Putting fun back into learning, playing music

Learning is not fun. Nine times out of 10, the reason people quit playing an instrument is simply because they’re not having fun. Whether it’s because the songs they’re learning are boring, or because they’re only exposed to theory, unfortunately, many more people attempt to learn an instrument than those who successfully do.

Some people, specifically husband and wife team Justin and Amie Nunez, are trying to change that.

With the help of Groove House, the music education business founded by the Nunez’s, the freedom to play what students actually want to play is perfectly combined with a firm foundation in technique and theory.

“Playing music is fun,” says Justin. “Learning to play music should be just as fun.”

Groove House is the brainchild of the couple, who have been involved in music together from the moment they first met.

“I met Amie on our first day of class in the fall of 2008 at Southern,” said Justin. “We were both in the Entertainment Industry Production program and worked on a lot of projects together.”

“It didn’t take long for us to become best friends,” said Amie with a smile. “Justin proposed my last year at USM, and a few months later we were married.”

Before long, the pair began to use their musical knowledge to help others in the area through a more unconventional approach. Lessons were personalized for each and every student, and students learned what they actually wanted to learn, while at the same time, learning the fundamentals of music as they went along.

Their lessons and teaching style were a hit, but after a couple of years, the duo decided they were going to mix things up a little.

“We loved teaching on our own, but wanted to provide a more collaborative experience for growing musicians in Hattiesburg,” said Justin, “We opened our first storefront in the spring of 2016 and started hiring teachers to join our team, branding ourselves as ‘Groove House.’”

What began as freelance private music instruction to a few dozen students has grown into one of the largest avenues for learning music in Hattiesburg. More than 200 students are currently enrolled at Groove House, which offers lessons in piano/keys, voice, guitar, bass, fiddle/violin, mandolin, banjo and percussion.

“The heartbeat of Groove House is the desire to provide a personalized education for students,” said Amie. “Our instructors are incredibly versatile, and design lessons around each student's individual goals and interests.”

This desire to spread a love for music is something that has played a key role in the lives of both Justin and Amie from a very young age.

“I started playing guitar when I was pretty young,” said Justin. “and I actually decided to start teaching when I was only 14.”

“My family has always been very musical – I grew up with my dad blasting Vince Gill, Alan Jackson and Paul Simon through the stereo,” said Amie.

They have just recently seen the introduction of a new-and-improved studio for Groove House, and the change couldn’t have come at a more opportune moment, with the recent addition of a 10th instructor and enrollment at an all-time high.

 “We are so excited to be in our new building,” said Amie. “Our first location literally had five teaching studios and four parking spots for students. Our new location on Lundy Lane is a dream come true. We have 13 studios, space for performances, workshops and plenty of room to grow.”

Though the move was greatly appreciated and anticipated, the process itself required a bit of extra effort.

“We only had about three weeks to transition buildings,” said Justin. “So the whole thing took a lot of hustle on our part.”

 After experiencing so much growth, many businesses would be inclined to take it easy for a spell, but Groove House is not one of those establishments. Already, multiple plans are in the works for the years that lie ahead.

“We have a lot of students who write original music, and we hope to provide a way for them to step into a studio and record their music. One day we would love to have a recording studio in our school.”

“Maybe even eventually a space for Groove House artists – as well as touring artists – to perform. One day.” said Amie. “For now, we hope to keep growing our team and providing the most rock ‘n’ roll education that we can.”

With people like Justin and Amie Nunez around, there will always be hope for the future of the arts in our community, and in turn, the rest of the world. Even if it means starting from the ground up.

“People are just wired to be creative,” said Amie. “The arts help us feel like we are alive. It allows us to understand people from so many different walks of life, and in turn, express our own feelings and experiences.”

For more information on lessons or anything Groove House, visit groovehousemusic.com or swing by their studio at 108 Lundy Lane.