Ken Benshish and Yi Qian both grew up loving music, but the process of learning to play it ranged from uninspiring to mind numbing. The two musicians started iSchool of Music & Art to provide a much different experience—a positive, supportive atmosphere that takes into account each student’s personality and goals. Students aged 3 and older who can’t tell a drumstick from a plectrum and don’t even know the street value of a quarter note can learn piano, drums, guitar, or voice skills from scratch, then test their newfound skills with multiple performance opportunities throughout the year. Instructors host private classes or group students into their own rock-band performance troupes, while intensive camps culminate in field trips to Lincoln Center and tour of a real recording studio.
Situated on Molloy College's campus, the 550-seat Madison Theatre welcomes a diverse lineup of entertainment to its stage in 2012, from music education and string quartets to cabaret acts and plays. The Teaching Artists Ensemble of the New York Philharmonic draws kids into an afternoon of interactive music-making with fun woodwind and percussion instruments during Kaleidoscope. Earlier in the month, John Pizzarelli weaves his crooning pipes with the crystalline vocals of his wife, Broadway songstress Jessica Molaskey, all while trading jazz guitar licks with his father, the renowned jazz ax man Bucky Pizzarelli. As the John Pizzarelli Trio, they nourish ears like a turducken of sound during a set of original compositions and bebop-infused standards from the Great American Songbook. At the end of April, ETHEL skewers the audience's perception of the classic string quartet through rapid improvisation and unorthodox amplification of their instruments, a practice they've employed while recording with rock greats such as Todd Rundgren and David Byrne.
For 15 years, Sky Athletic Club has shepherded members to physical fitness inside a 20,000-square-foot workout sanctuary free from muscle-obsessed fanatics or intimidating drill sergeants. The gym's mission of accessible-to-all fitness earned it the 2011 Best Boot Camp on Long Island award from the Long Island Press. More than 40 certified personal trainers coach members on two floors of studios and exercise equipment, and visitors from across the age and ability spectrum scout through a schedule of more than 100 classes per week.
A ladies-only area accommodates feminine frames with a weight room and floor space for mat work, and an extensive Pilates program perches members aboard Reformer machines that get cores more tightly wound than a stressed-out slinky in a private studio. Patrons augment their weight-hoisting routines with pampering spa services, getting chi realigned by a certified acupuncturist or working out tension with a chair massage. Complimentary childcare and free steamy beverages from the lounge and café evince the club's hospitable mission.
The experienced spinning instructors at 360 Cycle Studio welcome all levels of fitness seekers to a 1,000-square-foot indoor cycling facility. After climbing atop RealRyder bikes that sway to whichever side riders part their hair, pedalers pump their legs while an energizing soundtrack pours out of a 1,400-watt sound system. Each 60-minute class encompasses different challenges, such as the 360 Power class, designed to build strength and tone muscle, and the 360 Intensity class, which alternates between pushing maximum heart rate and recovery work. Participants can secure class spots through the online schedule, or by writing letters to their future selves.
Bally enshrines exercise classes, calorie-burning equipment, and a fitness-focused staff within its sanctuaries of health. A 30-day membership includes access to a spread of group exercise classes, including Pilates, Reaction Cycling, and Step Fitness (class offerings vary by location). For self-guided worker-outers, cardio equipment such as treadmills, elliptical machines, cross-trainers, and stair climbers torch calories while entertaining the brain with video entertainment and integrated music systems that occasionally whisper quotes from Charles Atlas. Bally also boasts an array of strength machines, free weights, and small-apparatus equipment, and grants gym-goers access to on-site locker rooms, showers, and, at some locations, a pool and steam room. Visit each location's webpage for a list of specific amenities and the lineup of classes.