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Meet Michael Manson of Musical Arts Institiute in South Side

Today we’d like to introduce you to Michael Manson.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Michael. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
The Musical Arts Institute is seven years old and founded on the principal that all children,regardless of social economic challenges have the ability to express themselves artistically and achieve greatness through music. The Musical Arts Institute was incorporated January, 2010. I’m the founder and Executive Director and a professional bassist and recording artist. In addition to being music educator, I enjoyed 35 years of career success with artists such as George Duke, Al Jareau, Kirk Whallum and many Jazz and gospel artist, I did feel a need to give back to his Chicago home where role models were not accessible for many of our youth.

Working together with mywife co-founder and Co-Executive Director, Lana Manson, we organized an amazing team of professional musicians/educators to provide outstanding music instruction in Chicago’s under served areas.

The Musical Arts Institute (MAI) was established on the south side of Chicago as a “safe haven” and music training site for young musicians in low-income, high crime areas Over the last seven years, MAI has grown into a premier learning center that provides private instruction, group lessons and career readiness skills in a region now labeled as the ‘artistic desert’ of Chicago (Ingenuity, Incorporate, 2014). The Institute’s principle office, located in an extremely high crime area, remains a light house for students where they receive specialized mentoring and guidance impact.

Lana and I, both graduates of Northwestern University School of Music, set out to create an organization that not only provides access for youth to experience high quality, culturally enriching music instruction and performance opportunities, but also prepares participants for sustainable careers in music. Chicago has historically been a cultural hub for the development of world-class musical talent. Many of the world’s most gifted musical artists began careers in Chicago. At the root of this development of great talent, was the critical resource of committed music education professionals combined with the commitment of Chicago Public Schools in making sure that students received an education that included the arts. However, the tradition of having strong music programs has been dismantled in public inner-city schools. After the closing of 49 Chicago Public Schools, all on the south side (the largest school closing in national history), the founders of MAI developed an off-site curriculum designed to help bridge the learning gaps left by funding cuts.

While we know that our expectations are high and we continuously monitor our students to ensure the best indicators for success. We know that we are literally changing lives of our 425 students. Making an impact on the lives of our students and families is what we are all about. Lana and I had instructors that changed our lives, therefore, we want to be reciprocal and do it for others.

Has it been a smooth road?
No. It has not been a smooth road. However, we feel fortunate, in that we have great staff (teaching artist), administrators and board of directors. There were time and still there are times, where we wonder if we are going to make it financially but we always seem to pull through and make it. So, even now that we are going through growing pains, we still feel blessed to be able to our community with high quality music instruction.

We’d love to hear more about your business.
We offer high quality music instruction,both group classes and individual (private) classes. We specialize in equipping our students with the techniques and ability to express themselves in music, so that they can be prepared for collegiate music study or a successful music career. We are proud that 100 percent of our students that graduate out of our music program go on to college and study music on either a full or partial music scholarships. We are equally proud of our community string orchestra, and jazz band that perform in our immediate community, to showcase the quality of music that can be achieved. In addition, we are proud that our student compete and win contests (both national and regional) that again, showcases the level of musicianship that is achieved at the Musical Arts Institute. The thing that sets apart from other schools like ours is that we push our students to achieve, we have high expectations of our students, we evaluate our students to measure achievement, we care about our students personally and are invested in there success.

Is our city a good place to do what you do?
Chicago is a prime city for the Musical Arts Institute, in that Chicago is specifically rich in Arts, Culture, and Music. In addition, music in Chicago is done at a high technical and artistic level, that a school like MAI teaches our students to be artistic leaders for the country in regards to music. Chicago is a great place to begin a business, specifically an arts based business, in that, there is a lot of city government grants and assistance available to arts based business. Also, private philanthropy is alive and well in Chicago.


  • We provide private instruction on all musical instruments,including voice, piano, all orchestra and band instruments for $30.00 per lesson.

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