Martin Kent, known to most as Ace of Skunk Anansie, is one of those musicians who clearly put their heart in everything they do. It is rare to see someone who has achieved so much in his life being so modest and self-aware at the same time. In the last year he has being travelling Europe, sharing collaborations and mostly launching his Ace Academies, which had a particular resonance in Italy.
I met him the first time last February on the occasion of my 4-day crash guitar course with him – read here my previous interview with Ace.
This October, exactly eight months later, we decided to meet for a coffee to catch up on the progress of what was at en embryonic stage at the times of our first meeting. It turned out that, besides being a very busy man on different levels (from creating sounds for an upcoming new video game to producing Austrian rock band Demian‘s new CD), Ace is putting a lot of effort into making the Ace Academies flourish and that, yes, in case you were wondering, Skunk Anansie are working on a brand new album which will be followed by a tour. “Skunk are working on a new sound and new look, it’s definitely not going to be acoustic“, he admits proudly. “The release date is not scheduled yet, but about end of next year. We will be touring after that“.
Wearing his trademark Hotbird logo t-shirt, it’s easy to spot a sparkle in his eyes when he talks about his last year efforts to bring his guitar teaching method to as many tutors and pupils as possible. In few months, Ace Academy franchises have emerged everywhere in the northern area of Italy. From Milano to Bologna, music academies have embraced the Ace method and decided to pass it on to their students. So, between launching these schools and recording guitars for Pier Bernardi‘s new album, he spent most of his summer in the Bel Paese. At the end of the courses, live shows were arranged so that the kids who had just completed the classes would find themselves playing live together on a real stage. Ace agreed that the money earned during these shows be used to buy amps for 3 of the schools. “I guess it’s all about karma, you know, a good karma“, he says, acknowledging the old say that you always get what you give.
In addition to the 6 Italian schools, there are more in the talks for openings in Spain, Holland and other European countries. What apparently makes the Ace Guitar Academy so popular is its organic nature. “It’s very easy, I actually can’t believe it took me 30 years to come up with the easiest idea ever“, he giggles. As a matter of fact it IS a very easy method for both tutors to teach and students to learn: It allows you to have fun while learning, and you do learn. Whether it’s a school that wants to offer the chance for such courses or a private tutor, this franchise is an opportunity to improve exponentially guitar playing abilities without the boring part and with the guide of audio CDs with 8 new tracks composed by Ace. In addition, the prices are affordable so that kids from almost every social background can access the programs. “I’d rather have lots of academies rather than three or four expansive ones. Quantity and quality! I’d like to set up twenty at least.”
Europe, and especially Italy, seem to love the Ace Guitar Academy, but what about the London area? Ace has set up a Saturday school for kids aged 12-16 at the Institute of Contemporary Music Performance in Kilburn, besides his short courses for 18+ at the Joint in King’s Cross.
“I’m trying to do deal with schools in England too. One flagship course is in Kilburn, I got Saturday school there, and that one it’s going to be all instruments and vocals. So they start in the morning and in the afternoon they all play together. It’s a music college so it’s got brilliant facilities, I’m teaching there.“
The Ace Guitar Academy project is just at the beginning while is already gaining general consensus, so what’s coming up next? “I’d like to have the book translated in Japanese and open some schools in Japan and I’m already working with a professional bass player to start a Bass Academy“.
We can do nothing but wishing Ace the best of luck with the Academies and may there be hundreds of them in the years to come.
For all info, to request a franchise opportunity and everything else in between, visit the Ace Guitar Academy website here.