Music industry veterans Stan Denis and Paul Benedetti, both fathers of ambitious child musicians, spent years commiserating about the dismal, calcified state of music education. Deciding to do something about it, the two founded Rock School Music, determined to mix the principles of classical pedagogy with a heavy dose of kid-directed originality. Rather than focusing on scales and hoary old etudes, their instructors encourage students to bring in music they actually enjoy listening to, helping aspiring rockers play their favorite songs and recommending technical drills that directly improve their ability to play the studied piece.
In addition to private lessons, the studio's Rock School program arranges young jammers into bands based on their skill levels, before giving them a weekend practice space and sponsoring regular rock concerts for friends and family. Rock School Music’s studio, furnished with plush leather chairs and a wood-paneled front desk, inspires visitors to pursue their musical dreams with its framed band posters and fern plants that resemble Slash.
At the Knowledge Network, experts in fields such as dance, spirituality, cooking, and writing teach a cornucopia of cultural, commercial, and life-skills classes with a flexible schedule of diverse classes held throughout the capital district. In Best Holiday Treats from Around the World on December 7 ($50 plus one nonperishable item for the Latham food bank), Chef Ric Orlando—champion of the Food Network’s Chopped—puts his signature spin on sizzling Hanukkah latkes, Kwanzaa peanut soup, the Italian feast of the seven fishes, and figgy pudding, taking holiday cooking far past the realm of microwave-cooked Peeps. Author and dream warrior Robert Moss imparts his synthesis of modern dreamwork and ancient shamanic practices in The Power of Active Dreaming on December 8 ($45), where students learn to solve problems, improve health, and spark creativity during nighttime reveries. Revisit bygone eras of hip hop with four Breakdancing classes ($45), in which students learn to spin, toprock, and perform basic floor routines under the guidance of instructor Turbeau, who has performed on MTV’s The Grind.
When it comes to the creative process, there's enough room for everyone. That's the philosophy at Odyssey School of Fine Arts, a non-profit art school for both kids ages 5 and up and adults. Their faculty instructs in drawing, painting, sculpture, and many other mediums worthy of a place in the "art" section of the encyclopedia. In addition to classes, Odyssey School of Fine Arts brings people together to make community art projects such as mosaics.
The nonprofit organization ETTA Art Studio splashes the Amherst community with artistic spirit flowing from the brain brushes of its experienced local artists and teachers. The master masterpiece makers pass on their creative tutelage via classes that cover clay working, drawing, puppet making, theater, and other artful subjects. On July 25–29, kids can swing by the studio for Fantastic Fairylands (ages 5–11) or Giant Puppetmaking, Improv + Movement (ages 8–12). And August 1–5, Collage, Diorama, and Painting (for ages 8–10) empowers pupils with the ability to construct fan mail for Vincent van Gogh.
Star Maker School boasts a staff full of professionals as well as alumni from all over the entertainment industry, including professional, tour, and major recording artist dancers; Broadway performers; commercial and voice-over actors. For nearly 40 years, its instructors have helped kids aged 2.5–18 accomplish transformations into these fields with positive reinforcement and confidence-building methods in dance, acting, and singing. Their philosophy prizes healthy self-image above all else, and they also help parents make educated decisions regarding breaking into showbiz.
The instructors at Falcetti Music are all accomplished musicians who share a passion for music. No matter the student's interest, whether it's classical, heavy metal, or anything in between, they work with students to cultivate talents and musical goals during lessons for guitar, drums, voice, piano, violin, saxophone, and bass guitar. The comprehensive lessons provide technical guidance and feedback to aspiring musicians in any style. When students are ready, the school presents them with opportunities to perform and compete in music festivals throughout New England.