BY MAURA MONAGHAN
After playing music to entertain audiences for over 20 years, Rob Spampinato is stepping into a new role as musician.
The lifelong Rockland resident and longtime musician is starting his own school of music, opening just in time for this year’s school year.
“Rob’s School of Music” opened two weeks ago on Lafayette Ave. in Suffern, offering lessons “for all ages, instruments and skill levels.” Programs range from one-on-one sessions to collaborative group workshops.
Spampinaro first picked up a guitar at age 5, and though he chuckles that he quit after a year “because it hurt my fingers,” a passion for guitar really took hold in his early teens. Other instruments came along after that. He went on to study music at Ramapo College. Incidentally, his graduating year was the last year that Ramapo would offer a generalized music major, an option that he remembers as a well-rounded introduction to the industry.
“My degree was one third music production, one third music business, and one third performance – I got a taste of everything.”
That holistic education would come in handy during the next decade or so, which Spampinato spent writing and producing music and touring nationally with his band heated exchange.
“I taught on and off throughout,” he said of his years on the road, “when I was not on tour I always liked to teach. If I can take those experiences and give them to the next generation, that’d be really cool.”
To effectively pass down that expertise, Spampinato has assembled a team of six other instructors with a combined 50+ years of musical experience. They specialize in everything from the electric bass to the ukulele. Each instructor has a college degree in music, although Spampinato says he was careful to ensure that students get to work with “not just a teacher, but someone who has that real-world experience on top of the education.”
He says the team is “a combination of people I’ve performed with over the years, and who are in that network of musicians. I tried to pick people who compliment each other musically and who compliment the culture of the company – there’s a humanity to teaching.”
Passionate teachers also help create a more personalized curriculum. “I think what makes us special is, if you go to some of the other music schools around here, they’re part of corporate programs so it’s corporate mandated what they have to teach; it’s very rigid,” Spampinato says.
“With us, say you had a rough day at school or something and you want to play, like, Metallica and not jazz, I think having the ability to customize gives us the freedom of keeping the attention wherever the attention wants to go. But throughout all of this, there is a consistent focus. I tell my teachers: if someone wants to learn a particular song, where is the lesson in that song?”
Aside from one-on-one lessons, upcoming programs this fall range from a “Music and Movement” class teaching rhythm to kids under 5, to an ensemble program wherein teenagers can use a sign-up sheet to find peers to play with. Of the ensemble program, Spampinato says, “It gives them a safe place, drug free, alcohol free, where everyone can play.”
And “everyone” includes grownups, too. The school features both a rehearsal studio and a recording studio for those who’d like to practice. A separate retail section is open to the public, selling instruments, strings and picks. “We’re trying to be all-in-one,” Spampinato says of the wide range of offerings in the space.
Rob’s School of Music will have two tents at the Suffern Street Fair from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. on September 16th, featuring a combination of students performing together, students performing with teachers, and some professional musicians jamming out as well. Plans for the school year and more information can be found at robsschoolofmusic.com.