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.
At Joe’s Music & Dance Academy, students of all ages benefit from expert instruction in a variety of instruments and dance styles. Teachers lead private lessons for instruments that range from piano and violin to guitar, bass, drums, voice, and most orchestral instruments. For aspiring Astaires, dance instructors helm programs for students of all ages in disciplines such as ballet, jazz and hip-hop, tap dance, and musical theater. Joe’s also offers students myriad opportunities to collaborate and perform together in the form of music and dance recitals, jazz ensembles, and workshops.
The faculty members at the School of Rock believe that immersion is the best way to learn any new skill, which is why they don’t just teach students how to traverse the notes and rhythms of guitar, bass, drums, keyboard, and vocals in isolation. In addition to teaching students the technical skills during one-on-one lessons, the professional music instructors push them to fuse their individual parts into songs during full band practices with fellow beginner rockers. This combination of one-on-one attention and cooperative group learning helps kids of all skill levels hone their craft while overcoming common pitfalls such as stage fright or playing off-tempo. As kids learn to shred riffs, pound out drum solos, and summon Ronnie James Dio by hitting the correct vibrato atop a silver mountain, the classes build their confidence and kick-start a lifetime of loving rock 'n' roll.
Spotlighted in Time magazine and the New York Times, Music for Aardvarks and Other Mammals is a nationally renowned program offering a unique take on musical education for children 3 months to 4 years old. Classes consist of 45 minutes of singing, dancing, musical storytelling, and jamming. Children's songsmith David Weinstone designed a curriculum celebrating the urban environment as well as universal concerns of youth via his classes, which have exploded into the national spotlight since their humble beginnings in 1997. Rather than being strict and results-driven, the teaching style at Music for Aardvarks is based on adult modeling and exposing children to ideas and sounds without dumbing them down. Parent participation is strongly encouraged for atonal squealers and former Yes drummers alike. Check the Music for Aardvarks website for the drop-in sessions and 10-class series schedules.
Even though it?s been lauded by CBS New York, Time Out New York Kids, and Nickelodeon Parents Connect, ABC Do-Re-Me! most values praise from its students. At each energetic studio, newborns to 6-year-olds ecstatically bounce along to children?s songs from a live guitarist or to tunes by pop artists such as the Beatles, the Black Eyed Peas, and Madonna, as they build cognitive skills, develop socially, and create dance routines that will wow at baby prom.