Tuesday, 01 September 2015 13:06

Triumph Music Academy unveils hip-hop and recording/engineering programs

Written by  Jayson Bussa
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Rick Chyme Rick Chyme

James Forrest Hughes, director and owner of Triumph Music Academy on Wealthy Street in Grand Rapids, said he wants his music school to be a destination where aspiring musicians of all ages and walks of life can come to learn how to play, produce and master “real music.”

He took another step towards this effort with his most recent announcement:

Triumph Music Academy’s new hip-hop program — the first of its kind in the area — is off and running, a curriculum that Hughes said was important in order to provide a diverse and relevant music learning experience.

“We didn’t really have people necessarily calling us up requesting this but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a need,” Hughes said. “We have a duty to provide opportunities in all kinds of music, especially this genre. It has proven itself as highly influential and it deserves educational proliferation.”

The program offers one-on-one instruction for students in either one of two paths: Lyricism will be offered at the school’s location at 949 Wealthy Street SE, while the other is focused on beat production. Classes for the latter will be held at an offsite studio.

Probably just as exciting as the announcement was the news of two very familiar faces that are spearheading the new program; the enigmatic Grand Rapids rapper and artist Rick Chyme will teach the lyricism side of the program while Chyme’s long-time, accomplished producer Jason Burke (aka “Nixon”) will lend his knowledge and private studio to teach students production.

“Triumph’s hip-hop program will really be a first for the West Michigan region,” said Nixon, who has seen plenty in his 17 years in the industry. “Students will learn step-by-step how to set up recording sessions, master sound, microphone techniques and acquire beat making skills.”

The new program follows the general ethos of Triumph’s unique model and approach, where students dictate what sort of lessons they learn. Hughes said that the idea behind Triumph is to help a student accomplish their musical aspirations from ‘A’ to ‘Z,’ whether that involves learning an instrument, writing songs, playing in a band or even producing an actual album.

Triumph offers curriculums in everything from early childhood music all the way to DJ and EDM lessons. The hip-hop program is the latest in Triumph’s offering and, while the lessons are mostly student-directed, Chyme said that there will be essential lessons that include free writing exercises to help students connect with their thoughts, freestyle rap exercises, history of the genre, mic performance, breath control and more.

“[Triumph] didn’t seem like the typical music school,” Chyme said of what attracted him to collaborate with the Academy. “That’s not to say that any other music school is doing it wrong, but it seemed like [Triumph] was preparing the students for what it really is to be a working musician.”

The program’s first student is an aspiring 11-year-old who was tasked with creating a motivational song about soccer as a part of his program.

“In the end, how many will become professionals? I don’t know,” Chyme said. “I just know that I learned a lot from sports and applied it directly to music. These are experiences you can draw parallels to later in life.”


At the time this story was written, Triumph was poised to make another exciting announcement involving a partnership with local recording studio River City Studios.

Through the studio, Triumph would offer students one-on-one recording and engineering lessons, where they would be paired up with real professional engineers. This is normally an element that is missing in most institutional curriculums available through some colleges and universities.

Hughes said the details are still being hashed out, but that he was excited to team up with what he considered to be one of the premier recording studios in the state.

For more information on Triumph’s programs, visit triumphmusicacademy.com.

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