Music instructors at TJ's Music Academy
TJ, guitar/bass/banjo/music theory
Loretta Daniluk, piano & voice
Rita Shennum, violin and cello
John Tumbill, drums
Daniel Koon, drums
Jeff Jackson, brass & woodwinds & hand drums(percussion)
Robert Shelton, woodwinds
Scott Allen, guitar & bass
Jonathan Anderson, guitar, bass, mandolin & woodwinds
"He's my guitar sensei," student Rodney Riggins said simply, explaining the impact Jones has had on his skill development. That thought is echoed far and wide among his vast following. "My true passion is giving the gift of music to others," said Jones.
Jones is one of the fortunate who discovered what they were meant to do early in life. The New Jersey native began playing guitar when he was six-years-old, and at age 13 he was studying under Harry Leahey, a top jazz session guitarist. By 15, he was giving lessons and playing in NYC restaurants and clubs. He also studied at Juilliard and Berklee before going out on tour for many years with internationally renowned bands.
Eventually, he landed in Atlanta. In his 30s he began losing his eyesight to macular degeneration. He adapted charting a new course when he began teaching again.
Jones has taught in the Conyers/Covington area for 19 years and has assembled an impressive squad of fellow musicians along the way, all educated at top schools and many also working in the local public school system. Together, they're able to offer lessons covering a wide range of musical instruments and styles from drums to piano to saxophone to violin and everything in between.
Jones is also around all day, opening at 9 a.m. providing slots for many home-schooled children, mothers and retirees. To allow parents to maximize their time while waiting, TJ's provides a cozy area with free Wi-Fi.
TJ's also sells, rents and repairs instruments, with 100 percent of proceeds from instrument rentals going towards purchase for school band instruments. He also brings invaluable advice to equipment selection. He said he believes strongly in the importance of having quality instruments at sensible prices to allow students to reach their full potential. As Jones put it, "Why would you buy your instrument at the same place you buy your underwear?"
David McCoy, a News columnist and another devoted student, sings his praises. "Many musicians are smart in their craft but don't know how to effectively communicate that knowledge to give their students context," he said. Jones, on the other hand, brings homes the lessons in many ways, including relatable analogies.
McCoy described one of his favorite "TJ-isms" about leaving notes out of a chord. "Take a girl at the beach; she has on a bikini, hat and sandals. She can take off two of those things, but there's one article of clothing that had better be there at all times. It's the same with certain notes in a chord. Drop the wrong one and you'll get in a lot of trouble," he said.
All in all, Jones said he loves "teaching people to see the light of music."
For more information, call TJ's at 770-922-3339. The store is located at 3030 Edwards Drive in Conyers, just off Flat Shoals Rd. behind Salem Rd.