Wednesday, December 8, 2021

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Sound Circuit

Showcasing the future



James Biehn

The CIML Recital and Rock Band Concert is Sunday, May 15 at Lefty’s.

For the past seven years, aspiring guitar players in Des Moines have had the option of learning from one of the best in the business, local guitarist James Biehn. Biehn’s Central Iowa Music Lab (CIML) has been operating across from The Shops at Roosevelt since 2009, and for the past six of those years, CIML has showcased its students’ talents through public recitals.

“We typically do a couple a year that are open to anybody taking lessons,” Biehn explained. “Then each year we do two rock band shows as well.”

For Biehn, CIML is about more than just giving people a way to scratch at their inner rock star; it is about helping people — children especially — grow into better, more well-rounded human beings, which is why so much of what Biehn does is created with his younger students in mind.

“I would say the foundation of my business has been, ‘What did I not have the opportunity to do growing up?’ ” he explained. “If I was that age again, what kind of experience would I want? Pretty much everything that I’ve done with my business has been geared to that, including where I choose to play my own shows, playing as many all-ages shows as I can.”

To that end, the CIML showcases were created with an eye toward making them different events from the image most people conjure up when they think “recital.” Rather than hosting the events in his studio space for just parents and friends, the CIML recitals are held in actual music venues and are open to the general public. For Biehn, it is about creating the feeling of an actual gig as closely as possible.

“That’s why we do them in the kind of venue where (students) might play an actual show in a few years,” he said. “So the children have a little more heightened experience, because it’s a real stage and lights and closer to the real deal.”

The CIML recitals are open to all CIML students who wish to participate. Even though the bulk of the performers are usually children (some as young as 4 years old), Biehn said he often has adults and retirees take their turns on stage as well. Some students perform solo, but most of the students showcase their talents in pairs or full bands.

“One student might be learning a White Stripes song, and another one will hear it and they’ll start working together,” Biehn said. “So we see a lot of students work together to learn songs just for the rectial.” CV




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