Michael Taylor’s music studio is in a small building next to his house at 501 Douglas Avenue. This year he is celebrating 40 years’ of doing business in central Illinois and Pawnee. He offers a variety of services with his focus on mentoring and one on one sessions. Mike teaches introductory/advanced guitar, ukulele, bass guitar and voice lessons as well as introductory piano, violin, banjo, mandolin, trombone, cornet, and percussion. This multidisciplinary teacher also offers songwriting, music composition, and digital recording! If you have been thinking about dipping your toes in the musical category in almost any form, here is your chance!
“I started teaching about 1982,” Michael said. “I worked in music stores, I’m a player and a composer.”
To make extra money, he started teaching, helping musicians learn to play instruments, write songs and more. “I’m usually the foundation team,” he said about recording.
When playing in bands, Michael said he usually played the guitar and bass guitar. His latest instrument is the violin. The ukulele he said is a lot like a guitar. Over the years he has worked as a DJ, played in bands, worked in music stores, then eventually decided to go into business for himself teaching.
At the peak of his teaching Michael said he had between 15-20 students. Currently he has around 10. He likes to have a total of around 15. These days he teaches three days a week, leaving the other two days’ time to run errands and do things he wants to do!
Growing up in Greenwood, Mississippi in a musical family, Michael said he picked up the guitar in high school. “Mom took me to my grandparent’s house when I was five and my uncle was setting up for a band concert. It’s their fault after I saw that, it’s all I ever wanted to do,” he said.
Following a girl from Mississippi Michael ended up in Illinois and has been here ever since. Music has been good to him. In 1988 he married his wife Jean and in 1994, they had their daughter Hannah.
Being a bass guitarist that could read music has allowed him to play in a variety of bands, but wanting a stable family life, Mike said, “I never did get into touring. I wanted a family, so it worked out. My wife worked for the state, and I took care of my daughter for the first few years of her life.”
His daughter is now out of college and on her own. Besides helping others record music, Mike has even released some music of his own. “I released my first cassette single in 1994 Hannah Baby/Papa’s Bounce – my mom even liked this one,” he said. “I released my first CD in 2000: Bounces, Ballads, Blues, and a Stomp. It is a collection of original Fingerstyle acoustic guitar compositions. My second CD was released in 2007 Born in Bluesland is a collection some of my original Blues’ compositions and a some of my favorite Classic Blues.”
Being in the music business in central Illinois has worked out well for those that Michael has mentored and for him as well. What he likes is working with people and seeing them prosper and progress. “I work with all ranges of ages, but I like youngsters to be able to read,” he added saying that this makes it easier for students to learn to read music. “I try to get people to read music. My goal is to get people to play with me. Reading music is so good for the brain. I’ve seen scans of the brain light up. Music challenges you, and it is reality. We are so involved with screens these days, music is a real thing, a release mechanism, an expression.”
Age shouldn’t be a barrier when it comes to following dreams of learning music. Michael recently had one student that started learning to play an instrument at the age of 75. One student Michael said played at his retirement party, another he said really used the sessions as music therapy, whatever the reason to come, he is glad to offer an outlet. Music, he shared offers an emotional release.
For anyone interested in reaching out to Michael, at Taylor Music, you can call him at 217-625-8362, or text him, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Michael’s “tioli” comes from his grandmother, Mary Parker Taylor, who was a folk artist. He said that once she had created some ceramic plates and a woman came to pick them up and wanted to make some changes. She wanted to tweak them and make changes. Ms. Taylor told the woman “Take it or leave it” thus “tioli” That appeared on her pottery from then on!
Being in a family of artists the gene has been passed down from generation to generation. These days Michael is enjoying working with students and helping them enhance their talents. “It’s been fun, the biggest thing is I enjoy working with people and seeing them get better and put together tunes.”