Excel Music - Serving Tampa, New Tampa & Wesley Chapel


"Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything." -Plato

John Thrasher and his wife Sheri's mission is two-fold. Teach children and adults a musical skill, but also create life-long advocates for the arts. "We love music and the arts," says John, who co-owns (with Sheri) Excel Music, the music instruction studio located in the Cory Lake Isles Professional Center. "We think that music - and the arts in general - are critical to any society."

At Excel Music, people young and old can learn almost any instrument from piano to Tabla and Dholak - traditional Indian drums. With more than 1,600 sq. ft. of space, the school has eight music rooms with security cameras where 21 music teachers - most with Bachelor's degrees and some with Master's degrees and one who currently is working on his Ph.D. in Music Education - teach throughout the day.

"We have assembled a highly qualified staff," John says. "As a music school, we have decided to stay away from the retail side of music. We formed a partnership with Sam Ash (a chain of musical instrument stores) so we can focus on teaching."

The Thrashers chose to include the Plato quote (mentioned before) on their website because they live by its philosophy.

"Music is the soul of life and we are grateful to have the opportunity to participate in teaching music to others," continues John. "If someone doesn't choose to be a professional musician, we are at least creating a person with a love of music who will be an advocate for the arts."

The Thrashers both bring years of experience in musical performance with them to the school. The two have been musicians for more than 50 years combined.

"I started taking drum lessons when I was seven and studied privately into college," says John, who grew up in Michigan and attended Michigan State in Lansing. "I practiced in the typical school bands and marching bands. In college, I discovered rock and roll and played with guys

that worked regularly. It became my passion to play."

John met Sheri at a hotel where they were both performing. Sheri had sung for professional jingles for advertisements on the radio and sang with Harvey Kay and the group "Spiral Staircase,"; which is known for the song "I Love You More Today Than Yesterday." John says it was love at first sight and after they met, they continued as a couple to work in different bands and then as a duet John has toured with a country band featuring Mickey Gilley and performed at the white House, as well as on television.

After forming a group together, the couple worked for a number of years in places all across the east coast, and then headed for Japan, through contacts with an exchange program at Lansing Community College.

"We did a job in Otsu, Japan, and it struck a chord with them, no pun intended," say John. "We ended up staying there for 11-and-a-half years. We became the house group and [recorded] and sold more than 35,000 CDs. We had quite a following."

After a while, however, John says the couple began to miss home. "We began to think about what we wanted to do," says John. "Music had been really good to us and we decided we could encourage other people to learn and enjoy music. Music is something you can always keep in your life. We knew we wanted to live in Florida - we both have family here - and chose the New Tampa area specifically because it is a great place to live and start a business."

Sixteen-year-old piano student Melanie Velazquez can relate to the Thrashers' passion for music. "When I play music, I feel a real connection to it," says Melanie, who attends Bishop McLaughlin High in Hudson. "I also am a dancer, and I have been told that artists are always good in two forms of art. I don't plan to be a musician as a career, but I never want to stop playing. While I had a good teacher [for many years], I have grown musically since I started taking lessons at Excel. I always knew how to play the notes, but I

wasn't playing the details. My experience at Excel Has Made me more toned and enhanced my musical performance."

"Melanie had been taking lessons with another teacher who ran into scheduling conflicts," say her mother, Susan Velazquez, who lives in Hunter's Green. "But, she wanted to continue taking the lessons, which I think is rare for a 16-year-old. We went to Excel, where they were more than willing to accommodate us. At the time, they were interviewing an advanced piano teacher named Sonja. We are very satisfied at Excel. Sonja has motivated Melanie again and taught her things that have made her a better pianist - while having fun. She enjoys the musical outlet. If she is frustrated with studying, she plays the piano and is rejuvenated and then goes right back to her studying. John and Sheri have created a very positive environment. Every time she has a lesson, Melanie comes out with a big smile on her face."

The Clark kids - Max, 15, Jack, 10, and Catie, 6 - all take different music lessons at Excel at the same time. "Max asked for an electric guitar," says their mom, Carol Fleenor, who lives in Temple Terrace. "And, Jack got drums for Christmas, I called Excel in January and John said they could take all three kids. Catie is taking keyboards for a half-hour - because of her age, an hour might be too long - and then voice lessons for the other half-hour. It's nice to go to one place where they can all be accommodated at the same time."

For the Thrashers, the love of music is more than just a job. "It is important to find something where you can express yourself," says John. "This is a positive thing we can do in the world and it has been a wonderful job for us. We really hope, through our school, that other people can have their own wonderful experiences through music."

Excel Music is located in the Cory Lake Isles Professional Center. The school is open Monday-Thursday, 10 a.m.=9 p.m.; and 10 a.m.-3 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. The school is closed on Sunday. Private lessons are priced by the half-hour.

For more information, call 991-1177 for visit www.excelmusic.us.

-Melissa O'Brien

"Excel Music Owners Share the Joy of Music with New Tampa"

As published in the New Tampa Neighborhood News, May 25, 2007.
Melissa O'Brien is a staff writer for the New Tampa Neighborhood News.

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Press Articles
- Tune Yourself Up - by Robert Yaniz - New Tampa News, September 2006
- Excel Music Owners Share The Joy Of Music With New Tampa - by Melissa O'Brian - New Tampa Neighborhood News, May 2007
- Excel Music: The Art of Teaching Students One Note at a Time - by Alicia Pack - New Tampa & Wesley Chapel Neighborhood News, September/October 2011
- Tony Coleman, Drummer for Blues' Great BB King at Excel Music - by Sheri Thrasher - The Advisor, February 2012