Andrew James Hymel is the owner, proprietor, and music director
of Andy Hymel School of Music in Gretna, Louisiana, just outside
of New Orleans. It is a success story that has blossomed from one
man’s dream of music education into a consortium of teachers and
students who strive for excellence and value the importance of the
preservation of the arts in today’s New Orleans.
When asked about his Post Katrina experience, Hymel relied, "It was
scary to reopen the school and it was like starting over, but I felt
the community needed something to use as an outlet for the emotions
caused by Katrina. We weren't just rebuilding a music school; we were
rebuilding the minds and souls of our students and their families."
Andy Hymel earned a degree in Jazz Performance from Loyola
University in New Orleans, LA. At a young age, his musical talents
developed from “jamming” with neighborhood musicians in the Algiers
area, notably Frank Saucier, a regular solo artist at Kerry’s Irish Pub
in the French Quarter. In the 80’s, he honed his guitar skills at the
World’s Fair with the vocal group “Celebration” and is to this day
appreciative of that opportunity.
While his music accomplishments were self-developed, his community
involvement and business acumen were mostly inspired by his dad.
His father, Lloyd Hymel, is a pillar of the Algiers community and an
elder of Saint Andrews the Apostle Church. He was Chairman of the
West Bank Chamber of Commerce, President of the Petroleum Club and
the West Bank Rotary Club, and Vice President of AMF Tuboscope in Harvey,
One of his brothers, Philip Hymel, is a Chief Financial Manager
at Entergy, and recently served as President of the University
of New Orleans Alumni Association. Another brother, David Hymel, is in
the oil and gas business and for years organized the oil field “Chili
Cook Off”; recently at Boomtown Casino and previously at Alvin Andrew
Callender Naval Air Force Base in Belle Chasse, Louisiana.
Another brother, Greg, owned and operated a Zack’s Frozen Yogurt
franchise and is a Ginger Baker “Cream” style drummer. His is also an
artist/painter and is displayed in several restaurants in the New Orleans
area. Obviously, the senior Mr. Hymel set a solid foundation for his
children to excel in business and community development.
With that said, it is apparent that Andy Hymel has parlayed his strong
family values and love of music instruction from a work at home business
into a full blown, reputable, school of music.
Branching off from the security of working from home, Hymel first opened
his school at 601 Terry Parkway in Gretna, LA, in an area commonly known
as Terrytown. What started as a handful of students quickly blossomed into
a full school of music with 280 students strong. Predominantly a guitar
teacher, he also teaches piano and bass. His drum instructor, Jumpin’ Joe
Gelini, graduated from Berklee School of Music in Boston, a great accomplishment
considering only 2% of those who attend Berklee actually graduate. The school
has a wide variety of teachers, including band directors and vocal coaches,
covering several instruments and genres. Even Hymel’s high school guitar
teacher from Holy Cross is on the payroll!
Mr. Hymel (not his dad Lloyd) believes that music education can start at
the Pre-K level and has programs and original songs in place for the youngest
of students. He also has courses geared for “Baby Boomers” as well.
In between those age groups, one of his most amazing accomplishments is that
5 of his students have received full scholarships to various schools of music
and EVERY one of his 10 students who have applied to NOCCA was accepted on
their first audition!
One former student, Claire Maloney, begins as an understudy in the fall of 2007 with the
Metropolitan Opera Association. Another, Alex Zander, is a published
singer/songwriter. His nephew Dustin Hymel recently earned a degree in Music Education from Loyola University in New Orleans. Dustin is now the band director at Belle Chasse High School.
Andy has studied with world class musicians such as Steve Masakowski on guitar, saxophonist Tony Dagradi, and the premier New Orleans drummer Johnny Vidacovich. After completing his studies at Loyola University, Andy studied Jazz improvisation with world renowned guitarist Warren Batiste. The above mentioned teachers have performed with the likes of Sarah Vaughn, Lionel Hampton, Diana Reeves, Frank Sinatra, Fats Domino, Ray Charles and many other famous musicians. Their ideas and views on music has ingrained itself into Andy's style and teaching methods.
In addition to his accomplishments as a teacher and entrepreneur, he has
written and recorded hundreds of original songs and his efforts are starting
to be recognized. Many of Hymel’s songs are in the process of being recorded for his soon to be released CD. He has six other recording projects that have already been published.
For Andrew James Hymel this is only the start. As an unabashed Beatles fan,
an admitted student of New Orleans music, and an unwavering ambassador of music
education, the sky is the limit!