Sisters, Best Friends Open UpBeat Music Academy In Midland

By Chris Aldridge
Midland Daily News, Mich.

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Meet the sisters who are using their musical talents to “strum” up a new music based business in Texas.

Midland Daily News, Mich.

The Illinois-born sisters who became best friends found their harmony early on. Raised in a musical family, they knew music would be a significant part of life.

Now, Emma Wagner, 27, and Cora Lambert, 32, are crafting perhaps their greatest symphony: UpBeat Music Academy, which had its grand opening at 109 E. Ashman St. on Saturday.

The door to UpBeat Music Academy, outside the inner Ashman Circle at the center of the city, opens to a small lobby with new wooden floors and ceiling tiles. A desk extends from a soundproof wall. Lambert walks past a whiteboard adorned with the words “Create,” “Explore,” “Laugh,” and “Learn,” overhead a table with tiny white chairs in tow.

She motions toward an area where there will be 8-by-8-foot rooms with a piano, music stand and supplies for teachers for private lessons. There’s an early childhood room where a music therapist would serve and a large group classroom, with six pianos and lessons for children three and a half years old to adults.

There were plans for a big stage area, but “we ran out of square feet,” an energetic Wagner said, laughing.

The sisters say people have enrolled in some of the 14 music programs or camps. The first class, “Tunes & Tales,” started Monday. Summer camps run until Aug. 21. For a schedule and more info, call 989-492-2213, go to or search @upbeatmusicmidland on Facebook and Instagram.

Lambert and Wagner said with the academy, it was important to create a safe environment for children. Young families — children and adults — are the business’ bread and butter.

They want to involve adults with parent-children interactive classes — but also firsthand, with guitar and piano lessons for adults starting in the fall.

“There’s a place for everybody in music, and there’s a place for everybody at UpBeat,” Wagner said.

Lambert and Wagner said they live within a mile of the academy. Lambert has been in Midland six years, following her husband, a chemist, whose job brought him to the city. Wagner landed in Midland within the past year. They say it’s reminiscent of the small Chicago suburb where they’d grown up.

“We love Midland,” Wagner said.

Their love for music grew when their grandma took them to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

“We grew up in a family that always had to be doing something musical,” Wagner said. “It’s the focal point of our entire family. That’s what drove us to this.”

Lambert majored in flute performance at Michigan State University and attended the Interlochen Arts Academy. She’s UpBeat’s director of education. She’s also a mother of four. Wagner adds business management experience as director of operations. She’s a mother of two.

They teach the Harmony Road curriculum for piano. But they were able to concoct creative ideas for classes, like blending yoga and music and a hands-on session where attendees physically build instruments (Wagner has a trombone built entirely from PVC piping in her office).

Many ideas came to mind during Lambert’s 15-plus years teaching music. But they played the waiting game, unborn until UpBeat.

“So this is mainly a fruition of a dream,” Lambert said.

Getting involved with the new academy doesn’t require any prior musical experience, the sisters said.

For children, they said music need not be intimidating, and learning it at the academy can help develop motor skills because classes get kids jumping and making hand motions. They also learn to follow directions.

“Kids learn very well through music,” Wagner said.

A class starting in the fall, “Kangaroo Chorus,” aims to help new mothers bond with their babies.

“Our business builds from babies,” Wagner said. “And there are always going to be 2 year olds.”

There’s also an avenue for adults who want to pick up the trombone or flute they put down in high school, or fret with a guitar and play properly at the next campout with friends this summer.

To get the music started, the sisters say they put in upward of $130,000 to buy and renovate the building. They secured the property in early April.

“The city of Midland has been great,” Wagner said. “They want entrepreneurs here.”

Near the Ashman Circle and Center City district, many businesses have come and gone over the years. The sisters say they want to make a 30- or 40-year run with UpBeat, a venture they credited to their extended families that have given “tremendous” support.

“We are here to stay. Our families are rooted here,” Wagner said.

“We want it to be our life’s journey. We’re all in. Our babies even take naps here now,” Lambert said, laughing. “Having this is totally a fulfillment of a very long dream.”

An introductory special includes eight 30-minute lessons for $200. The sisters also are looking for specialists to teach any instrument.

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