At Lucy Creatives, a music and arts school in Downtown San Clemente, studio founder and teacher Meagan Wade looks to help steer her students’ musical journeys where they can learn who they are as an artist.
“We really focus on … creativity, artistry, and how important that is for the children,” she says, adding: “It’s all about developing the artist, and that’s kind of what we do here.”
Wade explains that while she wants her students to learn how to play the notes of their instruments, such as piano and ukulele, it’s important to her that they begin to understand what genre and style of music and art vibe with them.
“With everything we do, we don’t want to just teach music,” she says. “We also want to help them become the artists that they are and they just so freely show as children.”
A San Clemente native, Wade attended Our Savior’s Lutheran School, which emphasized music.
“Everyone in the school was in the play, and (in) the musical, everyone sang, like no matter what; and so, my siblings, all of us, we can all sing, and we’re all musical,” she says of her musical upbringing, adding: “I think it was because we were just like, in that environment from a very young age.”
In about second grade, Wade began learning to play the piano, and when she was 7, she got her first guitar—which she displays in the classroom and allows her students to play.
“Now, all my students play that guitar, so it’s very full circle,” she says. “But, yeah, that’s where it all started. … I’ve been playing music my whole life and singing, and singing in, like, choir, singing in bands.”
Shortly after Wade graduated from Vanguard University in Costa Mesa with a general music degree focused on voice and piano, she was approached by a handful of moms who had created small learning pods at their homes for their children to continue learning together during the pandemic. They asked if she would teach the kids music.
“They were able to keep it small and controlled while the kids couldn’t be at school. … I kind of just started teaching; I had some little curriculum that I created,” she recalls, later expounding: “I was just creating these workbooks, because I couldn’t find any that I liked online; they weren’t pretty, and I like everything to be beautiful.”
As an artist and musician, Wade finds it important that the pages the kids use to learn are both inspiring and beautiful to them.
“I started creating a workbook, and just using that with the kids as I taught them over COVID,” she says. “And then it just spread, like word spread. And here I am; it just grew and grew and grew until I had so many little classes and students that I needed a space.”
Though Wade didn’t necessarily plan on becoming a teacher, it was those closest to her who believed she would be great at it and encouraged her on that path.
“Interestingly, my parents were always telling me, ‘You’d be a great teacher, you should be a teacher,’ but I didn’t really feel like, I don’t know, I didn’t know if that was my path,” she says, adding: “I’m definitely someone who likes to do multiple things. I like to record music, I like to play live. I also love to teach. I like to create the curriculum and like to create the whole thing.”
Rather than teach in a traditional classroom setting at a school, though, Wade’s creative drive led her to launch her own music school, Lucy Creatives, at 131 Avenida Del Mar, in the spring of 2022.
“I’m too creative, and I think outside of the box. I wouldn’t have been able to thrive in that environment,” Wade says. “But here, what I love the most … I love creativity. That’s what drives me. And so I get to be creative every day.”
Classes offered at Lucy Creatives include Musical Theater Dance, Moon Ukulele, Beginner’s Piano, Little Creatives and—Wade’s favorite—Songwriter’s Club.
“It’s just so inspiring to hear the kids write these songs, and see also their faces light up, and they just are so proud that they wrote a song,” Wade says. “And then their parents are so proud; you know, it’s just so cool.”
As part of Wade’s “outside-the-box” thinking, she incorporates art and dance into the musical curriculum. As an example, during the ukulele class, the students will learn the parts of the instrument by coloring on a sheet and designing the “ukulele of their dreams.”
“So, they’re way more invested in learning, because they created their dream ukulele design, and then their brains remember the parts so much easier, and we play games and make it really fun to remember,” Wade explains.
She utilizes the same coloring technique to learn songs that they sing together.
“They’re not going to learn a song in an hour unless it’s fun for them. So we do the same thing. They color this in while we sing the song and listen to the song, and they create their little art,” she says, pointing to one of the coloring sheets. “Then, by the time they’re done coloring, they know the song, and then we go over and play it on ukulele.”
“Everything we do is creative in that way, so that it actually sticks for the kids and they’re not just like, ‘Here’s the chorus, here’s the lyrics, play the song,’ ” she says. “I try to make it a fully immersive experience.”
The classes are generally 45 minutes to an hour long. Wade keeps the class sizes small, to about eight or fewer young students. She notes that about 5 years old is a good time to start learning.
And while Wade is the main teacher, she does have a dance teacher and an art specialist who help with the courses, and a few songwriters who come in on a rotating basis to also teach.
“Everything’s very creative, and there’s a playful approach to a lot of things, which is different to a lot of other ways of teaching music,” Wade says, adding: “I want them to be inspired and go home and write their own songs.”
More information about Lucy Creatives and signing up for classes can be found at lucycreatives.com and on the studio’s Instagram, @LucyCreatives.