Jimmy Franklin, owner of Jam Academy in Oceanport, started teaching music before he could drive.
“At 16, I had different jobs here and there, but I was really looking forward to teaching because it was my passion, even as a teenager,” Franklin said. “I started doing it for the money at first, but I found that the more I did it, the more I found I wanted to do it constantly. I was pretty much self-taught with the guitar since fifth grade and the battery since the second year.
“I would pull out business cards at the local Oceanport video store and get calls for lessons,” Franklin said. “My mom would answer the phone and be like my secretary, setting up appointments for me to teach music to clients. Right now I’m 30 and still teaching my very first student. It’s good.”
When Franklin was in second grade, he started trying to play the piano, but his teacher told him he was too hyperactive. Instead of being discouraged, Franklin channeled that energy into another instrument, the drums.
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“The drums were formed and regimented in a very classic way for me,” Franklin said. “I had a lot of different teachers, because I studied drums academically with every music program that was out there. I did that until high school, where I joined the marching band and competed. I became the bandmaster and that year was the most competitive year on record for my high school, Shore Regional. I believe this is still the record to this day.
“At the same time, I was being recruited by the United States Marine Corps to come and play for them, but I ended up not taking that opportunity,” Franklin said. “I was really torn between playing drums and playing guitar, because I had already formed a garage band playing guitar, despite so much playing drums.”
When he was 13, he was walking around his neighborhood looking for other musicians to play with him and came across a high school band on his travels.
“I was hearing kids jamming and playing music,” Franklin said. “I would bring my guitar and try to keep up with them because I loved playing so much and wanted to improve myself in any way necessary. I joined a high school band when I was just in middle school. They kept playing music with me and we finally got really great.
“At one point we opened for the Jonas Brothers at the Stone Pony in Asbury Park when they were just getting started and growing in popularity,” Franklin said. “They asked our band, Hollander, to open for this particular gig and we were so excited and flattered that we immediately accepted and everything went well.”
Franklin got to a point where he was undecided about how he wanted to pursue his music. He still taught guitar and drums to his students on a limited basis, but he also played drums in the marching band on Saturday mornings, then played guitar in his own band on Saturday nights.
“The bottom line is, anytime you can experience something outside of your comfort zone, not just as a musician, but whatever your field, it will always add to your own mix of what you can offer” , Franklin said. “I felt like a Clark Kent by day with my drums, then a Superman by night when I was playing guitar.”
By the time Franklin was in high school, he and his band had been signed to a record company, so he continued down that path.
“We started recording in upstate New York with a well-known music producer and we were touring at the same time,” Franklin said. “Unfortunately the band would eventually disband amidst some creative differences. That didn’t stop me from continuing to tour and play music with other bands. I was just going on tour for a bit and then I I would come back and teach, it was my routine.
“With all the moves I was going through, I always loved coming back and teaching music because it honed my skills,” Franklin said. “That was one of the most fun parts about it. It was more about figuring out who I could learn from musically and how I could get better and better.
Franklin eventually decided to stop teaching music on the side and focus on it full-time.
“I came back from a long tour to teach someone who was intermediate and I didn’t know what to do,” Franklin said. “My chops just weren’t there and I just felt exhausted. I made the decision to strap in and get back on track by practicing and sharpening the blade. That’s really what sparked my desire to do this exclusively. It was just fine.
Teaching as a profession
On April 2, 2021, Franklin officially opened the Jam Academy.
“To say I was nervous was definitely an understatement,” Franklin said. “I knew I had the necessary plans in place to make sure I was okay and it wasn’t a blind jump. Even though I had a cushion in the form of my own band, Nick Ryan and the messwith whom I still play today, and a YouTube channel titled Working Class Musician growing, I wasn’t 100% sure how things would turn out. I put my shoulder to the wind and didn’t look back.
“One thing that has kept me going, since I officially opened in 2021, is what I seem to hear a lot from my students,” Franklin said. “When you ask them what they want to be when they grow up, they say quite confidently that they want to play music for a living, just like me. That’s what motivates me and pushes me to do it. consistently. That means a lot.”
Franklin currently teaches drums and guitar, but he has also extended his instrumental variation to bass guitar and ukulele.
“These two instruments are ones that I picked up and had a lot of fun with and didn’t want to let go,” Franklin said.
During the pandemic, Franklin continued her classes online and was still able to do so effectively.
“The whole pandemic has taught me what not to do with my business,” Franklin said. “I knew it was a good decision to close the physical studio and do the sessions strictly online. It ended up working and was just as effective as a face-to-face meeting.
Franklin has accomplished a lot in his career and in his life, but he has plans for the future.
“I want to create programs for my students to give them a similar feel for how I learned to play,” Franklin said. “I want my students to start playing with their own bands. This is coming very soon in the pipeline.
Owner: jimmy franklin
Hours: 1 p.m. to 9 p.m. weekdays