By Annabelle Blair
Astoria Rock Studio is accepting students of all ages for its fall songwriting workshops, private lessons and rock band program. The rock band and songwriting programs offer students a unique way to engage in music creation and performance — through working in groups and producing high-quality recordings and concerts.
Alejandro Meola, Astoria Rock Studio’s founder and music director, is an internationally recognized musician. For 15 years, he has taught music in Argentina and New York City. Along with traditional private lessons, he offers music composition and a rock-band experience.
Meola said he has witnessed many students, especially children, become more engaged in lessons when they have the opportunity to play or write songs together.
“When you bring other people into the mix, it’s a whole different learning experience than when you play by yourself,” he said.
Meola wants to introduce this modern teaching style to people in Queens with the studio he opened in May.
“This is a chance to bring a little bit of this to the neighborhood,” he said.
The studio doesn’t have a physical address, although Meola said he hopes it will in the future. All the lessons and band programs will take place in rented rehearsal spaces near Astoria. Meola wants students to experience the authenticity of being in a real band—including amplifiers, lighting and a concert for friends and family at the end of the semester with student solos.
The practice and performance music will be selected by the students, Meola said. Students are invited to sign up for group band lessons with friends, or Meola will use profiles, skill sets and music tastes to form bands. The semester-long program is open to all ages.
Songwriting workshops have a stronger focus on creativity. The workshops will mirror the process professionals go through to write songs and meet two hours every week for a month. Students will focus on learning melody and rules of composition.
“It’s about creating something new out of nowhere, which is pretty much writing songs,” Meola said.
Meola grew up in Argentina and graduated from the Argentine Society of Musicians with a B.A. in music performance. He currently resides in Astoria. During his time as a guitar teacher in Buenos Aires, he taught 35 to 40 students on a weekly basis, operating similar to a studio. In the 10 years Meola has been recording music, he has produced seven records with his own songs and completed two tours on the East coast.
Josh Margolis, executive director at Gowanus Music Club in Brooklyn, said Meola has taught at his music school for about two years.
“He has a really lovely, gentle approach to working with the kids,” said Margolis. “He’s extremely sensitive to their needs. If he sees that someone needs help with something, he’ll go over and show them.”
Margolis said his company follows a teaching model that has been successful for 10 years, allowing students to choose the kind of music they want to learn. Margolis noted this was especially important for adolescents in specific development stages. The first question his instructors ask students is what they’re listening to.
“I’ve found that that really is the spark that gets them engaged very, very quick in the learning process,” Margolis said.
According to Margolis, Meola has received only positive feedback from students and parents.
“He’s constantly reaching out to parents and really on top of things,” Margolis said. “I trust him, and that’s the highest compliment I can give.”
For the past year, Meola has also partnered with Music to Your Home in New York City to teach private guitar lessons. Executive Director Tracy Reina said Meola represents her studio well.
“A sign of a good teachers is longevity,” Reina said, noting that students who begin lessons with Meola continue working with him. “His students really look up to him.”
For more information on Astoria Rock Studio’s lessons, programs and prices, visit astoriarockstudio.com or call 917-724-4694.