a curriculum that fit this type of a schedule,” says Bryant. “We don’t have the luxury of having band 3-5 days a week like some of the public schools offer.” Bryant has created method books and many fun original songs and arrangements of popular themes that students enjoy to play and keeps the students  interested in practicing at home.

In 1996, M.U.S.E. reached out farther into the community, offering a Saturday Morning Jazz Workshop for students in the public and private schools. In January of 2000, M.U.S.E. was contracted through the Jazz Society of Oregon and the Smithsonian Institute to offer jazz workshops for students in the Portland area. Professional musicians who work in the local community are invited to these workshops as guest speakers and perform alongside the students. “It is important to give back to the community,” says Bryant. “By exposing these kids to professional players who are out there doing it in the real world, we are giving these kids an opportunity to get excited about music and, in turn, become successful at what they love to do, PLAY MUSIC! “ As a matter of fact the now famous Esperanza Spalding was 13 years old when she attended our Smithsonian Jazz Workshop and had not yet played the bass. With the encouragement of one of my faculty members, she tried the bass for the first time in her life and LOVED it. She now tours worldwide and has become one of the most celebrated artists in America. Bryant continues to offer workshops both in the San Francisco bay area and Portland.

In the fall of 2002, M.U.S.E. teamed up with Ben and Michelle Medler to offer middle and high school students an opportunity to work on their jazz skills through P.Y.J.O. (The Portland Youth Jazz Orchestra). Ben and Michelle currently run many different big bands (all different levels) which perform at many different venues in the Portland area. They continue to this day.

Bryant also runs a 17 piece Jazz Band for adults on Thursday nights. The group is called The Portland Woodshed Jazz orchestra and performs three or four times during the year. Here is a link for more info on the band. Link

In the bay area we do many fun events for the students including performing at Christmas at Ghirardelli Square, the St. Patricks Day Parade in San Francisco, our annual winter and spring multi-school concerts, our annual Solo & Ensemble Festival, and the M.U.S.E. Honor Band at Great America Amusement Park. 

In Portland, band students can participate in parades (The Portland Junior Rose Parade and the St. John’s Parade), our annual winter and spring band multi-school concerts, our solo and ensemble festival, and summer camps which include Band Camp, Jazz Camp, and Guitar/Ukulele Camp

Starting the fall of 2018, M.U.S.E. is expanding its program to include Guitar/Ukulele classes and Piano classes. M.U.S.E. is running as strong as ever and will continue to do it’s share in the community to offer instrumental music and to give these young students a chance at learning an instrument in an ensemble setting.

For more about the Director of M.U.S.E.  Bryant Allard Click here.

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