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The 10 Best Cities in America to Raise the Next Rock Star

Want to raise a budding musician? Make sure you're not in a music lesson desert. Here's our ranking of America's best cities for teaching kids how to rock out. Did yours make the list?

The 10 Best Cities in America to Raise the Next Rock Star

You never know where the next music star is going to come from. But now, thanks to a new report from, we know exactly which cities are best when it comes to raising the next little Jimi Hendrix or Mozart.

(Hint: It all starts with music lessons.)

So, where can parents expect to find the best selections of music lessons for their kids? To determine this, our data analysts looked at the number of providers offering music lessons per student in each city or Metropolitan Statistical Area.

And the results might surprise you.

New York and Los Angeles didn’t even crack the top 10; instead, the top of this chart is owned by cities like Gainesville, Florida (i.e., the birthplace of Tom Petty) and Ann Arbor, Michigan (i.e., the home base of Iggy Pop).

Below, we’ve provided the full ranking of 111 cities: 

Music Lessons Rank City
1 Gainesville, FL
2 Tallahassee, FL
3 Ann Arbor, MI
4 Athens, GA
5 Fort Collins, CO
6 Champaign-Urbana, IL
7 Olympia, WA
8 College Station, TX
9 Lynchburg, VA
10 Durham-Chapel Hill, NC
11 Boulder, CO
12 Lansing, MI
13 Asheville, NC
14 Boston, MA
15 North Port, FL
16 Lubbock, TX
17 Lexington, KY
18 Orlando, FL
19 Provo, UT
20 Colorado Springs, CO
21 Los Angeles, CA
22 Charleston, SC
23 Santa Barbara, CA
24 Springfield, MA
25 Nashville, TN
26 Greensboro, NC
27 Stamford, CT
28 Washington, D.C.
29 Springfield, MO
30 New York, NY
31 Raleigh, NC
32 Knoxville, TN
33 Seattle, WA
34 Austin, TX
35 Melbourne, FL
36 San Diego, CA
37 San Francisco, CA
38 Providence, RI
39 Sacramento, CA
40 Oxnard, CA
41 Reno, NV
42 Chicago, IL
43 Jacksonville, FL
44 Grand Rapids, MI
45 Tampa, FL
46 Daytona Beach, FL
47 Portland, OR
48 Tucson, AZ
49 Winter Haven, FL
50 Charlotte, NC
51 Hartford, CT
52 Vallejo, CA
53 Greenville, SC
54 Baltimore, MD
55 New Haven, CT
56 Rochester, NY
57 Richmond, VA
58 Oklahoma City, OK
59 Philadelphia, PA
60 Chattanooga, TN
61 Atlanta, GA
62 Winston-Salem, NC
63 Akron, OH
64 Miami, FL
65 Denver, CO
66 Worcester, MA
67 San Jose, CA
68 Pittsburgh, PA
69 Columbus, OH
70 Minneapolis, MN
71 Lafayette, LA
72 Fayetteville, AR
73 Cleveland, OH
74 Virginia Beach, VA
75 Spokane, WA
76 Indianapolis, IN
77 Dallas, TX
78 Syracuse, NY
79 Kansas City, MO
80 New Orleans, LA
81 Des Moines, IA
82 Riverside, CA
83 Houston, TX
84 Little Rock, AR
85 Columbia, SC
86 El Paso, TX
87 Phoenix, AZ
88 Albany, NY
89 Salt Lake City, UT
90 Tulsa, OK
91 Milwaukee, WI
92 San Antonio, TX
93 Boise City, ID
94 Detroit, MI
95 Modesto, CA
96 Cincinnati, OH
97 Ogden, UT
98 Louisville, KY
99 Albuquerque, NM
100 St. Louis, MO
101 Stockton, CA
102 Birmingham, AL
103 Wichita, KS
104 Las Vegas, NV
105 Omaha, NE
106 Dayton, OH
107 Honolulu, HI
108 Bakersfield, CA
109 Buffalo, NY
110 Memphis, TN
111 Fresno, CA

Why Do Music Lessons Matter? 

The great thing about music lessons is that even if your child doesn’t become the next Sia, Beck, Drake, Beyonce or Miguel, they get a ton of added benefits to learning an instrument early on.

“When you look at children ages two to nine, one of the breakthroughs in that area is music’s benefit for language development,” explained Mary Luehrisen, executive director of the nonprofit National Association of Music Merchants Foundation.

And other experts agree: Learning music — in whatever form — helps kids decode sounds and words.

“Growing up in a musically rich environment is often advantageous for children’s language development,” Luehrisen said.  

Music lessons also do more than merely reinforce a child’s ability to translate noises. As Time reported, they also help kids develop neurophysiological distinction between sounds, which can increase their reading proficiency and, in turn, lead to better academic results. Learning to play an instrument teaches kids how to use multiple skill sets simultaneously. When you’re learning to play, you have to use your ears, eyes and small and large muscles.

The science also shows that learning music now will help their brains age better, too. In fact, music lessons have been shown to add an additional defense against cognitive decline, memory loss and diminished ability to distinguish spoken words, according to neuropsychologist Brenda Hanna­-Pladdy of Emory University

Added bonus: According to pretty much everyone, learning to play a musical instrument is fun.


This study gathered data and 111 Metropolitan Statistical Areas on the availability of music lessons per child. The population of children under 18 in the cities comes from the American Community Survey. The number of music lessons available to kids is based on music tutor profiles listed in 2016. 


Want to check out more of our studies? Feel free to peruse this list: