In 2006 Thomas moved to Flagstaff to continue his education at North Arizona University. In 2010, he graduated from NAU with a Masters Degree in Guitar Performance and Pedagogy. He also studied privately and in masters classes with international artists such as Ignacio Rodes and William Kanengiser. Besides studying classical guitar, Thomas has also studied other styles of guitar including jazz with Steven Marquez and flamenco with Chris Jacome.
In 2010, Thomas began teaching at Northland Preparatory Academy in Flagstaff. Northland Preparatory Academy has the largest guitar program in Northern Arizona. Thomas teaches the William Leavitt method and heads the guitar program (a type of guitar education used at the Berkee College of Music), and through his experience and professionalism, he has earned the Academy an excellent and superior rating from national and state-wide guitar festivals throughout the region. In 2012 his students placed fourth in the U.S. competition, and in 2013 they placed third in the same competition.
It was also in 2010 that Thomas began offering private guitar lessons inside Custom Sound Instruments. At this point, he realized there wasn’t an adequate location/facility in Flagstaff to teach quality guitar lessons. As more and more students enrolled for lessons, it became apparent that more space would be needed. Within a few months, Thomas Byers Guitar Studio opened just a block away from Custom Sound Instruments, one of their current partners in the business.
Even though he has opened the studio and has realized this dream, he hasn’t stopped there. Not only does Thomas provide lessons at the studio and online, along with five other teachers, he also uses his studio and his talents to further the cultural environment and musical education of children and residents throughout the region.
The studio has three master guitar teachers and offers five positions for interns throughout the year. Each intern must maintain a 3.5 grade point average to work at the studio. While interns, the teachers at the Guitar Studio help prepare them for upcoming college auditions.
As a matter of fact, Thomas’ focus is never far from cultural enrichment in the community. On his website he proclaims at the top of his page that, “We aim to enrich the community through quality guitar lessons and education.” First and foremost, Thomas believes in education through music and through cultural integration.
Thomas has partnered with Northland Preparatory Academy to submit several grants to further music education in the Flagstaff area. In October 2013, he submitted an application to the Art and Science Fund Grants for Artist Projects and was recently contacted as a winner of $1400 which will be used to fund the production of three music workshops in Flagstaff high schools during January 30 – February 1, 2014. The New West Guitar Group will present the workshops as part of Thomas Byers Guitar Studio’s (Studio) Listening Room Series (LRS). The LRS sponsors and supports professional musicians who offer unique and provincial music for Flagstaff students and residents. The New West Guitar Group will also provide entertainment to the Flagstaff Community as part of the agreement to bring them to the area.
Additionally, Thomas has been notified that he is a finalist for the Grammy Foundation Grant in the amount of $15,000 for Northland Preparatory Academy. The application is requesting high quality musical equipment and guitars so that each student, particularly those from low-income backgrounds, will be able to have a guitar for their guitar class. Additionally, monies will be used to commission exclusive music compositions which will open students to the world of original music and creativity. These compositions will be played at concerts and competitions throughout the Flagstaff area. Notification of award winners in this competition will be made in January 2014.
Living in Flagstaff and supporting the cultural atmosphere of this city is a dream come true for Thomas and his wife, Amee. He plans and produces several community events each year. Following is a listing of some of the ongoing activities Thomas participates in:
- Member of the Flagstaff Cultural Partners
- Each month he opens his studio to the community for a free guitar music appreciation night. The community is invited and each session has been well-attended.
- First Friday ArtWalk – Thomas routinely opens his studio to other artists in Flagstaff as a venue to showcase their work and guitar music opportunities.
- Tertulia Nights throughout October and December.
- Flagstaff Independent Business Alliance member and opens his studio for meetings.
- Member, Flagstaff 365.com
- Volunteered to play classical music at the Surgeon’s House Bed & Breakfast in Jerome during their annual holiday decorating event for the Shimmering Snow Blue Serenity Special.
- Participant in the Flagstaff Folk Project since 2010
Among Thomas’ many supporters throughout the music industry, one long-time supporter is Giovanina Bucci, a well-known song-writer and guitarist who has performed all over the United States. Giovanina won the 2011 Advance Music/Singer Songwriter Contest in Burlington, Vt.
Thomas Byers embodies the heart and soul of Flagstaff culture. A young talent dedicated to continuing the longstanding reputation of Flagstaff being known as THE cultural center of the country. Thomas very much represents the future of Flagstaff. He is truly a worthy candidate to consider for this prestigious award.
You can read more about Thomas and his dedication to education and music at his website: http://thomasbyersguitar.com/wp/.
Additional websites to visit:
Work Sample: Inside the Luthier syllabus – Thomas Byers Guitar Studio: http://www.docstoc.com/docs/158852081/Inside-the-Lutheir-syllabus—Thomas-Byers-Guitar-Studio