By Alisyn Amant, Eastside News
Wilder Deitz and Ruben Arndt, close friends and business partners, recall their initial forays into musicianship as taking place at the Goodman Community Center. Now, the pair hopes to repay the neighborhood that raised them by nurturing a collaborative, supportive environment at their own Wilder Deitz School for Creative Music.
Deitz and Arndt offer numerous services, including lessons, classes, practice rooms and ensembles. The school’s physical location, 3510 E. Washington Ave., thrives as a musical hub as anxieties around COVID-19 and in-person activities lessen. Deitz grounds the business and his mentorship in the inherent creativity that comes with honing one’s craft, regardless of what area a student might take an interest in.
“What I try to tell our students and the people who are teaching at the space on a regular basis is that music matters here,” Deitz said. “Remember that music matters here. Music might not matter to everyone; it might be a triviality or some sort of treat to other people. But here this is our lifeblood, this is what we do.”
On any given day, a visitor to the school might witness a folk band practicing in one room, a rhythm and blues artist working on her craft in another and a young student taking piano lessons across the hall. All draw inspiration from a collective energy that Deitz and Arndt strive to continuously cultivate.
“The basic idea is that Ruben and I are really making the school a space — the space that we wish we had,” Deitz said. “I had a little bit of that at the Goodman Center.”
Deitz frequently reminisces on childhoods spent at Karen Faster’s infamous Hotdish Hoedowns — a neighborhood block and art party — and involvement in the Lussier LOFT’s Live and Local Music series. Arndt recalls attending “many a bar mitzvah and wedding” at the Atwood Community Center, the forerunner to GCC.
“We both grew up on the east side, we were both educated on the east side, we both started work on the east side,” Deitz said. “This is just our home, simply put, and we wanted to serve kids who were in our position when we were growing up. We feel an immense sense of loyalty and gratitude.”
Throughout the course of their lives, both have spent time outside of Madison traveling and working. Ultimately, though, the Wilder Deitz School for Creative Music’s home remains the east side.
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