We had the good fortune of connecting with Allen Juneau and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Allen, what principle do you value most?
I value authenticity in my artistic practice. By leaning into all of the quirks and personality traits that make who I am, I believe that’s a solid foundation for being in quality relationship with myself, friends, clients, and colleagues alike. Especially as someone who teaches piano, it’s important to me to model authenticity to my piano students so that they feel empowered to realize their unique, creative potential as artists.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
In 2021, I started my music studio, Cadenza Sound Salon. The bulk of my business focus at the moment is in teaching piano to students of all ages, both in-person and on Zoom, with an emphasis on R&B piano and gospel piano. I am proud to be positioned to support my students in developing the momentum, fluency, and creativity that they need to play such creative subgenres of Black music. I get joy encouraging and motivating my private students to action and accountability. Before taking on someone as a student, I make it a point to give a complimentary lesson for us to learn more about each other. I am so tickled when people’s mouths are aghast that they can grasp the bulk of a few Alicia Keys songs on piano within a 30 minute piano lesson. As someone with both perfect pitch and a strong understanding of music theory, I pride myself on being able to intuit the skill gaps holding my students back from their musical goals, and being able to create custom exercises made with their specific strengths and weaknesses in mind. Much different than learning how to play a single song from a YouTube video or a book. I hold a “teach a person to fish” mentality and coach students in the evergreen concepts and patterns that will serve them to play any R&B song they want on piano, and to even create their own songs.
Almost a year into my studio, I’m currently have a few online piano courses set to be released by year-end. Geared towards folks that want to become versatile pianists but aren’t positioned to dedicate either the financial or time resources to private piano lessons, these online R&B piano lessons will be available to all, regardless of one’s schedule. With some lessons geared towards the individual who can’t even play chopsticks, to the person who used to take piano lessons as a child and wants to return to piano as adult – anyone can learn R&B piano, and I’m excited to be so close to supporting both private lessons and asynchronous online lessons!
Nurturing a music studio while also having a full-time job has not been for the faint of heart, but the payoff is more than worth it.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
We’re definitely going to the Downtown Des Moines Farmers Market in the morning. It’s considered by some national surveys to be the 2nd best farmers market in the country. There’s so many sellers of produce, wines, wares, but bring your appetite – you can eat anything from gumbo to jerk chicken to pupusas, to breakfast fried rice.
That evening, a stop at Up-Down in the East Village is a must. 25 cent arcade games, drinks, and pizza? Absolutely.
Another thing I love about Des Moines is the parks. If you like art, I’d recommend the Sculpture Park downtown. I’m partial to Greenwood Park and Gray’s Lake myself. Fishing, kayaking, biking, just sitting and enjoying the view are all lovely options.
I don’t think you can say you’ve been to Des Moines unless you’ve had breakfast at Waveland Cafe. It gets crowded fast no matter the day of the week, but it’s hearty portions, and just wholesome, cozy, Midwestern charm, I think.
For entertainment to round out the itinerary, getting a drink at xBk is a must. Black, queer owned venue with lots of great national and indie music and comedy acts that come through.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Shoutout to my city of Des Moines, IA – especially Pyramid Theatre Company, xBk, and Bethel AME Church! As if by serendipity, I arrived here for a job after I finished undergrad. Since I’ve been here, I’m grateful for the artistic community I’ve been able to be a part of, and the opportunities to develop strengths as an artist, and even to get out of my comfort zone to try something new. In the five years I’ve lived here, I’ve spent time with the homies on TV, music festivals, musicals, and more recently receiving support as I’ve journeyed into nurturing my music studio. Don’t sleep on DSM!
Meanz Chan Jo Allen Samm Yu