Use the List to learn new skills: Try cooking, music or dance classes in the Indianapolis area

Use the List to learn new skills: Try cooking, music or dance classes in the Indianapolis area

Experts say you’re never too old to learn to tickle the ivories, dance the tango or cook a delicious dinner. Mastering new skills offers many benefits for the mind, body and soul.

According to a study by the Association for Psychological Science, learning a mentally demanding task likely improves cognitive functioning in an aging mind.

Indianapolis instructors say lessons provide a great way to challenge yourself, have fun, meet new people, get healthier and develop a new, useful hobby. Check out Angie’s List for highly rated classes in the Indy area to boost your repertoire in 2014. Here’s a look at some of the most popular lessons members enjoy:

Key into talents with music lessons

Far Eastside member Victoria Mansfield pursued her passion of music after retiring from FedEx in 2008. Since then, she’s attended lessons at Sally John’s Piano Studio. “I started piano, because my mother played piano,” she says. “I had exposure to music all my life, but no formal training.”

Mansfield also plays bass guitar and facilitates a drum circle. “I’m a firm believer that studying music grows new brain cells,” she says. “It definitely keeps my brain engaged.”


guitar music lessons in Indianapolis
Music instructor Paul Ware gives student Susan Dolan private guitar lessons at Arthur's Music Store in Fountain Square. (Photo by Steve C. Mitchell)

Sales and service technician Steve Krider of Arthur’s Music Store in Fountain Square agrees that music is great mental exercise. “It’s always good to be learning something new,” he says. “It keeps you sharp. It’s good for everyone to have something fun that they can do during the week.”

Arthur’s provides private instruction in guitar, banjo, mandolin, violin, piano, washboard and more. These private music lessons are typically held weekly and last 30 minutes. The instructors set their own prices, but Krider says they usually cost between $20 and $30 per session.

Arthur’s services all skill levels and teaches students from pre-school age to those in retirement. “We have a lot of adult students who come in and say they’ve always wanted to do this [take lessons], but never did,” Krider says. “It’s definitely something that people enjoy.”

Mix things up by taking a cooking class

The first time Meridian Kessler member Scott Saxman made homemade pizza at home, it was a disaster. “My wife and I still laugh about the ‘pizza casserole’ that I made,” he says, recalling the huge sticky mess. “So I took the pizza class and figured out all the things I did wrong, and now I make pizzas and invite the neighbors. They love it.”

Saxman gained cooking confidence, thanks to numerous classes at Chef JJ’s Backyard in Broad Ripple. “Once you get the hang of it, it’s really a lot of fun to be adventurous and try new stuff,” he says.


Chef JJ's Backyard cooking school in Broad Ripple
Chef JJ's Backyard in Broad Ripple teaches cooking classes using the Big Green Egg grill, but the lessons can be applied to any grill or in your kitchen. (Photo by Lacey Nix)

Saxman recommends others try a cooking class. “The worst thing that could happen is that you meet some nice and interesting people, and you get to try some different and delicious food,” he says.

Suzanne Rockwell, chef and owner at Chef Suzanne in Fishers, says cooking classes supplement what you may learn on TV or by reading. “You learn hands-on,” she says. “Everyone makes mistakes. We’ll teach you how to fix them.”

Chef Suzanne offers cooking classes, catering and private chef services. Cooking lessons range from $35 to $65, depending on the menu.

Noblesville member Marc Matthews hired a chef from Chef Suzanne to cook a dinner in his home to celebrate his wife’s birthday and their anniversary. “It’s romantic and personal,” he says. “The food is better than going out.” Since he and his wife enjoy cooking classes, they cooked alongside the chef.

Matthews is no newbie to cooking classes. He and his wife used to take them about once a month when they lived in D.C. He says cooking lessons offer many benefits and provide a great opportunity to try new foods. “My wife is a phenomenal cook, and she still learns something every time.”

Although Matthews enjoys taking classes with his wife, there could be some benefits to going solo. “If you want to meet a girl, go to these cooking classes because I was usually the only guy there in D.C.,” he says.

Step up your game with dance lessons

Indy Dance Academy, located on the Northside, holds classes for all ages and abilities. The adult classes include ballet, hip-hop, tap, jazz/contemporary and various cardio fitness classes.

Dance director Stefanie Squint says adults shouldn’t be scared to enroll in a dance class. “Many times, adult students pick up dance movements better than a youth dancer, because they are in tune with their body and understand muscle control,” she says.


Indy adult ballet dance class
Dance instructor Denise Cardenas (center) teaches an adult ballet class at Indy Dance Academy. (Photo by Steve C. Mitchell)

Indy Dance Academy offers $15 trial classes. Dancers are limited to two trial sessions of the same class. Tuition runs between $210 to $270 for this spring’s 17-week semester of adult classes. Students can get a prorated price if they enroll after the start of a semester. Cardio fitness packages start at $108 for a 12-class pass.

Squint says dance lessons offer a plethora of benefits, including improved fitness, making new friends and learning something about yourself.

While some clients are hesitant at first, Squint says the initial lesson usually proves to be less intimidating than anticipated. “Our instructors want them [dance students] to have a positive experience, so if someone is new to dance, they will make sure to break down movement or give them an easier step,” she says.

“All new dancers need to remember that dance isn’t a skill that you will pick up in one class; it is a process to understand the technique behind it. Every dancer has something to learn in the art of dance. It is all about learning and growing with every class you take.”

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