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Photo by Dante Fontana
Confucius once mused, “Music produces a kind of pleasure which human nature cannot do without.”
Nancie and Greg McLaughlin have been working to provide that pleasure to the folks of the Placer Valley for more than 17 years. They opened the McLaughlin Studios Music, Dance and Theatre Facility to offer all types of musical instruction. Their passion is to empower the mind through music by offering family-oriented and family-focused programs.
The Loomis-based couple opened their first studio in a modest 500 square-foot facility with one guitar instructor and about 40 students. Their programs were popular and very successful, and they’ve now grown to a new facility. Still loyal to Loomis, the studio is currently 5,000 square feet with 22 teachers and 450 students. The curriculum presents training in all musical instruments such as woodwinds, piano, strings and more; voice; dance including jazz, hip-hop and ballet; and theater. The studio offers classes that appeal to all levels of students from three years of age to adults. Everyone is invited to participate in everything. “The students wanted to expand into more arts,” Nancie says, “and it just culminated into our theater program.”
Lifelong woodwind musician and teacher Nancie runs the studio. Her husband Greg serves as musical director for the theater company while working as the department chair for the Sierra College Music Department. The couple keeps busy. While operating the school, they also run a nonprofit – Sierra Performing Arts Association (SPAA). This group is dedicated to bringing music to the community by showing area students that music is fun and important. “Our students perform at local schools, to get the kids excited about performing arts,” Nancie says. They have no consistent funding source and rely on the people of South Placer/Sacramento Counties to help out. “We reach out to people who love and appreciate the arts,” Nancie explains.
The SPAA’s McLaughlin Theatre Company will present popular musical The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee in six performances this month – April 8-10 and 15-17 at the studio. It’s a hilarious show and the local production promises to outshine the long-running New York Broadway version. In the coming months, the Company is set to perform Disney’s Mulan Jr. May 13-15, followed by auditions on May 20-21 for their July performances of the Elton John & Tim Rice Production of Aida.
Current teacher and former jazz student Tim Stephenson has gone full circle, from a junior high student playing in the jazz ensemble to instructor for that same group; he also teaches many other instruments and voice. He always knew that music would be his career. “Performing is my way of communicating on an intimate level,” Stephenson says. He loves teaching at the studio. “We are a close-knit group,” he explains. “Everyone is like family to me.”
Nancie and Greg are passionate about all things music and performing, and believe that this brings joy to people’s lives. “Music and the arts further interest in all aspects of life,” Nancie explains. “Music is a wonderful thing.”