When the glam metal band KISS strutted out on stage last month at Fort Worth’s Dickies Arena, gloriously clad in its customary face paint, glitzy outfits and those massive-heeled boots, Jimmy Adcock was right there rocking with them. Adcock has been a fan for as long as he can remember, and if you talk to him about Kiss, or Guns N’ Roses, or the legendary guitarist Jeff Beck, it’s not about some groupie fixation but the semantics of musical outliers: how, for instance, Gene Simmons was one of the most melodic and instant recognizable bass players around.
Adcock has always been, and still is, a guitar nerd, which helps explain why as an educator he’s credited with tinting thousands of lives when it comes to learning and, more importantly, loving music.
It’s hard to tell exactly how many people have graced the grounds of Adcock’s Arlington School of Music, although, when asked, Adcock puts it, “somewhere between five … and seven thousand … probably.”
Excuse him. When Adcock first started the school, in two rooms inside the education building of a Methodist church, it was out of sheer love and fun. Love of the music, fun of teaching it. Close to 30 students were taking lessons the first year; by year four 70 students were using six upstairs rooms and one downstairs.
You can say without indecision that The Arlington School of Music, which now sits in Garden Plaza Shopping Center off west Arkansas, sandwiched between a nail salon and dog groomer, is a hidden gem even though it’s celebrating a 20-year existence. Over the years, students have learned not just how to perform some guitar riffs, a la Simmons and Beck, but acquire skills in everything from piano, drums, violin and viola to cello, ukulele, bass, saxophone, clarinet, flute, oboe, even voice.
“Our main goal has always been to make connections with each student,” Adcock says one afternoon, sitting in his office in a Van Halen shirt and flanked by an impressive backdrop of musician photos, some of whom Adcock, an accomplished musician in his own right, has jammed with on stage.
“There is not a set curriculum,” he adds. “I ask them what music they are listening to, what songs they like, what bands they like. They will bring me a list, and we start forming a lesson plan specific to that.
“They still start in the same place learning the scales and basics but relate it to the songs they like. That gets them excited and motivated because they are learning something they are interested in. It means more to them.”
Adcock knows. He took lessons at a school similar to this one, in Grand Prairie, with his mentor and friend, Terry Humphries. He got good mighty fast; at least good enough for the music store where he was working to ask him to become part of its teaching rotation. That was it. He was in.
So far, the most famous of his students is Maren Morris, who enrolled shortly after her father bought her a guitar.
“She was talented from the beginning,” Adcock recalls about the then 13-year-old future country music star. “She was able to write her own songs and everything.”
Currently, 160 students are enrolled, taking lessons from over a dozen teachers. Afternoons the 2,000- square-foot building is packed, each room occupied. Thank goodness he brought his wife, NG, in a few years ago to help him.
“I’d be lost without her,” Adcock confesses.
There are times he looks around to see what he has built, often recalling when he actually pitched the idea to the church music director.
“I had sent him the information in the mail but heard nothing and was about to give up,” Adcock says.
He did get a call back. Two years later.
Was he still interested?
“Yeah,” was Adcock’s quick answer. “So here we are.”