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Meet Parker Smith of Guitar Shed in Kirkwood

Today we’d like to introduce you to Parker Smith.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Parker. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I started playing guitar at age 10 with much excitement and frustration. After a couple years of hammering away on my poor guitar, I enrolled in private lessons and have been studying ever since. I still take lessons occasionally to this day and am always looking for ways to improve my playing and teaching.

I am an Atlanta native and while I was finishing grad school in Austin, TX my wife (then fiancée) and I decided to move back to Atlanta to be closer to our families. I was looking at commercial spaces in Atlanta while I was still in Austin and stumbled on Kirkwood by chance. I have always been an entrepreneur at heart and am a self-proclaimed “bad employee.” It was a natural fit to open up my own music school and it hasn’t seemed like “work” a single day that I’ve been here.

A landlord I was working with suggested a space in Kirkwood and once I checked it out, I knew that was the spot for Guitar Shed. She was completely on board with my vision and we have a great working relationship. We would definitely not be where we are now without her support. I started with one room and 4 students the first week we opened in August of 2015. Now we have 10 teachers and a wide selection of instruments.

I went to school at Paideia, not far away but I was blown away at how quickly all of East Atlanta had grown in the past few years. After a few months of being in business, my wife and I bought a house walking distance from Guitar Shed in Kirkwood. We love the neighborhood and are definitely putting roots down.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
There have been lots of struggles and victories along the way. I think the biggest obstacle was finding the right people. I do my best to attract a certain type of teacher and student. When it all matches up it is very satisfying, but it can be a real challenge when people aren’t on board with your work ethic and personal philosophy.

Some of it has been trial and error as well. Now we stick to what really works for us. There are plenty of places out there that are much better at selling and repairing guitars than I am. We are a music school and although we sell some strings and picks, that’s really just for folks in the neighborhood. People come here to learn and that’s what we do best.

Please tell us about Guitar Shed.
I like to think of us as a modern music school. My wife helped me with the interior designing and our lobby feels more like a living room than a doctor’s office. In my experience, several schools (not just music schools) have a sterile feeling that isn’t very conducive to learning. We also have someone in our lobby at all times whether it is myself or our office manager to help parents and students with scheduling and billing. That way all our teachers have to worry about is teaching.

Another thing that sets us apart is our teachers. Our teachers are all great players AND great teachers. The two don’t always go hand in hand. I’ve played gigs with most of our teachers so I know firsthand they are great players, and I knew when I met each one of them that they were passionate about teaching. They are also great people, that helps too!

Our studio is also very diverse on multiple levels. We have students and teachers from several different backgrounds and if you’ve been to a recital of ours, you know we have a wide variety of music as well. I am a firm believer that anyone can learn to play an instrument so we try our best to be as inclusive as possible.

If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
I would have relaxed and read more, exercised more, and practiced guitar more! One thing that I am learning is that it is really important to take care of yourself. Trying to find balance and not overcommit to responsibilities takes practice.

As a business owner, so many people are dependent on you and without taking care yourself first you won’t have much left to give.


  • $30 per half hour lesson
  • $60 per hour lesson
  • $25 one time registration fee

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Cindy Wnek

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