They established Queen Bee Music Association a long, long, long time ago — in 2019.
Husband-and-wife team Lindsay Taylor and Brian Nelson launched their school to teach people to play ukulele, guitar and fiddle in two leased classrooms at Desert Academy.
Then the pandemic came along. Queen Bee shifted to virtual and private lessons until June this year. By then, Desert Academy had shut down.
Taylor and Nelson started weekly kid singalongs for ages 5 and younger each Wednesday at the Railyard Park in June and added kid singalongs at the Southside Branch Library in September. Plus there was a four-week summer camp in July and August at Desert Montessori School.
But Queen Bee Music Association needed its own home.
“We were looking for a space ever since we returned to in-person classes in June,” said Taylor, who is executive director. “It was difficult to find space for a group of people to come in.”
Phase One Realty in October acquired the Aspen Plaza building and neighboring Plaza de Comercio on Pacheco Street. Aspen Plaza, 1596 Pacheco, is a two-story office building with a few state offices, 40 percent vacancy and a vacant basement.
Phase One and Queen Bee found each other.
“They are a really good group,” Phase One associate broker Aaron Romero said about the Queen Bee couple. “They needed a spot to land in and we had a spot for them to land. We want to renovate the building.”
“We are part of the face-lift,” said Nelson, Queen Bee’s artistic director.
Queen Bee leased the 1,440-square-foot basement.
“We took instruments down there — drums, guitars, ‘boom whackers’ — to do a sound test to make sure no sound bleeds to upstairs,” Taylor said.
Classes start Jan. 3 from 4 to 6 p.m. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday for children ages 5 to 16, and for adults from 6 to 8 p.m. Queen Bee has three classrooms.
Taylor and Nelson are starting with four teachers and 10-week sessions with instruction in ukulele, guitar and percussion. Cost is $20 per class and registration is through queenbeemusicassociation.org.
“By the end of [next] year, we want to add teachers in banjo and mandolin,” Taylor said.
They also plan to have an adult folk ensemble.
“Anybody who plays any instrument is able to come,” Taylor said.
Queen Bee is fundraising for $5,000 for paint, furniture and teaching supplies.
Taylor’s day job is communications director for the newly reactivated Creative Santa Fe, and she plays flute, mandolin, fiddle and ukulele. Nelson is a “drummer by trade” but also plays guitar and piano and does music production. He teaches music in public schools and operates audio at the Lensic Performing Arts Center.
“For our kids, first and foremost, we’re trying to have music be a positive experience,” Nelson said. “We go at a slow pace. We are trying to have fun as a group. Our goal is not to put out virtuosos. Rather, it’s to plant a seed for the love of music and joy of music.”
They got Queen Bee from singer Taj Mahal‘s song with which Nelson serenaded Taylor when they were courting. They call it Queen Bee Music Association because “we didn’t just want to be seen as a school,” Taylor said.
“We want to build community through music,” Taylor said. “Music has the ability to connect people in a way very few art forms can. There is a connection that occurs when you are playing music with other people.”