For the past several years, music has filled the stately Victorian home the corner of Locust and School streets. In light-drenched rooms, students learn to play piano, cello, violin, drums, flute, guitar, ukulele and more.
Now, the Victorian next door is full of its own melodies, as Sayla Music Academy — formerly known as the B Sharp School of Music — grows.
Nurturing that growth are new owners Chase and Carol Ann Loeb, both long-term fixtures at the local music school. Chase Loeb teaches piano and, before the couple purchased the school, served as its director. Carol Ann Loeb teaches cello and has been running events in the outdoor performance space between the two homes for two years.
And they’re inviting the community to come and see the school at a grand reopening on Sept. 6. Guests will enjoy food, music and walking tours of the two buildings.
The Loebs have been involved in the school since its early days. The couple met while they were studying music in Colorado, but Carol Ann has roots in Lodi.
“My family is originally from here, but I grew up in Arizona,” she said.
Her mother was born in Lodi, and her grandmother lived here.
On a California road trip, the couple decided to stop in Lodi overnight. They visited Carol Ann’s family home, then took in the sights.
“We went to Downtown and we really liked it here,” Carol Ann said.
With Lodi close to the Stockton Symphony, and local winery concert circuit, and other nearby musical attractions, the city felt like a good fit. The Loebs settled down, and began working for B Sharp.
When founder Heidi Garcia decided to step back from the Lodi school to focus on other areas of her life, the Loebs jumped at the chance to buy it.
Now, after several months as the owners, they’re putting their own spin on the music school with a new name: Sayla Music Academy.
The Loebs wanted a name that would relate to music, but that would still be original. Though right now they’re focused on growing the Lodi school, they want to leave the door open for long-term success. And part of those long-term plans means having a name that could be trademarked and protected, Chase said.
That meant they had to get creative. Most of the traditional phrases were already in use, names of music schools all over California.
“In music, when you learn to sing, you learn ‘do-re-mi-fa-so-la-ti-do,’ like in ‘Sound of Music,’” Chase said. “It’s an invitation to be musical.”
The phrase can also be found — though not with the same spelling — in sacred music, he added.
Another factor in the name change is that Garcia is continuing to operate B Sharp’s second location, in Scotts Valley.
“We’re trying to establish that we’re separate from them even if we were birthed from the same idea,” Chase said.
It’s been lucky timing. Just as the Loebs were preparing to rebrand the school, the landlord of a neighboring home decided to put the property up for lease. He gave the music school the news, and they jumped at the opportunity.
“It happened pretty quick, because we were looking for more space,” Chase said.
The two homes sandwich an outdoor performance space that the Loebs have owned for some time. Formerly known as the Middle C, it’s now coming under the Sayla umbrella.
“We decided it would be smarter to combine everything into one business,” Chase said.
The goal of the outdoor space is not just to provide another area for the community to gather and enjoy musical entertainment. It also gives young people a place to perform. Most of Lodi’s small performance spaces are in wineries and bars, Chase noted, and young performers can’t play in those venues for experience.
The teachers can also use the space to share their musical projects, such as Trace — a trio formed of the Loebs and violin teacher Amy Lindsey. Other teachers have their own projects; Nick Auriemmo and Rick Duncan play with James Garner’s Tribute to Johnny Cash, William Sconce is popular on the winery music scene, and several of the teachers have performed all over the world.
The Loebs have seen their neighborhood becoming more active as Downtown Lodi expands its borders — especially after Five Window Beer Co. opened its doors. The brewery brings in visitors from all over, and it’s just down the street. Papapavlo’s is building its restaurant and retail center nearby, and a new bowling alley is under construction on the corner of Lockeford and Sacramento streets, just to the northeast.
“It’s going to create a lot of foot traffic,” Chase said.
He’s hoping that parents will drop off their kids for a lesson, then enjoy some time in Downtown until the lesson is over. Adult students can follow a lesson with bowling, a movie, or a visit to one of the Downtown business district’s many shops, salons or eateries.
And the school does welcome adult students to come and take lessons, and has separate youth and adult orchestras and choirs for students. There’s even a soiree for the older students. Some of the school’s most dedicated students are adults who have always wanted to play, or who play one instrument but want to try another.
“It’s just a lot of fun,” Carol Ann said. “It’s about the journey, and we all started at different times.”