SIOUX CITY -- For several years, Ron and Gia Emory have been taking students under wing and teaching them music at their home.
Their goal? The non-profit Sioux City Conservatory of Music is driven to inspire, educate and preserve music in the Midwest.
Now, the group will be moving into a new space at 1309 Pierce St. Kicking off the grand opening of the studio, Ron (member of influential punk band T.S.O.L.), along with many local musicians, teachers, students and a very special guest from Los Angeles will be performing at the Orpheum Theater Sunday evening.
For Ron, teaching is almost a higher calling -- a gift he can share with the world. Fifty-six students later, his calling has been fully realized.
"I really enjoy being able to inspire my students and bring out their potential," Ron said. "I'm excited about what they are into - I'm kinda like a dinosaur so it's good to have them keep me current in music."
There was a time Ron never thought he'd be a teacher. Growing up in Los Angeles, his first encounter with punk music was seeing The Clash as a teenager.
"My older brothers liked Led Zeppelin, but this was for me," Ron said of punk. "I started playing guitar, learned a few chords and tried to figure out what I had heard by ear."
He went on to form T.S.O.L. and became heavily ensconced in the punk rock scene. After coming clean and meeting Gia, a Sioux City native, the two decided the best place for them to raise their family was in Siouxland. It wasn't until a friend asked Ron if he wouldn't mind teaching him how to play guitar that the whole school idea was sparked.
"The beauty to me of teaching music is to teach the style aspect," Ron said. "I want them to understand it in their heart, not just their head."
While Ron is the music director of the conservatory, which employs six other teachers, Gia, who also teaches piano, is the one who keeps it together.
"I've learned that life is not at all about what I say but rather it's about my actions," Gia explained. "What an interesting way to give back to the community and also a way for my husband and I to be creatively fulfilled."
Describing the Sioux City Conservatory of Music as a lifelong endeavor rather than just a project, it only made sense for the next step of the school would be to move from the Emorys' home to a centralized downtown location.
"Our curriculum is full," Gia said. "It is a conservatory so we're very serious about what we do. We respect all types of music, jazz, classical, along with rock. It is truly a center for music."
But the school, a completely non-profit enterprise, would not have been possible if not for the generous donations of friends from the music business.
"I'm blessed to be in a position to have influenced a lot of very successful people," Ron said. "When I told people what I was doing here in Sioux City they wanted to give ... and these people give big."
Example? The "mystery band" is paying its own expenses to play for the opening night festivities. They're giving, Ron says, because they deem the cause worthwhile. (Their name? For legal reasons, it can't be released.)